Penmanship disappeared from the curriculum in many schools because teachers are devoting more time to preparing students for standardized tests. A new state law approved Wednesday will bring it back to ensure elementary students get instruction in cursive writing.
State Rep. Chris Welch, D-Hillside, filed the measure the same day lawmakers approved his resolution on zombie apocalypse preparedness. At the time, Welch wasn't sure anybody would care about cursive.
"I certainly had no idea that it would get this kind of attention," he said. "When I brought it up, I struggled just to get it out of committee and, you know, now it's law."
But as Welch discovered, people of all political persuasions are passionate about penmanship. Some have no use for it; others swear learning cursive is the only way kids can learn to read historical documents and birthday cards from grandma. Among state lawmakers, it turns out there are more of the latter.
Some legislators objected, calling it an expense schools can't afford, but Welch disagrees.
"It's not an unfunded mandate," he said. "You talk to a teacher and they'll tell you: They can whip out their old projector screen, they can go up to their chalkboard. It's easy to teach and incorporate cursive into the things that they're already doing without any additional cost whatsoever."
The law takes effect in time for next school year.
- Reporters Brian Mackey and Dusty Rhodes contributed to this story.