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Ohio legislators propose bill to mandate cursive proficiency by fifth grade

By Connor Perrett
WCPO

(February 23, 2017) — COLUMBUS, Ohio — When was the last time you used cursive?

Rep. Andrew Brenner, a Republican from Powell, Ohio and Rep. Marilyn Slaby, a Republican from Copley, Ohio have introduced a bill in the Ohio House of Representatives to require its teaching in Ohio schools.

“I think students at an early age need to learn the fundamentals, and part of the fundamentals is writing,” Brenner said about House Bill 58. “It helps with a child’s brain development, it helps with language, it helps with basic understanding of how to read and write, and cursive writing is important.”

If passed, the bill would require proficiency in print letters by third grade and proficiency in cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.

Brenner said cursive was once part of the state’s standards, but was removed when the state adopted the Common Core Standards six years ago. Returning it to Ohio schools would help students better understand national history, Brenner said.

“Kids today who have not been taught cursive don’t know how to read it, and I think that’s important especially if they want to read the original founding documents,” Brenner said. “I’m not talking about the print version, but actually going to The National Archives. It’s part of our heritage, it’s part of the history of the United States and I think it’s something every single student should be able to read without needing a Google Translate machine to do it.”

This is not the first time a bill that would require cursive be taught in elementary school has been introduced in the Ohio House. Brenner introduced the same bill to the previous general assembly, but said it didn’t pass because the House had too many other bills on its plate.

He said he hopes there will be more discussion this time around, and believes the bill will have a different outcome — at least in the house.

Opponents of the bill have told Brenner students use computers — not cursive handwriting — to complete assignments. Brenner said they have a point and he will begin to work on legislation to ensure typing is also taught to students.

Legislators in other states have successfully pushed through similar bills to mandate cursive. Alabama passed a measure just last year to mandate the teaching of cursive handwriting in its schools.