Washoe County School District not required to teach cursive writing

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Washoe County doesn't have to teach cursive writing -- there's no mandate, but some schools still do.

It's not required in Washoe County classrooms. A spokeswoman said it's decided by each school and by each class.

"Technology has something to do with that, and changing times," said Kindra Fox, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Washoe County School District. "You certainly don't want handwriting to outbalance like math and science and social studies, music."

The district said about half the schools in the district teach it. Of the ones that do, it's traditionally taught in third grade and for just a few minutes a day.

Teachers at Van Gorder Elementary School in Sparks weave cursive writing into other lessons throughout the school year, as well as teach it a few minutes each day.

Most of the kids say they enjoy it.

"It's fun and you don't have to pick up your pencils as much," said one student.

But since it's not required, cursive writing has been declining over the decades. That means kids won't be able to completely understand our history. For more than a century, cursive writing was the way history was transcribed across the country and in Nevada.

At the State Archives in Carson City, almost all documents, before the popularity of the typewriter, were written in cursive.

"I've seen very few instances of printed writing for that period. It's all been cursive writing," said Jeff Kintop, the Administrator for the State Library, Archives and Public Records.

School groups volunteering at the State Archives have been unable to read the documents to transcribe them.

"We still had to make the staff going through and correct almost every name because they weren't able to see the delicacy of a name like John C. Noteware, where the last part of the name is W-A-R-E. To them it looked like Notewam - then someone's lost to history," said Kintop.

Lawmakers introduced a bill last legislative session to encourage schools to put cursive writing in their curriculum. It died in committee.

Even though it's not mandated, the Washoe County School District doesn't have any plans to phase it out completely.

"There's still that happy medium that we shouldn't spend a ton of time on it, but it's worthwhile spending some time of it," said Fox.

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