I was privileged to attend the Washington Post’s summit on families and children earlier this month. What did I learn? That education remains the key ingredient for success for all American children, especially those living in poverty. While experts and politicians continue to debate the role of government in helping families, children, and communities, all agree that education continues to be a path to opportunity.
What's Happening in Character?
As we all continue to struggle with the impact of the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, we find ourselves as a nation at a crossroads about what we can do to better protect our children, especially at school. We are suddenly more willing than we have been in recent times to tackle complex and controversial issues such as gun control, mental health services, and violence in video games and the media. But those of us who are parents and teachers and school leaders can’t wait for these issues to be addressed through the political process – although I, for one, commend any American with the passion and expertise required to work on these issues for doing so. At CEP our mission is to create engaged and ethical citizens so we certainly applaud and support civic engagement and civil public discourse. However, those we serve need support and concrete strategies NOW, TODAY. Thankfully, our National Schools of Character can serve as models for what a safe school can be and our 11 Principles can serve as a roadmap for any school that would like to get there.
Richard Stockton Elementary (2012 National School of Character) students were busy in the week before Thanksgiving as they worked on their service efforts to help those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. On Tuesday, students, staff, and parents traveled with the donations they had collected to Brigantine, New Jersey, home of 2011 NSOC Brigantine Elementary.
Eloisa DeJesus-Woodruff, Principal of 2012 National School of Character (NSOC) Richard Stockton Elementary in Cherry Hill, New Jersey was so moved by the devastation being faced by her fellow citizens in New Jersey and New York in the wake of Sandy that she returned from the National Forum ready to act. She had a vision of mobilizing the National Schools of Character to help those in need – other NSOC communities that were impacted as well as anyone else who needed help through the Red Cross. She hoped her students could help others and would have the opportunity to share stories with other students in other communities around the country. Knowing the power of service learning in her own community, she envisioned how much impact the NSOCs could have by working together.
CEP asked the experts when it would be appropriate to reward children in our latest National Schools of Character publication.
Here's what David Hulac, Marvin Berkowitz, and Russ Sojourner had to say:
We asked our 2012 National Schools of Character why they do character education. Some replied:
In schools of character:
Bullying is rare
87% of students attending 2011 National Schools of Character reported in climate surveys that they felt safe school or that bullying was rare (with 27 of the 44 NSOC reporting data in this category).
Eldridge Park Elementary School (Lawrenceville, NJ): 100% of 3rd graders report feeling safe at school in exit polls.
Fuguitt Elementary School (Largo, FL): 98% of students report feeling safe at school
Mark Twain Elementary School (Brentwood, MO): The school reports an 85% reduction in incidents of bullying over the past 6 years.
Union Elementary School (Buckhannon, WV): 93% of students surveyed say they have never been bullied.
There’s been a great deal of nationwide interest in the issue of bullying lately, with good reason since about one-quarter of our nation’s students report being bullied regularly. Despite the intensified focus, many well-meaning parents, educators, and leaders are left wondering what exactly they should do to stop peer cruelty and prevent possible tragedies. Zero tolerance? Anti-bullying coordinators? Legislation? Assemblies? Curriculum? What really works? Where can educators get the most bang for their buck and make the biggest positive impact on the young people in their care?