- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - All Arkansas public schools would have to teach cursive writing beginning this fall under a proposal endorsed by the House Thursday over the objection of some lawmakers who said it is no longer needed to be successful in a technology-dominated world.

If the measure passes the Senate and is signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas would join a handful of states that have forced elementary students to learn the swirling, flowing form of writing after it was dropped from the Common Core national education standards.

House members voted 66-21 on Thursday to require the state’s elementary schools to teach cursive to students by the time they finish third grade. The state Board of Education would be instructed to adopt rules to enforce the requirement.

Republican Rep. Kim Hendren of Gravette was inspired propose the bill when he learned his eighth-grade granddaughter couldn’t read or write in cursive. He said it’s an important skill that young people should have, and other proponents argued that learning it boosts student performance.

“I think we do a great disservice to our children when we do not teach them cursive writing and help them with this crucial component of brain development,” said Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren.

Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee have passed legislation requiring elementary students learn cursive writing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Some lawmakers said the bill would mandate public schools without funding. Others used satire to criticize the bill

“At one time, hieroglyphics was the way everyone communicated,” said Republican Rep. Nate Bell of Mena.

Communication evolves, Bell said, adding that students don’t need the skill to be successful in the modern day business environment.

“How many of you can read the Bible in the original languages?” Bell asked the House. “I can’t. Frankly, if we’re going to focus on teaching an original language, as a Christian, I would prefer we do that.”

Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, countered criticisms that the requirement is frivolous.

“I sure want (my children) to be able to read the constitution of the United States of America in cursive form,” Harris said.

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Follow Allen Reed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Allen_Reed


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