Character Education | Policy 8242

Civility, Citizenship and Character Education

The Board of Education recognizes that teaching students respect, civility and understanding toward others, as well as the practice and reinforcement of appropriate behavior and values of our society, is an important function of the School System.

The School District wishes to foster an environment where students exhibit behavior that promotes positive educational practices, allows students to grow socially and academically, and encourages healthy dialogue in respectful ways. By presenting teachers and staff as positive role models, the District stresses positive communication and discourages disrespectful treatment. This policy is not intended to deprive and/or restrict any student of his or her right to freedom of expression but, rather, seeks to maintain, to the extent possible and reasonable, a safe, harassment free and educationally conducive environment for our students and staff.

Furthermore, the District shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades K-12 includes a component on civility, citizenship and character education in accordance with Education Law. Character education is the deliberate effort to help students understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values.

Character education shall instruct students on the principles of:

a) Honesty,
b) Tolerance,
c) Personal responsibility,
d) Respect for others,
e) Observance of laws and rules,
f) Courtesy,
g) Dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of students’ experiences in, and contributions to, the community.

As determined by the Board of Regents, and as further enumerated in Commissioner’s Regulations, the components of character education shall be incorporated in existing School District curricula as applicable.
The District encourages the involvement of staff, students, parents and community members in the implementation and reinforcement of character education in the schools.

Education Law Sections 801 and 801-a

Interpersonal Violence Prevention Education

The Commissioner of Education, pursuant to law, shall make available to the District an interpersonal violence prevention education package for students in grades K-12; and the use of such material will be incorporated as part of the health or other related curricula or programs.

As modified by the Board of Regents, the health curriculum requirements shall provide greater focus on the development of skills, by no later than middle school, that are needed to recognize, cope with and address potentially violent incidents, including an understanding of the student’s roles in emergency situations, what to do when confronted with another student who is experiencing a mental health problem, and other related skills designed to reduce the threat of violence in the schools.

Education Law Section 804(4)

Adopted 02/26/01

Principles/Guidelines for Implementation of Character Education

The purpose of this regulation is to provide a framework for staff and students to promote, understand, encourage and practice civility and respect for self and others, and honesty and responsibility as the basis of good character. Character education is the deliberate effort to help students understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values. Intentional and focused efforts must be made to foster the character development of students. The District shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades K-12 includes a component on civility, citizenship and character education.

To the extent practicable, and within guidelines established by law and regulation, the schools should involve staff, students, parents, and community to help reach consensus on what values should form the basic premises and practices of the school’s character education program. A collaborative approach among parents, communities and the schools will help promote and reinforce successful character education programs in the schools.

Within financial constraints, resources will be identified and utilized in implementing the District’s character education program, and staff training will be provided as may be necessary. Furthermore, it is the intent of the District, in accordance with law and Commissioner’s Regulations, and as may be applicable, that the teaching of values and character education be incorporated in existing curricula, extracurricular activities, and school programs such as peer mediation and community service.

This regulation is intended to outline, but is not inclusive of, appropriate behavior to encourage cooperation, courteous interaction, compassion, tolerance and acceptance of other individuals and their ideas and beliefs. The following principles are based on the premise that ethical values and good character are not mere subjective preferences but, rather, affirm our human dignity, promote the well-being and happiness of the individual, serve the common good, and define our rights and obligations in society.

Character education should reflect, but not be limited to, the following principles:

1. Character education promotes core ethical values such as honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, and dignity and respect for self and others.
2. “Character” is defined comprehensively to include thinking, feeling and behavior.
3. Character education is intentional, proactive and comprehensive in its promotion of values in the school environment/curriculum.
4. The school must be a caring community.
5. Students must be provided opportunities to apply values such as responsibility and fairness in everyday interactions and discussions.
6. Effective character education includes an academic curriculum that challenges all learners and helps them succeed.
7. Character education should strive to develop students’ intrinsic motivation to learn and to do the right thing.
8. All staff share responsibility for modeling and promoting good character.
9. Effective character education requires leadership from both staff and students.
10. Parents and community members are full partners in the character-building effort.
11. Evaluation of character education should involve an assessment of the character of the school, the school staff’s function as character educators, and the extent to which students manifest good character.