Cursive may be coming back to public school classrooms in Wisconsin.
The top man on the Assembly's education committee, state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fon du Lac, is pushing a plan to require cursive be taught in all public schools in the state.
"We need young people to be able to read primary documents like the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. I think that's important. We also need them to sign checks and legal documents. That's important, but that's not the reason to mandate it," Thiesfeldt said. "The reason to mandate cursive is that there in an educational benefit to all of our students in knowing how to do this. There is some sort of connection that is made between physically writing something down on a piece of paper, particularly in cursive and remembering that later on."
Thiesfeldt taught private school before becoming a lawmaker. He says he saw what happened before the state stopped teaching cursive and what happened after.
"Since I've gotten to the legislature I'm seeing more and more people who tend to be recent college graduates who can't read or write cursive," Thiesfeldt added.
His proposal, SB 414, would require schools to add cursive lessons before the fifth grade.
Thiesfeldt says about half of Wisconsin's schools still teach cursive, which he says means there is a model for the schools that don't.
As for worries from local schools about more unfunded mandates from Madison, Thiesfeldt says he doesn't understand why local schools wouldn't want to do more for their students.
"This is something that the science indicates is beneficial to all students," Thiesfeldt said. "I don't know that if something is beneficial to all students, we would resist teaching it."
The latest public school test scores show that 60 percent of kids in Wisconsin cannot read, write or add at grade level.
Thiesfeldt said cursive could help with that too.
"I believe cursive is part of the process of solving that problem," Thiesfeldt said. "When you write cursive you have to think ahead. You can't stop between each letter and think about what the next one is. You have to think about the word as a whole and you have to be able to move from one word to the next."
Wisconsin is not alone in looking to require cursive in public schools. Illinois, Ohio, Texas and about 30 other states have all approved cursive mandates in the past few years or never stopped teaching it.
Thiesfedlt's plan will likely come-up for a vote next spring.