Idaho lawmaker looks to keep cursive handwriting in elementary schools

Rep. Linden Bateman

Rep. Linden Bateman

An Idaho lawmaker is pushing legislation that would mandate cursive handwriting in Idaho elementary schools.

Rep. Linden Bateman told the House Education Committee on Tuesday developing cursive skills promotes manual dexterity, boosts reading comprehension and enhances cognitive development, as he sought support for requiring cursive instruction in the state’s public-school curriculum.

The Idaho Falls Republican added that if cursive is not taught, people eventually will not be able to read cursive, negatively affecting family history study, genealogical research, and historical research.

Idaho isn’t alone in debating cursive’s merits, in an era when emails and texts sent from electronic devices have largely supplanted the long-form letter. Last year, California opted to keep cursive in its third-grade curriculum, mirroring moves in Georgia and Massachusetts.

Other states, including Indiana, Illinois and Hawaii, have left it as optional for school districts, while Utah is studying the issue.

Along with Idaho, they’re among 45 states that are due to adopt national curriculum guidelines, called “Common Core Standards,” come the 2014 school year. Those will require computer keyboarding by the time pupils exit elementary school – but not that kids have cursive instruction.

Currently, Idaho gives flexibility to local school districts to decide whether to teach cursive.

About Jason Ford