Washington--The spread of drug abuse, suicide, and other destructive behaviors among the young demands that school boards set policies for building students’ character and fostering ethical behavior, according to a report issued last week by the National School Boards Association.
“Increasingly, the consensus is that principles which should be learned from preschool age in the home, the church, and other community institutions as well as the school, are not being adequately transmitted to the younger generation,” says the report, “Building Character in the Public Schools: Strategies for Success.”
Prepared with an $83,233 grant from the Education Department, the document argues that certain shared values, such as justice, responsibility, and self-respect, are appropriate topics of instruction in the public schools.
But each community must determine for itself which values to impart, it emphasizes.
“We firmly and unanimously hold the view that character, values, morality--or whatever word we use to define this issue--cannot be imparted to our students from the nation’s capital or from state capitals,” Jonathan T. Howe, president of the nsba, said in releasing the report at a press conference here.
A school board’s policy on charac4ter education, the booklet says, can be “as simple as a sentence or two in the statement describing a district’s educational philosophy, or as complex as a three-page statement of the moral and ethical values to be upheld and transmitted to students.”
Values should be taught both explicitly, through the curriculum, and implicitly, through practice and example, it adds.
For local boards considering a character-education program, the report provides examples of successful programs. They include:
The East Lynne (Conn.) High School’s community-service internship, a for-credit course in which students perform community service over an extended period to gain an understanding of various societal issues.
The Birmingham (Ala.) City Schools’ “Cabbages and Kings” program for grades K-8, a series of 16 television programs designed to help children understand how attitudes and values are formed.
A code of ethics adopted by Browning Springs Middle School in Madisonville, Ky., which allows administrators to assign character-improvement essays to students violating the code.
Copies of the report can be obtained at a cost of $9 each by writing William Tanner, nsba, 1680 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. 22314.--rr
A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 1987 edition of Education Week as Values Education Supported