Tossing the Script: The End of the Line for Cursive?

More and more states are dropping handwriting from their core curricula.

ByABC News
January 24, 2011, 2:31 PM

Jan. 24, 2011 -- The handwriting may be on the wall for cursive.

At least that's what some people fear as schools across the country continue to drop cursive handwriting from their curricula.

Forty-one states have so far adopted the new Common Core State Standards for English, which does not require cursive. Set by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), the standards provide a general framework for what students are expected to learn before college.

States are allowed the option of re-including cursive if they so choose, which is what Massachusetts and California have done.

But the latest to contemplate abandoning the script is Georgia, where teachers and administrators will meet in March to discuss erasing the longhand style from its lesson plans, says Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza.

The argument is that cursive is time-consuming and not as useful as the keyboard skills students will need as they move on to junior high and high school, he says.

As it happens, cursive is also not on the tests that rate schools under the No Child Left Behind law, and increasingly schools gear their curricula to excel at those tests, says Kathleen Wright, a national project manager for Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of education writing materials.

"It's just not being assessed. That's the biggie," she says. "If it's not assessed, it tends to fall by a little because people are teaching to the test."

So what's the big deal if your little John Hancock doesn't have a big loopy cursive signature of his own?

Antiquated or no, cursive is viewed by some parents and educators as essential to an education -- especially as text-happy teens become ever more thumb-centric.

"I've been disappointed in general with the public school system here," says Lisa Faircloth, a stay-at-home mother of two in Atlanta. She says she is pleased that her 7 year-old son Joe learned cursive.

"I feel like it has helped him with his fine motor skills and made him more graceful," she says. "He shows more of an interest in art because he is able to form things he hadn't before and has new muscle movements that he didn't know before."