Gov. Doug Ducey has vetoed a bill to require schools to teach cursive handwriting to all Arizona students.
In his veto letter, Ducey said that, while he strongly believes in the value of cursive writing, students are already learning it without a state-imposed mandate that schools teach it to all students. The governor noted that he has directed the State Board of Education to ensure that the new academic standards they adopt include a requirement that students learn cursive reading and writing by the 5th grade.
“I want to make it very clear that I do not agree with others who proclaim that handwriting is a ‘lost art’ or a ‘relic of the past,’” the governor said in his veto letter.
Ducey cited a link between strong handwriting skills and increased cognitive and learning development, brain activation, letter recognition and greater reading coherence as among the reasons cursive writing is worth learning in the 21st Century.
Lawmakers had struggled over the bill, with a bipartisan coalition arguing that requiring schools to teach cursive infringes on local school board control and creates an unfunded mandate to teach students an anachronistic skill that they didn’t need in the digital age.
A majority of lawmakers, however, agreed that the skill was worth learning.
House Speaker David Gowan argued that the legislation and the handwriting style were essential for students, even with today’s techonology.
“What happens when the computers aren’t in front of you? Are we going to get rid of checkbooks, too? Or should we just put an X for our names?” Gowan asked rhetorically during a House vote on the bill.