𝒞𝒶𝓃 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓇𝑒𝒶𝒹 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈?
If not, there’s a bill for that
New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a bill that would require cursive to be taught by fifth grade. One lawmaker said it's necessary to ensure people can read the U.S. Constitution. (Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)
Lawmakers are taking up education issues this year that go beyond the big ones, such as adequate funding, school safety, and school vouchers. The instruction of cursive writing and multiplication tables is also dividing the public and legislators.
House Bill 170, which cleared the House, 199-174, and looks likely to pass in the Senate Thursday, would require all schools to teach cursive handwriting and multiplication tables by the end of fifth grade. Currently, the law only encourages them to do so. The bill would allow for accommodations for students with learning disabilities.
Arguments from supporters include this one from Rep. Rick Ladd, a Haverhill Republican and former educator: How will people read the original version of the U.S. Constitution if they don’t understand its cursive handwriting?
The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Deb Hobson, an East Kingston Republican, told the Senate Education Committee on March 28 that research has linked learning cursive with healthy brain development and increased retention of information. She also said that cursive writing has led to earlier detection of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
Rep. Arlene Quaratiello, an Atkinson Republican who has taught college-level English, said some of her students struggled with her editing notes because she wrote them in cursive. Rep. Glenn Cordelli, a Tuftonboro Republican, told the committee of his niece who can’t read her aunt’s cursive handwriting.
The bill’s requirement that multiplication tables be taught got considerably less attention. Ladd said he found a divide among educators he talked with about the use and necessity of multiplication tables.
The bill’s opponents, which include the American Federation of Teachers – NH and the New Hampshire School Boards Association, have largely posted two arguments: While they support the teaching of both subjects, curriculum decisions should be left to local school boards. And, they said, most schools teach cursive and multiplication lessons in elementary school.
Following a public hearing where 13 people registered support for the bill and 24 recorded their opposition, the Senate Education Committee voted, 5-0, to recommend the full Senate pass the legislation. It’s on the Senate’s Thursday “consent” calendar, usually an indication that senators expect a bill will pass without debate.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.