Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Sum and Total

"Character is the sum and total of a person's choices." -P. B. Fitzwater

In early April, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the release of a new publication, Partnerships in Character Education State Pilot Projects, 1995-2001- Lessons Learned.

This government report summarizes programs conducted in 45 states and the District of Columbia to implement specific goals by integrating character education into the entire curriculum, creating a positive school climate and involving families and communities in building student character.

One important conclusion drawn from the study is that
"While character development remains primarily a family responsibility, results of the Pilot Project indicate that schools and individual classrooms have direct and significant influence; that the entire community must be involved; and that it is truly a shared responsibility among students, parents, teachers and the community at large."

The report's State Roll Call lists participants and describes what each of the 46 grantees was able to accomplish.
  • Alaska "developed a course curriculum at the University of Alaska, which delivered credited courses for teachers and other training for parents and members of the community."
  • Colorado "focused on 10 elementary schools and results taught the grantees six important lessons that were shared with school districts statewide."
  • Connecticut made the decision "to dissolve the statewide initiative and support local site development. Successful strategies under the grant were those that were aligned with curricula and did not focus solely on monetary rewards or posters and banners with character education themes."
  • Montana decided to test a character education model in five school districts with high populations of American Indian students. "A significant initial challenge—the need to create new materials that fit local values—resulted in a great benefit because it garnered broad local support for the effort."
"Partnerships in Character Education" presents valuable data and offers recommendations for effective programs that will foster "caring, civic virtue and citizenship, justice, fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness."

We expect our students to mature into citizens who "will live and work together as families, friends, neighbors, communities and nations." By embedding character education into the curriculum, we can model and reinforce these positive personal attributes.

"A man's character is his guardian divinity."Heraclitus

"no title yet" by Uqbar

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