I remember being a kid in school learning what was then called "penmanship." It was also referred to as "script," or "cursive." Whatever it was labeled, I soon discovered that I had virtually no aptitude for it whatsoever.

That made it a little tough at home because my dad had absolutely beautiful penmanship (is it penpersonship now?). His letters were all perfectly formed and spaced, and his words were something that my teacher said mine weren't: legible. My dad, being of the letter-writing generation, was constantly on me about poor penmanship. "I feel sorry for the poor sap who gets stuck reading a letter from you someday," he scolded me once.

My mom, on the other hand, had handwriting that was so awful that it would give a headache to the people who deciphered the hieroglyphics in Egypt. If she had written the Dead Sea Scrolls, they'd still be dead. So bad that doctors made fun of her handwriting.

Well, the laugh is on my dad, because I haven't written a longhand letter in over 30 years. Like most people, I type out my words, because that's what kind of world we live in. If I'm forced to leave a handwritten note for someone, I print the words rather than using cursive. And, according to several studies, I'm the norm, not the exception.

However, the Illinois House recently (April 26th) passed House Bill 2977, with the thought in mind that cursive is a very, very important skill:

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the School Code. Provides that every public elementary school and high school shall include in its curriculum a unit of instruction practicing writing in cursive.

Fiscal Note (IL State Board of Education)
HB 2977 will not have a fiscal impact on the State Board of Education. HB 2977 will have a fiscal impact on school districts; however, the specific amount is not known.

State Mandates Fiscal Note (Dept. of Commerce & Economic Opportunity)
This legislation does not create a State mandate.

Did you notice the section highlighted in bold? That's right, the state will mandate that individual school districts comply with the order, but they won't be given any money from the state for it, and the state really has no idea whatsoever how much this will cost the districts. That's called an unfunded mandate.

The vote, which passed the Illinois House by a vote of 67-48, invokes the ire of Illinois Policy's Joe Kaiser, who points out:

Illinois’ more than 800 school districts, which are the fifth-most of any state in the nation, already place a heavy burden on taxpayers. Illinoisans pay some of the highest property taxes in the country – with the main cost driver being funding for education – and can’t afford to have another Springfield mandate passed down to them. Rather, lawmakers should take steps to lessen the burden on taxpayers. Instead of burdening schools with new requirements with mystery costs, lawmakers could promote school district consolidation, which could save taxpayers a substantial amount of money each year. If Illinois just cut its number of school districts in half, the state could conservatively save $3 billion to $4 billion in pension costs over the next 30 years. And instead of focusing on passing unfunded state mandates, lawmakers should get to work balancing Illinois’ budget – something they haven’t done in 16 years – by tackling real economic reforms. A good place to start? Comprehensive property tax reform.



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