Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Who will stand up for Character Counts!? when? where?

Before we begin, this really isn't about Character Counts! per se.
It is only about Character Counts! because that happens to be
the standards of conduct that the leadership of the APS has
established and enforces upon students.

It is really about character education in general and about
whether public schools should play any deliberate part in
the development of character in students beyond having them
read a hackneyed fable about George Washington and the
Cherry tree, wikilink

APS School Board Policy, by way of the APS Student Behavior Handbook, reads;

students are expected to model and promote 
the Pillars of Character Counts!
As far as modeling standards of conduct, what we're really talking about is modeling accountability.  One models standards by modeling what it looks like to be held honestly accountable to them.

I really don't care whether the Pillars are the standards for APS students, or some other equally appropriate model. That said, the Pillars of Character Counts!, link, are a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.   I have yet to come across a better model.

Even then, its not about the model, its about an honest to God dedication to higher standards of conduct than the law.

The one thing that every character education model shares is the conviction that there are higher standards of conduct than the law and it is important that students learn about them in the hope that they will come embrace them.  In the hope that they will grow into adults who embrace character (however defined) and courage and honor.

When Character Counts! came to APS, it came with a bunch of money. United States Senator Pete Domenici had brought home a federal grant. The records of who spent how much money were not made available even after several requests.

Senator Pete Domenici was actually a Founding Father of Character Counts!; he helped write the six pillars;
  • Trustworthiness, 
  • Respect, 
  • Responsibility, 
  • Caring, 
  • Fairness and 
  • Citizenship.
The Pillar of Trustworthiness, by the way, is the one that has them running. It requires of persons of character and of role models of ethical standards of conduct, candid, forthright and honest responses to a legitimate question about the public interests or about their public service.

I asked the good Senator, by and through his pio, to intervene in APS under the table abandonment of the Pillars he helped write.

He was/is nowhere to be found as APS school boards and superintendents take down Character Counts! posters and hide them away in closets.

They didn't "phase out" Character Counts!; they simply changed their minds.  Character doesn't count; not enough anyway to make any concerted effort at all to teach and role model honest, actual personal accountability to higher standards of conduct than the law.

At the time the federal grant needed spending, former APS School Board President Paula Maes Maes was elected or appointed to be the President of the APS Character Counts! Leadership Council.

She is still around.

She is the President and CEO of  the New Mexico Broadcasters Association and apparently has enough juice with the local affiliates to keep them from doing an investigation and report on the abdication of the entire leadership of the APS from their duties and obligations the senior most role models of student standards of conduct. Either that, or the story really isn't "newsworthy".

Maes was the President of the APS Character Counts! Leadership Council.

Awhile later, she and the rest of the board voted unanimously to remove the language in their own code of conduct, that required them to actually step up as a role models of higher standards of conduct than the law.  They removed the role modeling clause in the hope that they could legal liability stemming from their role modeling malfeasance.

Their role modeling clause use to read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
By striking it, they hoped to eliminate their obligations as role models of any standards of conduct higher than the law. The law, it must not be forgotten, is the standard of conduct that every "higher standard" conduct is higher than.

Maes and Domenici are not alone in their abandonment of Character Counts!.

Former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez was a huge fan.  He regarded himself as a local Founding Father of the Character Counts! movement.

If I recall, he even had the CC! logo or message on a decal on city vehicles.  APS still does; the Pillars of Character Counts! are displayed on the sides of their publicly funded private police cars.

Chavez is still around and nowhere to be found as the APS Board and senior-most administrative role models abdicate; deciding they would rather be not be actually, honestly accountable to any standard of conduct higher than the law.

Under any standard of conduct higher than the law, their abdication would be seen for what it is, cowardice, corruption, or both.

Greater Albuquerque President Teri Cole was a big cheerleader for Character Counts!.

She still around and nowhere to be found.

Many years ago, I asked her to do something to stop the abdication of the entire leadership of the APS after they voted to strike role modeling from their own standards of conduct.

Her response meant no.

I cannot find any reference that Albuquerque Journal Managing Editor Kent Walz ever stepped up at some point and either endorsed Character Counts! or at least character education.

If he did, he is of course still around
and nowhere to be found.

Literally nowhere; the Journal relentlessly refuses to investigate and report upon an ethics and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS.
Is there really no page in a legitimate newspaper, where this story might fit?

I look forward to my return to the public forum in a couple of weeks.

I will advocate as usual, in favor of meaningful character education in the APS.

It would be nice if a few other people who believe;
if we really want children to grow into adults
who embrace character and courage and honor,
someone has to show them what it looks like.
would show up at that forum and take advantage of a
rare opportunity to actually stand up for
what you believe in, for two minutes.

photos Mark Bralley except for Walz, whom I caught.

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