Back to Basics: Time to brush up on your cursive

This morning, the House Education Committee considered HB 146, Back to Basics, which would mandate mastery of cursive by fifth grade and memorization of multiplication tables. House members supported the bill, introduced by Reps. Hurley, Warren and Shepherd, with few reservations.

Rep. Cotham expressed her support for HB 146, emphasizing that many historical documents are in cursive. However, she called for provisions for students with special needs who could not master cursive writing or the memorization of multiplication tables.

Rep. Graham echoed Rep. Cotham’s concerns and noted the opportunity for evaluations and occupational therapy as a result of some students’ inability to become proficient in these areas.

Rep. Stam expressed some reservations about the bill. “What you really want is legible communication. For some that is cursive, for others, that is print. So, what is the point? Do you want communication or a particular format that is not the best communication method for everyone,” said Stam.

Also unclear was how to go about assessing whether or not mastery of cursive or memorization of multiplication tables actually takes place.

The bill passed through committee.

HB 317, Improve Ed. for Children Who Are Deaf, also passed through committee. The bill would provide annual assessments for deaf students to assess their literacy gains, require that residential and day schools for the deaf are part of a spectrum of choices available to parents, and create a database that specifically identifies deaf and hard hearing children to track literacy gains and ensure their literacy achievement.

Prior to discussion of these bills, House members favorably recommended House Joint Resolution 21, which would set the stage for a joint session to confirm McCrory’s six State Board of Education nominees. The joint session will take place at a later date.


  1. Gene Bridges

    March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    On it’s face, this is one of those things that looks relatively innocuous, as if it has a greater purpose in mind – namely setting a precedent. Let’s face it, this looks like a good thing – after all, we all sign our names, and even in my 40’s now, I admit my penmanship from my school days is, ahem, less than stellar after having a job that requires me to sign my name quickly and often many times at once. The precedent I see here is this: If the legislature starts meddling with school curriculum at this level, then it sets a precedent for further micromanagement in the future. Typically, slippery slopes are logically fallacious, but we know politicians of any stripe are willing to test the waters like this, set a legislative precedent, then proceed further and push the envelope bit by bit. What’s next? Mandating a particular view of the Civil War be taught in our classrooms, to take just one example from what’s being taught in some states? Curriculum decisions are the business of the State Board working in conjunction with local systems . I’m against this not because of its content, but because of the precedent it sets. If this was a simple resolution to encourage the schools to do this, I’d have no problem, but actual legislation – not so much.

  2. Bob Rose, M.D. (retired)

    March 26, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Being able to write the alphabet by hand at a minimum rate of 40 letters per minute in K-1 ensures rapid letter naming and subsequent literacy. It is the wave of the future, but the type of writing doesn’t matter, be it cursive, printing, connected italic, or whatever, as long as it’s LEGIBLE.

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