Character Education Gets Attention at Conference Schools Want to Strengthen `Moral Fiber'
Joan Little Of the Post-Dispatch, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Suppose you're a student and your friend pulls a prank and damages school property. The principal asks you what happened. What will you say?
That type of problem was part of the first national conference on character education, held Friday at Union Station, as educators took a serious look at ethical issues. The issue of how to teach kids to be better people has been growing in recent years, mainly out of concern over today's social ills.
Nearly 400 educators from 26 states attended the conference at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Hotel. It ends today.
"People are very concerned about the moral fiber of our country," said Parkway's acting superintendent, Paul Delanty. "And it has nothing to do with religion. People are asking, `What's going on here?' "
At a workshop, Delanty and Rockwood Assistant Superintendent Stan Scheer presented different approaches on how their districts got character development programs going. Parkway started by developing a policy that came from a district task force made up of people of all religious persuasions, including atheists.
The Parkway School Board eventually adopted the task force's policy, but not before a highly publicized controversy over whether to say that Americans are historically rooted in the Bible. The board took the Bible phrase out of the policy statement. The way that a school teaches character development has been left up to individual schools in Parkway, Delanty said.
Rockwood started in 1992 by focusing on one school - Westridge Elementary - and then having the parents present their efforts to the Rockwood School Board. Since then, 14 of the district's 25 schools have started some type of character development for students.
For instance, some Rockwood students developed a medical ethics game for staff members at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital as part of a class project. …