A Maryland school board was taken to task by a man who said a 2017 district high school graduate he knows can't read cursive, the Baltimore Sun reported.
"I am appalled that a graduate of high school in this county couldn't read a note I wrote," Jim Hudson told the Harford County Board of Education at its July 17 meeting, the paper reported. Hudson added that the board is "on purpose" graduating "students who are illiterate," the Sun said.
Hudson told the board he'd given a note written in cursive to a woman who just graduated from Fallston High School, the paper reported, and that she struggled to read it and avoided making an attempt in front of him.
"I was dismayed. They are illiterate on purpose," he told the board, the Sun said. "Why are you doing it to these children?"
Hudson argued that students who can't read cursive won't be competitive later on, the paper reported, adding that if a hiring decision came down to two candidates — one who can read cursive and another who can't — the one who can read cursive most likely will land the job.
Joseph Licata, chief of administration for Harford schools, told the paper the district has "no formal component" in its curriculum that addresses cursive writing — but "through the use of primary resources and exposure to other publications, students are exposed to cursive writing,"
Licata told the Sun that cursive was part of the curriculum "many years ago" at the elementary school level but when it was removed is unknown.
As to the dressing the school board received last month, Licata told the paper "we have no response to Mr. Hudson's comments other than we are sorry he feels that way based on his experience with one graduate of our school system, but we thank him for his input."
Other educators have observed the decline in cursive know-how.
"When you see a 17 or 18-year-old student struggle to sign their name, it can be painful," Kim Parsons, school counselor at Herbert Hoover High School in Clendenin, West Virginia, told WDTV-TV.
"It's just something that has become extinct," Cara Phillips, assistant principal at Webster County High School in Upperglade, West Virginia, told the station. "Students don't know how to write in cursive. They just don't."
Phillips added to WDTV that cursive writing "is a skill that everyone needs to do especially today. We just can't be without it. To be successful, to move ahead in every job, I think that you have to have that."
One student told the station he still uses cursive, unlike many of his classmates.
"I think that it is really important. In AP U.S. history we are required to read documents that are in cursive and some students can't do that," Hunter Donahoe told WDTV. "It makes it a lot easier than having to transfer stuff over. My teacher writes in cursive and you have to sign your name in cursive. I think that it makes your handwriting neater."
Cursive instruction is mandatory in Louisiana public schools and must be introduced by the third grade, the Associated Press reported, and must continue through 12th grade.
The Kentucky Department of Education also has ordered cursive writing instruction, in part because graduates were struggling, according to the Winchester Sun.