Bill would make cursive writing a requirement in Arizona schools

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 5.59.19 AMBy Amanda Kukkola | Cronkite News

Students in third grade at Starline Elementary School in Lake Havasu City are picking up their pencils, and learning cursive writing.

But cursive writing is not a requirement of the Common Core standards, adopted by Arizona in 2010. But Senator and Majority Whip, Gail Griffin (R-14) sponsored SB1197, the cursive reading/writing requirement bill.

Sen. John Kavanagh (R-23), one of the co-signers of the bill, said he wished he had taken a typing class back in high school. He feels that role will soon be reversed, and if kids grow up without learning how to write or read cursive.

“Right now, cursive and keyboard skills are at the same level of importance, the most typing kids seem to do is with their two thumbs,” Kavanagh said.

Shawna Smith, a third grade writing teacher at Starline Elementary School, believes that cursive is a way of helping kids with their motor skills and that some kids who even have trouble with print can do cursive very nicely and without it, our future students wouldn’t be able to understand documents that made up our country.

“I think the kids definitely need exposure to it,” says Smith. “Some of our historical documents like the Declaration of Independence were written in cursive. Without the ability to recognize cursive, I think you’re limiting your documents that you’re able to read and communicating with older people. I know my grandma still writes in cursive, and a lot of grandparents do. It’s a way of communicating the kids do need to be aware of.”

Smith, along with other third grade teachers like Theresa Nigg teach their students the skill even though it’s not required.

“I don’t test it or require it, but we do practice it,” says Nigg. “I think that everyone should be taught cursive. I feel like this bill will allow all of us to be on the same page instead of some of the teachers or districts mandating it and requiring it and some not. I think it’s a great idea.”

Third-grader Olivia Bargos said she enjoys learning cursive more than typing.

“What makes it fun is you get to [like you] never pick up your pencil, you always get to write and it looks so weird and I’m weird so I like it,” Bargos said.

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February 2016