How will Indiana’s new civic education law affect students? PFW professor explains

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A new law passed by the Indiana General Assembly aims to help Hoosier students better understand how government works and be involved in their community.

House Enrolled Act 1384 adds new civic education requirements for middle school students, starting with 6th graders. It also creates a state civic education committee made of state legislators and educators. They will be tasked with evaluating the state’s current standards on civic education and whether any changes need to be made.

Indiana already has standards in civic education starting with 7th grade through the high school level. Andrew Downs from Purdue Fort Wayne’s Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics speculates that the commission could recommend small changes to these standards.

“The good news is there are a lot of people doing research on this. So the recommendations from the commission actually could be good for not only increasing civics, our engagement in society and keeping our responsibilities and duties upheld, but also in civility.”

Downs adds that civic education goes beyond knowing topics like the three branches of government. It involves being active in the community, either through political and non-political means. Watch below as Downs explains what civic education covers.

In today’s politically charged climate, prioritizing civic education could also improve civility. Downs mentions how people are quick to dismiss opposing viewpoints. He speculates that this could have been a driving force behind the general assembly’s decision to pass H.E.A. 1384.

The committee will release their recommendations on civics education no later than July 2022, while new requirements for 6th graders begins in the 2023-24 school year.

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