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Idaho Rep: Without cursive, kids, society lose

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls (Betsy Russell)
Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls (Betsy Russell)

BOISE - Idaho’s public school students shouldn’t lose the ability to read cursive, warns Rep. Linden Bateman, R- Idaho Falls, a retired history teacher. “What will that do to historical research?” he asked. “Family research? Genealogy? Our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence – kids will not be able to read those documents in the original. It disconnects kids from their past – weakens the connection.”

Bateman this morning introduced a concurrent resolution calling on the State Board of Education to include cursive handwriting in the new “Common Core” standards for what children should learn in school. Several other states, including California, Massachusetts and Georgia, already have made that move, Bateman said. It comes as kids have less and less cause for cursive writing, often using computers or other devices instead.

“We need to have balance in our system,” Bateman declared. “We just can’t go with technology in every corner of our lives. … We’ve got to retain beauty in our lives.” Plus, he said there’s lots of scientific research, much of it very recent, showing big benefits for children of cursive writing. “It’s good for kids’ brains,” Bateman said. “Cursive handwriting involves more areas of the brain than when you touch keyboards.” It also develops’ kids’ fine motor skills, he said, along with retention, composition and other skills.

Bateman said, “If you don’t teach cursive, the time will come when people will not be able to read cursive.”

The House Education Committee agreed unanimously this morning to introduce Bateman’s resolution; that clears the way for a full hearing on the measure. “We’re going to get people to testify – experts, I hope,” Bateman said.