Education task force wants civics lessons to take bigger priority in schools

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Civics would be a bigger part of your kids’ school day under recommendations from an Indiana task force.

The 16-member task force of educators and representatives of all three branches of government says civics should be added to Indiana’s curriculum standards when they come up for review again in five years, with civics and political science courses added to the requirements for a teaching license.

Brown County Schools Superintendent Laura Hammack says civics deserves the same emphasis the so-called STEM subjects have gotten. She says civic education can be woven into how those courses are taught without adding burdens to teachers’ workloads.

The task force envisions elevating civic education in ways similar to what’s been done with science and math. It suggests certifying “democracy schools,” with at least 30 schools earning that designation in five years through programs from mock trial to volunteer projects. Teachers and students could receive extra recognition for excellence in those projects.

The task force recommends requiring fifth and eighth graders to complete a civic education project, getting involved in new initiatives either in their schools or in the community.

Shawn Healy, who chaired Illinois’s civic education task force says there are benefits beyond civics. He says Illinois found a correlation between teaching civics, better attendance and higher grades.

Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch chairs the task force, which grew out of Indiana’s biannual Civic Health Index.

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