Republicans Resist Requiring Illinois Schools to Teach Cursive

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

One of the criticisms of the Common Core English language arts standards is how it did not include standards for teaching cursive. Illinois lawmakers want to require schools in their state to teach cursive, and Republicans have fought against that. Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, even vetoed a bill that was passed, but the Illinois Legislature is poised to override that video.

The Chicago Tribune reports:

Among the losses state lawmakers dealt Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday was one over a signature issue: Whether the state should require schools to teach cursive writing.

Rauner vetoed a bill to enact such a requirement, and the Illinois Housevoted to override him on Wednesday. The Senate would have to follow suit when it returns next month for the proposal to become law.

In pushing for one mandatory cursive unit in elementary schools, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch said children need to be able to read documents the Founding Fathers wrote, as well as notes from grandma. And there was a political angle to making sure kids could sign their names too.

“Can sign your driver’s license. Can sign your passport,” the Hillside Democrat said. “Can sign a petition to run for office.”

Some Republican lawmakers contended requiring the teaching of at least one unit of cursive amounts to another Illinois mandate on local schools that doesn’t come with any state money to pay for it.

Rep. Sue Scherer said during debate that it was so clear that kids should be taught cursive that there shouldn’t even be a debate.

“It’s unbelievable we’re even having this discussion,” said the Decatur Democrat.

Considering that some Republicans, including Governor Rauner, have done next to nothing about repealing the standards, it is mindboggling to me that this is even up for debate.

They are worried about cost? How much did the state spend to implement Common Core and PARCC? Compared to that implementing a unit of cursive is peanuts.

This doesn’t make any sense at all. Kids should know how to write and, more importantly, read cursive. Writing cursive is beneficial for the development of their fine motor skills. This should be a no-brainer, but it probably does not fit into the workforce development scheme that it seems many Republicans, especially Chamber Republicans, have bought into.

Why teach them cursive when they’ll be working on computers and tablets at work? They won’t need cursive for the 21st Century Economy!

Kudos to Illinois Democrats for pushing this bill, now if we can only get them to repeal Common Core and replace them with quality standards.

Illinois House Passes Parental Opt-Out Bill

illinois-state-flagThe Chicago Sun Times reports that the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 64 to 47 in favor of a bill that give parents a “formal way” to opt-out their students out of assessments – in particular PARCC.

“This bill wouldn’t take PARCC away. Opt-out’s happening, it happened last year, it happened this year, it will happen next year whether we pass this bill or not,” state Rep. Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago, said.  ”All this bill does is create a clear process and take the student out of the role as the decision maker.”

Guzzardi, sponsor of HB306, said that now if parents think the state standardized test is inappropriate they tell their children to refuse to take the test, putting them in an awkward position. Some older students are opting out on their own without consulting their parents.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, a longtime supporter of the school reform movement, has threatened to veto the opt-out bill and has been leaning on Republican lawmakers to vote “no.” The governor’s administration worries Illinois could lose federal funding for poor students — or local control over that money — if more than 5 percent of students statewide refuse to take the PARCC.

A Republican governor is leaning on Republican lawmakers to short circuit parental rights… terrific.  To be clear here, Illinois parents do not need an opt-out law to opt-out, this bill just makes it less messy.