No more cursive? Kansas Board of Education discusses role of cursive in classroom

TOPEKA, Kan. - Should Kansas schools write off teaching cursive in school?

The Kansas State Board of Education will discuss the role of cursive handwriting in school curriculums in Topeka on Tuesday.

Under Kansas' newly-adopted Common Core Standards for English, teaching cursive is not required and school districts are to emphasize keyboard proficiency.

The state has not mandated the skill be taught in classrooms for a while.

State officials recently sent a survey to school districts to gauge the extent to which cursive is being taught in their schools.

The Board will reveal those results at Tuesday's meeting.

The Kansas City Kansas School District's Elementary Curriculum Coordinator, Suzie Legg, said it no longer teaches cursive in class. The new state standards put less of an emphasis on style and more on using handwriting to prove comprehension.

Legg said cursive is no longer a state tested skill. "Curriculum has narrowed by what is tested and cursive writing is not tested." She said children born into a computerized world must keep up with the times, "Quite honestly, with technology the way it is, it's more important that our students be able to keyboard."

Sull, a Merriam based writing expert who was President Ronald Reagan's calligrapher, said losing handwritten cursive means losing the ability to read it.

Sull said, "They can't read the Bill of Rights, the Constitution or anything written in the 19th Century."

We asked a 3rd grader in the Kansas City, Kansas School District to read a cursive letter 41 Action News received from a viewer.

The student was proficient reading manuscript, but when we asked him to read the viewer's meticulous cursive letter, he struggled.

"Can you read this line?" 41 Action News asked.

The child could understandably only read the first three words, "They will never ...."

He shook his head in confusion.

Sull was frustrated, "You read an email from Abraham Lincoln or George Washington doesn't do the same thing. but a written message made by his hands, his muscles, makes a message from Abraham Lincoln only from Abraham Lincoln."

The National Association of State Boards of Education wrote in a September policy update that there are benefits associated with the skill.

It said writing helps students in reading, language use and critical thinking.

Some Kansas state board members have already said they believe children should still the art of cursive to be able to read historic documents like the Constitution and so that signatures are legible.

Do you think cursive should be taught in schools? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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