Bill requiring cursive instruction merits support

February 26, 2013 

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RON CHAPPLE STUDIOS — Getty Images/Hemera

In people middle-aged and older, strong feelings arise when they discover that many young people do not know how to write cursive. They had assumed that learning the Palmer Method of linking letters in a continuous handwritten flow was as basic as learning the alphabet.

Complain to a kid about it and he may reply with a text: “Get over it, Pops. Cursive has left the (school) building, don’t u kno?”

Well, wait a minute. Put down that phone, leave the keyboard and listen to state Rep. Pat Hurley, an Asheboro Republican. She’s sponsoring a “back to basics” bill that will once again make cursive handwriting a part of the curriculum in state elementary schools.

It’s a good idea. It will preserve a skill that may not be a requirement for communication but is essential to being civilized enough to write a graceful thank you note and read the Declaration of Independence – or a letter from Pops.

How cursive went flowing and looping into obscurity is a bit of mystery. The common explanation is that keyboards are now so omnipresent that there’s little need to write quickly by hand. We suspect there was also hooky played on the subject of penmanship. Teachers didn’t like teaching or reading it. Children didn’t like learning it. So it was a step that increasingly got skipped.

This year that neglect became official. North Carolina became one of 45 states to implement the “Common Core” standards in language arts and mathematics, and cursive wasn’t part of the curriculum. Many private schools still teach it, but the state’s public schools are increasingly letting it go, and the common core will accelerate that trend.

Enter Rep. Hurley, pen in hand. She’s composed a fine and needed bill. The General Assembly should pass it, and Gov. McCrory should sign it – in cursive, of course.

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