THE ROLE OF CHARACTER EDUCATION IN AMERICA’S SCHOOLS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, MARCH 1, 2000
Serial No. 106-92
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
Table of Contents
Statement of Mr. Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families, Representative from Delaware. *
Statement of Mr. Dale Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Representative from Michigan. *
Statement of Ron Kinnamon, Coalition Vice-chairperson, Character Counts! Coalition. *
Statement of Diane Berreth, Deputy Executive Director, Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development. *
Statement of Esther Schaeffer, Executive Director And CEO, Character Education Partnership. *
Statement of Mr. Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, Do Something. *
Statement of Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Schools, Hudson Public Schools. *
Appendix A-the written statement of Mr. Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families, Representative from Delaware *
Appendix B-the written statement of Mr. Dale Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Representative from Michigan. *
Appendix C-the written statement of Ron Kinnamon, Coalition Vice-chairperson, Character Counts! Coalition. *
Appendix D-the written statement of Diane Berreth, Deputy Executive Director, Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development. *
Appendix E-the written statement of Esther Schaeffer, Executive Director And CEO, Character Education Partnership. *
Appendix F-the written statement of Mr. Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, Do Something. *
Appendix G- The written statement of Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Schools, Hudson Public Schools. *
Table of Indexes *
HEARING ON THE ROLE OF CHARACTER EDUCATION
IN AMERICA'S SCHOOLS
Wednesday, March 1, 2000
House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a.m, in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael N. Castle, [Chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Castle, Souder, Greenwood, Petri, Graham, Kildee, Owens, Roemer, Woolsey, Kind, Kucinich, and Wu.
Also Present: Representative Van Hilleary.
Staff Present: Castleman, Office Manager; Pam Davidson, Legislative Assistant; Rob Green, Professional Staff Member; Victor Klatt, Education Policy Coordinator; Sally Lovejoy, Senior Education Policy Advisor; Patrick Lyden, Legislative Assistant; Krisanne Pearce, Professional Staff Member; Reynard, Media Assistant; Jo-Marie St. Martin, General Counsel; Rich Stombres, Professional Staff Member; Staff Present (Continued): Kevin Talley, Staff Director; Bailey Wood, Legislative Assistant; Kim Proctor; June Harris, Education Coordinator; Alex Nock, Legislative Associate/Education; Roxana Folescu, Staff Assistant/Education.
Chairman Castle. Good morning. A quorum being present and being a few minutes late, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families will come to order. We are holding this hearing today to hear testimony on the role of character education in America's schools under Committee Rule 12B. Opening statements are limited to the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of the Subcommittee who is to my right, Mr. Kildee of Michigan, of course.
This will allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner and to help members keep to their schedules. So therefore if members have statements they may be included in the hearing record. With that, I ask unanimous consent for the hearing record to remain open for 14 days to allow member statements and other documents referenced during the hearing to be submitted in the official hearing record. And that would include any statements, by the way, which you will have submitted also which will be made a part of the record.
Statement of Mr. Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families, Representative from Delaware.
I would like to welcome everybody here, particularly our witnesses to this subcommittee hearing in our series to learn more about the many issues associated with the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Today we will focus on character education. Just for edification, although you all may know it, the Elementary and Secondary Act encompasses most of the federal programs that deal with K through 12 education.
In the past, those who helped parents reinforce values in their children, neighbors, coaches, teachers, guidance counselors and many others, wouldn't necessarily have recognized a role as a character educator. It was just something that friends and family did to foster a sense of community among its youngest members. Unfortunately, in an increasingly transient society, where both parents often work, this traditional model has been abandoned.
As a result, it now seems that some children lack the basic values that would not only help them avoid unwanted pregnancies, drugs, alcohol and violence, but also teach them the importance of being respectful and honest. Today every teacher and every student can articulate the consequences of this neglect. The recent rash of school shootings is one example, but so is the low voter turn out among young people and their lack of involvement in community organizations.
As a result, many Americans are looking to character education as one possible solution to the problems that plague our classrooms and our communities. Today's witnesses are attempting to fill the values vacuum that exists in our society. Among other things, these groups are working to help our young people learn about ethical values, moral character and how to contribute to the betterment of society.
In my mind, their job is not about teaching the agendas of the left or right wing of a political spectrum. Their job is about teaching widely accepted concepts of right and wrong. Without a doubt, teaching children about good character is a daunting and complicated task. It is also an issue that raises as many questions as it answers. When schools choose to teach our students about tools and skills necessary to develop good character, the appropriate role of the federal government in such education efforts becomes a key concern.
To that end, we must determine to what extent should the federal government push character education? Can we say that character education is the activity that prevents youth violence? Should we decide which particular character traits should be taught and how should they be taught? And can we effectively measure and evaluate character education programs and how can we tell if they are successful?
I look forward to gathering opinions on these questions from our expert panel of witnesses. Again, I thank everyone for their attendance today. And I will yield to the distinguished Ranking Member from Michigan for any statement he may wish to make.
See Appendix A for the written statement of Mr. Michael N. Castle, Chairman, Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families, Representative from Delaware
Statement of Mr. Dale Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Representative from Michigan.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to join with you this morning and welcoming the witnesses before the subcommittee today. Character education and its role in our schools and the effect it can have on our young people is an increasingly important issue. And I know that we are both looking forward to the testimony this morning.
As a former high school teacher, I know that character education can play a very vital role in shaping the lives and values of our children. It is not a new concept, actually. I taught school for ten years and I do believe that even in my Latin classes I was able to inject some character education in those classes. Some did better on character than they did in Latin, but_
Mr. Kildee. Character education is not a substitute for good parenting or meant to take the place of good parenting. Rather character education can facilitate or complement the development of a young person's moral character. A recent incidents are excellent examples of, sometimes very tragic examples, of both the need and the benefit of character education and good character among our young people.
The rash of school shootings, one just a mile outside my district yesterday and other incidents of violence in our nation speak volumes about the need for further emphasis on responsibility, good citizenship, understanding, tolerance. Tolerance is certainly a very important part of character education. I taught in an inner-city school which was kind of a microcosm of at least urban America and tolerance is a very important part of that.
Also the success of many of our young people and their contributions to our towns and villages throughout the, through community service, shows how good character can benefit all. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I again stress the importance and value that a strong character education program can have in our schools and communities. Since the young people of today are our leaders of tomorrow, they are all going to have to rely on their good character. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing this morning.
See Appendix B for the written statement of Mr. Dale Kildee, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families, Representative from Michigan.
Chairman Castle. Well thank you, Mr. Kildee.
If you could teach character in Latin, you are indeed a wonderful gentleman, is all I can tell you. It was a difficult subject for me. Let me try to lay out the process a little bit so you are all comfortable with what you may hear or see here as we go on. In a moment, I will take a couple minutes to do a brief introduction of each of you.
Obviously I can't do justice to all you have done, we don't have time for that. We will start with Mr. Kinnamon and we will go to his left and we will go through all five of you. Each of you is to take five minutes. We don't enforce that absolutely rigorously, but we do like to see you try to do it. Your statements will be taken and read by all staff, so your complete statement will be in. The lights will be green for four, yellow for one and then red. When you see the red, if you can really think about trying to come to closure, it would be helpful. Members will come and go; it is the nature of the business. There are a lot of things that are going on here at all times. But after you have completed all of your testimony, we will each be able to take five minutes to ask you questions.
There could be, but probably will not be, a second round of questions, again, because of the pressing nature of the schedule. There may be a vote in the middle of all this; you will hear bells. But when there is a vote we have 15 minutes, so we would not break right away. But if we do break, we will have to break for at least ten minutes. Sometimes there are multiple votes and you just never know what is going to happen with respect to that.
So that is basically what you are going to see. And with that, I am going to do the introductions and I am going to start, obviously, with Mr. Ron Kinnamon, who will be the first witness. He serves as Vice Chair of the Character Counts Coalition and also is Vice President of America's Promising Alliance for Youth. Character Counts is a coalition of educational organizations and students that strive to improve the character of America's youth.
After 38 years of service, Mr. Kinnamon recently retired as Assistant National Executive Director of the YMCA of the U.S.A. He also serves on the Board of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, which is committed to improving the ethical quality of society by changing personal and organizational decision-making and behavior.
Dr. Diane Berreth is the Executive Director of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, ASCD. ASCD is an international, non-profit, non-partisan, education association committed to the mission of forging covenants in teaching and learning for the success of all learners. For countless years she has been involved with character education. From 1995 to 1998, she was a delegate to the annual White House Conference on Character Building for a Democratic Civil Society. From 1993 to 1997, she was President of the Character Education Partnership and most recently advised PBS on a planned documentary entitled Character Education: A Classical Approach.
Ms. Esther Schaeffer serves as Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Character Education Partnership. The partnership is a collaboration of organizations of people promoting character education in America's K through 12 school system. Formally she served as an executive with the National Alliance of Business, where she oversaw research and policy development work which focused on identifying trends in public education and the work place and their implications for business and government.
Ms. Schaeffer has authored numerous articles on character education which have appeared in publications of such organizations as the National School Board Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals and Ethics Resource Center.
Mr. Andrew Shue is a community leader and Co-Founder of Do Something, which is an organization that has inspired and trained millions of young people to take action as responsible citizens. Over the past seven years, Mr. Shue has been instrumental in raising millions of dollars to help foster community involvement and in creating strategic partnerships with MTV, Fox Television, Blockbuster Entertainment and America Online. Of particular interest to the subcommittee, Mr. Shue also served as a high school math teacher in Zimbabwe and most importantly, I learned, he was born in Wilmington, Delaware, which is as important as anything else in that bio that we just heard.
And Dr. Sheldon Berman has served as a Superintendent of Hudson Public Schools in Hudson, Massachusetts since 1993. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Character Education Partnership, Educators for Social Responsibility and the Education Commission on the State's Compact for Learning and Citizenship.
Formerly, Dr. Berman founded and served as the President of Educators for Social Responsibility. Dr. Berman has also authored numerous articles on character education and community service.
You are an extraordinarily well-qualified panel. We welcome you here. We are delighted to have you, and Mr. Kinnamon the floor is yours.
Statement of Ron Kinnamon, Coalition Vice-chairperson, Character Counts! Coalition.
Mr. Kinnamon. Thank you very much. It is great to be here. Thanks for mentioning those things I am involved with now. When I retired a year and a half ago from the YMCA I decided it was time to give back and I now volunteer full-time for these various organizations. And it is great because you can say whatever you want, and it just doesn't matter. I recommend it for everyone.
Character Counts, who I am representing today, was created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in 1992, where leaders of youth-serving organizations came together to come up with a list of common core values that we should be teaching and demonstrating to children, both in schools, but also in all of our youth activities. One of your colleagues, the late Barbara Jordan, was at that meeting and participated in that.
The group came up with six core values or what we call pillars of character. They are not politically, religiously or racially biased, and they are the long-term solution to solving the most pressing problems that face young people today. It seems to me that we spend far too much time as a society on the supply side, far too much time on the supply side rather than the demand side. For instance, on the war on drugs, this was an attempt to keep drugs out of the company and reduce the supply.
We should have been spending equal time on why someone would take drugs and destroy themselves with abusive drugs. And the way you work on the demand side is through character and in teaching basic core values. Things like substance abuse, teen violence, teen pregnancy and so forth. And it is very true that we have been doing these things for a long, long time. We have been developing character and teaching values, but we have not been as intentional as we need to be.
There has not been an organized, systematic plan to do that in schools, in parenting or in other organizations. The values are simple and basic. They are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. And it is important to name the six values rather than just say, teach values. It creates a great strength when you do that. The Character Counts Coalition is made up of a number of very large youth-serving organizations like YMCA and 4-H and Campfire Boys and Girls and the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Red Cross and Larossa (phonetic) and so forth and so on.
Also coalition members are large educational organizations like the American Federation of Teachers and National Association of Professional Educators, the NEA, the National Association of School Boards, etcetera. Whole communities have also become Character Counts Communities. Albuquerque, Knoxville, Akron, Gaithersburg right here, Jacksonville, Florida and Summit, New Jersey and so forth, where the whole communities have come together, all segments committed to teaching and demonstrating these values to the children in their communities.
It wasn't long after this initiative was started that teachers, superintendents, school board members and others realized that it was critical to teach these values and demonstrate these values if we were to have a civil classroom. And that is a critical problem that gets in the way of education. Teachers saw that they were unable to educate effectively if they couldn't control the kids. Obviously, if everyone, students, administrators, teachers, and principals, is operating on a common set of values it will solve this problem.
At the present time there are 156 schools with over a million students attending who are now active members of the Character Counts Coalition. More schools are being added every day. It is a tremendous growth, in fact our largest growth of any organizations are through schools. Sometimes it starts with students, sometimes with teachers, sometimes with the principal, sometimes with a board member.
One way it has been jump started just a couple of months ago, Governor Bush of Texas announced that they were going to give $900,000.00 over the next two years out of the Texas state government to provide training in these areas to teachers and other youth leaders. Now last spring we decided that we needed to do one other thing and that is develop a, we are interested in changing the culture of sports in our society. Now that is taking on a big one right there, college level and down.
And 23 of the top people in sports, of sports organizations have met, John Wooden and so forth. Hosted by the Governor of Arizona who incidentally is a certified Character Counts Trainer, we met for two and a half days and came up with a code of ethics for sports in our society, called Victory with Honor. And that is being promoted in many places.
With regard to federal funding, I think it is critical to say if it is necessary. I don't think it is; it is going to happen whether you folks give any money or not. It will just speed it up some. If it doesn't, it is sort of a runaway train out there right now. If you do, I think it is critical to the last legislation; make sure it relates to the six values.
And also I think it is critical that it goes directly to schools and not through state agencies, the schools or other organizations. In closing, let me just say that what we really need from leaders in the country, such as yourselves, is we need leadership in character development. We need you to not only act on a set of core values; we need you to encourage this.
We do not have a youth problem in our country; we have an adult problem. And as all of us take on the responsibility to act with good character, we will be there.
See Appendix C for the written statement of Ron Kinnamon, Coalition Vice-chairperson, Character Counts! Coalition.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kinnamon and we will go to Dr. Berreth next. I hope I pronounced your name correctly.
Statement of Diane Berreth, Deputy Executive Director, Association For Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Ms. Berreth. You have and I thank you. I would like to thank the committee for your foresight in calling a hearing on this important topic. As Mr. Castle mentioned, I am representing the views of ASCD, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that represents educators in the classroom, at the building level and in higher education. We are a unique organization in that our 165,000 members do not coalesce around any specific professional or role groups. We are united around a single issue, delivering the best, most effective educational approaches in classrooms, in schools and in educational leadership at all levels.
In this regard we frequently seek out and adopt broad-based positions and perspectives on issues facing education today. ASCD is a strong supporter of character education because it helps to unite the two primary goals of education as defined by Socrates over 2,400 years ago. It helps students be good as well as being smart. Since the publication of the landmark report, A Nation at Risk, 17 years ago, school reform has been high on the agenda of policymakers such as yourselves and educators.
Yet, the reform movement has focused almost entirely on being smart. That is the academic aspects of schooling. The balance and the purposes of schooling have been lost. We can reform schools academically, but if we create a nation of students who do not understand, care about or act on core ethical values, we fail. ASCD's position on character education rests on the premise that students must be prepared to address moral issues in their own lives and to fulfill the moral responsibilities of citizenship.
Schools should make basic moral values, such as justice, altruism and respect for human dignity, a strong unifying theme. All schools should work in partnership with families and the community to develop and implement character education programs. We join the Character Education Partnership in urging Congress to support federal, state, local and school-based approaches to character education.
We specifically endorse the Partnership's three-pronged approach relating to implications for federal legislation. First, to encourage states and districts to take action, but avoid prescribing specific programs or values that they should adopt. I believe that a key to the success of this work is in local control of programs, with each community developing consensus on its own core values and the programs it selects.
Second, to support additional research and evaluation of character education. And third, to provide for a central source of information on best practices and programs. ASCD also supports continuing and expanding the partnerships in character education pilot project program including lifting the cap on the number of grants that can be awarded, extending the number of years that states may receive funding, extending the pilot project to include teacher preparation programs, and providing federal resources for locally-developed professional development efforts for character education including grants to schools and school districts.
In addition, we have identified three critical elements to support effective character education in school-based environments: personalization or human-based scale schooling, expansion for professional development for educators and student involvement and service. The first and perhaps most critical element needed for effective character education programs is human-scale schooling. Smaller classes and smaller schools enable schools to become communities in which teachers and students know and value each other as individuals.
Schools within schools, block scheduling, and mentoring programs all create more opportunities for knowing and caring for each student. Personalization also involves local support through community-based advisory groups. We know these groups can achieve consensus on core moral values across political, religious and socio-economic differences. And it is equally important for policymakers to support initiatives that encourage coordination in character education delivery.
Things such as expanding character education training to all adults in the school, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, aides, they all are a part of the school community. Seeking ways to identify good character and positive role models is important attributes in the hiring of teachers and of all staff. And recruiting, involving and training parents as full partners. They are partners, not only for their school-age children, but they are in fact the first moral teacher for every child and the most important.
The second element of an effective program is expanded professional development. Teachers and administrators need training, which they generally do not now receive in pre-service to enhance their leadership, their core pedagogy and their content knowledge. They need specialized knowledge on how to serve as mentors and positive role models as well as how to function as facilitators of moral behavior such as caring and respect.
And finally, educators need curriculum development time to seek teen-based approaches to integrating character education to the curriculum they already teach, and into other parts of the curriculum as well, such as music and art. Finally, students need the opportunity to practice becoming contributing citizens through service to their schools, their communities and each other. The growing service education movement, which some people describe as character education with legs, can contribute to positive learning and re-engagement of youth involvement and civil life of the United States.
In closing, there is broad-based support for character education in schools, across the political, religious and cultural differences that often divide us. Everything we do in schools teaches values, whether by design or default. The question is not should school teach values, but which values and how well will we teach them.
We urge Congress, as well as educators, parents and communities to support and promote character education. And we urge all Americans to seek broader understanding of our shared core values and ways to act upon them for the future of our young people and for our democracy.
See Appendix D for the written statement of Diane Berreth, Deputy Executive Director, Association For Supervision and CurriculumDevelopment.
Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Dr. Berreth, we appreciate your testimony too.
And Ms. Schaeffer is our next witness.
Statement of Esther Schaeffer, Executive Director And CEO, Character Education Partnership.
Ms. Schaeffer. Thank you, Mr. Castle and I am delighted to be here as a representative of the Character Education Partnership to discuss the federal government's role in assisting schools and communities across the country. Briefly, we are a national advocate and leader for the character education movement and provide objective research and resources to those seeking to implement character education, whether they are educators, the community members, the public or policy makers.
As administrators and educators scramble to identify ways to address character development and they scramble even more after incidents like the one that Mr. Kildee mentioned in Flint, Michigan, they are faced with very difficult questions, the most important of which is what are the effective approaches that will work in their schools and their communities. If there is one important message that I can leave with you today, and it ratifies very much a number of the points that Dr. Berreth raised, it is that to be effective, character education is not an add on and it cannot be done in isolation in the schools. It should be infused throughout the entire school curriculum and culture, as described in our 11 Principles of Effective Character Education, a document that was developed by leading character educators who in fact represent a very wide spectrum of philosophical and political points of view and beliefs.
The 11 principles are the ungirting points that are behind recommendations for you today about the federal role. First of all, the federal government should encourage states and districts to take action, but should avoid prescribing specific programs of values that those states should adopt or districts should adopt. The modern character education movement was initially begun through the independent efforts of individual schools and each ended up trying to reinvent the wheel.
The role of the federal seed money has been essential in helping to stimulate state activity and in providing guidance and information sharing for each of those individual schools and districts. Recognizing that federal dollars will remain modest, although we hope increased, CEP recommends that the legislation lift the cap on the number of grants that can be awarded each year. We also recommend that the legislation remove the cap on, or at least extend, the number of years that a state can receive funding.
And you may want to consider some kind of match as the years go on. Additionally, as Dr. Berreth mentioned, the importance of teacher and administrator effectiveness is key and that means they need professional development. We urge that federal legislation underscore the need for training school personnel in character education and encourage state and local education agencies to use federal funds to provide professional development for teachers and other staff.
Our second point, avoiding prescribing specific programs or values, is made for a number of different reasons. While there are a number of key values and Mr. Kinnamon mentioned ones that are certainly very effective and very good (there is nothing wrong with the six), most districts and communities often select different values and they do that after engaging in a process, a fairly inclusive process of school members and community members.
And in doing so, this often helps foster buy in. And as a result, it helps broaden commitment to local character education efforts. For that reason we think it is best for the federal government to allow for flexibility in selecting values to be emphasized by the schools and districts. Very importantly, federal legislation should not mandate or even encourage specific programs or curricula by name. When specific programs have been written into legislation in some states, even as suggestions, schools and districts have felt pressured by the purveyors of these programs to use their materials.
Instead schools and districts should be encouraged to identify their character education goals and then select the programs or curricula that can best enable them to reach their goals. And in many cases the most effective approaches are ones that are home grown, that are developed within the schools and districts themselves.
The second key point for us is that the federal government should support additional research and evaluation of character education. To date, only very limited resources have been devoted to research in the field of character education. Most research is focused only on specific programs or various elements of character education, such as violence prevention. There has not been an effort to synthesize what is known about successful practices or to fill the gaps in information. These are important national needs and ones that the federal government can best address. Evaluations from the states that are receiving federal funds can be helpful, but they are largely piecemeal assessments of their own efforts and are not rigorous or extensive enough to address the information needs of the field. Far more quantitative and qualitative research is needed.
Our third key recommendation is that the federal government should provide for a central source of information and dissemination on best practices and programs, approaches and curricula. Efforts to develop comprehensive, independent state information systems centers have proven duplicative and inefficient, yet practitioners certainly need information on best practices and available materials. We have found, on our website alone, which has a database, that the number of visitors has increased in just one year from 2,000 a month to 5,000 a month. So I think that helps illustrate the thirst for information. To meet the growing need for information, we urge the federal government to facilitate the development of a consistent, reliable, national information source that is uniformly accessible to all that are seeking information about character education.
In closing, while character education is not a panacea, nothing is. Nothing will stop the Flint, Michigans. It can truly make a significant difference in attitudes and behavior, academic achievement, school culture, peer interaction and parental involvement and it has done so in a growing number of schools.
Character education is creating environments where negative and anti-social behaviors are less likely to flourish or go unnoticed or unreported. Character education is creating schools where children feel safe because they are in an atmosphere that values respect, responsibility, caring and honesty, not because a guard or metal detector is posted at the door. After all, character education is helping to foster in young people what, in the end, counts most, a heart, a conscience and the ability to know that is right and what is wrong. We applaud your attention to this field and look forward to helping you in any way we can as you move forward.
See Appendix E for the written statement of Esther Schaeffer, Executive Director And CEO, Character Education Partnership.
Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Ms. Schaeffer for your testimony, too. Mr. Shue.
Statement of Mr. Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, Do Something.
Mr. Shue. Chairman Castle, Congressman Kildee, we are all here today, not for a formality, some time spent with you to talk about character. We are here because we believe, deep in our bones, that this is absolutely necessary. And there is a reason why you guys are sitting up there and we are sitting up here. And that is because you are the leaders. You are the ones who may take the words of the people who may or may not light a spark in all of you, that might light a fire that could spread across our country.
And we believe that this is a movement that needs to be spread. And you can call it character, you can call it whatever you want. You can call it Character Counts or Do Something, whichever programs we all represent. But it all comes down to what kind of life skills are young people going to have. What kind of skills are they going to have to go forward as active citizens? How are they going to treat each other? How are they going to treat their brothers and sisters? How are they going to treat their classmates? After they get slapped in the face, are they going to come in the next day with a gun and shoot one of them? This is a big deal; it is a really big deal. And there is so much talk about all these different things we want to point the finger at and we are not going to sit here and say this is the only answer because we know it is a huge puzzle. But we know that this is working. This is really working.
I can tell you a story about how, in the last six years, we came up with all kinds of different ideas, we did our homework, we did our research and development and the organization Do Something came up with an idea to put a teacher that was responsible for building these life skills in a school. It was a teacher that already works in that school. And we put the word out for these kinds of teachers. And we decided to start small.
We didn't say, okay, we want a whole department, we don't want a whole yearlong curriculum, we just want a two-week curriculum. Let us just do something for two weeks and get kids out there doing things together. We call it the kindness and justice contest. We will bring in incentives so that the kids feel like it is cool and it is fun and it is hip. And we will have the teacher lead it, that one teacher in every school who you would know would be that amazing community coach.
And the response was overwhelming. Using the power of the internet, we spent about $200,000.00, $200,000.00 and we hit 15,000 schools, 20,000 educators and three million kids who participated in a two-week program leading up to the King Holiday where they performed acts of kindness and justice. They went out and learned about right and wrong and learned about compassion and respect and tolerance. And they entered them into the internet and they said what they did and they wrote down why it was important and what it made them feel.
And they came up with things that they could do. They got out and did things and they learned by doing. They learned by doing together. They learned by doing with each other, young people of different backgrounds, different cliques. We brought kids from different cliques together. The success has been extraordinary. Now we have taken this two-week approach and we are starting to spread it into a year-long approach, 150 schools have taken up the year-long program.
And in one school in McCallum, Texas (phonetic), this one teacher who saw this seed get planted now has made a whole department in her school. And now it is not just in her school, it is in every school in that entire district. Now you say, well, you are doing so well with this program with private funding, just keep going, what do you need our help for? Well, unfortunately there is always a school across the street that might not have that great teacher, that might not have that incentive, that might not be so inclined to take out of their budget.
So we need the help of everybody. We need a private/public approach. We want it to be flexible. We want local control and we want to make sure we get the results. And we are getting the results. We have seen them in schools right across the street from each other in Newark, New Jersey where kids' behavior is changing, they are doing their homework, their school is clean, and they have higher morale.
The teachers have higher morale, which is almost most important that they feel the change, they feel the movement. It needs huge attention; it needs your attention. You can't just push this aside and say, oh well, let us worry about the guns, let us worry about the media. Let us get a teacher in every school who is going to building this in that school. This is part of life education. This is about how we are going to treat each other. It is about a five-year old learning when they are a five-year old about how you treat someone so that when they are six years old they might not do something as horrific as we saw yesterday.
I thank you for your attention and I thank you for your leadership and I know that you will take this extremely seriously as you go forward this year.
See Appendix F for the written statement of Mr. Andrew Shue, Co-Founder, Do Something.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Shue. Dr. Berman.
Statement of Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Schools, Hudson Public Schools.
Mr. Berman. Thank you, good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to address the subcommittee on the federal government's role in strengthening character education, it is an honor to be here. This morning I would like to offer Hudson's Character Education Program as one example of how a community organizes character education and share the powerful results that we have had from our efforts. Hudson is an industry-based culturally and socio-economically diverse community.
Over 30 percent of Hudson's population is Portuguese, many of them immigrants from Brazil or the Azores. We have many bi-lingual students and over 12 percent of our students come from low-income families. We are committed to character education and have made it core to our education reform program because we believe that it will create knowledgeable, ethical and active citizens. In an era of standards and accountability character education may seem distant from the mainstream of education reform.
However, American education faces a challenge that is equal to that of student performance. Issues of civility, character and respect have taken center stage in many schools and communities. Apathy about and disengagement from the social and political arena are at an all-time high among young people. In addition to raising academic performance standards we need to develop in young people the concept skills and sense of commitment that will revitalize our communities and our democracy.
Each community organizes its character education efforts to correspond to local values and circumstances. For the past six years, the Hudson Public Schools has pursued the teaching of civility, character and social responsibility through instructional strategies focused on the themes of empathy, ethics and service. The school district's mission is to promote the intellectual, ethical and social development of students through a challenging instructional program and a caring classroom and school environment.
Focusing on empathy, ethics and service gives us the opportunity to provide programs that address social development, ethical development and the development of civic competencies all in the context of an academic program. We have sought to embed these three themes into the fabric of each child's academic program and the school experience from pre-school to 12th grade. The programs we have implemented to foster empathy, ethics and service form a complementary and cohesive intervention that has had a powerful impact on our students.
Empathy and conflict resolution skills form the foundation of our program. Through an empathy development and anger management curriculum, as well as conflict resolution training, we have been better able to help our students act with compassion, empathy and sensitivity in reaction to the needs of others and a response to conflict. As a result, we have found a decrease in disruptive behavior and a greater sense of helpfulness and caring among students.
In addition to learning empathy and conflict resolution skills, young people need to find a moral center in themselves and learn how to handle moral conflicts. The great contribution of the Character Education Partnership and the character education movement has been to help adults see that we can come to agreement on such collectively held values as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, justice, fairness, caring and citizenship. To encourage ethical development, Hudson has used an elementary literature curriculum in which students read literature that portrays pro-social themes.
In addition, we have created an ethics-based core ninth grade civics course in which the essential question is, what is the responsibility of an individual in a just society? The course develops students' perspective-taking and social reasoning abilities and students emerge with a greater sense of moral responsibility and a greater commitment to participate in making a difference. Finally, Hudson's Character Education Program gives young people the opportunity to exhibit caring behavior through service learning.
We have developed a comprehensive pre-K to 12 program that now involves over 80 percent of our students in service learning activities each year, through such activities as first graders working with senior citizens on literacy activities, fourth graders studying and preserving wet land areas and high school physics students sponsoring a science olympiad for elementary and middle school students. Service learning engages young people in meaningful service linked to classroom instruction and is a particularly powerful teacher of good character.
Service learning helps young people make the connection between the subject matter they are studying and issues in the larger world. It not only engages students in action to help others, but also encourages serious reflection on issues they are studying. As a result, it may be our best educational approach to teach responsible and participatory citizenship. Our experience has shown that service learning improves academic performance, helps create a safer and more caring school culture and nurtures ownership and pride in the community.
As a result of our focus on empathy, ethics and service, our Character Education Program has created a more caring and respectful school community. This kind of environment enables more productive and engaging and efficient learning. In fact, character development and academic progress are inextricably connected and mutually supportive. We believe that our Character Education Program has been one of the critical factors in improving student performance.
In closing, I would like to offer four recommendations that would support the development of character education programs nationwide. First, I encourage you to sustain the funding you provided for character education. The Partnerships in Character Education pilot projects have played a critical role in raising the quality and comprehensiveness of character education programs nationally and drawing attention to the importance of character education in the context of education reform.
Second, I encourage you to provide additional funding for research and evaluation of character education programs. A synthesis of current knowledge in this area, as well as new research, would advance our understanding of what programs and interventions are most effective.
Third, I encourage you to refrain from prescribing specific character education programs or a particular set of values. The strength of the current movement in character education has been local involvement in identifying a community's core values and in the selection of programs appropriate to that community. Prescribing a program or a set of values would weaken local programs and community sport for character education.
Finally, I recommend that you increase the funding for Learn and Serve American Program of the Corporation for National Service. This program provides states and school districts with funding for service learning programs. Service learning is a major element in many character education programs across the country. Students learn best by doing and they need the opportunities to care about others and the environment that service learning provides.
I am encouraged that you are holding these hearings on character education. Our challenge is to think of character education as we would any other systemic reform initiative and bring together the resources necessary to create broad-based implementation in our public schools. I applaud your efforts on behalf of character education.
See Appendix G for the written statement of Dr. Sheldon Berman, Superintendent of Schools, Hudson Public Schools.
Chairman Castle. Thank you very much, Dr Berman.
Now we are in a perplexing situation where each of us has five minutes. I have got a fistful of notes up here, and I could probably take 50 minutes asking all of you questions. If you could help us with relatively brief answers, perhaps only on or two people commenting on any one question that is asked, unless somebody asks you all to say yes or no to something, that way we can get in more questions and answers. We will go from member to member, alternating sides and here we will start by myself, yielding myself five minutes and start the questioning. And let me just make a comment first, Ms. Schaeffer to you, because I happen to agree with something you said, which is the federal government should be a source for best practices and available materials. It should be a reliable information source. I totally believe that. I believe that in a whole variety of programs, not just this. I just think we should do a better job with our research and evaluation and then dispensing the materials, it bothers me that we don't.
Mr. Shue, specifically for you, because of your unique background of having taught and having been involved in show business a little bit, quite a bit: What is your view of television and its role in all of this? It is evident to me that the present generation watches infinitely more television than previous generations did. And obviously there are all kinds of television, as we all know. But the whole cultural impact of that, some people believe it is substantial, others believe people just watch it and ignore it and it has to do with families and schools and not the whole medium that is television. What is your view on that specific issue?
Mr. Shue. I think it is a huge issue. I think that television is not the only thing. If you want to call it social capital, there is actually a great book coming out on it soon. Just the deterioration of social capital, how we spend time together and how kids will spend hours and hours in front of the television set, how there is not the community spending time face-to-face with people. And when I think of all of these different things that we are working on, it really is about getting people out in the community, doing things together, talking to each other, relating.
And I think that when you say, okay, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to, we are not going to turn off the TV sets, we are not going to stop people from producing all these different shows. But we could come up with creative ways to get young people to want to do something else. And it has got to be interesting, it has got to be exciting, it has got to be fun, it has got to be different.
And that is why it is critical for us to make sure whatever we do and how we build this movement that it is creative and that it comes from the kids. You have got to let their voices say what they want to do. You can't come in and say, oh, you are going to do this, we are going to tell you exactly how to do it and go do it and tell me when you have got it done. You have got to let them create it. You have to allow them that kind of freedom so that they will want to spend their afternoons and even sometimes their evenings working on these things and not sitting in front of a television set.
Chairman Castle. Thank you. Mr. Kinnamon, I may have this a little bit wrong, you may want to reconstruct it after I, reconstruct my question. But I felt fairly explicitly that we should teach the six values that you have outlined. The others more or less seem to say no, let each community develop its own values or whatever it may be. Is there really a difference here? Or can you help expand that? If you can, hold the microphone as close as possible so that the whole room can share in the answer.
Mr. Kinnamon. Yeah, and that is an issue. Really what it is, it is an issue between quantity and quality. The more you let people choose their own values and do that, the higher quality it is going to be. To reach the number of kids we need to, we think in Character Counts it is very helpful to identify what those values are. Let me tell you an example. I was talking to a group of teachers in a middle school recently who asked this question and said, one of the teachers said, I had a parent come to me and say, I don't know if I want you teaching my kids values.
And I said, well let me tell you, here is what you say. This is exactly what you say. You say, that is great. I am delighted that you are taking the responsibility to teach kids values. That is the way it ought to be and that is what a parent ought to be doing. In fact, I believe in that so much, I will try not to teach any of these six values you don't want me to. And just identify which ones. Is it caring? Is it respect, responsibility and so forth.
No parent does not want their child to have those values. And so what happens? It becomes more inclusive because everybody can buy into it. So it is a trade off, though.
Chairman Castle. Let me ask Dr. Berreth and Ms. Schaeffer and Dr. Berman one broad question and let each of you comment, briefly; we are going to run out of time here. It is sort of a double-broad question; it doesn't lend itself to a brief answer, I might add, so be thinking carefully about this. Are you in programs that you are involved with meeting resistance levels at schools in general, just a comment on that. And then secondly, should we have these individual programs, all of which are totally laudable and, you know, I have heard of some of your programs, I am proud of them and I think you deserve a lot of credit for it.
Or should we be concentrating just as much on making sure that all the personnel in any particular school, all the way from the custodial staff to the nurses to the coaches to the principal to the teachers, whatever it may be, is imbued with the character concepts as opposed to having to bring in an outside group? Two sort of different questions and I realize that these don't lend themselves to brief answers, but we need to keep it fairly brief.
Ms. Berreth. I have been in Oklahoma and Washington state within the last three weeks in some relatively conservative communities and there is almost no resistance. I do believe there are individuals in school communities whose worldviews are so outside those of the large majority that public schooling may not be able to meet their needs. But I believe strongly in an inclusive community process that lets us members of the community talk among themselves.
If they can agree on two, fine. And we know that over 98 percent of the American public in a Gallup Poll does agree on honesty, as an example. If they can agree on a larger number, fine. But, if the conversation is inclusive and understanding that communities vary a lot in the religious and cultural make up, then I think that is where the buy in comes in for a large group.
Regarding the question on programs, a community is made up of all its members. And adults behaving consistently on the buses, on the playgrounds, and in the lunch rooms is of key importance because then the program issue comes about in terms of how do I live these values out in my work? What do I do as a custodian that teaches moral values? What do I do in teaching literature that teaches moral values?
Chairman Castle. Thank you. Ms. Schaeffer.
Ms. Schaeffer. I will ratify Diane basically so I will try to be brief. I have been struck by how limited the resistance is. I think probably five or ten years ago it would have been a different story. But for the very reasons that both Diane and Ron have commented, there is not that level of resistance. And I have been across the country; we give awards to schools. And as a result of those awards, they have been in every kind of socio-economic area. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of resistance, particularly when it is done with a certain amount of care.
Okay, your focus on the adults, for us really that is 90 percent of it, quite frankly. And really the state money has done a good job of doing that because it has energized the adults. And to the extent where the states have provided information, some research to help and also all important professional development that is getting at the adults. And I think Diane is absolutely right. When the adults are modeling it consistently and want to, you have really created the climate that you need.
Chairman Castle. Thank you. Dr. Berman.
Mr. Berman. Well, I am going to echo some of the things that Diane and Esther have said. Hudson is a firm believer in getting community input and parent input. In fact we, two years ago, did a survey of all our parents and had about a 40 percent response to that survey. We just surveyed the community on a similar survey and sent out 7,000 pieces of mail and that return, we have just finished analyzed it.
One of the things that we have found is not only do we have no resistance in terms of character education, but we have tremendous support. In fact, wholesale endorsement. One of the things that was fascinating about the survey is that we asked parents to what degree do they value certain indicators of school success? And the first three indicators were all about caring, responsive and safe schools.
The fourth was academically challenging curriculum and methods of instruction. And out of the top 12, in fact nine out of the top 12 related to a caring and responsive environment. When we did the community survey, in which we didn't expect that same kind of response, the two interventions that would make the most significant difference on people's overall satisfaction with the Hudson Public Schools was, one, enhancing academic performance, but the other was in helping the student body become more caring towards each other and more caring about the well being of others and the environment.
It is really a shocking result to us because it taught us a lesson that parents want their children to be good kids and good people. And they want the school to facilitate that. And so it is very, very important to them. I don't know if I understand your second question, but let me try to address it this way. What I think you are asking is it a comprehensive approach versus more piecemeal in terms of individual educators?
Chairman Castle. Well, actually it is, should outside groups be doing this or should we be spending our time making sure that the educators themselves are doing it as part of their curriculum, as part of their way of life or whatever it may be?
Mr. Berman. Thank you. I think I do see it as the latter. I think it is fine to have outside groups that are emerging, who are advocates of programs, helping to develop programs. I think it is important to evaluate those kinds of programs and provide support for the development of good character education. However, the investment in schools developing programs, comprehensive programs of their own is what is going to have the direct pay off, and those schools can then reach out to whatever private, non-profits or profits that are out there that are providing programs.
Chairman Castle. Thank you. Thank you all very much and we will turn to Mr. Kildee now.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Berreth, you mentioned the significance of smaller schools and we have heard some testimony on that, particularly after the Columbine situation. The poor Principal there indicated he was not even aware of the fact of the trench coat gang. When I taught at Central High School, it was a fairly large school but generally we were, I was in charge of Teen Club, so I was pretty well aware of the various groups in the school.
One thing about a mega-school is that really only a certain percentage can participate in the various activities, whether it be drama or sports. Whereas in a smaller school almost everyone, maybe, can participated. So you don't maybe have the intolerance towards those who are participating and those who are not. When I taught I always tried to integrate into my Latin class the idea that everyone has worth, whether they be rich or poor, jocks or nerds, gay or straight, that they all had worth. And does the size of a school help a school give that value to people?
Ms. Berreth. Recent research, especially at the secondary level, would tend to suggest that schools in the size range of approximately 800 might do the best job of allowing each adult to have a caring relationship with one young person. That is what we want. Each young person is known well by one adult. We realize at the same time that high schools exist and will continue to exist that serve two to three thousand young people. That is why we look for alternative ways within those high schools, such as schools within the school, to form that relationship.
Your comment I think is very appropriate. The Researcher, Jerry Freiburg, says about 15 percent of our high school students go through high school as citizens. The rest go through as tourists. They are unknown people who pass through the school, if you will, on a temporary visa. And I think a key to our success is changing that relationship so there is not one young person there that someone doesn't know well. That is best facilitated by smaller schools, but can also be facilitated by rearranging schools. What you did is a good example. The teacher who works with the clubs is a teacher who knows young people.
Mr. Kildee. Anyone else have any comment on that?
Mr. Berman. Yes, let me respond to that. I very much agree with you. The small schools are critical. We are right now in the process of building a new high school and we are about, what will be about 1,200 students. We are dividing our school into clusters of 150 students each where each cluster represents virtually a team. It takes the middle school concept and converts it into a high school program.
That cluster will have a core faculty who will know the students well. It is a way to create small schools within a larger high school. And those are the kinds of initiatives that I think we have to proceed with and encourage. The anonymity of the high school is devastating and we are finding that Columbine and other incidents at high schools that are very large are, well, encouraged by the size of the student body and the anonymity that students feel. So I am very much a supporter of smaller schools and small units within schools.
Mr. Kildee. You know, I think a value education, character education can be done without creating controversy in the community. Some people are very worried they are getting cognitive and affective education, but it can be done. I remember one example I used to use with my students. I would talk about here is this student who goes to work for Kroger's, works after school, able to get some new wheel covers or hubcaps for his or her car and drives to a basketball game and while they are watching the basketball, some freeloader comes out and steals, not just the hubcaps, but steals that person's labor.
And they all could see that that was wrong. So many things we can do that there is pretty well a universal acceptance that these are values that can be, or that I think that the faculty can be encouraged, I think, to integrate this into, I mean obviously every class besides trig. You mention a few things in Latin class, it gives you a lot of opportunity to mention cultural things.
But I think that if you can teach some of those values that are really universally accepted. Mr. Kinnamon.
Mr. Kinnamon. Yes, I agree 100 percent with small schools and so forth. But I want to make the point that it isn't just that a teacher knows a kid. It is that a teacher demonstrates values to the kid and that the teacher is respectful. I was in a group in Maryland during Character Counts week and a group of students formed a Character Counts Club in the high school. And they had a daylong in-service training program for teachers and administrators.
And they used those values. They said, we expect you to respect us and here is what respect looks like to us. We expect you to be responsible, not to try to entertain us, not to try to get on our good side, but be responsible enough to teach us something. Well when you reverse those roles and students become teachers that teach the teachers, it is a very powerful thing.
A few months later they did this also for the school board and for the City Council. Now that is working at changing adults’ behavior. And obviously, that is what all of us could use a strong dose of.
Mr. Kildee. Mr. Shue.
Mr. Shue. I just want to make two points which I agree totally on the school size, but I think the key is that there needs to be some structure. If we wait for that great teacher, like yourself, to do it, if we wait for other teachers to take it on because they know it is right to help infuse these values, I don't think it is going to happen to the degree and you are going to end up with the same kinds of kids doing the right thing and the same kinds of kids doing the wrong thing.
There needs to be an approach that brings in the kids who wouldn't normally want to be involved in these kinds of things. And that is why we were talking about bringing outside or inside, clearly a teacher from within the school culture that is respected by all kids. And there is always that teacher. Everybody can look at their own high school or middle school; there is always that teacher. It may be a Guidance Counselor, it may not be. It may be the math teacher or the gym teacher who really has the respect of the community, has the respect of all the teachers and really has the respect of the kids.
And then that is the leader that if you were going to build some structure into it, that could really begin to build a culture in the school where everybody feels included. Where you are getting kids from different cliques involved. And as I said, obviously I feel strongly about get out and do things together which allow you to build all of these different values.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you.
Ms. Schaeffer. I was just going to say that what we have found is that when a school or a community rallies around character development, that it is a unifier which I think is a piece of what you were saying. And it brings people together from very different points of view and different ends of the political spectrum, different religions. And I see that in a microcosm in a way on our Board, where there are people who are quite liberal to quite conservative who have come together and can find commonalities and work together to further the teaching of values.
That it is a unifier and it is something we need as a country very much.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee. Mr. Petri.
Mr. Petri. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I guess my question is really if you could clarify whether character education or value education is something that should be sort of separate, or is it something that you are trying to permeate the institution and the experience? And in that connection, if it is the second, what can the federal government do to help, realistically?
I mean if we spread too broad a net we could end up basically doing very little. Should we focus on emphasizing a character component in teacher training or administrator or school board? Should they be sensitized somehow, through some program? And when they are hiring people and promoting people that they give a lot of thought to this subject. It is part of, it has always been part of this. You said Socrates. Are you comparing the noble Romans and the noble Greeks and then drawing morals?
Mr. Weems and George Washington in an effort to try to teach through biography and history has always been, that is what education is. Or should we talk more about athletics, team sports teaches character and you have to abide by rules, you work with others and you work toward a common goal and that is a great metaphor for a lot of democratic living.
And so there are ways of doing this without talking about character and people sort of turning you off, but thinking of strategies that will engage a lot of kids and build these ideas of right and wrong and self-respect and respect for others into people.
Ms. Schaeffer. If I could start? I think what is really important is for it to be comprehensive. What we worry a lot about that people in the schools lull themselves into thinking, oh, we are going to do character education. We are going to take an hour a week or we are going to take ten minutes and we are going to have the children memorize definitions. That will not work and with respect to some of the comments that we have been saying, if the adults are not modeling the behavior, if the children don't see it throughout the school, it really will not do much good at all, if anything.
And in our 11 principles of effective character education, which were put together by CEPs Board, it makes the point of the importance of the comprehensiveness of a character education program. But it is in the whole school clientele. It is subtle, and the way you teach your class whether it is literature or science, it is very easy to talk about values when children are reading a book and doing a book report, instead of a mindless recitation of what was in each chapter, you can ask the class to comment on ethical or moral dilemma that the main character faced.
Could he handle it? What was the impact? Would you handle it the same, why or why not? And you get a lot of very rich discussion. You are fulfilling academic needs but you are also getting at this and without saying we are talking about character ed now. You know, you don't have to do that. And sports was brought up by Ron. Sports are critical. We can destroy a lot of what we do when we have sports programs that are win at all costs without regard to character building.
So it is really looking, what is ideal is when a school looks at everything it does. It says, this is what we are doing that reinforces the kind of character we want. Where are we falling down and what can we do about it? And we found also some districts that have done wonderful jobs at doing this upon behalf of the district, whether it is the central office or the medium person who puts out the library books. It might be most visible when a student walks in.
Whether it is the central office with respect to sports saying to coaches, we need to do this and we need to do it not only with our, the players, but also with the children as they attend. What is proper behavior as attendees? And throughout, you just look at everything you do and you can find ways to reinforce it and that is where the strength is. And where the federal government can play a role, I think, is to encourage that comprehensive approach. To make resources available so schools can pick and choose from among the various resources that will help them the best.
And very importantly, as I think several of us mentioned that issue of professional development, teachers aren't being prepared to know how to do this. It doesn't sound like it is so hard, but they need help, they need some training. And when the money is available for that kind of thing, it makes all the difference in the world.
Mr. Kinnamon. Yeah, training is clearly the issue, I think. It is the latter; it is the including in everything we do. Let me speak to this sports issue. You mentioned that sports can be a good character developer and it certainly can. But if you look at sports in the United States today you can see that because it is a powerful tool, it can also be a great tool to destroy values.
And if you look the way it has done, particularly the popular sports of football and basketball on a college level and I am not even going to the pros, I don't even want to go there. But on a high school level and a college level, it is a disgrace what is happening. It is doing something wrong in our society too many times, rather than doing something right.
And this new program that has just been in existence six or seven months that has found unbelievable acceptance at all levels. The code of ethics that we have developed has been accepted by the Big Ten, by all of the Chancellors of the universities. We had to get the Coaches, the Athletic Directors and the Presidents and Chancellors together because they are all pointing at each other. And we got them in a room and they have agreed and huge inter-scholastic programs, high school level, have adopted this.
The Olympics, U.S. Olympics will not have any Coach that will, in the future, ever coach in any venue without taking the ethics course that we have just developed for them. So it needs to be integrated into everything we do.
Mr. Berman. I want to confirm that as well, from a little bit of a different point of view. What I see available is a school district when I look at character education programs. I see there are many programs out there that have very good intentions, but in fact are very didactic, are much of preaching to students or looking at a recitation of a value and not deeply embedding it in the culture and curriculum of the school. I think what works best is to have a comprehensive approach and to look at it as much as you would comprehensive school reform.
Now we want to involve as many of the adults, you want to provide the professional development and you want to have it as very much a part of the contents. So for example, the literature you read and you look at the kind of literature and literature programs that are emerging. You may want to have some direct instruction in things like conflict resolution skills, cooperation skills, so that students build a skill-base for the kinds of behaviors that we were looking for.
Even empathy, an empathetic response is a skill that students can learn. But on the other hand, you want to make sure that you are looking at the culture in the school so that you are addressing the issues of sports and clubs and how those all come together. You are looking at the unit size and the kinds of advisor/advisee relationship so that kids have someone to go to and someone to care about. And that kids know each other and that there is a sense of community there.
And I think that overall, the one thing I would say is that what we are trying to do is change schools, character education is trying to change schools to make them more caring communities. And that in that sense of community, I think we grew up with that sense of community. We have a sense of affiliation, as sense of attachment. And I think our young people don't have that kind of attachment. They don't have a sense of community.
We have grown to be a much more anonymous society. And so that when we look at comprehensive reform of schools, it is how do we redefine what we do so that we are developing the social skills that students have and at the same time create a community that holds them and gives them an experience of what it is to be cared about and to care for others that they can take into the larger environment.
So I would encourage Congress to think about the comprehensive demonstration kinds of models that move on a large scale to look at integrating a variety of approaches into one comprehensive approach.
Mr. Shue. I would just like to say that I agree with everything that man just said.
Mr. Shue. I think he is dead on and I think that when you talk about what Congress can do and you talk about we can put the word out and say, we should do this, that is going to be great. But at the same time I really believe there needs to be leadership within that school to build that commitment to building a community. That that comprehensive approach has to come from within that school and I believe we need to create kind of a new position in each school.
And it is not just going to come from the Principal and it is not just going to come from that best Guidance Counselor. I think that there needs to be that call out for that person, who it is going to be, and however they are going to accomplish it, that is their choice. How they are going to figure out, what they are going to pull from other programs, but they know that they are charged with reforming that school.
With coming up with ways to bring kids together to get them to do different things that are going to foster that sense of community. But there has to be that commitment. If you just leave it to the schools to figure it out and you don't come up with a new kind of bold way. Look, we are going to take a hard look at this and we are going to figure it out. It is up to schools to come up with somebody from within the school who is going to take that leadership role. I think it is absolutely necessary.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Petri. Now Mr. Greenwood.
Mr. Greenwood. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This hearing has been a bit of an educational experience for me in terms of my character. There was a group of teenage girls in the back and I assumed that they were some of my CSPAN fans and as soon as Mr. Shue testified they left.
Mr. Greenwood. So I have learned the character trait of humility today. When this committee put together a juvenile justice bill to try to prevent kids from, who get in trouble from getting in more trouble, we did it in a bi-partisan fashion. We brought it out onto the floor of the House and then Columbine happened and it got all loaded up with what I thought were fairly hysterical reactions and political reactions to Columbine.
We got into gun shows and we were pounding the Ten Commandments up on the walls of schools in barely, not very well thought out approaches. So we formed a bi-partisan group to actually think about the kinds of things that we could do in a variety of ways that would have a serious impact on kids. And one of the things we did was to look at the role of media, the movie industry, television industry, music industry, etcetera, to see what we might be able to do there that was consistent with the first amendment, and it is pretty hard to do that.
Jack Valenti, of the Motion Picture Academy, came and spoke to our group and I have had a couple of meetings with him, and he had a very specific recommendation. And I want to see what you folks think about it. He said that he thought a good idea would be to use the power of Hollywood with its ability to create imagery and to create emotional impact through film. And to get the studios in Hollywood as a contribution to society to do videos that would illustrate certain character traits like honor and honesty and courage and compassion and responsibility and so forth.
You could do a separate video or film for each one of those traits. And that then we could make that available, perhaps through public or public and/or private funding to make those videos available as a teaching tool, as a curriculum assistance to schools. So my very specific question is multi-faceted. I am a believer in the power of visual images with kids. They are so used to it and sometimes they are less enthralled with the written word or the spoken word and when they see those images, it grabs their attention.
Are there good video materials available that help to illustrate some of these character issues in schools? Are they affordable to schools? Are they being consumed and utilized a lot? Or could in fact Mr. Valenti's suggestion, is it a good one, should we pursue that? And then perhaps using federal funds, try to make those videos available to the schools? And I would be happy to have a response from anyone.
Mr. Kinnamon. I think it is a nice, sweet idea, but it is not an effective idea. Let me give you an actual example of a program that I would put in its place. This is in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a program with kids who had serious trouble in high school. The YMCA pulled these kids into a club called Fade Away, you can call it whatever you want to.
And what they did for a year is they made the videos. And this is what needs to be replicated. And they, in this case, took each of these six values and said, what does it mean to be responsible? And they were the kids talking. And each month when they dealt with the responsibility, then they did a project; they went out and did a project that related to being responsible. They cleaned up a river. When they did caring, they volunteered to do childcare.
Mr. Greenwood. If I can read between the lines, what you are saying is an active process is more, rather than a passive process.
Mr. Kinnamon. Yeah.
Ms. Berreth. And I would add to that. I agree with the power of visual images. There are some video materials available that do a decent job of this, but I think that given the amount of television that kids watch, I am more interested in what children's television looks like and the funding for it. And there have been several efforts to fund series. Some made it for a period of time, like Ghostwriters, others have not. So quality television programming I think will have more power over time, out of school hours than individual videos.
In-school hours I agree with Mr. Kinnamon that involved work makes a difference. You are really right about the images, but what we are talking about is very long-term work. I mean this is something that needs to start with Kindergartners, from the school's perspective. It starts with birth from the parents’ perspective. And it is long, tough work. We need some bells and whistles, but more fundamentally we need to know what quality programs look like.
And they may or may not have video. They may or may not have other elements. And there is, I think, the place for the federal role. Ten years ago, when a lot of us were getting started in this movement, it was let a thousand flowers bloom, today it is what does quality look like? And that is a place where I think you can play a role.
Mr. Shue. I will say that, well I agree with you guys. That I think images can play a role. I think that heroes can play a role and I think they must. Obviously you have to find the right heroes and the images and the words have to be backed up, I think, by some action. But it is not just, okay, watch the video. But then maybe go out and do something based on what you learned, create your own town hall. Let the kids speak. Just as an example, actually, which I think is fitting and it actually comes from Congressman Castle's district.
Lake Forest High School in Felton, Delaware, at the beginning of the year we found a note on the girls' bathroom wall that threatened to blow up the school. Because of the Columbine tragedy we take this kind of problem very seriously. For this year's kindness and justice challenge we modeled the non-violent philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement. We used the curriculum and watched black and white films of the marches and students began to treat each other with the same dignity and respect they saw in the films.
For two weeks of the program we didn't have any disciplinary incidents. So obviously Dr. King is an incredible hero that they can model themselves after. But I think the idea, if utilized correctly, could be worthwhile.
Mr. Berman. I am very deeply concerned about he media that children are watching and I think media is a very effective tool. And I want to agree with Diane that in fact there is the kind of programming we are seeing on television it is critical to look at ways we can improve and encourage improvement. One of the things I am very conscious of is that children's television was regulated, very well regulated until the early '80's, and we de-regulated children's television.
And since that time, children's television has become much more violent. And so I am aware that there has been a wholesale trend in children's television to commercialism and to violence because in a sense, violence sells. And so in our intervention or Congress' intervention in some way, first amendment rights are really key here.
But for many years children's television was regulated and set in that context and that history we have to look at, what would be appropriate and how can we encourage good programming? What I see is children watching television that has very poor examples, poor role models. Very few of those programs teach conflict resolution skills or demonstrate conflict resolution skills. Many of the conflicts are resolved by hitting someone or killing someone. These are not effective ways to teach and instruct kids.
And so in fact, I think we have to revisit this in a much larger scale and it is not just producing a couple of videos. Although any materials will help, but frankly it is not just that, it is looking at this as a much more systemic issue. What I keep on thinking of is that we have a crisis of character in our children, but I want to return to Ron's comment at the very beginning. I think we have a crisis of character in our society.
That it is our adults who are creating these videos or the films, it is adults who are responsible for the kinds of materials that are on TV. And I am curious about what does that say about our values and who we are as a people and what we want for our children when we commercialize them to such a degree and when we create such graphic images of violence. And I think that is where we need to focus real attention, is on what is happening in the media for children.
Mr. Greenwood. My time has long since expired, but if I could just ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds. When you referred to we used to regulate television for children and then we de-regulated it. My understanding about how that happened was that there was regulation with regard to so-called family hour on television. And there was actually a lawsuit by the Writers Guild that felt that it was being limited in what he could produce and its access to market that through television. They overturned that; it is an interesting history. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Greenwood. Mr. Souder.
Mr. Souder. I usually talk fast and I am going to talk even faster. I am sorry I was late getting over here, I was actually doing a funny juxtaposition because over in the Government Form Committee so far this morning we have heard about money laundering, false IDs going into the White House, destroying records, going overseas to avoid and getting other people to go overseas to avoid testimony and that hearing will be going on for a couple of days.
It is pretty hard not to understand why kids don't understand responsibility when in fact they are seeing it modeled at a terrible level here in Washington. I gave examples in the White House, but there are certainly examples in our party as well. I read through all your testimony. I find myself troubled and let me give you both sides of this. I have been interested in character education for a long time.
Not just because I am a moralist, but partly because I am a moralist, that when I worked for Dan Coates and was the Public and Staff Director for the Children and Family Committee, we actually did a Family Bill, the Family Act that the Republican Conference adopted in '87 and '88, unanimously that included pilot projects for character education working with Tony Hall and others in the early stages of this.
And I worked and was on the Board for a while at the Thomas Jefferson Institute. I visited character programs in Miami. I have met with the people in Baltimore when they went to the private sector and the Teachers' Association added a half-day to this, or 20 minutes to the school day. They raised $300,000.00 from the community. I have been in Chicago character education programs and St. Louis where they did it a lot different.
And I have had a long-time interest in character education. So don't take anything that I am saying today here as against that. Also in our district we have Character Counts in many of the schools and have been supportive in working with that or anything else. And, with the basic principles, that is most effective when it is developed at the local level, although it is helpful to start with something and then either take off or add to that.
Otherwise you just flounder around in some kind of a general thing. I also want to acknowledge some of things that were in the testimony that I think and we don't often get to talk to each other because we are not here very much, for starters. But I thought that in the testimony from Mr. Kinnamon, your things about the Department of Education website, youth character awards at middle and high school level and Congressional awards, we can do ourselves.
And members of Congress could start this and encourage others in integrating it as we look at drug and anti-crime like we did with juvenile justice and we are doing safe and drug-free schools. I thought that the testimony from Dr. Berreth to support additional research and evaluation is a very tough issue to do that, but we clearly need it.
Several of you mentioned best source of information pilot projects on places to prepare teachers and federal resources for local, professional development efforts that seem to me to be more productive at this point than grants for character education itself. This would be a major change in how we are looking at the legislation or what we do. My feeling is that there are lots of good programs out there and with flexibility and flex grants, there will be more.
Because as we pump out money in safe and drug-free schools and other things, there is going to be money out there. The question is how to infuse it through the curriculum and how to develop and how to get access to that. Because in fact, if the school districts need this money, I mean if they feel they need character and have problems with safe schools and things, they don't, they can raise the money from the private sector.
This is one of the easier ways to raise money from the private sector, is for character programs. I think we could go down a path where most of our money is actually going into the programs. What we need to do is provide some infrastructure to back up the local development. Now I did have a concern develop as I listened to this. And I can see why many people might all of a sudden start to drift away from support for character education and we have to be very careful for this.
Because as a hard core conservative and I am an unreconstructed hard core conservative, in Dr. Berman's testimony, you state that nine of the 12 indicators selected by parents dealt with a caring and responsive environment in the school, I would suggest that that is part of our problem with our public schools. I spent a full day with Joe Clark years ago in his school. Obviously if teachers are getting raped and students are getting raped, you don't have a safe environment for school.
But partly, part of the problem here is we need to have a stronger and aggressive education environment too. And that as we drift into this kind of feely, touchy, feely, and away from some of what actually develops character, this is controversial to say. I believe that as long as there is sin, we are never going to eliminate it. We should try, but we are never going to eliminate it.
And if you assume that you can't eliminate everything in society, some of what we should be teaching is how to deal with prejudices from other people and how to deal with the fact that in society we are not going to eliminate winning and losing. We are not going to change sports so that there aren't winners. We can eliminate the obsessiveness with it or the violence with it. But at the same time, where I got my character most developed was because I was a separatist Christian and because I couldn't do some of things that the rest of the school did and they didn't cancel the events.
I had to sit alone in a classroom when everybody else went to a movie and my church didn't let me go. And nobody canceled the movie because of my religion. It built character because I had to deal with it. And while some of this is teaching kids how to deal with the fact that there is going to be prejudice in their lives, there is going to be competition. And if we just think that the thrust of character education goes to just how to make everything really comfortable for everybody, as opposed to saying, that is a goal and you should treat people as you want to be treated.
But also, everybody isn't going to treat you that way and how to deal with the problems that they are actually going to be faced with. Otherwise this program is going to wind up becoming something that become irrelevant as soon as they leave the school grounds. And I wanted to throw some of those thoughts at you. I wanted to show also that I thought there were a lot of good ideas today and I think we can develop, and as we look at this, some of the big debates are, do we give it in direct funding or do we give it in developmental?
And I hope I didn't talk too fast. I am sure I drove the poor reporter crazy. Thank you.
Ms. Berreth. May I respond? One of the things that you said that I really appreciate is the importance of a balance in the field we call the hard virtues and the soft virtues. Most of the programs you will see in most communities that select their values balance, for instance, on what we call the soft side, and you called warm and fuzzy, are values like caring and empathy.
At the same time, most commonly you see those in programs that also have respect, responsibility, perseverance, and diligence. And there are hard virtues folks and soft virtues folks; that is why we like to bring them together in the community. And I think Character Counts values show this too. We need a balance. And I think every one of us here would stand for that balance. So we are with you.
Mr. Souder. Mr. Chairman, if I may make one other brief comment. And I realize that and I didn't mean to be over-hard, but I want to make sure we don't lose that in the academic performance, which is one of the most important things in self-esteem. But the difference in this, and we have talked a lot about action, but to the degree that we can blend this at one school, I have a Johnny Appleseed Award which is partly to highlight people who have, not just students, but a lot of them are adults and examples in the community.
And I gave one to a Student Council President at Garrett High School where they have a Character Counts Program. But it is a drug-free program where what they did was not just sign statements, like many schools have programs where they sign a statement that they post in the school. What they did is they put them on a sign, post them out in front of the school, so everybody in the community saw it and they had a stake then in what they said they were going to do because people could hold them directly accountable. Not just say they were going to be responsible, but there was a method of accountability.
Ms. Berreth. Right, and it is inaction, if you will. The great thing about character is it has three parts that we all agree on here. You have to know the difference between right and wrong. You have to love the right, and then you have to act it out. So character has to do, and the reason this is the term used by the field today is it is habits of action. Habitual, you are habitual behavior. And I think that provides the grounds for your accountability.
Mr. Berman. Let me add in a response. You know actually I very much agree with you. In fact, I think we do have to teach students how to deal with intolerance, how to confront intolerance, how to deal with it when it is happening to them and know that it will, that those kinds of things will not go away. And one of the reasons that, in fact, when I talked about empathy, ethics and service, what I see is empathy and ethics in a sense as the two balancing points in that, if you want to call them hard or soft virtues, whatever it is.
That creates a very significant balance for us. So it isn't that we are creating touchy, feely schools. It is far from that. Frankly I don't think parents would accept that. But what they do want to know is that the child is well taken care of. And they do want to know that the lesson that they are getting is that there are caring adults around them who are not going to abuse them and who are going to represent values that they hold dear.
I think it is, so I don't think that there is that much of a great difference. And in fact, one of the things, although I have talked about character education today, I could be at a hearing as well on comprehensive school reform and academic reform. Hudson has gone from a fairly low performing school district to a fairly strong performing school district in the seven, now eight years that I have been there. And we have transformed the curriculum academically in a dramatic way with using a lot of very powerful materials.
And I happen to believe that we have to demand a lot of students, and then we have to raise expectations significantly. Not only in the area of character, but the area of academics. And expectations mean a great deal and we can not only enable kids to achieve, but we can expect them to achieve at higher levels and facilitate that achievement at higher levels, both academically and in the area of character.
And that is the goal. The goal is to set high standards and to help kids reach high standards. I do want to add one other point, though, and I think it hasn't come out as much here, but I think character is as much about doing as it is about learning. And one of the reasons that we have emphasized service learning in our program is that it is not enough to have a student know what honesty means or know what caring means.
It makes all the difference in the world for them to engage in some effort that is caring and this is responsible. For example, we have a fourth grade program where our students adopt a wetlands area or a woodlands area near their school. They take care of that woodlands area, they study it in depth, and it is a whole science, yearlong science curricula. Those students know a tremendous amount about the environment and the ecology of an area.
And at the same time they have taken responsible action to clean up that area, they maintain it, they talk to our legislators. Our legislators come in and visit these classes to talk about what is happening in environmental legislation. There is a very strong component of saying we want to look at how we can be responsible adults. But if the action component, realizing these values in action, you, sitting out for, standing on our values is an act of courage and an act of, in a sense, caring about your values.
And that is what you are looking for in young people, is that kind of stand. And it is best by engaging them and doing. That is why in what I was suggesting earlier, it is not only about supporting character education, is actually supporting service learning as well and the work that the Corporation of National Service is doing. It is particularly the Learn and Serve America Funds, which are the funds that fund school districts doing this, that are critically important.
Chairman Castle. Ms. Schaeffer.
Ms. Schaeffer. If I could just comment briefly a little bit on our infrastructure statement because that is critical and in many ways how I have seen the state grants, and I won't say that purely they have gone this way, is that they have helped with infrastructure and that is why they are helpful. Because it says to states and the states have to compete for it that we are saying this is important, that is very important because it gets lost. You might not think it will, but it does.
And on top of that, it has caused the states, in many cases, to do some professional development. I don't think they have done enough, but they need it, that is an important part of the infrastructure to promote networking among those that are trying to do it so they are not each reinventing the wheel, trying to struggle with the same thing over and over again.
To provide guidance on how one might approach this in a comprehensive way and not just pull the first thing off the shelf that they might find. So to me that is a key on the infrastructure to the extent that maybe the language isn't strong enough at saying this is what the money should be used for then. I would certainly encourage that it would say that. I would also say that it is very important, I think, for the states to continue to stay in this and, as I mentioned in the testimony, sometimes four years isn't enough.
But what I think you want to do is to have them build the infrastructure and then they support it in the out years or at least begin to support it to some degree in the out years. And the final point is that again an infrastructure one. And that is that I wish character education were not only mentioned in one little place in the ESEA. There are many other places and some of those have been mentioned in the course of today where it can mentioned as an allowable activity.
It gives it a little more visibility and it is appropriate. Safe and drug-free schools certainly stands out and yet it doesn't get said very much. And you hear it a little, but lots of times we start with metal detectors and security guards instead of saying one important element is the character development, conflict resolution, etcetera, etcetera. Just to mention it, staff development title, the same thing. It is an allowable activity. Not to set aside separate funds in most cases, but to just say this is important, it should be allowable.
So I would urge, as you look through the whole of the ESEA, given your concerns about this subject and certainly our concerns as a group, that you look for places to just plug it in as an allowable thing to do.
Chairman Castle. Let me thank all of you very much for your presence here today. We have had an opportunity to have a good discussion, I think, and hopefully develop some good questions and answers with some excellent suggestions as to what we should be looking at. And we are all concerned. We all worry a little bit about the role of federal education versus state and local, as you can imagine, and what a not-for-profit entity can do versus what we should be doing in the schools.
And this all has some of those elements to it, so we appreciate hearing your testimony a great deal. I know the people have to come sometimes from a long ways away to get here and to sacrifice the better part of their day to be here. We can just run over and vote in three minutes; you have to go aways to get back to wherever you have come from. So we do appreciate that a great deal and I would like to thank you. I would like to give Mr. Kildee an opportunity to close.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Chairman and I, Governor Castle and I were just discussing that we really have assembled here a very knowledgeable and a very helpful panel. And we also, in our discussion here were saying you can't tell who is liberal or who is conservative, which is not always the case when we have hearings here. And that is probably because this issue is not a liberal or a conservative issue, it is a human issue.
And I think all of you really have contributed enormously to this. It has been very helpful to me, personally. I know it has been helpful to this panel and hopefully helpful to the entire Congress so we can be sensitive to this and try to do something very important. But I think you really have told us how we can help children develop good character for their own good and for the good of society and hopefully we can stay in contact with you and I thank all of you, very much.
(A chorus of thank yous.)
Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee, and again, thank you, and thanks to everybody else who took the time to be here today. We appreciate it and we hope it was an instructional time for all of us. Thank you very much and with that we stand adjourned. Thank you.
[Whereupon, at 12:15 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]