Jewish World Review June 7, 1999 /23 Sivan 5759
Public schools will muck up character education
(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
DESPITE THE ABJECT FAILURE of public schools at teaching academic subjects,
there's no shortage of proposals to get them into other areas of learning
where they'll probably be even less successful -- if we're lucky.
Now cometh character education, whose advent was heralded in The New York
Times last week. Its vanguard is a group called The Character Education
The recent spate of school shootings and Supreme Court ruling on sexual
harassment has turned our thoughts to how nice it would be to have schools
where kids didn't use each other for target practice and adolescent boys
didn't act like Bill Clinton around adolescent girls.
Since the '60s, when the Supreme Court determined that G-d was trespassing
when His name was invoked in the classroom, schools have become
value-neutral zones. But now, oh happy day, there's a rising tide of secular
The Partnership is a coalition including teachers' unions, National PTA and
other usual suspects. To guide educators, it's developed Eleven Principles
of Effective Character Education. First, "decide on universal values -- such
as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility and respect for others."
(Aren't universal values self-evident? If so, why did they have to be
Then, get students talking about these values, studying real-life examples
and practicing them, the Partnership urges.
Trying to keep religion out of a discussion of morality complicates
matters. The principal of a San Diego elementary school explained that, in
naming its character curriculum, "virtues" and "values" were rejected for
their religious overtones. Instead, the program is called (yawn)
"interactive skills." You returned lost property to its rightful owner?
Great interactive skills!
Liberals are forever trying to teach virtue without faith, which is akin to
instructing a blind man in landscape painting.
Point seven in the partnership's principles claims character education
"needs to ensure that positive character development grows out of a
student's intrinsic motivation to 'know the good, love
the good and do the good,' rather than extrinsic consequences, such as
rewards and punishment."
But there is no intrinsic motivation to know the good, just as there are no
What happens when values conflict? Honesty and loyalty are both positive
traits. If your friend steals, do you lie to protect him or break faith by
telling the truth? Character education, which can't prioritize, has no
answer and says, in effect, you decide.
For generations, proper behavior was instilled in students in time-honored
fashion. There were prayers and Bible readings. In the previous century,
McGuffey's Readers taught morality along with literacy.
This was reinforced by extrinsic consequences: If you're odious, teacher
will hit you with her ruler. If you're angelic, you may just get into
Caring, honesty, responsibility and respect for others are universal
because they were ordained by the Master of the Universe.
Throughout the course of history, more often than not, societies practiced
far different values -- as wars of conquest, slavery, extermination,
oppression and the opulence of ruling classes, borne by the misery of the
It's one thing to tell kids: "Here are a set of universal values. Practice
them because bad things happen when they're widely ignored." (Presidents
begin having sex with interns, lying to the American people, committing
perjury and bombing civilian populations.)
It's quite another to promote adherence to rules of ethical behavior by
noting that they emanate from the source of life. You might call them an
operating manual for humanity.
When asked by one of the Littleton gunmen if she believed in G-d, Cassie
Bernall said yes, knowing the consequences. Such integrity in the face of
certain death isn't instilled by instruction in "interactive skills."
Finally, do we want public educators imparting their values?
Consider the job they've done with sex education, their assault on modesty.
Do you want a card-carrying member of the National Education Association --
which thinks abortion is a right and two men are a family -- teaching your
children right from wrong?
Public schools should insist on certain minimal standards (don't snap
Susie's bra, don't give Willie a wedgie because he's a nerd, don't cheat on
exams), reinforced by strict discipline. Ethics is best left to families,
religious institutions and private schools.
Public education will only muck
6/03/99: Don't think, just vote
5/28/99: An American credo
5/26/99 :Do we really want peace in Yugoslavia?
5/24/99: Gay 'marriage' -- don't pass go
5/19/99: Little Bill, you had a busy week
5/17/99: Gun control, campaign-finance reform -- two liberal illusions
5/12/99: Watch Quayle go from "incredible" to quite credible
5/10/99: Conservatives excluded from academic diversity
5/05/99: Expecting the impossible of parents
5/03/99: Gore race-baits with impunity
4/29/99: Why Kosovo? Oh, just because
4/27/99: The president's pro-parent claptrap
4/22/99: McCain plays to the media
4/19/99: NATO would have favored the confederacy
4/14/99: Before we march into Kosovo
4/12/99: Taiwan more worthy of U.S. support
4/09/99: Bauer and Forbes --- Main Street vs. Wall Street
4/05/99: Bubba and Maddy lit Kosovo's fire
3/29/99: At Passover, Egypt is a state of mind
3/29/99: Could the GOP stand Pat in 2000?
3/17/99: Hollywood's party line in 1999
3/15/99: All bow, the court is in session
3/11/99: In praise of negative campaigning
3/09/99: Day-care study defies common sense
3/04/99: Starship Clinton orbits Kosovo
3/01/99: Public will blot out Broaddrick's accusation
2/25/99: Slick Hillie for Senate would be fun
2/23/99: Fascism in the name of fighting fascism
2/16/99: Was anything learned from the impeachment trial?
2/12/99: Educating the democratic voters of tomorrow
2/10/99: First Amendment doesn't apply to pro-life cause
2/08/99: Dems' triumph over Constitution complete
2/03/99: Blood of victims will drown out breakfast prayers
2/01/99: Without a home the heart knows no rest
1/29/99: Poster boy for term-limits
1/27/99: The 'so-what' defense in the City of Saints
1/25/99: Whose choice?
1/21/99: Censure worse than nothing
1/18/99: Words can`t dignify a dishonored presidency
1/13/99: Conservatism "with a heart" is conservatism without a head
1/11/99: If he isn't removed, watch out for Bill!
1/07/99: We can learn a lot from Teddy
1/05/99: Monica and a call to modesty
12/30/98: Will Bubba get away with it again?
12/28/98: Zionist dream alive and well on West Bank
12/18/98: Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law
12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/18/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy
©1999, Creators Syndicate