News Advisory: Neal to Testify on History Curriculum, Requirements
Indianapolis (Jan. 4) — The Senate Education and Career Development Committee was to hear testimony today on the state’s history curriculum and requirements from Andrea Neal, adjunct scholar of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and author of a book celebrating the Indiana bicentennial.
“We continually lament the brain drain without seeking to understand all the causes,” Neal says. “Many of our young people do not have brand loyalty to Indiana. They are not proud of our state because they don’t know anything about it.”
Neal notes that Indiana history is taught in Grade 4. It must be taught in later grades to have an impact, she argues. Twenty-seven states mandate instruction in state history or state government at the high school level. In Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, Mississippi and Washington state, a semester-long course is a graduation requirement. In Arkansas, schools must offer a semester of state history sometime between grade 7 and 12. Kansas schools offer a nine-week course of study.
She adds that elsewhere state history is taught in middle school when a child is developmentally ready for abstract thinking. New York, for example, offers New York history in grade 4 and as a two-year progression in Grades 7-8. North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Utah teach state history in Grade 7 or 8.
“When you are proud of your name and heritage, you guard it,” Neal says. “As students learn about Indiana, they may find reasons to stay, seek jobs and raise their families.”
Neal, who teaches U.S. and Indiana history at St. Richard’s Episcopal School in Indianapolis, served on the State Board of Education from 2013 to 2015. She recently released “Road Trip – A Pocket History of Indiana,” a collection of 100 bicentennial essays available in book form from the Indiana Historical Society Press.