In the Pleasanton Unified School District we will develop curriculum, create an atmosphere, and model behavior that instills personal, social, and civic responsibility.
Character education is the process of helping students develop and practice the core ethical values that our diverse society shares and holds important. It is the study of the core ethical values that our society shares and holds important, including, but not limited to, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, honesty, justice and fairness, and citizenship and civic involvement.
A comprehensive character education program addresses critical concerns such as discipline problems, proper respect for students and teachers, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and poor academic performance. At its best, character education permeates every aspect of the school day. Building an environment that reinforces the traits that a community values, with parents as active players in the partnership, can help improve the qualities of honesty, respect and responsibility among our youth.
|I pledge to fulfill my role in our Community of Character by acting with:|
August – October
|Doing what I am supposed to do
Always doing my best
Being accountable for my choices
November – December
|Being kind to myself, others, and the environment
Helping others in need
Setting goals and working toward them
Striving for personal improvement
|Telling the truth
No cheating or stealing
March – April
|Using good manners, not bad language
Being considerate: honoring the feelings of others
Dealing peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements
May – July
|Being reliable: doing what I say I’ll do
Having the courage to do the right thing
Building a good reputation
The traditional mission of our public schools has been to prepare our nation’s young people for equal and responsible citizenship and productive adulthood. Democratic citizenship and productive adulthood begin with standards of conduct and standards for achievement in our schools. Other education reforms may work; high standards of conduct and achievement do work — and nothing else can work without Character education.
It is very difficult for a school to engage in significant educational reform when the school has adults and children that do not practice responsibility and respect. The twin goals of education have always been academic and character development. A character education program is the umbrella for the entire school program and is the shared responsibility of the school, the family and the community. Everything about a school is values laden, and a deliberately designed the approach is more effective than letting it happen by default.
The social, ethical, and emotional development of young people is just as important as their academic development. As Theodore Roosevelt stated: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.” After all, we know that good workers, citizens, parents, and neighbors all have their roots in good character. Therefore, it is critical to create schools that simultaneously character development and promote learning. In fact, character education promotes academic excellence because it lays a foundation for all learning that takes place in school. It is clear that character education builds classrooms where students are ready to learn and where teachers are freer to teach.
Inherently, each and every adult in a school is a character educator by virtue of exposure to students. All adults serve as role models. Students constantly watch as all adults in the school – teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches, secretaries, cafeteria aides – serve as models for character – whether good or bad. Beyond modeling, no matter what the academic subject or extra-curricular activity, educators are afforded the opportunity to develop good character in their students on a daily basis by intentionally selecting character-based lessons and activities and by the way they educate their students.
There is no one particular look or formula, but schools of character have one thing in common: a school wide commitment to nurture the “whole” child. Schools of character develop students socially, ethically, and academically by integrating character development into every part of their curriculum and culture. Specifically, a school committed to character education explicitly names and publicly stands for specific expected behaviors and promulgates them to all members of the school community. They define the expected behaviors in terms that can be observed in the life of the school, and they model, study, and discuss them, and use them as the basis for all human relations in the school. They uphold the expected behaviors by making all school members accountable to consistent standards of conduct and they celebrate their manifestation in the school and community. The key for success is that character educators find what works in their particular school, district, and community.
Many state boards and departments of education, and currently, 17 states address character education through legislation. Nearly half a dozen others are currently pursuing legislation regarding character education.
Ten (10) states mandate character education through legislation; Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. California Education Code Section 44806 states that “the duty of teachers concerning the instruction of pupils in morals, manners, and citizenship as follows:
Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government.
Each teacher is also encouraged to create and foster an environment that encourages pupils to realize their full potential and that is free from discriminatory attitudes, practices, events, or activities, in order to prevent acts of hate violence, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 33032.5.”
Character education is a critical component of education which needs to be embedded in the school culture and the core curriculum throughout the school year. There are opportunities to infuse the elements of character education into all of the California curriculum frameworks. Character education is not an add-on program, but rather a fundamental building block of current program efforts.” (Memo dated August 12, 1999)
The Frameworks for California Public includes multiple opportunities at every grade level to “embed” character education in the curriculum throughout the district curriculum, library resources, classroom lessons, and literature and primary sources.
The knowledge provided by the disciplines of history, social sciences, and the humanities enables students to appreciate how ideas, events, and individuals have intersected to produce change over time as well as to recognize the conditions and forces that maintain continuity within human societies. Students should:
Demonstrate evidence of understanding human conditions exemplified in literature.
The student listens, understands, evaluates, and speaks effectively in both formal and informal situations using the appropriate conventions of language to communicate ideas.
For example, students in who meet this standard will:
Numbers play a crucial role in our daily lives, whether we are buying a car or understanding the world and financial news reports we encounter every day. Math builds the analytic spirit on which intelligent and precise thinking depend.
Our goal for California students is to become mathematical problem-solvers who can recognize and solve routine problems readily and can find ways to reach a solution or goal where no routine path is apparent.
Students need to recognize that the solution to any given problem can be determined by employing more than one strategy and frequently raises new questions of its own.
Facts, skills, procedural knowledge, conceptual understanding, problem solving, application, reasoning and the eventual communication of the entire process are the threads that form the tapestry of mathematics.
Problem solving involves applying skills, understandings and experiences to resolve new or perplexing situations. Solving problems challenges students to apply their conceptual understanding in a new or complex situation, to exercise their basic skills, and to see mathematics as a way of finding answers to some of the problems that occur outside of a classroom. Students grow in their ability and persistence in problem solving by virtue of extensive experience in solving problems at a variety of levels of difficulty and at every level in their mathematical development.
Emphasizes health literacy for students- development of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors needed for healthy living.
Identifies the four unifying ideas of health literacy that serve as central themes for all content areas and grade levels:
The framework promotes:
The lesson plans of teachers provide opportunities for all students to learn science. This planning is heavily dependent on the teacher’s awareness and understanding of the diverse abilities, interests, and cultural backgrounds of students in the classroom. Planning also takes into account the social structure of the classroom and the challenges posed by diverse student groups. Effective planning includes sensitivity to student views that might conflict with current scientific knowledge and strategies that help to support alternative ways of making sense of the world while developing the scientific explanations.
Teachers make it clear that each student must take responsibility for his or her work. The teacher also creates opportunities for students to take responsibility for their own learning, individually and as members of groups. Teachers whose actions demonstrate respect for differing ideas, attitudes, and values support a disposition fundamental to science and to science classrooms that also is important in many everyday situations.
Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers.
The focus of this standard is the social and intellectual environment that must be in place in the classroom if all students are to succeed in learning science and have the opportunity to develop the skills and dispositions for life-long learning. Elements of other standards are brought together by this standard to highlight the importance of the community of learners and what effective teachers do to foster its development. A community approach enhances learning: It helps to advance understanding, expand students’ capabilities for investigation, enrich the questions that guide inquiry, and aid students in giving meaning to experiences.
One aspect of the teacher’s role is less tangible: teachers are models for the students they teach.
Teachers are also more likely to succeed if the fundamental beliefs about students and about learning are shared across their school community in all learning domains.
Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers
The focus of this standard is the social and intellectual environment that must be in place in the classroom if all students are to succeed in learning science and have the opportunity to develop the skills and dispositions for life-long learning.
Respect for the ideas, activities, and thinking of all students is demonstrated by what teachers say and do, as well as by the flexibility with which they respond to student interests, ideas, strengths, and needs. Whether adjusting an activity to reflect the cultural background of particular students, providing resources for a small group to pursue an interest, or suggesting that an idea is valuable but cannot be pursued at the moment, teachers model what it means to respect and value the views of others. Teachers teach respect explicitly by focusing on their own and students’ positive interactions, as well as confronting disrespect, stereotyping, and prejudice whenever it occurs in the school environment. For students to understand this aspect of science and be willing to express creative ideas, all of the members of the learning community must support and respect a diversity of experience, ideas, thought, and expression. Teachers work with students to develop an environment in which students feel safe in expressing ideas. A fundamental aspect of a community of learners is communication. Effective communication requires a foundation of respect and trust among individuals.
Character education takes place throughout the entire school day as administrators, teachers, and other staff are presented with opportunities to model and teach positive character traits. Character education is not relegated to a special “character education class” that is conducted periodically, rather it is infused throughout the structures and processes of the entire school curriculum and culture.
Thus character education is not an “add-on,” but is instead a different way of teaching; it is a comprehensive approach that promotes the expected behaviors in all phases of school life and permeates the entire school culture. It is not an imposition on already overburdened teachers; rather, it helps teachers fulfill their fundamental responsibility to prepare young children for their future by laying a foundation for learning by creating caring, respectful school environments.
Parents are the primary and most important character educators of their children. The Pleasanton Unified School District has developed character education programs in close partnership with parents and the community. This program focuses on the core civic expected behaviors that are widely held in our society across our religious and other differences. Under the First Amendment, public school teachers may neither inculcate nor denigrate religion. The expected behaviors agreed to by the Pleasanton community may be taught in public schools if done so without religious indoctrination. At the same time, the expected behaviors are not taught in such a way as to suggest that religious authority is unnecessary or unimportant. But public schools may teach about religion (as distinguished from religious indoctrination) as part of complete education. For example, the curriculum may include teaching about the role of religion in history and contemporary society, alerting students to the fact that moral convictions are often grounded in religious traditions.
The Pleasanton community reached consensus on what expected behaviors should be emphasized in the schools through a city and school district sponsored community survey in 1999. Early in the district’s strategic planning process, the strategic planning team made up of parents, administrators, teachers, classified staff, students and other community representatives developed an action plan to create an “… Ad Hoc Committee that would reach consensus on three to five universally accepted behaviors, and develop a plan to communicate these behaviors to the community.” The committee met and chose to survey the community in order to identify the expected behaviors to be taught in the schools.
The following six expected behaviors were chosen by the community, and adopted by the Pleasanton School Board and Pleasanton City Council:
Since the American workforce ultimately comes from our schools, everyone should have an interest in seeing that our youth develop into responsible, ethical people. The very qualities that today’s work force needs are character traits and skills that form the building blocks of character education. In 1991 the U.S. Department of Labor issued a report “What Work Requires of Schools,” also known as the SCANS report – which cautioned that students must develop a new set of foundation skills and competencies such as interpersonal skills, individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity.
It is important to keep in mind that formalized character education begins when members of a school, along with broad community involvement, come together to determine the expected behaviors that they share and that form the basis for good education in their particular school and district. These values then become the foundation for all that the school does – curriculum, teaching strategies, school culture, extra-curricular activities, etc. Character education can then be infused into the broader community.
6.1.1 Create a representative Ad Hoc Committee, (e.g., parents, teachers, school administrators, students, business leaders, religious leaders, justice system/law enforcement and city officials).
6.1.2 The Ad Hoc Committee will review the research gathered for this action plan, in terms of what other communities and school districts have done.
6.1.3 Seek advice from people who have been successful with character education and to speak to the Ad Hoc Committee on the benefits and importance of integrating A character education into a school district.
6.1.4 The Ad Hoc Committee will solicit input and feedback on the identified behaviors.
6.1.5 The Ad Hoc Committee will reach consensus on three to five universally accepted behaviors, and develop a plan to communicate these behaviors to the community.
6.2.1 Create a standing steering committee of three to five members.
6.2.2 The steering committee will, at the school Board’s discretion, report the progress of the action plan.
6.2.3 The steering committee will report to the community, at least annually, using evaluation methods created by Action Plan 6.7.
6.3.1 Get the media invested in positively recognizing the behaviors in action in the schools and community.
6.3.2 Identify all potential communicators, individuals or groups, of the behaviors, who will participate in communicating them to students and community.
6.3.3 Provide key communicators throughout the community with talking points for the implementation of the behaviors.
6.3.4 Design opportunities for partners to promote and support the behaviors to students and the community.
6.4.1 Identify behaviors in present curriculum and develop a matrix showing where they can be taught in the existing curriculum.
6.4.2 Continually update and keep fresh before the staff the matrixes appropriate to their grade level and curriculum.
6.4.3 Evaluate potential curriculum in light of the identified behaviors as part of the selection process.
6.4.4 Analyze newly adopted curriculum and add information to the matrix.
6.4.5 Continue to expand at-risk programs in middle schools.
6.4.6 Create mentorship programs for middle schools available to any interested student.
6.4.7 Create a mentor/internship program for high schools.
6.4.8 Encourage schools to create programs and activities that connect students to identity groups within the schools (e.g., house plans or “school within a school”) and community, promote the identified behaviors, promote and increase service learning K-12, and promote a family service program where individual families are responsible for the service done.
6.4.9 Increase opportunities for student leadership and responsibility for whole student body.
6.4.10 Devise and sponsor student projects and activities that examine current culture as portrayed in the media and which thoughtfully analyze the culture in light of core values.
6.4.11 Establish programs that recognize students who demonstrate the identified behaviors. (Coordinate with Action Plan 6.3).
6.5.1 Review counselor’s role and workday to maximize access and visibility (e.g. staggered hours, out on campus, paperwork) to develop a comprehensive K-12 guidance program.
6.5.2 Strive to improve the student/counselor ratio.
6.5.3 Identify alternative ways to deal with current counseling tasks (e.g., grade issues, course changes, college applications, scholarships, and scheduling)
6.5.4 Identify individuals, in addition to counselors, on each campus that students can go to at all times that are sensitive and listen to student problems/needs.
6.6.1 Begin the school year for Pleasanton Unified School District staff with a well-known motivational speaker emphasizing the behaviors to be integrated in classrooms.
6.6.2 Utilize the motivational speaker’s time to maximum by offering further presentations to parents, students, and the community.
6.6.3 Provide follow-up training throughout the school year to reinforce the behaviors.
6.6.4 The district superintendent and school principals will continually challenge staff to embody and teach the behaviors by authentically modeling them for others.
6.6.5 Provide staff development that prepares staff to deal with issues related to the identified behaviors (e.g., diversity, ethnicity, belief systems, and sexual orientation).
6.6.6 Use staff development to integrate respect into the curriculum at each site to increase the respect for all people.
6.7.1 Create an evaluation system to measure the level of implementation of the identified behaviors established in action plan 6.1 for students, staff, and community.
6.7.2 Create a plan to deal with attrition by ensuring continuity of implementation
6.7.3 Maintain an historical, developmental time line of implementation
6.7.4 The steering committee will annually examine data with representation from the school and community and beyond.
6.7.5 Utilize results from 6.7.4 data examination to guide future implementation.