Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Character education in the APS

Two questions;

  1. what is character education, 
  2. should there be any in the APS?
What is it?  Wikipedia, link, offers an acceptable definition;  
Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.
Should there be any in the APS?

Forget for the moment, it is specifically and explicitly required in APS School Board Policy, link,

I offer as a premise; aside from disagreement over the best model to follow, there is widespread support in the community, and as widespread a belief that character education is actually part of education in public schools.  Therefore, there should be some in the APS.

In fact, there is.  A few schools here and there, make a concerted effort to teach children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant and/ or socially acceptable beings.

But, there is no district wide effort. None. Zero. Nada, Zip.

In blatant disregard for School Board Policy.

Why, you're wondering, no character education?

It is because there is no model for teaching character education that does not rest on accountability.  It is the bedrock character.  Character is all about holding yourself honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.  Accountable under a system over which you have no undue influence and powerful enough to hold you accountable, even against your will.

The leadership of the APS cannot advocate for character because they are unwilling to be role models of accountability.

If there were accountability, the could point to it.  They would point to it.  The truth is; they provide no venue where a complaint can be filed against them, and where that complaint will see due process.  They are absolutely unaccountable to anyone except each other.

Why, you're wondering, does no one know about any of this?

Journal Editor Kent Walz would love to run  a story about how APS is a model of transparent accountability to stakeholders.  He would love to run a story about their courage as role models for staff and students.

He hasn't run a story like that because he can't.  He can't because he's part of a conspiracy to cover up the lack of administrative and executive standards and accountability.  He's part of the cover up of an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.

His best effort so far, to join APS School Board enforcer Marty Esquivel in bamboozling the Directors of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government into giving APS Supt Winston Brooks a hero of transparency award for hiding public records of felony criminal misconduct in the leadership of their Praetorian Guard.

Walz has been asked, over and over again, to investigate and report upon the abandonment of character education in the APS, and he won't.  90,000 of this community's sons and daughters are being denied any meaningful character education because of corruption in the leadership of the APS, and he chooses rather than exposing it, to join instead, the conspiracy to keep it all secret from their parents.

Walz singing Winston Brooks virtues in front of the FOG
Journalistic malpractice, corruption, cowardice?

framegrab Mark Bralley


Hifi said...

You seem to have neglected to read the rest of the Wikipedia article which destroys the entire concept of character education as practiced in American schools.

But the public is for it, you say? Right. Who could be against anything as grand sounding as character education? Well, unless there was a conclusive study about it which proves that it does absolutely nothing except waste time and money (just what we need more of in public schools what with teachers' heads now on the chopping block!)

October 2010, a federal study, the largest and most thorough ever conducted, found that school-wide Character Education programs produce exactly ZERO improvements in student behavior or academic performance.

It's no surprise. Besides the fact that there is no theoretical basis for character education, just take a look at the lists of values and goals of the dozens of competing CE offerings. The lack of agreement between the lists is one of the most damning aspects of character education! It also becomes obvious that the majority of the values follow a conservative agenda, concerned with conformity, submitting to authority, not making a fuss...

One thing all these programs do agree on is what values are NOT included on their lists of core values. Not found, even though they are fundamental to the history and success of our nation are such noted values as independence, calculated risk, ingenuity, curiosity, critical thinking, skepticism, and even moderation. "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" the famous saying by Ms. Frizzle on the much celebrated TV show, The Magic School Bus, embodies values that would be antithetical to those found in today’s character education.

Talk about lack of accountability: the poster child is character education.

ched macquigg said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am aware of the issues you raise.

There is some value in teaching about character; not so much for the worst kids or best, but for the ones in middle who could, depending on a few influences at the right time, turn into positive and productive human beings. In so far as learning how to learn is the object, character education is as worthy a course of study as any.

I would like to point out that, most of the programs you cite as failing were likely taught in an educational setting called cemetery seating; five rows of six kids, thinking in unison for twelve years. Not exactly the best format for developing the skills one needs to make sound decisions about character issues.

Another profound but widely ignored difference between CE and any other subject is, not all adults can teach (read; model) character and courage. At least in the earlier grades, any teacher can teach any subject. An English teacher can teach math in a pinch; but not every one can be a good role model of honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence.

Character cannot be taught by any teacher. Character is taught by personal example and not all teachers are up to personal accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law.

I am not so much concerned that everyone trying to sell a curriculum package uses different buzz words. If you look at them closely enough, the differences are superficial. I would argue any exposure is better than none.

I haven't surveyed community members, but I remain convinced, if asked, they would want some form of character education at school. I suspect, if asked, they would tell you they believe it actually is being taught; in particular if the district is lying to parents about their investment.

Thanks again for your time and attention