This week’s question: There’s a bill in the Legislature to mandate the teaching of cursive handwriting in Illinois public schools. What’s your opinion?
Jeff Rogers, editor
I probably date myself by saying that the few times I actually grab a pen and write something, it's usually in cursive. Sometimes, it's a hybrid – half cursive, half in block letters.
Today, so much of our communication is done on a keyboard or a keypad. We text, tweet, post and send emails. (Notice I did not say we Snapchat. Again, probably dating myself.)
The relevancy of cursive writing in modern communication will continue to diminish. But people like me still write in cursive, every now and then. And if I've written something to you in cursive, you should be able to read it. (My handwriting is relatively neat, after all.)
So, I think it remains important for schools to teach students cursive writing.
But I also think it's unnecessary for the state government to mandate that it be taught in public schools. That's a decision that should be made by each school district and its board of education.
It also must be mentioned that the requirement would be yet another unfunded mandate to schools by a state government that has failed for nearly 2 years to pass a budget, and failed for many more years than 2 to pass along all of the state funds it has promised to schools.
Lawmakers should worry about the state budget and the state government's financial commitments, not whether children are being taught cursive writing.
I will end by noting that all Sauk Valley legislators – state Reps. Tom Demmer, Tony McCombie, Brian Stewart and Dan Swanson – voted against the cursive writing mandate when it was passed with a 67-48 vote by the House last week. Good for them!
Sheryl Gulbranson, circulation director
I understand times have changed since I learned cursive writing in school. I remember the specially lined paper that helped with my cursive writing.
My signature is awful – but it is mine. That is very important. Nowadays people simply check a box on their computer for their signature. That's scary for me.
Some people might not think it is that important for our children to learn cursive. Google the Declaration of Independence. Yes, you can get it in any type of font you would like. Take the next step and compare it to the original, in cursive.
If you don't think teaching our kids to write in cursive is that important, I understand that. But the ability to read documents like our Declaration of Independence in cursive is.
Jim Dunn, editorial page editor
I’m against this bill for two reasons.
First, given the Legislature’s nearly 2-year budget crisis, I think all other legislation is extraneous. First things first – reach a budget agreement.
Second, lawmakers have an annoying habit of piling mandates on local schools. This is one more example. Enough.
With that stated, I do believe it is important for students to learn cursive writing, and I hope schools keep teaching it. Our 21st-century society is not so advanced that we’re above this “primitive” means of expressing ourselves with pen and paper. Cursive is a quick way to sign your name, jot down information and so forth. If schools at least give young people the basics, they’ll do them a service.
And, hey! We don’t want students, uneducated in such things, to ever encounter that form of writing only to mutter, “Cursive! Foiled again!”
How’s my cursive, you ask? It’s a hybrid. Grandpa had awesome handwriting with fine flourishes, Dad’s bordered on being illegible, and mine falls somewhere in between – functional, but never, ever worthy of a penmanship prize.