The Need for Character Development

We have seen indications that systemic modifications must be made in K-12 education to improve student post secondary readiness.  While many of us evaluate our schools based on graduation rates and achievement scores, it may be more productive to ask:

How can we best prepare our next generation for success in the workforce and in life? 

A survey recently conducted among over 400 major employers (Are They Really Ready to Work, Conference Board, 2006) helps us to gain insight regarding the readiness of new entrants to the workforce.  When asked to identify the most important skills needed, employers rated applied skills such as professionalism, teamwork, oral communication and ethics highest in importance.  Basic skills such as reading, writing and math were rated important but rated as less important. When asked about the readiness of those entering the workforce, less that a quarter (23.9%) report that new entrants with four year college degrees have “excellent” basic and applied skills.  The deficiencies are greatest among high school graduates with 42% of employers reporting the overall preparation among high school graduates as “deficient.” 
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Character Development

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“A school’s culture has far more influence on life and learning in the schoolhouse than the state department of education, the superintendent, the school board, or even the principal can ever have.”  - Roland Barth, Harvard School of Education -
The Foundation for Character Development
Inspiring Academic Achievement and Responsible Citizenship
Character Development

These applied skills are directly impacted by one’s character and the statistics below show we have much need for improvement in developing character in young people.
·Peer cruelty is steadily increasing in schools nationwide:  an estimated 160,000 children each day miss school for fear of being bullied. 

·Dishonesty is also on the rise:  a national survey among 10,000 high school students revealed that nearly half admitted that they stole something in the past year; one in four said they would lie to get a job; and seven in ten admitted to cheating on an exam in the previous 12 months.
As a society we don’t model the best character nor show that there are unglamorous consequences of poor character.  One need only look at the newspaper each day to see that good character is woefully lacking among some of our politicians, professional and college athletes, business leaders and among celebrities that young people sometimes look up to in the entertainment industry.  It is a crisis that must be addressed by all adults who come in contact with youth.
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