by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
These kids today! What’s the matter with them? They can’t even sign their names.
Seriously: They can’t sign their own names because they have no idea how to write in cursive.
The reason is simple. Scores upon scores of American schoolchildren cannot produce a signature because American public schools haven’t taught this basic skill for years, the New York Post observes.
At least 10 states have either passed laws or added educations standards mandating that children learn handwriting. In most states, however, there are no such standards, and school districts or officials at individual schools decide if teaching cursive is worth the effort.
The pressure to generate sufficient scores on Common Core-related high-stakes math and English tests very frequently causes schools to ignore decent handwriting.
Such is the case in New York City, where teaching handwriting is up to each taxpayer-funded public school.
“It’s time-consuming to teach cursive writing,” Sheila Durant, principal of PS 69 in The Bronx told the Post. “We prefer to use that writing time to focus on the content rather than what it looks like.”
There is a cursive renaissance among principals at some New York City schools, however. …
… And so, for example, each Friday at PS 64, fifth-grade teacher Amanda Roccanova sends home an assignment with her charges to perform some cursive basics: downcurves, loops, etc.
“The hardest thing for them is holding the pencil correctly,” Roccanova told the Post. “A lot of them still hold it in a fist.”
At the same time, students seem to like learning the old-school skill.
“It’s a fancy way to write,” a fourth-grade boy told the paper.
“It’s like you’re drawing, but you’re making a word,” a classmate added.