Student Character Education
Building a Community of Character
In the Pleasanton Unified School District we strive to create school environments that are positive, predictable, consistent and safe.
What is character education?
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.
Building a Community of Character Pledge
|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
What is the Pleasanton Unified School District’s Mission Statement on character education?
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.
How does character education contribute to a student’s 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.
What are some of the objectives of a character education program?
- That students and school staff have schools that are safe, orderly and drug free.
- That all students and school staff learn and work in schools that have clear discipline codes with fair and consistently enforced consequences for misbehavior.
- That all students and school staff learn and work in a school district that has alternative educational placements for violent or chronically disruptive students.
- That all students and school staff has a right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
- That all students and school staff learn and work in schools and classrooms that have clearly stated and rigorous academic standards.
- That all students and school staff learn and work in schools and classrooms where high grades stand for high achievement and promotion is earned.
- That all students and school staff learn and work in schools where getting a high school diploma means having the knowledge and skills essential for college or a good job.
- That all students and school staff be supported by parents, the community, public officials and business in their efforts to uphold high standards of conduct and achievement.
What does character education look like in a school?
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.
Direction from the State Superintendent
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)
Who decided what character education traits are emphasized in the schools?
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:
How can I help foster character education in the Pleasanton schools?
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.