A bill incorporating civics education into Hoosier students’ middle school curriculum is headed to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk after House lawmakers voted Thursday to pass the measure.
House Bill 1384 requires every student in the state to complete a one-semester course in civics education in either sixth, seventh or eighth grade.
All public, charter and state-accredited private schools across the state must require each student to successfully complete the course, beginning with students who begin sixth grade during the 2023-24 school year.
The bill tasks the Indiana Department of Education and State Board of Education with developing standards for the civics curriculum by July 1, 2022.
The bill also creates the Indiana Civic Education Commission, a task force that will oversee new civic learning responsibilities in middle schools. Among the members are the Indiana Chief Justice or her designee as well as a representative of the Indiana Bar Foundation, which champions civics education as part of its mission.
Republican State Rep. Tony Cook, the bill’s author, said the legislation is a byproduct of the Civic Education Task Force, which was responsible for making recommendations to boost civic engagement.
Cook expressed concern that students in Indiana do not learn enough about democratic governance before they reach high school. That makes students ill-prepared for their responsibilities as citizens, lawmakers argued, including voting in elections.