Many local school leaders say they continue to teach cursive

A student practices cursive writing at Simatovich Elementary School in Union Township in this 2011 file photo.

John Luke, The Times

INDIANAPOLIS — A first-of-its-kind survey of Hoosier educators has found that a strong majority of respondents want the state to mandate cursive writing instruction in Indiana elementary schools.

Seventy percent of the 3,878 teachers, principals, superintendents and school board members participating in the voluntary Indiana Department of Education poll said they support required cursive writing classes.

Another 20 percent were undecided. Just 10 percent said they oppose a cursive instruction mandate.

The Indiana education agency, under a prior state superintendent of public instruction, advised Hoosier schools in 2011 to replace cursive writing instruction with training in computer keyboarding.

Many school corporations have followed that recommendation, as just 20 percent of survey respondents said cursive writing currently is taught in their schools.

State Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, repeatedly has sought to restore cursive instruction to Hoosier classrooms.

For the past six years, she's won approval by the Republican-controlled Senate for legislation requiring cursive be taught in all Indiana elementary schools, only to see her proposals die without even receiving committee hearings in the Republican-controlled House.

Leising said the outcome of the survey, which the General Assembly this year ordered be conducted to gauge educator support for cursive instruction, has inspired her to try again when Indiana lawmakers convene their annual session in January.

"I hope the results of this survey will help my bill finally get a hearing in the House of Representatives," Leising said.

"Cursive writing is a skill everyone should have, as we use our signature to make purchases, validate our driver's license and sign agreements."

Only a handful of states require cursive writing instruction, though Illinois is on the verge of becoming one of them.

On Oct. 25, the Democratic-controlled Illinois House voted 77-36 to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a proposed cursive training requirement.

So long as the Democratic-controlled Senate can get 36 votes to enact House Bill 2977 notwithstanding the governor's objection — it originally passed 41-15 in May — Illinois' cursive instruction mandate would take effect for the 2018-19 school year.

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Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.