Cursive Writing Education Returns to NYC Schools

Cursive handwriting instruction is returning to elementary school classrooms in New York City. 

Schools chancellor Carmen Fariña has committed to include cursive writing in third-grade curriculum in city schools, according to Staten Island assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who has advocated for cursive instruction. Many schools have already started implementing the curriculum.

The assemblywoman said it's important for young people to "know how to write a signature of their own to identify themselves, and have the ability to sign a legal document, check, or voter registration form." 

"Without knowing how to read script, students can't even read historic documents like the Declaration of Independence," she said in a statement Wednesday.

Penmanship classes were dropped when the new Common Core educational standards were crafted. But some states have been fighting to restore cursive instruction. 

A Department of Education handbook for the 2016-2017 school year includes an instruction manual for cursive handwriting, and it addresses the question of whether print or cursive are still relevant in the digital age.

"Evidence reveals an advantage for handwriting using pen and paper over keyboarding for students in grades 2 to 6 for amount written, rate of word writing, and number of ideas expressed," the DOE manual states. 

The manual continues: "Despite advances in computer technology, research supports the argument that today’s students still need instruction in handwriting for two primary reasons. First, learning to form letters by hand improves perception of letters and contributes to better reading and spelling. Second, automatic letter writing promotes better composing—both amount written and quality of writing."

The DOE says it's up to school leaders and staff to decide how to incorporate cursive and manuscript instruction, and cursive instruction is not mandated. 

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