Mizell’s bill brings cursive back to state’s schools

Published 5:42 am Friday, March 10, 2017

A new law will go into effect this year, bringing cursive back to schools, and local legislator State Sen. Beth Mizell played a major role in its passage.

Mizell’s bill, Act 482, mandates that all Louisiana public schools, including charter schools, teach cursive writing by the third grade and have it incorporated into the curriculum of grades four to 12. It will go into effect on July 1.

“The cursive bill came about as a result of a conversation with a resident during my campaign,” said Mizell, a Franklinton resident. “He mentioned that he’d like something done about students not writing in script and as a result, not reading cursive any more.

“He had a land surveying business and high school students couldn’t read notes on old documents at all. That’s what started the idea.”

In these days of rapid digital technology, penmanship has taken a back burner for many schools, she found.

“It was taken as a funny idea at first,” Mizell said. “Most people thought kids could write cursive and had no idea that they were not being taught in the schools, as most presumed. This seemed so basic to our expectation of what our kids leave school capable of that it still surprises people when we talk about it.

“Even in this time of digital everything the handwritten signature is a unique part of our identity. Our young generation strives to be unique and I found it pretty sad that this simple gesture of our unique signature was not being offered to them. Also, there have been many studies of the brain’s link between memory and writing in cursive that confirms an ability to better retain what’s written in cursive more so than when keyed in or written in print.”

She said the issue is widespread.

“The Washington Post did a great story on this trend last year that supported that the return of cursive crosses all lines — red states and blue states are bringing it back across the country,” Mizell said. “Fox 8 did a short special program on it during the session that I haven’t seen. But I was told that the all contributors agreed in support of its return to our school children, I had hoped so.”

She said the focus is on education, not execution.

“The focus of the bill was on teaching the skill, not judging it for a high quality of penmanship, but rather to focus on letting the student know the skill well enough to improve at the level they feel motivated to reach,” Mizell said. “At a minimum, to sign a name in cursive would be a step in the right direction.”