What is Character Education?
Character education is an initiative that encourages schools to create environments that foster ethical, responsible and caring young people. The character education program in Allegany County’s Public Schools strives to generate an atmosphere where civic virtues are expected, modeled, taught, celebrated and continuously practiced through curriculum infusion. Monthly character traits, which form the foundation of a democratic society, are focused upon and each school has an action plan to implement its own character education program utilizing these traits. Effective character education is comprehensive; it is integrated into all aspects of classroom life, including academic subjects and throughout all areas of the school.
How Does Character Education Work?
- It promotes core ethical values as the basis of good character. A school that is committed to character development stands for core values or “traits” and defines them in terms of behaviors that can be observed in school life. These character traits hold all school members accountable to standards of conduct.
- It creates a caring school community. A school committed to creating a caring environment will help all members form lasting relationships among students, among staff, between students and staff, and between staff and families.
- It defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and behaving. Good character involves understanding, caring about, and acting on these core values. Studies show that students learn to understand core values by studying, discussing, and observing them on a daily basis. In turn, students then learn to develop good social and ethical behaviors themselves by practicing them in the home, at school, and throughout the community.
- It includes a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners. Because all students come to school with very diverse skills, interests and needs, ACPS has integrated an academic program that helps every student succeed while developing their character at the same time. Effective character educators search for the natural intersections between the academic content they want to teach and the character traits they hope to develop in the process.
- It strives to encourage students’ self-motivation. Schools of character work with students to develop their understanding of rules, their awareness of how their behavior affects others, and the character strengths such as self-control and conflict resolution skills needed to act responsibly in the future.
Character education is a proven means of reducing disruptive behavior, alcohol and drug abuse, and teen pregnancy. It holds schools, parents, and community members accountable for making character development as important as academic development. Ultimately, character education contributes to parental and community involvement, safe and orderly schools, reduced discipline problems, and higher student and staff morale.
ACPS's 7 Character Traits
ACPS recognizes and rewards students for the seven character traits below:
- Trustworthiness—Involves a variety of qualities such as honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty
- Respect—Demonstrates the “Golden Rule” of do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- Responsibility—Be accountable, pursue excellence, exercise self-restraint, respond to expectations
- Fairness—Involves issues of equality, impartiality, proportionality, openness and due process
- Caring—To truly care is to feel an emotional response to both the pain and pleasure of others
- Citizenship—The good citizen gives more than they take
- Perseverance—Involves diligence, hard work, determination and adhering to a belief, course of action or purpose
Maryland's Policy on Education that is Multicultural
Maryland’s policy concerning Education That Is Multicultural (COMAR 13A.04.05) reflects two important goals. The first is to require that public schools provide curriculum, instruction, professional development, and instructional resources that are multicultural, and to promote school climates that reflect and addresses diversity and help accelerate academic achievement among all groups of students. The second goal is to assist educators and students to gain knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of different cultural groups in their communities, state, nation and the world. This will foster the development of intercultural competency for students and adults as lifelong learners and effective citizens in a global society. Maryland has one of the most ethnically and racially diverse student populations ranking 7th among all states. The Education That Is Multicultural Regulation was adopted by the State Department of Education in 1993. The 2005 amendments were adopted to require that provisions of the regulation be include in each school system’s Bridge to Excellence in Public Education Master Plan and annual updates. In addition, the amendments established a three-year reporting cycle, commencing the Spring 2006. The new reporting requirement is designed to provide the State Board of Education, The Maryland Legislature, and the Governor with information concerning the statewide implementation of the regulation.