Los Angeles Unified leaders believe today’s tech-savvy students still need strong penmanship skills, and last Tuesday they approved a plan to ensure cursive is taught in all elementary school classrooms.
The resolution is based on research showing cursive — not currently part of California’s Common Core standards — can stimulate children’s brain development and enhance their motor skills, the L.A. Board of Education said in a news release.
The board is calling for a plan to revive cursive instruction to be developed by the end of August.
“All the research cited over the last decades says that cursive instruction is conducive to word and letter association, and can be helpful to students in their language instruction,” resolution sponsor Richard Vladovic said in a statement. “We owe it to them to teach the fundamentals that can help build lifelong learners, because the bottom line is that this is good for kids.”
Officials estimate it will cost up to $5.5 million to implement the handwriting program, with $4.4 million needed annually for instruction books and a one-time $1.1 million investment to train teachers and staff. But the district can do it for much cheaper if classes print and use online materials, according to a budget analysis.
To support the move, the board cites research by Karin James, an associate professor at Indiana University who found writing by hand helps children learn better than typing.
But James’ research has also found there’s no proof that learning cursive has any benefits over other forms of handwriting.
“There is no conclusive evidence that there is a benefit for learning cursive for a child’s cognitive development,” she told the journal Nautilus in 2016.
Candace Bayer-Rivera, a teacher at Haddon Avenue STEAM Academy in Pacoima, told the L.A. Daily News she keeps cursive in her curriculum because she feels it boosts her students’ discipline and work ethic.
“It teaches them pride in the appearance of their work and it prepares them for adulthood,” Rivera said.
Justin Bravo, a 10-year-old student in Rivera’s class, told the newspaper he didn’t like flowing handwriting at first, but his teacher helped change his mind.
“It was super hard at first,” he said. “I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not doing this…peace, bye.’ But ever since Ms. Rivera started teaching us, it started coming to me easier and easier.”