Alabama Senator Moves to Shore Up Cursive Instruction Law

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

While many schools across the country are limiting the time spent teaching children to learn to write in cursive, one state has just introduced a law requiring students to learn write with loops and swirls.

Recently introduced in Alabama, Lexi’s Law requires public school students to be able to “write legibly in cursive” by the end of the third grade.  The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Dickie Drake after speaking with his oldest granddaughter.

“She was in the first grade and wanted to learn ‘real writing,’” Drake told TODAY Parents. “After much research of schools in the state of Alabama, I found that it was not being taught all over the state — hit and miss. … This bill is for all my grandchildren and others just like them.”

Many educators argue that the time is better spent preparing children for life in the real world, but Erica Pippins Franklin, a spokeswoman for the Alabama State Department of Education, states that while cursive has always been a requirement in schools throughout the state, the new law looks to ensure that proficiency standards are being met.  She added that the goal of the law is to make sure that students are not only able to write in cursive, but are also able to read historical letters and documents, reports A. Pawlowski for Today.

A similar bill was recently introduced in Louisiana that requires students to be taught the subject in public schools beginning in the 2017-18 school year.  Students will start to learn cursive in third grade, which will remain part of the curriculum through the 12th grade.

However, critics of the movement say that cursive is no longer necessary, pointing toward the Common Core State Standards to back up their argument.  Introduced in 2010, the standards require “keyboarding skills” but do not mention cursive at all.  As a result, many of the 42 states to adopt the standards limited their use of handwriting instruction, or dropped the subject all together, writes Daniel Victor for The New York Times.

A national survey of 612 elementary school teachers found a total of 41% do not include cursive writing in their lesson plans.

“I would definitely feel sad if they took it away from her curriculum,” said Lyla Gleason, whose 6-year-old daughter will be starting 2nd grade in New York City this fall.

“Even if these kids are mostly typing when they grow up, I would still like her to learn script.”

Meanwhile, parent complaints have prompted a number of states to take a second look at the national standards and implement their own rules instead. The American Handwriting Analysis Foundation reports 15 states now require teaching cursive as part of their Core Curriculum Standards.

Despite this, some parents insist that teaching cursive in schools is anything but a priority:

“It would be nice if my daughter learned cursive, but not at the expense of her falling behind her counterparts around the world whose fingers will be flying over keys,” wrote Jarvis DeBerry, a dad and the deputy opinions editor at The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, in a June column.

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

Kristin Decarr

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