Sunday, November 05, 2006

Character Counts: a vehicle for fraud.

Proof? …just ask any of its advocates to take some lumps in its defense.

At some point you have to hold yourself accountable to the standard you promote. If you don’t, you are a hypocrite, a charlatan, a fraud.

The leadership of the Albuquerque Public Schools requires students to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts. Students are expected to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard of conduct (than the law; the lowest standard of (acceptable) conduct). It is the principle we illustrate when we tell children the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. We expect children to revere George Washington as a hero worthy of emulation because he had the moral courage to hold himself accountable to a higher standard of conduct.

The Leadership of the APS has renounced the same higher standard for themselves. For reasons that they will not admit, reasons that enjoy no ethical justification, they have refused to hold themselves honestly accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts. They will not model before students, the behavior that they expect from students. They have renounced their obligations as role models for 6,000 employees and 98,000 students.

They have escaped the consequences of their decision largely because the Albuquerque Journal and Tribune refuse to investigate or report upon their actions, even through two elections.

The situation would be resolved by public exposure. Because the Journal and Tribune won’t report the truth, a number of persons who cast a longer shadow than I, have been asked to use their influence to illuminate the situation. They have refused. They are apparently unwilling to take some lumps in defense of Character Counts.

Among those who know of the APS ethics scandal and who refuse to stand and be counted are:
• Michael Josephson, the founder of Character Counts.
• Senator Pete Domenici, among those who helped to write the six pillars of character.
• Mayor Martin Chavez, who when he gets the chance, calls himself a founding influence of Character Counts in Albuquerque.
• Albuquerque’s City Councilors, who have failed to protect the interests of their constituents.
• The Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, in the person of Teri Cole, who wears a Character Counts badge.
• Every Church Leader whose email address I could find in a long evening of searching for help.
• The Albuquerque Teachers Federation, who under Don Whatley, brought Character Counts to APS.

When push comes to shove, no one will stand up and be counted. I can’t tell you why; I don’t understand why.

Perhaps it is as simple as the fact that you can’t stand up for Character Counts without being willing to be held honestly accountable to the Pillars of Character Counts yourself. Perhaps it is as simple as the fact that these people are simply frauds; they will advocate for Character Counts for as long as it serves their interests. But when it comes right down to it, …?

Every generation expects the next generation to be the first to hold itself honestly accountable to a higher standard of conduct. Every next generation has then fallen short of that expectation. They have however, managed to live up to the example that has been set for them.

If we really want our children to embrace character and honor and courage; I mean REALLY want them to embrace character and honor and courage; someone has to show them what it looks like.

People are fond of saying “Somebody should do something!” Apparently what they really mean is “Somebody ELSE should do something.” And that is why things are getting worse rather than better.

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