OLYMPIA, Wash. -- It used to be a standard part of elementary school, but today cursive writing instruction is optional.

A bill submitted in Olympia would make cursive mandatory in Washington schools.

"Part of being an American is being able to read cursive writing," said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, the bill's sponsor.

Roach said if children are not taught cursive they can't read historic documents written in cursive.

She also said she had a constituent complain that her grandchild wasn't able to read a note the grandmother had written in cursive.

The bill has the backing of Republicans and Democrats.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn said more attention needs to be paid to keyboarding skills than cursive writing.

Since state law does not demand the instruction, most districts let teachers decide if they want to include it in their curriculum.

Amy Koster, a fifth grade teacher at Olympia's Garfield Elementary, said there is not enough time to teach cursive writing.

"With all the requirements on our plate, it is hard," said Koster.

Instead of teaching it during class she had students learn it through homework assignments.

"I still want them to know how to read cursive and how to write in cursive," said Koster.