The handwriting may be on the wall for Unit 5 schools.

The Illinois House passed legislation this week that would require public elementary and high schools to teach cursive writing. Unit 5 and many other schools stopped teaching it about five years ago when Common Core standards emphasized keyboarding skills with no mention of cursive.

District 87 has never stopped teaching it. But in Unit 5, they reallocated the time toward greater emphasis on reading and the ability to construct clear sentences. Unit 5 students still develop a cursive signature and some ability to read another person’s handwriting.

Good luck with mine. The nuns who spent a lot of time inflicting the standardized Palmer Method of cursive handwriting on me and my classmates were frustrated I was never able to produce the perfect, Slinky-like spirals that reveal, we were led to believe, inner peace and fine motor skills.

Be glad you’re reading a clean typeface — and not my handwriting — at this very moment. I have a hard time deciphering my own cursive, typically rushed as I try to accurately capture someone’s words.

Technology, of course, has supplanted that very need. Audio recording is easy. Keyboarding into an electronic device can be fast. When I do take careful handwritten notes, I seem to retreat toward a combination of cursive and the block letters learned early on.

In her book “The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting,” Anne Trubek says the shift from one technology to another is inevitable, that cursive has become useless and that one day, printing may be, too.

I worry about that because there will always be a need to communicate with the written word. But I also worry that if the grid collapses, we’ll be sorry so few people are learning basic skills once taught in courses like “home economics” and “shop.” An East Coast college professor recently reported that in a group of 19-year-olds, none knew how to break an egg. What are the chances they could grow a garden or make a fire in desperate times?

But I digress. I just hope there’s no temptation to remove spelling (because we can rely on “Spellcheck”) or basic math (because there are apps for that, too) from school curricula.

All of this area’s state representatives opposed the must-teach-cursive legislation, but it passed anyway on a vote of 67 to 48. Its sponsor, Chicago Democrat Emanuel Chris Welch, says at the moment his legislation lacks a sponsor in the senate. But he believes today’s tech-savy kids need to be able to sign documents, write personal notes and read historical documents.

Well, maybe. But that seems like something local school boards can decide. With today’s lean budgets, schools don’t need another state mandate.

This and that

When the new Fresh Thyme Farmers Market opens in part of the former Cub Food store on Wednesday, seven of Bloomington-Normal’s major food stores will be east of Veterans Parkway…can you name them?...the number doesn’t include the new Kroger’s scheduled to open next year…Just now retired as ISU’s chief of staff, Jay Groves has been appointed to the Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority board, replacing Dave Colee…I’m wondering what the ISU athletic department’s new deal with Learfield Communications on multimedia rights will mean for WJBC Radio’s long-standing connection to the Redbirds… Learfield would be smart to ensure Dick Luedke stays in his play-by-play role…So why was that huge piece of farm machinery weaving all over the rural road as it approached my car…sure enough…the farmer had one hand on the wheel, the other holding a cell phone to his ear…in the middle of the road, in the middle of Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week.

Vogel, of rural Bloomington, can be reached at


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