Project CHARACTER HANDBOOK

 

Welcome to Project CHARACTER*

 

CHARACTER* in Region 10 is CRITICAL**:

Building a Nationwide Capability

 

*Citizenship and High Academic standards, Reinforcing the

Aspen Character Traits, and Ethical Reasoning

 

** Curriculum Restructuring, Implementation and Training,

 Integrating Computer Applications, and Learning standards

 

 

Effective character education is based on core ethical values which form the foundation of democratic society, in particular, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, justice and fairness, and civic virtue and citizenship.

 

--The Six Pillars of Character in The Aspen Declaration, 7/92

 

Project CHARACTER* was established as a result of a grant that was awarded by the U. S. Department of Education’s Character Education Program on October 1, 2002 to the former Community School District 3 of New York City, developed by James J. Carroll, Ph.D.  As a result of citywide reorganization, Project CHARACTER is now operated through Region 10 of the New York City Department of Education.

 

The Director of Project CHARACTER is Howard Krieger, and the two primary consultants are Dr. Jim Carroll and Joseph Montecalvo, the director and assistant director of Syracuse University Project LEGAL, a nationally validated character and civic education program.  Dr. Thomas Lickona and Dr. Matt Davidson from the Center for the 4th and 5th R’s also serve as project consultants. 

 

 

1.  Introduction

 

The four CRITICAL objectives of Project CHARACTER may be summarized as:

 

(1) Curriculum Restructuring to focus on the Six Pillars of Character—respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, justice and fairness, and civic virtue and citizenship—in all content courses and on school-wide social problems,

 

(2) Implementation and Training among approxi­mately five new target schools each year, and

 

(3) Integrating Computer Applications—The Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) and The Public Policy Analyst (PPA), all of which develops

 

(4) Learning standards in both character and academic achievement related to the new NY content standards. 

 

The four CRITICAL objectives will be achieved by implementing the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) and The Public Policy Analyst (PPA). The CEPPA and the PPA were developed by James J. Carroll, Ph.D. and Joseph Montecalvo, the two primary consultants for Project CHARACTER.  The CEPPA will be applied both (1) as a problem-solving structure to formulate schoolwide policies and (2) within mandatory elementary and middle school courses to improve students’ problem solving skills, Internet research skills and acquisition of state content standards.

 

CHARACTER is a four-year project.  During the 2002—2003 school year, four schools from the former CSD 3 participated: P.S. 75, P.S. 163, P.S. 191, and M.S. 247.  During the 2003-2004 school year, five schools, all of which are in Harlem, participated: I.S. 275, I.S. 172, P.S. 175, P.S. 133 and St. Charles.  The 2004—2005 target schools were as follows: I.S. 195, P.S. 197, C.S. 200, I.S. 286 and St. Joseph’s.  The target schools for the 2005-06 academic year were: PS 241, Family Academy (K-8), PS 125, Ralph Bunche (1-6), MS 172, Powell Middle School for Law and Social Justice (6-8), IS 10, and Frederick Douglas Academy (6-12).

 

In 2006-07 the target schools will be: PS 192, PS 208, MS 54, and MS 322.

 

Each target school will have a five-member Leadership Team (LT) comprised of the principal, three teachers and a parent.

 

The teams will receive extensive training throughout the school year from Dr. Jim Carroll and Joe Montecalvo of Syracuse University Project LEGAL, the developers of these exemplary problem solving applications, and from Howard Krieger.  They will also provide training to content teachers on how to use the PPA in subjects such as social studies, science, and language arts to improve problem solving and Internet research skills to enhance performance on state standards, as well as strengthen character traits, for the PPA is being adapted to include character-related questions.  Throughout the year, Carroll and Montecalvo will also provide the teams with ongoing technical assistance and monitor their efforts in formulating new school policies using the CEPPA. 

 

This scientifically based, target/control group study will be managed by SPEZ, Co., Inc. (Superior Proposals for the Education Zone), an independent evaluation agency, led by Dr. Gil Turchin.  It will contribute to research on the effectiveness of combining a nationally validated content-based character education project (Project LEGAL) with school-wide programs in character education.

 

 

2.      Implementation 2006—2007 : Overview

 

Summer, 2006: Summer Institute: The August institute will introduce the Leadership Teams from the five target schools to the goals of the project and to using the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA), the online application to analyze and solve school social problems.

 

September, 2006:  Each of the five target schools’ LT’s will begin the school year by providing training to those LT members who were unable to participate in the summer institute.  Howard Krieger will assist with this after school training.

 

Howard will be sure that copies of Dr. Thomas Lickona’s School As A Caring Community Profile II (SCCP-II, 2001) will be distributed, enough for the entire staffs of the five target and five control schools. These surveys should be taken by all staff members of the ten schools during September to serve as pre-assessment instruments for the project.

 

During the third and fourth weeks of September, each of the five target schools will conduct its one-hour organizational meeting.  Howard Krieger will lead these meetings, together with the five-member Leadership Teams.  All faculty members who can participate on a regular basis one afternoon a week after school should be encouraged to attend.  It is recognized that some teachers will have conflicts such as coaching or other after school jobs and will be unable to participate directly after school on one of their school’s three committees.  However, once the three committees have been identified, all faculty members should still designate a particular committee, for they can be surveyed for their opinions, even if they cannot participate after school.  In accordance with contractual agreements with the teachers’ association, teachers will be compensated for their time participating in after school professional development committee meetings and after school training workshops led by the director, Carroll, or Montecalvo.

The meetings will point out that the first phase of the project is for each school to organize into three committees to use the project’s Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) to analyze schoolwide social problems and develop new policy solutions that will be implemented immediately.  The three committees will each focus on a problem area related to one of the Six Pillars of Character as stated in the project application as follows:

 

(a) discipline problems

(b) student achievement

(c) participation in extracurricular activities

(d) parental and community involvement

(e) faculty and administration involvement

(f) student and staff morale  

 

All target schools will develop three committees.  All schools must have one committee that analyzes (a) discipline problems and one committee that focuses on (b) student achievement.  The third committee may select one of the remaining problem areas (c—f) based on the results of their school’s SCCP-II diagnostic data and/or group consensus. 

 

At the Organizational Meeting, the teachers in attendance will select one of the three committees on which to participate.  Each committee should meet on a separate day after school. Faculty members should select a committee based on their interest in that topic and on the particular afternoon that it meets (e.g., (a) discipline problems meets on Mondays, (b) meets every Tuesday and (C) meets every Wednesday).  Each of the three committees should be led by one of their school’s three teachers who serve as LT members. 

 

At the organizational meeting, Mr. Krieger will give a brief demonstration of how The Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA), which was demonstrated at the Summer workshop, can be used to analyze specific problems under any of the Six Pillars and how the committees can develop new schoolwide policies to address those problems. The CEPPA is a new version of the exemplary Public Policy Analyst (PPA) that was developed by Dr. Carroll and Mr. Montecalvo, and has been used in numerous schools to improve problem solving skills, Internet research skills and achieve content standards.  Since 1999, Carroll and Montecalvo have used the PPA with over 550 Bronx secondary teachers in Projects TIPS, and Mr. Krieger used the PPA as the Project TIPS Senior Staff Developer until becoming the director of Project CHARACTER. The CEPPA, like the PPA, is designed to analyze the nature of a social problem, gather evidence of its existence, identify causes, evaluate existing policies, develop new policies to solve it, and select the best policy according to its anticipated effectiveness and feasibility.

 

Then, by late September, each school will begin holding after school committees to use the CEPPA.

 

October, 2006:  The after school committees will have begun by early October.  The first meeting of each committee on Defining the Problem is very important.  Problems should not include a statement regarding the ineffectiveness of a current policy (current policies are assessed in step #4).  Be sure that the group states the problem as specifically as possible.  Be sure to complete the CEPPA worksheet and e-mail to the director and to Dr. Carroll for comments as soon as possible so that the committee can obtain comments prior to the next meeting.

 

Some weekly meeting may be able to complete more than one step of the CEPPA process.  The LT teacher must keep everyone on task and maintain a balance that allows everyone to express an opinion yet makes sure that at least one step is completed at each meeting.

 

The full faculty should be made aware of the progress each week so that those who cannot participate can furnish their ideas.  It is recommended that short surveys be developed and distributed to the entire faculty to obtain information necessary to complete upcoming steps of the CEPPA process such as the causes of the problem (#3) or suggestions on new policies (#5).

 

A full day (release day) workshop will be held in late October.  Part of the day will be led by Jim Carroll and Joe Montecalvo, and they will review each school’s progress with the CEPPA. 

 

Copies of the book, Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility by Thomas Lickona, will be made available for distribution to teachers beginning in January.  By obtaining a free copy of the book, a teacher agrees to implement at least of one the classroom strategies contained in Part Two of the book and complete a one-page form that will be posted on the school’s project bulletin board to share with other colleagues. 

 

Lickona’s book should also be used by teachers and LT members who serve on the after school committees.  The classroom strategies in Part Two and the schoolwide strategies in Part Three should provide numerous ideas for new policies (step #5 of the CEPPA) to deal with problems related to (a) discipline or improving (b) school achievement.

 

Also, the chapters, “Creating a Moral Community in the Classroom” and “Creating a Democratic Classroom Environment,” show teachers how to establish the proper context for PPA analyses and discussions. “Teaching Values through the Curriculum,” “Cooperative Learning,”  “Encouraging Moral Reflection,” and “Raising the Level of Moral Discussion” all contain proven strategies that will maximize the implementation of the PPA as an online tool to produce effective policies through moral decision making.

 

November, 2006—January, 2007:  LT members will continue to lead after school committee meetings and work with Dr. Carroll and Mr. Montecalvo on the committee worksheets; final versions will be posted and policies will be implemented.  There will also be another full day workshop held in December.

 

February, 2007—May, 2007: Integrating the PPA into content courses: Depending on a school’s interests and project budget, additional after school committees may be organized to analyze additional problems related to the Six Pillars after the initial three committees complete their work by early March.  Be sure to consult with the director on the amount of money remaining for your school for after school committee work.

 

As mentioned, the CEPPA used to analyze problems related to the Six Pillars is based on the original Public Policy Analyst (PPA).  The PPA has been proven to improve academic performance and students’ technology skills in content courses in Project TIPS in the Bronx since 1999.  The courses that are most applicable for using the PPA are social studies, science and language arts, for these courses contain social problems embedded in their curricula.

 

New York State and New York City have recently adopted rigorous content standards.  Using the PPA, teachers can learn how to realign their curricula to address some of these NYS content standards. The specific skills required under some social studies and science standards are very similar, supporting the need for interdisciplinary innovative solutions; Social Studies: “Students will prepare a plan of action that defines an issue or problem, suggests alternative solutions, evaluates the consequences for each solution, prioritizes the solutions based on established criteria, and proposes an action plan to address the issue or to resolve the problem” and Science: “Students will design solutions to real-world problems on a community, national, or global scale (that results in) rigorous analysis of the problem and of the solution.”  Public policy issues related to both social studies and science (e.g., environment, public health, nuclear energy, genetics, etc.) can be used to teach language arts standards: reading, writing, research, and oral communication.    Applying our focus on character education, we will always consider whether proposed policies are in accordance with basic American values.  For example, do they promote respect and responsibility in comparison to other options?

 

 

February, 2007—May, 2007 PPA Workshops:  Beginning in March, Howard Krieger will schedule several six-hour series of workshops for content teachers in the target school interested in learning how to use and integrate the PPA into teaching and learning.  Some series will be held from two hours after school on three consecutive afternoons for two hours each day.  A Saturday six-hour workshop may also be offered.

 

 

 

3.  The Role of the Target School Leadership Teams

 

A.  Qualifications of the Leadership Team (LT) Members:

 

As new target schools are selected each year to participate in Project CHARACTER, each school will identify a five-member leadership team.  Since the building principal is the key person responsible for providing curriculum leadership and has legal responsibilities regarding student discipline, it is essential that the principal not only participate on the team, but play a very active role on it.  In most situations, the principal will be responsible for selecting the other four members of the team. 

 

The three teacher members of the team should be experienced teachers that are highly respected by their colleagues.  None of them should have any type of other responsibilities after school, for they must be available to lead committee meetings after school throughout the year.  Ideally, they should have a common planning period during the school day to meet together, although this may not be possible to schedule during the first year of CHARACTER. 

 

The teachers should have some experience in using the Internet, e-mail, and basic word processing skills. The CEPPA online application will guide the policy making activities of the committee meetings.  Teachers, therefore, should be comfortable in doing Internet research, for some of the steps of the CEPPA will involve locating other websites for further information.  Team members will be using e-mail regularly to communicate with Carroll and Montecalvo about the progress of each of the committees and subcommittees, and to have them critique proposed policies.  Word processing skills will be needed to provide notices to committee members and develop reports for the director, the evaluator, and Carroll and Montecalvo.

 

As the term leadership teams implies, the teachers will need to possess leadership skills in a variety of areas.  They will need to be excellent communicators and facilitators.  All of the topics that the committees discuss will inevitably lead to some heated discussions, and the team leaders must be capable facilitators with good listening skills and the ability to help the participants to reach a consensus or compromise.  Above all, they need to be dedicated to the goals of Project CHARACTER and to the concept that by carefully and fully analyzing the topics in the Character grant application by applying the CEPPA, they can facilitate the committees to formulate policies that, when implemented, will bring about schoolwide improvement in those areas related to character and academics.

 

The parent member of the leadership team should also possess the same types of leadership and technical skills required of the teacher members.  Like the teachers, the parent will also need to be available throughout the school year to participate in after school committee meetings several days a week (if the school is unable to identify such a parent from the community with such availability then perhaps a teacher who has a child attending that school may serve as the parent representative).  Since parental involvement is a key ingredient to the success of any character education project, the selection of a strong, dedicated parent representative is vital for CHARACTER.

 

B.  Specific Duties of the Leadership Team (LT):

 

Within each of the five target schools each year, the leadership teams may find it necessary or desirable to adapt parts of these guidelines in accordance with their own school’s schedule, philosophy or suggestions from the staff.  The LT will have responsibilities for both the schoolwide and the classroom implementation of CHARACTER.

 

(1)  Schoolwide Duties:

 

  1. Following designation as a new target school, the principal selects the other four leadership team members—three teachers and one parent—in accordance with the qualifications above.

 

  1. The LT (Leadership Team) reviews the CHARACTER proposal and this handbook and contacts the director, Howard Krieger or Dr. Carroll (888-443-4720) regarding any questions or concerns.

 

  1. The LT provides an overview of Project CHARACTER at a faculty meeting using the PowerPoint presentation developed by Dr. Carroll.

 

  1. The LT or the principal administers Dr. Tom Lickona’s School As A Caring Community Profile II (SCCP-II, 2001) to their entire staff and a sample of students and parents.

 

  1.  Review the results of the SCCP—II survey and use it to identify one or two topics from the following list (from the Character grant application) for analysis in addition to discipline and student achievement:

 

(a) discipline problems

(b) student achievement

(c) participation in extracurricular activities

(d) parental and community involvement

(e) faculty and administration involvement

(f) student and staff morale

 

  1. Establish three committees, one for each designated topic.  Teachers should choose at least one committee.  Parent representation on committees is also encouraged, in addition to the parent from the LT.  The principal and the LT of a middle school should discuss the appropriateness of direct student participation on these committees.  It is suggested that particular committees meet regularly on the same day after school each week, such as discipline on Mondays, student achievement on Tuesday etc.  This will permit teachers to select committees to conform to their own after school schedules.  For at least the initial few weeks, all LT members should make an effort to participate on all committees.  Once they are operating regularly on task, a particular LT member may be designated to chair a particular committee.

 

  1. At the first meeting of each committee, the director and LT should provide an overview of the goals of committee, including demonstrating how the six basic steps of the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) will be used to guide the analysis of the specific social problem(s) related to that topic, gather evidence of the problem, identify the causes, examine the existing relevant policies, develop at least three new proposed policy solutions, and select the best policy to implement based on its feasibility and effectiveness.

 

  1. The second meeting of each committee will apply step one of the CEPPA—Define the Problem.  The LT should be aware that the broad nature of the list of topics may likely lead to more than one specific problem.  If there are numerous types of problems mentioned, the committee should rank order them in importance and select the top three such as: students who are frequently late for school, fighting, or use of abusive language toward faculty members.   Then, three subcommittees on discipline could be formed and each would do its own separate CEPPA analysis.

 

  1. During the third meeting of each committee (or subcommittee), the LT member leading that group will facilitate the completion of step one—Define the Problem.  LT members should be aware of some of the most common mistakes in applying step one.  Sometimes a group will include the cause in the problem statement; do not permit this for it precludes a thorough examination of other possible causes in step three.  Groups should not include a policy or the lack of a policy as a problem statement.  Examples include, “Our problem is that we do not have a rule that…” or “Should our school implement a policy regarding school uniforms?”  Problems are empirical, i.e., they involve things that can be observed through the five senses.  Rather, what are the negative, observable behaviors that actually now exist.  Later, the analysis could lead to a proposed policy regarding uniforms, but the starting point should be to focus on the behaviors that a dress code would address.  If the group cannot reach a consensus on a clear, coherent problem statement during the meeting, then continue the process at the next meeting.  Step one is perhaps the most important step for unless the problem is properly identified and clearly stated, all of the following steps will be fruitless.

 

  1. As each committee or subcommittee completes step one, the LT should e-mail the worksheet to Project LEGAL for review and a critique.

 

  1. The CEPPA process will continue over the next several weeks.  Step two, Gather the Evidence, may involve obtaining data from the Internet and from local sources, such as the principal or the guidance office.  The New York State Education Department’s website contains the school report cards, but the principal may have more recent data on student achievement.  Local data on students’ suspensions may also be helpful for some discipline problems.  Step three, Causes of the Problem, can be developed by a combination of LT members leading a brainstorming session on causes of the problem, as well as by searching the Internet for articles related to the problem.  Step four on existing policies may involve LT members furnishing copies of the student handbook or the principal providing copies of other related policies.  Steps five and six are detailed on the CEPPA website.

 

  1. Throughout this process, in addition to regular visits from Carroll and Montecalvo, Lickona and Davidson from the Center for the Fourth and Fifth R’s will be conducting workshops for the LT’s from all five schools.  At these workshops, they will present strategies and ideas for policies related to the topic areas based on their extensive backgrounds in the field of character education.  The LT members will then inform their committees of these strategies and policies as background for step five, Developing Policy Solutions.

 

  1. Steps five and six will require the LT to work closely with Carroll and Montecalvo.  A common mistake is to state a policy goal rather than an actual policy.  The principal, as a key member of the LT, is also more aware of the need to be sure that any proposed policies are consistent with policies of the state education department, the commissioner of education, the New York City Board, and Region 10 policies.  This does not mean that committees cannot be innovative, but simply that, as step five emphasizes, they must be feasible as well as potentially effective.

 

  1. As committees and subcommittees complete step six, depending upon the nature of the approved policies, the policies will move forward toward implementation schoolwide either immediately or at the start of the next school year.  After policies have been implemented, the committees will need to resume to do step number seven, Costs and Benefits.  This step will assess the actual effectiveness of the policy, including its intended and unintended consequences.  At this juncture, revisions in the policy may be appropriate. 

 

(2)  Classroom Implementation Duties

 

            The process outlined above described how the LT members would use the CEPPA with their faculties and parents (and students if appropriate) to analyze the problems in their buildings associated with discipline and student achievement, as well as one or two other priorities, and formulate, implement and evaluate school policies to address them.  The CEPPA, and the original PPA (Public Policy Analyst) will be the main common strategies for classroom implementation under Project CHARACTER in accordance with the grant proposal.

 

            As the LT members implement the schoolwide process, they are demonstrating to their colleagues how the six basic problem solving steps of the CEPPA and the PPA can also be used in the classroom, either to analyze social problems in content courses such as science (air pollution, global warming, health problems, etc), literature (stories that focus on social problems) or social studies topics; or to analyze social problems within the classroom related to the Six Pillars or to the six topics in the grant application (see list under step 5 under Schoolwide Duties). 

 

1.      LT Staff Development Training on the Use of the CEPPA and PPA in the Classroom:  Most teachers have some experience in using the Internet at least for personal use, if not as a teaching tool.  Since the qualifications of the LT team members stress the importance of the LT having a strong background in using the Internet, they will be expected to formally and informally train their colleagues in how to use the CEPPA and the PPA as both a tool for improving content standards and as a tool for developing character traits within the classroom context.  Many teachers should be able to acquire an understanding of how to use the CEPPA and the PPA in their classrooms simply from participating in the after school committee meetings in which the LT demonstrate the CEPPA to analyze problems related to discipline or student achievement or one of the other topics under step five above.  For those teachers who need additional formal or informal training in using the CEPPA and the PPA, the LT should meet with the director to discuss and plan a few after school workshops for such teachers.

 

2.      Goals of the CEPPA in Classroom Implementation and the Role of the LT:  Every classroom teacher in a target school should be able to implement the CEPPA process with students to address either the Six Pillars of Character or topics under step five above.  Middle school teachers can use the standard version of the CEPPA, teachers of grades 3 through 5 can use the graphics version (less text), and K—2 teachers should at least be able to lead very basic discussions (that are age-appropriate) that follow the structure of the CEPPA to help even the youngest students to gain an understanding of problems and topics related to areas such as discipline and to form simple rules or policies for their classroom.   The role of the LT members will be to provide guidance and monitoring to colleagues as they implement the CEPPA in their classrooms.  Some of this can be done informally through discussions in the faculty lounge or at lunch on a one-on-one basis.  There will also be a need for some formal after school meetings with groups of teachers (perhaps by grade levels) to share progress, ideas, new policies and rules, and tangible results of how their classrooms are moving toward becoming more of a caring community.  The LT members will also report on progress to the director and to Carroll and Montecalvo.

 

3.      Goals of the PPA in Classroom Implementation and the Role of the LT: It has been shown how the CEPPA can be used as an online analytical tool for both schoolwide and classroom purposes.  The original PPA can and should be used by classroom teachers as a technology integration learning tool.  It was originally developed for use in the Bronx under a USDE Technology Innovation Challenge grant.  Over four hundred Bronx teachers have used the PPA to improve academic performance in subjects such as science, social studies, and language arts.  It is recognized that as a technology integration tool, the PPA is not appropriate for every content subject and cannot be used below grade 3 (since even the graphics version contains some text).  Since the generally recognized overall purpose of education in a democratic society is to better prepare students to become more effective citizens, the PPA addresses this fundamental purpose by enabling teachers and students to identify social problems within their curriculum, gather evidence online of such problems, determine the causes, evaluate existing policies, develop new policies, and select the best policy based on its potential feasibility and effectiveness.  The original PPA has been adopted for Project CHARACTER by adding additional questions at various steps to have students focus on ethical reasoning as it relates to policy analysis.  The role of the LT concerning the use of the PPA for classroom implementation is similar to that described in the preceding section on using the CEPPA in the classroom.  In both situations, in addition to providing formal and informal training, the LT members need to be sure use these tools extensively in their own classrooms to improve character traits and academic performance.

 

 

4.  The Role of the Teachers in Target Schools

 

        Every teacher in a target school will be expected to participate in Project CHARACTER.  Since CHARACTER is a comprehensive project, there are various ways in which teachers may participate:

 

1.        Leadership Team:  Section 3 describes the role of the three teachers in a target school who serve on the school’s Leadership Team.  All teachers should review section 3 and those who meet the qualifications and time requirements should apply with the principal to participate as an LT member.

 

2.        Schoolwide Implementation:  Every teacher will be expected to participate on one of the schoolwide committees.  These committees will be facilitated by members of the school’s Leadership Team (LT).  LT members will involve teachers and parent representatives in examining topics from the character education grant application.   Each school will select the top two topics and at least one other problem from the topics below:

 

(a) discipline problems

(b) student achievement

(c) participation in extracurricular activities

(d) parental and community involvement

(e) faculty and administration involvement

(f) student and staff morale

 

Section 3B(1) 6—14 presents the process involved in examining these topics and formulating school policies to address these problems.  The process involves using an online software Internet application created by Project LEGAL titled the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) that is based on the Public Policy Analyst (PPA).  The underlying rationale of the PPA is that schools have a major responsibility in preparing students to become effective citizens.  In a democratic society, effective citizens are knowledgeable regarding the problems that affect their community and should possess the skills to try to influence the development of public policies that can address these problems for the betterment of their community.  The CEPPA adapts the steps of the PPA, focusing the problem selection on the topics above and topics related to the Six Pillars of Character in the Aspen Declaration of 1992.

 

Every target school will be focusing on (a) discipline problems and (b) student achievement, as well as one additional topic identified as a priority by the school.  Teachers should select the committee that they feel is of greatest interest to them, and one in which they feel they can offer ideas for formulating new policies for school improvement.  

 

As teachers participate in the process described in section 3B(1) 6—14, they are learning through demonstration the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA).  The CEPPA contains the six basic problem solving steps that are in the original Public Policy Analyst (PPA), an online tool that has been used with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students in the Bronx to advance problem solving skills and improve learning related to content standards.   These six steps are:

 

1.      Define the Problem

2.      Gather Evidence

3.      Identify the Causes

4.      Evaluate Existing Policies

5.      Develop Public Policy Solutions

6.      Select the Best Public Policy Solution

 

As a former teacher (twelve years in Syracuse), Jim Carroll knows first hand the frustrations that teachers often face with discipline problems, underachieving students or problems in areas such as students’ disrespect of teachers or disrespect toward other students.  Usually teachers simply retreat to the faculty and complain among their colleagues and nothing changes.  Project CHARACTER and the CEPPA provides teachers with the unique opportunity to systematically analyze such problems, evaluate existing policies, and formulate, implement and evaluate new policies to make a good school into a better one.

 

The process outlined in section 3B(1) 6—14 may involve from five to eight after school committee meetings, perhaps more depending on the discussions that take place, the inevitable differences of opinion, and the difficulty of reaching consensus.  It should be emphasized that policy formulation and implementation is not the only goal.  The CEPPA process itself in which teachers, some parents and the principal gather to focus on issues of fundamental importance to the quality of life for the school community is inherently valuable in helping to create a better, more caring school environment.  The discussions that take place during the after school committee meetings will inevitably continue the next day in the faculty lounge and during lunch.  Rather than the faculty lounge being a place for teachers to criticize students, administrators, or school policies (which is common in many schools), faculty lounge conversations will hopefully reflect the more positive, caring environment that the school is moving toward.

 

Teachers Unable to Attend After School Committee Meetings:  It is recognized that some teachers may have after school conflicts that prevent them from regularly attending the after school committee meetings related to the problem they have selected.  Such teachers should maintain regular contact with one of the Leadership Team (LT) members and provide information to that LT member related to work of the committee.

 

3.        Classroom Implementation of the CEPPA:  Elementary teachers that have self-contained classrooms that affords them the opportunity to work with the same students throughout the entire day.  Some middle school teachers in the district also have responsibility for homerooms with the same students every day.  In both situations, there are probably rules or policies that the teacher establishes.  The CEPPA process that teachers have been using in their after school committee meetings can now be applied by teachers with their own classrooms or homerooms.   Every classroom teacher in a target school should be able to implement the CEPPA process with students to address either the Six Pillars of Character or one of the six schoolwide topics.  Middle school teachers can use the standard version of the CEPPA, teachers of grades 3 through 5 can use the graphics version (less text), and K—2 teachers should at least be able to lead very basic discussions (that are age-appropriate) that follow the structure of the CEPPA to help even the youngest students to gain an understanding of problems and topics related to areas such as discipline and to form simple rules or policies for their classroom.   If teachers need help with classroom implementation of the CEPPA, they should contact one of their school’s LT members, the director or Jim Carroll, CHARACTER consultant.

 

4.        Classroom Implementation of the PPA:  All classroom teachers participate in Project CHARACTER through implementing the Character Education Public Policy Analyst (CEPPA) on schoolwide committees or to democratically formulate new classroom policies with their students.  Some content teachers will also use the original Public Policy Analyst to improve student achievement in relation to state content standards in subjects such as science, language arts and social studies.  Self-contained elementary teachers and a significant number of middle school teachers are responsible for teaching these subjects.  Each of these subjects contains social problems.  In science, students might study about the West Nile Virus, acid rain, or pollution.  In social studies, students discuss problems related to immigration, terrorism, racism, or poverty.  In language arts, students read short stories that contain a wide variety of social problems.  The Public Policy Analyst (PPA) is a proven online tool that can help students to improve academic skills in numerous areas: problem solving and critical thinking, Internet research, and oral and written communications skills.  The original PPA has been adopted for Project CHARACTER by adding additional questions at various steps to have students focus on ethical reasoning as it relates to policy analysis.

 

Classroom teachers who use the PPA will be encouraged to develop a WebQuest.  A WebQuest is an online lesson plan.  The Project LEGAL website has several excellent links regarding WebQuests, as well as hundreds of examples developed by Bronx teachers that participated in Project LEGAL’s Technology Innovation Challenge grant, Project TIPS.   The director will provide assistance to teachers in developing WebQuests. Teachers may also receive assistance from CHARACTER consultants Jim Carroll and Joe Montecalvo.


 

 

5.  The Role of the Principal in Target Schools

 

The overall goals of Project CHARACTER are to create a more caring school community and improve academic performance.  These goals will be achieved through the schoolwide use of the Character Education Public Policy Analyst to develop new policies to make improvements in areas such as discipline, student achievement, and other topics related to academic improvement and character education.  The person who has the chief responsibility for providing effective leadership in these areas is the building principal.  Project CHARACTER seeks to mobilize the school community—teachers, parents, and students—to assist the principal in fulfilling these responsibilities.

 

Under Project CHARACTER, the principal serves as a member of the school’s Leadership Team (LT), the duties for which have been described.  Some principals may wish to serve as the leader of the LT since the principal is the administrator who has the legal authority for many of the areas that the LT and the school community will examine, and since the principal is the person who ultimately has the legal responsibility for policy formulation for some of these matters.   Also, in most situations, the principal will be the member of the LT who has the greatest knowledge and expertise related to these topics within that building.  On the other hand, the principal may choose to delegate the LT leadership role to another member of the team.  Whether the principal leads the team or delegates the role, it should be understood that although the CEPPA process is intended to facilitate democratic decision making, there may be certain issues and proposed policies for which the principal may have to exercise his or her administrative prerogatives to make a decision. 

 

The building principal is the person whose leadership style and personality sets the tone for a particular building.  This is also true for Project CHARACTER.   For Project CHARACTER to make a difference in building a more caring school community, it is essential that the building principal fully support its philosophy and underlying assumptions