Cursive Writing Debate…and a mea culpa

falling on sword

{LFC Comments:  There are times when we must plead “mea culpa” , and fall on our sword because of a published article; this is such an occasion.  Sometimes a “knowledgeable” source has their head in the “hinterland”, and speaks without really knowing the subject matter.)

We wrote an article chastising the Riverside School officials for not teaching cursive writing.   Dr. Melissa K. Mlakar,  Director of Curriculum and Instruction, politely set us straight, and informed us that they do teach cursive in the 2nd and 3rd grades in the Riverside School District.  We stand corrected!  Here is her response received via email:

“Gary [Platko] asked me to respond to the post you forwarded regarding cursive writing.  It appears that whoever made that post does not have a reliable source at Riverside.  We do, indeed, teach cursive writing to our students in second grade, with continued practice in third grade.  While we do not provide a grade on cursive writing, it is taught to students. 

In addition, anyone who is interested in having a conversation about curriculum can contact me.  As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the district, I am involved in all decisions regarding curriculum.  While I do not make decisions alone, I am involved in the process as options are discussed and decisions are made regarding curriculum. 

Thanks for reaching out to clarify this misinformation!”

Melissa

*****

LFC has had quite a bit of correspondence on the subject from readers – both pro and con.  So one can assume that knowledge of cursive writing and reading in our digital age is a subject that is far from “settled science”.

Here is an article defending the position to learn cursive writing:
https://www.memoriapress.com/articles/top-10-reasons-to-learn-cursive/

Here is an article defending the position of NOT learning cursive writing:
https://www.aop.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-cursive#:~:text=Cons%20of%20Teaching%20Cursive%20to%20Children&text=%2D%20Penmanship%20is%20not%20as%20valued,because%20of%20unreadable%20tax%20forms.

Excerpt from the article:
Cons of Teaching Cursive to Children

– It can take time away from core or more “relevant” subjects.
– It can be time-consuming and frustrating for parents.
– If students don’t use the skill regularly, they could forget it.
– Penmanship is not as valued in education and society as it once was.
– Because cursive is faster to write, it can appear less legible than print and create confusion. Every year, up to $95 million in tax refunds aren’t delivered correctly because of unreadable tax forms.

Another quandary facing the fate of handwriting: If technology advances to the point that students use electronic or digital gadgets to write their names, do their school work, and communicate, will teachers eventually decide that preschoolers shouldn’t bother learning to write their ABC’s?

*****

Dr. Mlakar also provided us with the following information:

Here is some info on the topic:

Legislation requiring cursive in Ohio Standards:
https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HB-58

Excerpt from the House Bill 58:    [Paragraph Added by LFC]
“The department of education shall include supplemental instructional materials on the
development of handwriting as a universal skill in the English language arts model curriculum under division (B) of section 3301.079 of the Revised Code for grades kindergarten through five. The instructional materials shall be designed to enable students to print letters and words legibly by grade three and create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of grade five.” (Emphasis added by LFC)

Info from ODE regarding the handwriting guidance:
https://education.ohio.gov/Media/Ed-Connection/July-1-2019/Handwriting-guidelines-now-available

Supplemental material in the ODE Model Curriculum regarding handwriting:
http://education.ohio.gov/getattachment/Topics/Learning-in-Ohio/English-Language-Art/Model-Curriculum-for-English-Language-Arts/ELAMC_AppendixA_HW.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

At Riverside, students continue to practice handwriting, both print and cursive, through 5th grade.  In the upper grades, most lengthy assignments are turned in via technology, but students are utilizing handwritten products through note taking, brainstorming, and drafting.  However, at those levels, I believe teachers would be encouraging students to utilize the method that works best for them to move forward with the content.  As with any skill that is taught, teachers expect that students will have an understanding of the skill.

With regard to grades, students in elementary learn many skills that they do not get a separate ‘grade’ on – letter sounds, multiplication facts, the scientific method, etc.  These skills and underlying concepts are taught in the overarching subject, and practice and assignments are embedded in the course grade where appropriate.

Let me know if you have any other questions-

Melissa K. Mlakar
Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Riverside Local School District
440.358.8205

*****

We contacted Donna Garner from Texas to get another perspective of what is happening in other States.  It appears that new standards were implemented in 2019 when they found that the majority of Texas students could not read or write cursive.

donna_garner-150x150

Donna Garner

Education Policy Commentator EducationViews.org and taught English for decades in Texas public schools

“Pertinent Facts About the Teaching of Cursive in Texas Public Schools”

By Donna Garner
12.11.18

http://www.educationviews.org/pertinent-facts-about-the-teaching-of-cursive-in-texas-public-schools/

Excerpt from the article:
Yes, since 2009, Texas public school educators have been mandated to teach students cursive in Grades 3 and 4. Thus, teachers in Grades 5 – 12 should expect their students to be able to write and read cursive.

However, the teaching/learning of cursive in Grades 3 and 4 in most schools has not been emphasized; and teachers in Grades 5 – 12 have not been able to hold their students accountable for its use. The end result is that, unfortunately, the majority of Texas public school students in school right now cannot read nor write in cursive.

ELAR/TEKS ADOPTED IN 2017 – TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN K-8 IN FALL OF 2019 – GRADES 9-12 IN FALL OF 2020 (a.k.a., “new” standards)

 *Notice how much stronger the statements about cursive are in the “new” standards than in the “old” standards. Texas public school students will be required to learn cursive and to be able to use cursive Grades 2 – 12. 

 “The standards are cumulative–students will continue to address earlier standards as needed while they attend to standards for their grade.”

 The new ELAR/TEKS state that the student is expected to:

 Grade 2 – (E)  develop handwriting by accurately forming all uppercase and lowercase letters using appropriate directionality.

 Grade 3 — (D)  write complete words, thoughts, and answers legibly in cursive leaving appropriate spaces between words.

 Grade 4 — (C)  write legibly in cursive to complete assignments.

 Grade 5 — (C)  write legibly in cursive.

ACTION STEP:  Once the fall of 2019 gets here, It will be up to the parents and the public to hold educators in Grades 2-5 accountable to transition into the “new” ELAR/TEKS which do require the teaching and learning of cursive in Grades 2 – 12.

*****

(LFC Comments:  We thank Dr. Mlakar for taking the time to “educate” us on cursive writing in the Riverside School District.   We will take you up on your offer, and will be asking you in the future about Social, Emotional Learning, and Sex Education in the Riverside School District.)

 



Categories: State of Ohio & Lake County Schools, Uncategorized

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