Federal File

April 18, 2001 1 min read

Call Your Mom

Character education in public schools may be an important federal education priority for President Bush. But character education begins at home.

The president never misses a chance to mention his “first teacher"—beloved former first lady Barbara Bush, something of a character herself—and the effect she had in shaping him.

At a White House event last week to publicize character education, Mr. Bush couldn’t resist bringing mothers into the conversation. He hosted members of the Young Gentlemen’s Club from Cleveland Elementary School in Washington. The club uses mentors to teach values. Mr. Bush wants to triple federal funding for such character education programs, to $25 million a year.

He chatted with Isaiah Greene, a middle school graduate of Cleveland’s program. Isaiah told Mr. Bush that the program teaches them “how to respect women.”

Mr. Bush, taken aback slightly, asked him if he listened to his mother, who was sitting nearby. Isaiah said yes.

“I listen to mine,” the president assured him.

DARE Gets Bush OK

The White House last week issued a proclamation bearing Mr. Bush’s signature, recognizing the embattled Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. He named April 12 National DARE Day, to recognize the officers and students who participate in the widely used—and widely criticized— national initiative.

“Today, we recognize DARE as a useful partnership between the research community, educators, law enforcement, parents, and students,” the proclamation stated.

DARE officials announced in February they are revamping the program’s curriculum, which has been the subject of numerous studies showing it to be ineffective.

The White House issues a proclamation every year to recognize the program, a White House spokeswoman said.

— Joetta L. Sack

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2001 edition of Education Week