By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An unexpected topic emerged as a priority among City Council members at this week’s school budget hearings: Why isn’t cursive writing mandatory?

Council members, including education committee chair Jannie Blackwell, wanted to know why the district no longer mandated that kids be taught cursive writing.

“We certainly are hopeful that the school district may not make it optional, but may make it a requirement.”

The district’s chief academic officer, Donyall Dickey, said older kids do more and more writing on keyboards. He said cursive writing was integrated into lower-grade instruction, but that it was not a stand-alone subject.

“When something is, quote, “mandated,” there are professional development costs for teachers. There are consumable costs for kids to write in cursive.”

But Council members maintained, kids need to be able to read cursive writing and to be able to sign their names.