Changing Indiana

Yesterday’s post was more of a lament than a post, but just because this state has a long history of being “behind the curve”–okay, behind pretty much any curve–doesn’t mean we should shrug and ignore opportunities to effect positive change.

Women4Change Indiana is one of several organizations trying to bring our state into the 21st (okay, maybe only the 20th) century. Members have lobbied against gerrymandering, for women’s rights, and for changes to make voting easier and increase turnout. You can read more about the organization on its website.

I’ve been working with Women4Change on programming for an upcoming conference, and I’m ceding the remainder of today’s blog space to the organization’s initial announcement of that conference. If you can attend, great; in any event, please share it. Widely.


Women4Change Indiana is delighted to send you an invitation to our inaugural Civic Education Conference on October 6, 2022, in the Clowes Auditorium of the Indianapolis Public Library, 40 East St. Clair Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. The title is “Civic Education: The DNA of Democracy.” Registration for this conference is not yet open to the public, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to put this date on your calendar. Your understanding of the importance of civic education and its impact on our state and nation will enrich this conversation and inspire more action to contribute to civil conversations and a healthy democracy.

The 2021 Indiana Civic Health Index found that Indiana ranked among the 10 lowest states in voter turnout. Between 2012 and 2020, the State dropped eight spots.

Efforts to improve civic education in the state will also include increased awareness, education, and participation among adults. For instance, in the 2016 presidential election, Indiana ranked 40th in registration and 41st in turnout. Only 65% of registered voters in Indiana voted in the 2020 Presidential election. The Indiana Civic Education Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Susan Crouch, researched and supported successful legislation that, beginning in 2023, will require middle school students to take one semester of civics.

The conference will bring together prominent policymakers and stakeholders to examine the critical role of civic education in fostering civic learning and engagement in Indiana. Two framing questions attendees will be invited to ask themselves are: “What difference can civic education make?” and “What difference will I make?” There is more work to be done, and your participation will help us continue to improve the state of civic education in Indiana.

The conference features three major presentations interspersed with additional topic-specific workshops. The first keynote will be delivered by Dr. Cynthia Cherrey, President and CEO of The International Leadership Association, an organization of 3,000 scholars, researchers, and practitioners from over 30 countries. She will provide an international perspective on the place of civic education and its relationship to democracy globally. The second keynote will be from Dr. Rajiv Vinnakota, President of The Institute for Citizens and Scholars at Princeton University. He is an expert on civic education’s significance nationally, particularly for young people. The final plenary session will be focused on the state of Indiana’s civic education and how we can strengthen it.

For more information, please contact Haley Bougher, Vice President of W4CI,

You can register for the conference using the QR code below or the Coming Up section of the Women4Change website. Please ensure that you register by September 30th for discounted pricing. We look forward to hosting you at our Civic Education Conference, as your participation is what makes this program impactful.


Elcira Villarreal, Women4Change Indiana Board Chair Martha Lamkin, Women4Change Action Fund Board
Katherine Tyler Scott, Chair, W4CI Civic Education Conference Co-Chair Ava Taylor, Conference Co-Chair

1100 W 42nd St. | Suite 228 Indianapolis, IN 46208


  1. “What difference can civic education make?” and “What difference will I make?”

    Any education that raises awareness is beneficial. Being more educated in civic matters doesn’t mean we can penetrate the power blocs in this state when the wolves have sealed off access to ensure only wolves remain in power.

    Charles Koch doesn’t spend much money or time in Indiana because he doesn’t have to. How many newspapers are formerly run by Gannett? 6 or 7?

    Every person I meet who talks about their Gannett newspaper has no idea it was sold to a Japanese conglomerate in 2019. Why are you giving them your money if you don’t know who owns your newspaper?

    Indiana is backward because Hoosiers are backward. The smart ones leave upon college graduation.

    Hope they serve a nice lunch!

  2. OK, I admit my brain has a glitch which can take a well known comment and twist the meaning into something else. I did it in my high school Public Speaking class (to get over my shyness if you can imagine that); I was given the comment “If the shoe fits…” and changed it to me borrowing my best friend’s vast collection of shoes to math my outfits. Got a lot of laughs but don’t remember my grade; I did pass the class.

    “Changing Indiana” immediately took me to the picture of changing all of those really messy diapers on all of those babies girls and women will be forced to carry to term here in Indiana. Not only changing those diapers but providing the diapers for those babies girls and women will be forced to carry to term and somehow provide for their needs and raise them to adulthood.

    “The conference will bring together prominent policymakers and stakeholders to examine the critical role of civic education in fostering civic learning and engagement in Indiana.”

    To my mind, that means an audience listening to the same-old, same-old litany of what the situation is from those who are part of the situation which needs to be changed. Shouldn’t the “women on the street” be part of the agenda to represent their/our views of what we want/need to know and need to unlearn to have a louder voice expressing the challenges from their/our perspective. Getting Indiana’s “dim bulb” legislators to hear our cries comes after our education years and we are into living with the mess. Yes; future women of Indiana need better education during early years but the realities of today needs change now. If we don’t change the current situation, how can we hope to change the future? Beginning with the record number of voucher students who must participate in the religious training in schools they are attending and learning creation of life from Scripture where girls and women had no rights as they watch family and friends around them deal with the realities of life on all levels today. Is the issue of the current laws that keep girls and women as second-class citizens with our rights dwindling away on your agenda?

  3. Oops, of course that should say “match”, not math, my outfit. I need a new editor.

  4. So, middle school students are going to have to take a one semester class in Civics starting next year. Well, it’s a start. I can’t understand how the Indiana legislature was convinced to do that when obviously they themselves never took classes in Civics. We have a long way to go.

  5. Just try not to use the same “Civics” lessons that are set to be taught in Florida. The so called “civics” include how the Judeo Christian traditions have beneficially impacted our laws; only two percent of slaves in the US were brought here from Africa (98 percent therefore have to come from breeding programs that treated human beings as cattle, but they don’t mention that). It’s only going to get worse down here, but you still have a chance to make sure you tell at least some civic truth. It’s nice to have a requirement, but please follow up and know what the kids will be learning.

  6. if the federalist society now has $1.6 billion left as a gift,or whatever leo wants to call it,and the IRS allows it, seems they have the money to buy outright any move by us liberals to open some minds. the idea that money this big is any indication,and im sure they want return on their investment, its obvious the rich wants the U.S. to be soley owned by them.. did anyone ask what their end game is,yet?

  7. I took Civics in jr. high, in Indiana (in the middle of a cornfield, not Indianpolis). That was early/mid 70’s. Did the schools stop? Or did people just stop absorbing it?

    BTW, the information I found on the website about the conference on Oct. 6 said it’s at Central Library. I hope there’s full and complete information soon.

  8. JoAnn Green,

    I hope you signed up for the conference, and even more importantly, since you have already made up your mind that it’s going to be the “same-o-same-o” useless talk without even seeing the program, I hope you signed up to receive the newsletters of what Women4ChangeIndiana is actually accomplishing – in current time, about current injustices for women, in our state.

    W4CI was very instrumental recently in forcing Indiana to create a legal definition of “consent” for sex, so that girls and women who did NOT give consent could make the charge of rape. Prior to that, the prevailing Hoosier legal attitude was that if the female did not have broken bones, open bleeding wounds or numerous deep bruises, she must have been “ok with it.” That’s just one example.

    When you follow the newsletter you will be able to have real examples of positive change (not just images of dirty diapers, and yes, we are all bitter and angry about that) happening in our state.

    Better yet – don’t just read the newsletters – donate your time, energy, and other resources to the efforts W4CI makes.

  9. Jane,

    Yes, I took civics in public school in Mishawaka “back when”, too. The state stopped requiring it.
    Only recently, with pressure from several directions *including Women4ChangeIndiana*, did our legislators once again require civics education in school. We count it as another example of a real “change” with are helping to make.

  10. Peggy Hannon,

    Good point, and W4CI has indeed, helped shape the curriculum that Indiana will be using.

  11. Civics education is of major importance, as can be seen in how much the GOPIGGIES want to shut down ALL education!

  12. Will civics education be required in all schools or just public schools?

    I took civics in HS way back in the ’60s. It was a requirement at the time but I got very little out of it (teacher had issues). I learned more from watching my mother volunteer at the polls, vote in every election for which she was eligible, and becoming an officer in our local schools’ PTOs.

    One thing has been a negative of late. Women4Change, at least when I joined in its first year, seemed to morph into a political version of the Junior League. I attended events regularly, donated and supported initiatives for a couple of years then left after being accused of being racist on their FB page by several members. I was told to go elsewhere in pretty specific terms. I left the group after deciding that my efforts had little effect anyway.

    That being said, I support the aims of the group fully and appreciate the results of their efforts in the legislature.

  13. I wish you luck with the endeavor. I am afraid it is getting harder to persuade the current GOP, especially in education, since education is elitism, which is devil-worshiping progressive wokeness or something. However, planning never hurts and organizing helps.

    I hope good things come out of the conference.

  14. After going through voter registration training by LWV, I would love to see voter registration required as part of civics education, part of earning a diploma. (Just as 18-year-old men of my generation were required to register for selective service.) Registering and voting has been made far more complicated than it needs to be by our legislature.

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