Harford School Board blasted for recent graduate's inability to read cursive

An Aberdeen man recently blasted the Harford County Board of Education because a 2017 graduate he knows could not read cursive writing.

"I am appalled that a graduate of high school in this county couldn't read a note I wrote," Jim Hudson of Aberdeen told members of the Harford County Board of Education at their meeting July 17. "You are on purpose graduated students who are illiterate."


A couple weeks earlier, Hudson told the board members, he had given a note to a young woman who graduated this year from Fallston High School. She looked at the note, written in cursive, and told him she would read it later. She didn't read it then because she was struggling with it, he said.

The Harford County school board approved spending $2.1 million Monday to purchase laptops for all fifth and eighth graders, despite concerns from two board members about funding similar purchases in the future.

Hudson realizes this is the digital age, he said, but students who can't read cursive won't be competitive. If a job opportunity came down to two equally qualified candidates, the one who reads cursive and the other who does not, the one who does will most likely be hired, he said.

"I was dismayed. They are illiterate on purpose," he said. "Why are you doing it to these children?"

The Harford school system has "no formal component" in its curriculum that concentrates on cursive writing, "although through the use of primary resources and exposure to other publications, students are exposed to cursive writing," Joseph Licata, chief of administration for Harford schools, explained in an email.

Cursive was part of the curriculum "many years ago" at the elementary school level, he said, but no one can determine when it was removed.

Hudson urged the school board to begin teaching cursive writing again, to use it when possible.

"We have no response to Mr. Hudson's comments other than we are sorry he feels that way based on his experience with one graduate of our school system, but we thank him for his input," Licata wrote.

This story is updated from an earlier version with a clarification of the speaker's relationship with the high school graduate.