INDIANAPOLIS | Local schools would lose their freedom to decide whether to teach cursive writing under legislation heard Wednesday by an Indiana Senate committee.
Senate Bill 120, sponsored by state Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, requires all public schools and most private schools to teach cursive writing.
The Indiana Department of Education dropped its cursive requirement in 2011 and suggested students be taught keyboarding instead. A recent sampling of Northwest Indiana schools by The Times found most region schools continue to teach cursive.
Leising told the Senate Education Committee, which is expected to vote on her plan next week, that research shows learning cursive is connected to the development of a child's fine motor skills and remains relevant even in a world where nearly everyone communicates by typing.
"Anything that we believe would enhance the development of our children we have to do it," Leising said. "We could be creating a generation of kids that if the battery is dead or the power is out they won't know the value of a pen or pencil and a piece of paper."
State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, was skeptical of that claim and said local schools should decide whether their students need cursive instruction.
Rogers pointed to efforts by the School Town of Munster and other region districts that have embraced iPad learning and electronic textbooks instead of requiring reams of handwritten assignments.
Leising said she'd be willing to let students fulfill a state cursive requirement by learning it on an electronic device using a stylus.