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INDIANAPOLIS — State legislators remain divided over whether Hoosier students should be required to learn cursive handwriting.

But this month the House and Senate agreed that the option of teaching cursive ought to be enshrined in Indiana law.

House Enrolled Act 1420 officially codifies cursive writing, alongside religions of the world, as an optional curriculum component that local school corporations are free to include or omit as they see fit.

That's already been the practice since 2011 when Indiana adopted Common Core State Standards that required keyboarding instruction instead of cursive writing.

The state replaced Common Core in 2014 with Indiana-only standards that must, by law, be "the highest standards in the United States." They also don't require cursive instruction.

Nevertheless, a 2017 Indiana Department of Education survey found approximately 20 percent of schools still teach cursive, even without a law explicitly authorizing them to do so.

State Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, the Senate sponsor of a cursive mandate for the past seven years, said putting the instruction option in state law is "minimal," but still "a step forward in requiring the teaching of this important skill."

The Republican-controlled Senate agrees with Leising that Hoosier students should learn cursive. Her Senate Bill 8 in January passed the chamber, 38-11, only to once again die in the Republican-controlled House where cursive is viewed less favorably.

Leising said Wednesday the need for cursive writing instruction never has been more obvious.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signature

"Some students are unable to sign their names to validate driver’s licenses, agreements and other important documents, and many cannot even read cursive writing," Leising said.

"Right now, 25 states have a cursive writing mandate, and I will continue work to make this a requirement in our state."

In perhaps a sign of the times, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb enacted the cursive curriculum option into law using his signature that's mostly comprised of block print capital letters.


Measures signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

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.