by Ethan DeWitt, New Hampshire Bulletin
Cursive and multiplication tables will be required teaching in New Hampshire schools next school year, after Gov Chris Sununu signed a bill Wednesday.
House Bill 170 requires that schools must teach cursive writing “by the end of the fifth grade” as part of English language arts instruction. The bill also requires that multiplication tables be taught by the end of fifth grade.
Currently, state statute only “encourages” public school districts to teach cursive and multiplication tables.
The legislation allows schools to exempt or modify the requirements for students on an individual education program (IEP) plan.
The bill narrowly passed the House, 199-174, but was supported by a unanimous vote in the Senate.
Supporters argued that cursive should be taught so that younger generations don’t lose the ability to read and interpret the handwriting of older generation Americans, as well as historical documents like the U.S. Constitution. And they said that learning cursive can assist students facing dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
Opponents included the American Federation of Teachers of New Hampshire, whose president, Deb Howes, said curriculum decisions should be made by school boards, not the state.
Howes testified to lawmakers that “all of the elementary school teachers I spoke to” already taught cursive writing, and added that for some students, a focus on penmanship can get in the way of broader writing skills.
The new requirements will take effect in July, ahead of the next school year.
This story was written by Ethan DeWitt, a reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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