Renewed push to require teaching cursive in Wisconsin classrooms

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:35 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin students are currently not required to learn cursive writing in school, but a bill to change that is back in the spotlight.

More than a year after passing in the Assembly, the bill is currently stalled in the Senate.

A group of lawmakers want to require all students in the state to learn cursive before the fifth grade.

District 14 Senator Joan Ballweg been an early supporter. “As a former elementary teacher, I think cursive writing is something that gives great value to students,” she said.

She says with the rise of technology, it’s now more important than ever. “There’s something special about getting that card or letter that is handwritten. We want to make sure people have the skill to make things legible,” she said.

In Madison, students are taught cursive in grades two and three. While many schools have done away with the cursive curriculum, MMSD officials say there’s still value in teaching the skill.

“There is some research suggesting cursive writing can promote positive learning and brain development,” said Tim LeMonds.

LeMonds says there are mixed feelings on the issue among MMSD parents. “However, it’s the district’s belief that it’s all about balance,” he said. “We feel there will always be a place for students to sign their John Hancock.”

While teaching cursive has its benefits, LeMonds says the decision should be left up to local educators.

“The thing that I would question is the need to mandate it. We feel curriculum decisions are generally best made at the local level. They have the knowledge and better understanding of local needs,” said LeMonds.

In the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, students are not taught cursive.

“In large part, a driver was the increased demand for keyboarding skills, including the fact that students do much of their writing and take state and national assessments on computers; another was that the use of and requirement for cursive was decreasing which was making maintenance of the skill harder,” said Sherri Cyra, MCPASD Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services.

A spokesperson with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction said DPI doesn’t require it, but cursive is part of its K-6 recommendations for writing instruction.

The bill still needs to go through a Senate Committee before heading to the floor.

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