The quality of handwriting is on the decline, and many children are not properly learning cursive writing. There's an old article from 2003, and a newer article from a few days ago about this problem which the older article calls "alarming." And check out the discussion at Slashdot.
My own handwriting is pretty horrid (which makes one wonder why I am so obsessed with pens), and I was never able to write in cursive as quickly as I was able to block letter, despite the fact that my grade school teachers insisted on it and I always got dinged on my report cards for bad handwriting.
It turns out that I was able to have a successful life without being good at cursive writing. The most useful skill I learned in the 6th grade was how to type. Typing has proven to be ten times more useful than writing in cursive, yet only a fraction of the educational time was spent on it--clearly a misallocation of teaching resources.
In law school, I couldn't have been happier when I learned that we were allowed to type our essay exams instead of having to handwrite them. The same was true of the Arizona bar exam.
As an adult, no one wants to read your handwriting. It's only used to take notes for yourself. I'm having trouble trying to figure out if hand writing is important at all?
Writing by hand does have some significant advantages over writing with a computer. You can write if there's no electricity. Even the tiniest and lightest notebook computers are a lot heavier than a pad of paper, and you don't have to worry about dropping or losing your paper. Paper is cheap. If you need to write something and you left your notebook computer at home, you can go into any drugstore and buy a paper notebook for not much more than the price of a cup of coffee at Starubcks. And writing on paper is nearly completely silent. It annoyed me in my classes in law school and graduate business school when people were typing in the middle of the class--even though there were times in graduate business school when I was one of the people typing during class. Although writing by hand still has its uses, in the end no one expects to read your handwriting, it's only for you to retype later if you want anyone else to read it.
Given that people will only write for themselves and not for others to read, it doesn't really make sense to spend so much time teaching children handwriting. Maybe it's time to end the teaching of cursive handwriting and just focus on block lettering? Cursive writing is supposed to be faster, but this seems to be true for only a minority of the population despite all the time and effort spent in grade school. Given the failure to successfully teach cursive writing, it makes a lot more sense for grade schools to just give up and instead focus on legible block lettering.
I have an additional thought in my post Does anyone read the Constitution?