Schools have a proper role in teaching the guiding principles of civil behavior, speaker says.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- It's time for adults to dispel the notion among young people that uncivil behavior is tolerated in our society, according to a character education expert.
"If we do not teach young people to act in a civil way, the human and economic consequences to them and to our society are profound," said Willard R. Daggett of Schenectady, N.Y. He is president of the International Center for Leadership in Education, which is based in Rexford, N.Y.
Comments: "Why are we seeing young people acting less civil than we would like? The reason is what they see in adults. It's what they see on television. It's what they read about their public officials," he added.
"The reality of it is most adults are very civil, but the image they have is that uncivil behavior is acceptable and maybe the norm. We've got to change that," he said.
"We're finding the integration of a character education program helps create the climate that enables schools to raise academic standards," he said Thursday evening.
Daggett spoke to about 20 people, including educators and lawyers, in a session for the general public at Youngstown State University's Metro College in Southwoods Commons. Earlier in the day, he had conducted workshops for counselors, social workers and educators at YSU's Kilcawley Center.
Daggett's appearance was sponsored by the Dr. James Dale Ethics Center at YSU and Comprehensive Strategy Mahoning County, a program based at the county Juvenile Justice Center, which is designed to reduce delinquency, pregnancy, violence, substance abuse and school drop rates among adolescents.
Business of schools: "Schools have no business teaching morals and values of the family. What they have a business doing is teaching the guiding principles that underpin that -- that the parents are partners in developing -- honesty, respect, trustworthiness, deliberateness, compassion," he said. "Schools are in a supportive role, as are other community agencies," he said.
He gave the example of the Zion-Benton School District near Chicago, which brought together parents and the rest of the community around the notion that adults must model the behavior they want children to exhibit.
Adults in the community signed contracts pledging not to abuse drugs or alcohol and pledging to serve as positive mentors for children. From 1994, when that program began, to 2000, that district reduced violent acts by teen-agers by more than 50 percent and dramatically improved school test scores and high school graduation rates, Daggett observed.