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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

Cursive Law Becomes Welch's Signature Issue

State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch midshot
Dusty Rhodes
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS
State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) demonstrates his own penmanship on the House calendar after his cursive bill became law.

With teachers devoting much of their time to preparing students for standardized tests, penmanship has disappeared from the curriculum in many schools. A new state law approved yesterday will bring it back, to ensure elementary students get instruction in cursive writing — sometime between 2nd and 5th grade.

State Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside) filed the measure the same day lawmakers approved his resolution on zombie apocalypse preparedness.

He took this measure a bit more seriously, but he wasn’t sure anyone else would.

"I certainly had no idea that it would get this kind of attention. When I brought it up, I struggled just to get it out of committee,” he says, “and, you know, now it's law."

As Welch discovered, people of all political persuasions are passionate about penmanship. Some have no use for it; others swear learning cursive is the only way kids can learn to read historical documents and birthday cards from grandma. Among state lawmakers, it turns out there are more of the latter.

Some legislators objected, calling it an expense schools can't afford, but Welch disagrees.

"It's not an unfunded mandate,” he says. “You talk to a teacher and they'll tell you: They can whip out their old projector screen, they can go up to their chalkboard. It's easy to teach and incorporate cursive into the things that they're already doing without any additional cost whatsoever."

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the legislation, but it garnered enough bipartisan support to become law without his signature.?

The law takes effect in time for next school year.

signed bill
Credit Dusty Rhodes
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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