NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Character Education In Public Schools

February 18, 1997

There is movement growing to instill ethical values in young people through their schools. The nonprofit Character Education Partnership -- a national coalition of organizations and individuals -- is pressing public schools across the country to add character-building education to their academic fare.

Supporters say that where character education has been implemented properly, it has produced positive and often dramatic results -- not only in student behavior, but also in academic performance.

  • Five years after a Dayton, Ohio, elementary school implemented a comprehensive character education program, it went from 28th out of 33 local elementary schools to first in test scores and student behavior improved dramatically.
  • This was in an inner-city school where 60 percent of children came from single-parent families and 70 percent came from families on welfare.
  • Five years after such a program was initiated in an inner-city Washington, D.C., high school plagued by drugs, pregnancies and violence, student pregnancies have dropped to almost none and the school is recognized for having the highest academic achievement in the city.

The group's leaders say that while religion cannot be taught in schools any longer, schools can teach core ethical values upon which freedom is based.

Source: Sanford N. McDonnell (McDonald Douglas Corp. and Character Education Partnership), "A Virtuous Agenda for Education Reform," Wall Street Journal, February 18, 1997.


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