Autor: Terry Phillips Fuente: Family News In Focus

Will American schools get more money to help concentrate on character and values?

Pointing to an upbeat federal report showing that conditions are generally improving for America's youth, President Bush is calling on Congress to fund his proposed Character Education Initiative. He wants to extend and intensify values programs for young people.

The president used his weekly radio address to ask Congress to authorize his $25 million request for the initiative, which is intended to teach values.

"We clearly have a long way to go in almost all of our public schools in the nation today," said Jason Brooks, a senior researcher at the Foundation for Educational Reform and Accountability.

He added: "Any talk of faith or self-discipline or responsibility, schools just get squeamish about."

But that said, Marsha Richards, who directs the Evergreen Freedom Foundation's Educational Reform Center, said character training shouldn't be the role of schools.

"I see public schools as more of a place to reinforce values that already (are) being taught in the homes," Richards said.

Brooks agreed.

"The community needs to step up to the plate and provide some assistance in this," he said. "Kids are in school for seven or eight hours a day and it needs to go beyond just the doorway of the school."

The president's proposal calls for parents, schools, and government to work together to counter the influences of today's pop culture. The ideal would be for parents to connect with schools — and vice versa.

"It's not that (schools) don't want to be involved; it's just that they don't know where the line is," Richards said.

Certainly schools should be a place where good behavior — which is defined by honesty, respect, integrity — is encouraged and enforced."

As the president put it, schools can help turn kids away from a "if it feels good, do it" mindset.

The highlights of the report the president cited show violence is less a part of children's lives than even a few years ago, and that teen pregnancy is also down.
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