Monday, September 15, 2014

Should "character education" be part of Albuquerque Public School curriculum?


"... the core curriculum ... continue to give explicit attention to character development as an ongoing part of school instruction"?
In 1994, the Albuquerque Public Schools passed a resolution, link.  It was their unanimous resolve that character development be an ongoing part of the curriculum.

Within the same resolution, a commitment was made to a specific set of standards of conduct.  It doesn't make any difference which set it was.  It was; the Pillars of Character Counts!, link, a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct. One of a multitude of higher standards of conduct than the law.

The resolution they made was a binding resolution.
It is still in effect.  It will remain in effect until it rendered otherwise by a simple majority vote of school board members conducted during in an open public meeting.

Whatever student code of conduct the school board adopted in 1994, became their standards of conduct before they became student standards - one cannot expect from children, what they do not expect from themselves.  see; do as I say, not as I do.

Members of the Albuquerque Public School Board of Education and the superintendent they hire, represent the 8 senior-most role models of student standards of conduct in the entire district.

That, if you accept that role modeling of accountability to the standards of conduct they establish and enforce upon students, is a fundamental responsibility of board members and superintendents.  That, stepping up as a role model is an inescapable obligation.

School board members and superintendents are not comfortable being held actually, honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law*.
*The law represents the lowest standards of conduct acceptable to civilized human beings.  They are the standards of conduct that higher standards are higher than.  Were that not bad enough, accountability even to the law, is easily escaped by school board members and senior administrators.  They spend endless amounts of money, with no real oversight, on litigation and legal weaselry in excepting themselves from the law.  They trade dollars that could have been spent educating nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters, for "admissions of no guilt." emphasis added
The standards of conduct for students and their adult role models must be the same.

I won't even begin in this post, to justify my beliefs about role modeling and the responsibilities of role models, except point to one of them, and that is;
there is no such thing as a inconspicuous role model.
Unless you're training spies, inconspicuous and role model are oxymoronic.

The whole idea of role model is to be conspicuous.
If we really want students to embrace character and
courage and honor, someone has to show them what they look like.

If we cannot find a single school board member or senior administrator willing to be held honestly accountable to student standards of conduct, we have a problem.

The solution to the problem is to lower students standards of conduct to the point where the senior most role models of those standards are at least willing to admit that they exist.

Or, we could find some school board members and senior administrators with the character and the courage to stand up in front of students and assure them that their standards of conduct are the same; no more is being expected from them than is expected from their senior most role models.

Standing in between us and finding people to replace them, are the people we need to replace and their friends in the establishment's press.

The simplest of investigations and reports on allegations of an ethics, standards and accountability scandal in the leadership of the APS could be a done deal long before the next school board is elected and long before they hire the next senior-most administrative role model of student standards of conduct.

Journal Editor Kent Walz won't allow it because Marty Esquivel doesn't want him to.

Substitute in the above allegation, any name of any news director at any of mainstream "news" outlets and any name of any school board member or senior APS administrator; not one of whom has or ever will, explain to students in words they can understand;
why students are expected to model and promote
accountability to higher standards of conduct
than the law, and their senior most role models
are not.
When Character Counts! was "in", when Character Counts! Founding Father and United States Senator Pete Domenici was bringing home tens of thousands of dollars in federal grant money, Domenici wasn't the only heavy hitter standing on a stump somewhere and endorsing the Pillars of Character Counts! as worthy standards* for children (and adults).

It about honest and actual accountability to and standards of conduct that require truth telling.   It is Character Counts! because the leadership of the APS made it Character Counts! by resolution.
*This is not about Character Counts!  This is not the time to debate what standards should have been adopted instead, or which standards should have been reestablished every year since.  You could as easily substitute any recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct.  This is not about Character Counts!
We have only to debate now; what will be the standards, and who will be actually, honestly accountable to those standards.  We could have that debate if enough interest and stakeholders insist that that debate be held.

Where are the people who stood up twenty years ago in support Character Counts!  What happened to all of the heavy hitters who endorsed the Pillars of Character Counts! and are now nowhere to be found?

Where is former mayor
Marty Chavez? local
Character Counts!
founding father?

It will disappoint, but should not surprise you to know;
it is actually impossible to find names and contact information for members of the APS Character Counts! Leadership Council.

I asked for that information nearly a decade ago when it became apparent that the leadership of the APS was going to abandon their obligations as role models of accountability to the same standards as students.  I was in hope of finding someone to step up and lead again.

Where is Terri Cole and the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce?  The Chamber used to be a big supporter; isn't there one Chamber Member left who gives a rat's ass whether the Pillars of Character Counts! don't apply to school board members and senior administrators.

In sworn testimony, former APS Supt Winston Brooks revealed that he didn't even know that the Pillars of Character Counts! are called Pillars.

In her sworn testimony, APS Executive Director of Communications and former inner circle club member Monica Armenta described, link, Character Counts! as "Domenici's long past program".

The leadership of the APS once voted unanimously, to strike language from their own code of conduct, their role modeling clause.  It used to read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for adults be lower than the standards of conduct for students
They struck the language in order that they could lower their own standards of conduct.

Is that really alright with everybody?

It is alright with the establishment's media;
nobody else knows about it.

Where are Character Counts! champions?

Where are honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct's champions?

Who in the entire city of Albuquerque, will stand up somewhere
and talk about honest accountability to meaningful standards of
conduct and competence, no matter who then loses their jobs or
their opportunities to remain at liberty and at large.

Why aren't more good people demanding that school board members and senior administrators be held accountable as role models of students standards of conduct?

Why aren't more people arguing that the Pillars of Character Counts! (or any other higher standards of conduct than the law) are in fact; worthy standards of conduct for students and for their adult role models?

Monica Armenta and Paula Maes
ham it up for Bralley's camera.
Wait a minute, Armenta swears
Bralley's camera intimidates her.
I'm not saying the leadership of the APS is evil because they haven't the character and the courage to hold themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence within their public service.

But when Edmund Burke wrote;
All that is necessary for evil to prevail in the world is for good men to do nothing.
the wholesale abdication of role models of student standards of conduct, is the kind of evil that concerned him and yours is the concern he meant to incite.

People who wait for perfect circumstances to step up for what they believe in, find only the perfect excuse to never step up at all.

If you believe
explicit attention to character development should be
an ongoing part of school instruction
there is an opportunity for you to stand up for what you believe in.  It may not be a perfect opportunity, but it is the best one you will ever have.

The time, the day and the
place is the speakers podium
of the public forum of the
next board meeting.

Stand up and demand
that students be given
the training they need
to become the kind of
people who insist upon
honest accountability for chopping down cherry trees.

People, who in defense of their good character, will willingly do more than the law requires, and less than the law allows.

photos Mark Bralley


Hifi said...

Character Counts! has died a well-deserved death. In deed, there is no evidence of either need or effectiveness with it or any other character program.

Who could be against anything as grand sounding as character education? Well, what if there was a conclusive study about it which proves that it does absolutely nothing except waste time and money.

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.

*"Efficacy of Schoolwide Programs to Promote Social and Character Development and Reduce Problem Behavior in Elementary School Children" The Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. October 2010.

ched macquigg said...

I am familiar with your argument; I heard a similar one from a guy who claimed to have written the Wikipedia article.

Be sure to show up at the meeting if there finally is one, to argue that kids are better off if we do nothing at all to help them develop good character.