Cursive curriculum wins the Senate, but could lose the House

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, and Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, discussing Senate bills Thursday. Photo by Alysia Funderburg, TheStatehouseFile.com

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, and Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, discussing Senate bills Thursday. Photo by Alysia Funderburg, TheStatehouseFile.com

By Megan Powell
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation to require teaching cursive writing has passed the Senate, but will likely face opposition in the House.

Senate Bill 73 would place cursive writing back into the elementary curriculum in schools. Some of the senators who voted against the bill said they are not opposed to the teaching of cursive, but are against the state telling local school districts what to do. Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the Education Committee, said that’s why he hasn’t given similar bills a hearing.

“It’s one of those issues that local control, I think, makes sense,” said Behning after learning the bill passed out of the Senate. “I have not heard in the past and I have not said, definitely not hearing it now, but there is no question that I have not heard it for several years.”

With cursive not being in the curriculum since 2011, some middle school students are now unable to their teacher’s cursive handwriting on graded assignments.

“I use it sometimes, but my students can’t read it because they weren’t taught it,” said Franklin College student teacher Sara Mcgannon in an interview. “It’s aggravating because I personally think it is more professional looking and that they need to at least know how to sign their name for federal documents.”

Mcgannon also said mandating cursive too specific for the state and that it should be at the decision of the district.

Sen. Jean Leising discussing legislation Thursday. Photo by Alysia Funderburg. TheStatehouseFile.com

Sen. Jean Leising discussing legislation Thursday. Photo by Alysia Funderburg. TheStatehouseFile.com

However, the bill’s author Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said she’s received great support.

“I think that if we leave it up to the population of the state, clearly the last time I polled or surveyed on this subject, over 90 percent of people support the teaching of cursive,” said Leising.

She said her experience with participants in the page program Thursday was a good example of why cursive curriculum should be mandatory. She had four students visiting the Statehouse, two high school sisters and a sixth grade brother. The two sisters in high school were taught cursive, but Leising said their younger brother didn’t know how to sign his name in cursive because he was never taught.

Leising also said learning cursive helps brain development in children.

“The most important thing of all is the fact that this whole issue of cognitive brain development and learning and it’s proven over and over by various Ph.D.’s that have documented studies,” said Leising.

The legislation passed the Senate 30-18 Thursday.

Megan Powell is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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