Bob Cherry: Engaging Hoosier students in our democracy


Can you name the three branches of government? Do you know what makes our government a democracy? For some, answering these and other questions about how our government operates is difficult. As a government of the people, for the people and by the people, American citizens must be knowledgeable and proactive members of our democracy, and we can work harder to instill this knowledge into younger generations who will one day lead our nation. This session, I am co-authoring legislation to ensure civics education is incorporated into Hoosier students’ middle school curriculum.

Recent data suggests that American citizens may not know the powers and roles of the elected officials they are voting into office. In 2020, a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania found that just 51% of U.S. adults could name the three branches of government. In that same poll, 23% of all U.S. adults could not name a single branch of government.

Students typically take a government class their senior year of high school, but House Bill 1384 would incorporate civics education into students’ curriculum sooner. The proposed bill would require students to take at least one semester of a civics course in grades 6, 7 or 8. Currently, civics education is woven into a student’s curriculum in middle school but there is no definite course dedicated to civics education. This legislation comes from the Civic Education Task Force, which was responsible for specific, actionable recommendations based on research and ideas from around the country and state.

It is vital for young Hoosiers to understand the importance of actively participating in their government, on the local, state and federal level. Adding another civics requirement would result in more informed and involved citizens. This would also help increase awareness and interest in public service, community involvement and participation in our elections.

Our democracy is dependent on Hoosiers engaging in every level of government, and that’s why it’s critical that we instill the importance of our democracy in students at a younger age. House Bill 1384 has received overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate and soon will be on its way to Gov. Eric Holcomb. For more information, visit

State Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, represents House District 53, which includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.