PUBLISHED: October 24, 2023 at 11:28 a.m. | UPDATED: October 24, 2023 at 11:57 a.m.

Cursive handwriting is again part of the California elementary school curriculum under a bill signed into law this month.

Assembly Bill 446, sponsored by Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-La Palma), amends the education code for grades 1 to 6 to specify that cursive will be taught “in the appropriate grade levels.”

The legislation adds California to a list of 18 states that require cursive in the curriculum of public schools.

Instruction in cursive dropped off sharply around 2010, with the enactment of the Common Core State Standards, which have no cursive requirement. The argument against it was that the instruction was time-consuming and that it made more sense to teach keyboarding and other methods of communicating with digital devices.

Those advocating for a return to cursive have focused on the benefits not so much of writing it but of being able to read it. Quirk-Silva, a former schoolteacher, told the Sacramento Bee that when she began doing genealogical research into her family, she realized that most historical records were written in cursive.

Historian Drew Gilpin Faust elaborated on that theme last year in “Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive,”  an Atlantic magazine essay prompted by her discovery that only a third of the Harvard undergraduates in a Civil War seminar she taught were able to decipher documents in cursive — and even fewer could write it. (“What did they do about signatures?” she asked. “They had invented them by combining vestiges of whatever cursive instruction they may have had with creative squiggles and flourishes.”)

In an NPR interview about the essay, Faust said: “When we can’t read documents from the past, then the past is presented to us indirectly. … So there are limits in your power, in your sense of how the world works and your sense of how the world used to work, when you can’t have access to a means of communication.”

There is no basis, however, for a claim making the rounds on social media that cursive was “outlawed” in schools so people would not be able to read the U.S. Constitution. That document is available, on paper and in digital form, in a variety of typefaces.