(Undated) – A first ever study of Hoosiers’ civic engagement shows the state’s residents do well in some aspects, but not others.
The 2011 Indiana Civic Health Index was chaired by former Ninth District Congressman Lee Hamilton and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard. It was sponsored by the Indiana Bar Foundation, Indiana University Northwest, and the Hoosier State Press Association, working in conjunction with the National Conference on Citizenship.
It uses 2010 Census data and other sources to track how involved Hoosiers are in their communities.
“This first Index will give us a baseline, a place to start building up,” Hamilton said. “The path to improvement starts with an honest look at where we are.”
Here are some of the highlights from the inaugural index:
-Indiana was 21st in the nation in 2010 for the number of people who belong to religious, neighborhood, school, sports, and other types of groups in their communities, a rate of 36.2 percent, ahead of 33 percent national rate.
-Ranked 32nd for volunteering, 26.1 percent of Indiana residents, just behind the national rate of 26.3 percent.
-17th in the nation in the number of families, 90 percent, that eat dinner together at least a few times a week.
-45th in 2010 national rank of residents working with neighbors to solve community problems, 6.5 percent.
-Indiana was 43rd in the number of citizens who are registered to vote at 61.2 percent. The state was 48th for voter turnout in 2010’s midterm elections at 39.4 percent, well behind the national average of 45.5 percent.
-67 percent of Indiana fifth grade students passed the social studies component of the ISTEP test in 2011.
-21 percent of Hoosiers indicated they talk about politics at least a few times a week. Forty-five percent reported not discussing politics at all.
In the area’s the report shows Hoosiers are lacking, Shepard and Hamilton point to two methods of improvement – the free press and education.
The study cited Pew Research Center data in finding that more than seven in 10 of those surveyed in Indiana who get news on a daily basis from one of either television, radio, newspaper, internet sources, or a news magazine voted in 2008.
Among Hoosiers who get news on a daily basis from the newspaper, radio, television and other sources on the Internet, nearly seven in 10 do a favor for a neighbor at least once a month. That compared to five in 10 for people who did not read a newspaper, watch television, or listen to radio news daily. Four in 10 who did not access news from the internet or a newsmagazine helped a neighbor out at least once a month.
The results of the study also brought Shepard and Hamilton to note more can be done to promote civic awareness in primary, secondary, and higher education.
“Indiana also has several initiatives to provide service-learning opportunities for young people as a component of encouraging volunteerism,” the report states. “The Indiana Department of Education has incorporated a service-learning component by partnering with the national Learn and Serve initiative. These efforts are no doubt critical to improving student understanding of civic life.”
The full2011 Indiana Civic Health Index can be viewed online at http://www.inbf.org/Uploads/33/Files/116222011_indiana_chi_report_final.pdf.