House approves cursive bill

Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives approved a measure Monday night that calls for schoolchildren to learn to read and write in cursive.

The House voted 85-6 to approve House Bill 1697, a measure sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Butt that would add handwriting instruction to the state curriculum. Students would not be required to learn cursive, but Butt said the technique promotes brain development and will allow students to read historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation, in their original form.

Butt also encouraged grandparents to learn how to text — though she made no attempt to require it by law.

"That's a part of communication, too," she said.

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The bill has sailed through committees, drawing support from both Democrats and Republicans. Its popularity has been high enough that House Education Committee Chairman Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, asked Butt to pledge to withdraw the bill if other lawmakers added amendments as riders to the measure.

That promise proved prescient last week, as opponents of the Common Core education standards filed several amendments attacking the education standards, a strategy they have followed on other education bills and that they used to score a major victory on the House floor last week. That upset in hand, they agreed to drop their riders to the cursive bill on Monday.

The Senate Education Committee could take the bill up as soon as Wednesday.


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