Texas schools bringing cursive back to classrooms

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AP Photo/Bob Bird AP Photo/Bob Bird

In the digital age, people are increasingly communicating by computer and smartphone. When the new Common Core educational standards were crafted, penmanship classes were dropped. 

KTRK reports that The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, for language arts will have students start learning cursive letters in second grade. 

The state board made the change in 2017, and all districts will implement it in the 2019-2020 school year. The list of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading can be found here. 

The debate over whether or not students should learn cursive has gone on for years. 

State leaders who developed the Common Core omitted cursive for a host of reasons, including an increasing need for children in a digital-heavy age to master computer keyboarding and evidence that even most adults use some hybrid of classic cursive and print in everyday life. 

"If you just stop and think for a second about what are the sorts of skills that people are likely to be using in the future, it's much more likely that keyboarding will help students succeed in careers and in school than it is that cursive will," said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of K-12 policy and leadership at the University of Southern California. 

Cursive advocates cite recent brain science that indicates the fluid motion employed when writing script enhances hand-eye coordination and develops fine motor skills, in turn promoting reading, writing and cognition skills. 

They further argue that scholars of the future will lose the ability to interpret valuable cultural resources - historical documents, ancestors' letters and journals, handwritten scholarship - if they can't read cursive.

In Kansas, the department of education believes cursive handwriting as a student skill still "holds an important place in the instructional practice of every school’s curriculum and can be integrated in multiple content areas." 

“Research supports the role that handwriting instruction plays in the cognitive development of children and this activity is even more important in an increasingly digital environment,” the Board of Education’s website says. “The Board expects educators to ensure that all students can write legibly in cursive and comprehend text written in this manner.”