Kentucky Public Schools to Replace Cursive with “Course of Study”

In a push to prioritize cursive handwriting skills for students in Kentucky’s public elementary schools, Republican Senator Lindsey Tichenor from Smithfield introduced Senate Bill 167. The bill mandates cursive writing instruction as part of elementary school curriculum, a requirement that has already been approved by the Senate.

Senator Tichenor’s initiative stems from the absence of cursive writing in the Common Core Standards, which aimed to standardize English and math teaching methods across states since 2010. Notably, over 20 states, such as California and New Hampshire, have embraced directives that enforce cursive writing education.

Notably, Kentucky’s existing elementary education standards already encompass teaching cursive and printed handwriting.

According to the Kentucky Academic Standards for Reading and Writing, second- and third-graders learn cursive writing, while kindergarteners and first graders focus on print letters.

State law accords school superintendents the authority to manage instructional resources and assessments for achieving educational objectives. School councils must adopt programs consistent with local board of education policies, and principals are tasked with ensuring program implementation in the curriculum.

The bill authored by Senator Tichenor stipulates that starting in the 2025-26 school year, cursive writing will be a compulsory course in all elementary schools, aiming to foster proficiency by fifth grade.

Senator Tichenor cited a 2020 study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, suggesting that cursive writing engages distinct brain activity in students compared to typing, potentially enhancing literacy skills.

Despite receiving positive feedback, some representatives expressed reservations about the new cursive writing mandate.

Representative Lisa Willner shared concerns about potential burdens for teachers and the ongoing teacher shortage in Kentucky. Meanwhile, Representative Timmy Truett, a school principal, highlighted the growing emphasis on technology in education over traditional handwritten tasks.

Senator Tichenor defended cursive writing as beneficial for motor skill development, noting the limited feedback from teachers regarding worries raised by Representative Willner.

Ultimately, Representatives Willner and Truett supported the bill.
The House Education Committee passed the bill to the full House with 15 in favor, one opposed, and one abstention.

For the bill to become law, it needs House approval before reaching Governor Andy Beshear for signature. The Kentucky Department of Education declined to comment on the legislation at this time.

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