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Ohio Senate passes bill to reintroduce handwriting into curriculum up to 5th grade

Ohio Senate passes bill to reintroduce handwriting into curriculum up to 5th grade
The skill of handwriting has become obsolete in the age of smartphones, with many children losing it entirely. Ohio lawmakers have now passed a bill to develop a course that would teach children how to write in cursive.

The Ohio Senate passed a bill on Thursday compelling the state board of education to develop a curriculum that would include teaching children from kindergarten up to 5th grade how to handwrite. According to the legislation, known as House Bill 58, schoolchildren should “develop the ability to print letters and words legibly by grade three and to create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of grade five,” that is, when they are 10 or 11 years of age.

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The bill was originally introduced in the Senate in February 2017, but faced unexpected opposition from some lawmakers who argue that the skill is no longer relevant and that the bill should be watered down.

The version of the bill passed this week no longer obliges teachers to include handwriting lessons in their curriculum, making it optional.

Proponents of the measure argue that handwriting should not belong to the dustbin of history, since it improves cognitive ability in children. Co-sponsor of the bill Rep. Andrew Brenner pointed to studies that “have shown that learning how to write in cursive helps students learn how to spell and read, especially children with dyslexia.”

Moreover, kids who cannot write in cursive are likely to lack the ability to read it and therefore will not be able to decipher historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence. “Our history is all written in cursive,” Rep. Marilyn Slaby said.

The bill still has to be greenlighted by the Ohio House of Representatives before it can be signed by the governor. Ohio is not alone in its quest to bring cursive back to schools. In November, Illinois lawmakers overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto and voted in favor of mandating cursive instruction in public elementary schools. 

Similar laws have been passed in other states. 

Learning cursive was compulsory for US schoolchildren up until 2010, when a new educational standard was introduced that no longer requires children to learn handwriting. 

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