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Is cursive making a comeback? California and other states require it

The Golden State joins 22 others that have made cursive a mandatory subject in their standards of learning.
Child practicing cursive
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jan 08, 2024

Years after many considered it a lost art, cursive is now required in California classroom instruction up to the sixth grade. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 446 in the fall, but it didn’t take effect until Jan. 1 along with other new state laws. 

The Golden State joins 22 others that have made cursive a mandatory subject in their standards of learning, according to a website dedicated to cursive instructional resources and tracking legislation. 

“The ability to sign their name in cursive is important for future job applications, writing checks, signing medical forms, obtaining driver’s licenses, and voting,” said California Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), a former teacher who sponsored the new law, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Every child should be exposed to learning — as well as the benefits of — cursive writing.”

The importance of cursive in education has been debated over the years. Some experts, like Dr. William Klemm with the Optometry Center for Vision Therapy in Texas, claim learning cursive can have the same benefits on the brain as learning to play an instrument and can even help increase hand-eye coordination in children with dyslexia. 

But with the sinking need for handwritten letters or writing out checks came the trend of removing cursive from required learning in classrooms across the U.S. Many schools turned to computer learning skills such as typing in its place. 

The Los Angeles Times said the anti-cursive trend was reinforced in 2010 when many states adopted the Common Core State Standards, which had dropped cursive entirely. 

Since then, however, nearly half of the states have reinstated cursive in their learning curriculum, including Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio and, most recently, California and New Hampshire. 

Why there's a debate over cursive
students display some of their cursive writing work and exercises at P.S. 166 in the Queens borough of New York

Why there's a debate over cursive

A few years after common core was introduced, a survey found roughly 4 in 10 elementary school teachers were no longer teaching cursive.