Is civic health under the weather?


The HSPA Foundation has drafted its section of the Indiana Civic Health Index – The Role of the Free Press.

Former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamil­ton and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard will announce the results Sept. 14 at the Indiana State Museum IMAX Theater in Indianapolis in conjunction with a celebration of Constitution Day on Sept. 17.

Following the release of findings, the Indiana Bar Foundation will host an advance screening of “We the People,” a documentary on the founding documents and history of the United States from the Smithsonian Institution, Bill of Rights Institute and National Archives.

Kenny Rogers and Morgan Freeman narrate the film that will be released in February.

“The Foundation board and I believe this project will shed more light on Hoosiers’ civic engagement, particularly in the areas of voting, interest in politics and knowledge of First Amendment rights,” said Karen T. Braeckel, HSPA Foundation director. “If Indiana does not come out with an ‘A’ on this report card, we need to address the problem quickly with more education at every level.”

The Indiana Civic Health Index focuses on the importance of an informed and engaged citizenry.

It assesses who participates in community activities such as voting and volunteerism, what resources promote civic engagement, what obstacles prevent citizens from getting involved in community decision-making and knowledge of the First Amendment.

Many Americans don’t understand their government, said Hamilton, who serves as the director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University.

The index will help the state focus on what must be done to improve people’s civic knowledge and skills, he said.

The National Confer­ence on Citizenship performed the analysis.

“This index, and the ensuing discussion of what it means and what should be done, is of keen interest to newspapers,” said John Rumbach, vice president of the HSPA Foundation board of directors and co-publisher of The Herald (Jasper).

The Indiana Bar Foundation, the National Conference on Citizenship and Indiana University Northwest are also partners in the creation of the state index.