Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pa. lawmakers say cursive handwriting instruction should be required

Desks in a classroom.
Matt Rourke
A classroom at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pa., Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

For Joe Adams, penmanship matters.

Before the Republican from Wayne County joined the state House in 2022, he was the superintendent of the Western Wayne School District.

Adams has seen studies that show using cursive can boost a child’s learning capability and fine motor skills development.

It is also how legal documents were written before modern printing and how the founding documents of the United States were written.

For those reasons, he is sponsoring legislation to require the teaching of cursive in public schools.

WESA Inbox Edition Newsletter

Start your morning with today's news on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

Adams said people have messaged him regarding the younger generation’s lack of cursive knowledge.

“One of them called me and says ‘I have a 12-year-old granddaughter and a 17-year-old grandson, they can’t read my notes that I write them and they can’t sign their name. I took my grandson to get his driver’s license and he couldn’t sign, didn’t know how to sign his name,’” he said.

The legislation has bipartisan cosponsors including Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, and Abigail Salisbury, D-Allegheny.

Salisbury is an attorney. In her practice she regularly looks at documents from the 1800s that are written in cursive. She said she has had difficulty finding young people to work for her since many can’t read cursive.

“If I can’t find people who can read cursive, they can’t do the job,” she said. “They can’t work in my law office because they’re not able to literally read the legal documents.”

A former calligrapher, she also noted there is an art element to cursive.

Ciresi said it is important for students to grasp a greater understanding of the English language.

“It’s important to know how to write, and it’s also important to know how to read it,” Ciresi said. “I think that we’ve gotten away from a lot of these things. We’ve gotten away, really, from the language of the arts that we live in, you know, and humanity and I think this is a good thing for kids to be able to write.”

If passed, Pennsylvania would be the 21st state to make cursive mandatory.