Father complains school officials over-reacted to son’s sketches with guns, knives

A North Carolina middle school student was suspended for two days after he drew pictures in school that included guns and knives.

James Herring, father of a 13-year-old student at Roseboro Salemburg Middle School, told WRAL he was shocked by the two-day suspension school officials leveled against the boy for expressing himself with stick figure sketches.

The seventh-grader drew what appears to be a person with a rifle, as well as a car with the words “suped up mini-car” above it. Other images included a ninja turtle with swords, and a tower with what appears to be a crossbow.

“I see a guy in a race car souped-up. I see a tower that he built. I see him holding his gun, he’s a deer hunter. I see him with a magician and I see him as a Ninja Turtle … just expressing himself, nothing violent,” Herring said.

Herring told the news site his son is a hunter, but weapons at home are kept under lock and key. He also stressed that the boy isn’t violent, or suffering from emotional issues. Herring believes school officials over-reacted to the sketches, in part because of recent high-profile school shootings.

“When I see that, I see a normal 13-year-old boy,” Herring said. “I drew pictures like this, any other person of his age drew drawings like this. It’s nothing to get expelled from school for.”

Sampson County Schools Superintendent Eric Bracy refused to discuss the situation with WRAL, but said officials are simply following punishments outlined in the student handbook. He also referenced recent incidents of school violence.

“There are some things that list possible threats or things like that,” he said of the student handbook. “We’ve got category one, two, three and four, which sort of grades potential incidents and the level of seriousness.”

“Due to everything happening in the nation, we’re just being extra vigilant about all issues of safety,” Bracy said.

In a context of fear, it is easy for schools to fall back on a rigid application of rules. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture advocate a concern for the broader moral ecology of the school. University of Boston educator Charles Glenn is quoted in The Content of Their Character as saying, “Formal education… presents pictures or maps of reality that reflect, unavoidably, particular choices about what is certain and what in question, what is significant and what unworthy of notice. No aspect of schooling can be truly neutral.” A school’s explicit or implicit moral framework and practices cannot help but influence the outlook and character of children.

Teachers and principals interested in strengthen moral ecology of their school can access information and strategies at the UK’s Jubilee Centre.


Parents get heated during community meeting on bullying

Dozens of parents shouted down Waterford School District officials at a town hall meeting in March to discuss what they perceived of as rampant bullying in the district’s schools.

The heated three-hour meeting centered largely on students and parents relaying the horror stories of bullying to superintendent Keith Wunderlich and board members John Torres and Bob Piggott, with most alleging the district’s efforts to address serious behavior problems isn’t working, the Oakland Press reports.

Several folks in the crowd who spoke up shouted their frustrations directly at Wunderlich.

Fourteen-year-old Brooklyn Longacre told district officials the sexual harassment she’s faced at Mott High School convinced her to quit playing sports, and she now sees a counselor. Longacre said school officials haven’t taken her complaints seriously, and she’s not alone.

“I’ve seen her get bullied, and her,” Longacre said, pointing to classmates in the crowd.

“Peer mediation doesn’t work. I had to walk down the hallway with the same guy who was touching me every day … I’m really tired of it,” she said. “I’m tired of the excuses. I did go to my principal and the principal said I lied. This is real. This is happening.”

The meeting followed recent allegations of assault and sexual abuse shared widely on social media.

Kaila Partlo told the Press she posted to Facebook about her third-grade daughter’s experience with bullies and the post generated over 65,000 shares and over 100 calls from other Waterford parents with similar concerns.

Parents of a Cooley Elementary School third grader who committed suicide in January have also spoken out recently about the district’s bullying problem.

Ashley Wright, a community organizer who planned the March meeting, told the Press her now 18-year-old daughter suffered depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts during her two years in Waterford schools, but those problems seemed to evaporate when she started a new school in Illinois.

Makenzie Benning, a Pierce Middle School eighth-grader, also spoke at the meeting, relaying how she punched a student in self-defense after he repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Benning said she received a three-day suspension, while her harasser faced no punishment, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“I (was) sexually harassed last year and got in trouble for standing up for myself,” she said.

A district spokesperson told the Press Waterford schools uses several nationally recognized anti-bullying programs – including Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, The Leader in Me program and Mindfulness – but have assembled a task force of parents, school officials, social workers and anti-bullying experts to implement changes.

Parents like Kaila Partlo, however, seem skeptical the effort will make much of a difference.

Parents and students alike are now highly sensitive to the dangers of bullying. Even as national statistics show a national decrease in bullying behavior, it is imperative that all involved address the problem with the seriousness that it deserves. A problem exists at this school that is deeper than bullying. There is skepticism by parents that the administration and teachers care about addressing these moral dilemmas. Researchers at the University of Virginia found that in some cases public high school teachers are reluctant to get involved in controversial issues. They observed, “This failure to provide a fully developed and broadly coherent moral message was partly due to public school teachers’ reluctance to opine on controversial issues.” They often refrain from “providing serious direction on what was right and what was wrong.”[1]

Teachers and principals interested in strengthening moral formation in their students can find support and strategies to do so at the UK’s Jubilee Centre.

[1] Hunter, James Davison and Ryan S. Olson. The Content of Their Character (Finstock & Tew Publishers, 2018), p. 67.

Sixth grader launches nonprofit to serve up compassion for the homeless

Marlon Miller Jr. is a Georgia sixth-grader on a mission, and he recently launched a nonprofit to take it to the next level.

Miller first learned about severe poverty when he watched his father give food to a homeless man six years ago, an experience that sparked a passion in the young boy that hasn’t waned since.

“We answered his questions and explained to him why some people live on the streets,” Miller’s mother, Tawanda Miller, told the Henry Herald.

It wasn’t enough.

For years Miller constantly pleaded for money for snacks and toiletry supplies to pass out to the homeless, but his mother couldn’t keep up with the demands. “I told him he needed to find a way to raise money on his own to purchase items,” she said. So that’s exactly what he did.

Miller, now in sixth grade at Union Grove Middle School, launched his own nonprofit last year called Deuce Hands, and he has held his first fundraiser – an ugly Christmas sweater party – in December. He also posted fliers at local businesses to solicit donations, and set up social media accounts for Deuce Hands to get the word out online.

“I knew he was serious when he came home with a list of homeless shelters,” his mother Tawamda said.

The 11-year-old uses the money raised to buy toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap, deodorant, water and snacks that he packages in what he calls “compassion bags.” Miller also employs his six-year-old sister Madison to help hand out the bags and volunteering at two events for the homeless each month, according to the Herald.

“I feel I’m lucky to be where I am,” he said, adding that he’s learned valuable lessons from the folks he’s met on the streets. “Homeless people really need help.”

This heartening story shows the influence of a father, the importance in finding one’s passion, and applying it to practical action. It is not an isolated story in urban public schools today. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found that effective urban public schools emphasized for critical moral ideas: 1. self-actualization, 2. grit, 3. respect, and 4. compassion. They state, “The moral framework and language for each of these tended to be a combination of solidarity for teachers and individual self-expression for students.”[1]

“We shouldn’t judge the homeless because they are usually good people who ended up in a bad situation,” Miller said.

Teachers and principals interested in strengthening moral formation in their students will find strategies and resources at the UK’s Jubilee Centre.

[1] Hunter, James Davison and Ryan S. Olson. The Content of Their Character (Finstock & Tew Publishers, 2018), p. 28.

AZ district partners with ‘Anonymous Alerts’ app to combat bullying, school violence

An Arizona school district wants students to report bullying and safety issues, and it recently partnered with a mobile phone application to allow students to make anonymous complaints directly to administrators.

The Thatcher Unified School District – which includes about 1,600 students in four schools – partnered with the anti-bullying app Anonymous Alerts in late March “to provide the best and most easily accessible outlet for students to share concerns with the administration,” according to a statement cited by the Eastern Arizona Courier.

“We prioritize a safe school climate for our students at Thatcher USD and want to enhance our bullying prevention tools,” TUSD Superintendent Kevin Spiller told the news site. “By implementing this anonymous reporting system, students can protect their peers, have more options to share their concerns with school officials and easily access the app on their mobile devices.”

There is a certain irony to the application of this app as “anonymity” is being used to foster greater accountability. Moral education researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia encourage all steps that increase the “thickness” and “density” of the moral community. They have found that “[T]he sources and settings for moral and civic education matter—that the ‘thickness’ of cultural endowments and the ‘density’ of moral community within which those endowments find expression are significant in the formation of personal and public virtue in children.” Not only does this app make reporting problems more likely, but equally important it provides a host of timely resources for the students. This is a winning combination.

The app allows student and families to send incident reports to school officials directly, and to attach a photo, video or screenshot as evidence. School officials plan to monitor the system between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on school days.

Anonymous Alerts is available for free on the Apple Store, Google Play and Chrome Store, and students and families received an activation code specific to TUSD to submit reports. The app allows students to submit complaints anonymously or to revel their identity, and also includes resources on bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and mental health issues.

The two-way communications app is available in both English and Spanish, according to the news site.

“We are honored to launch Anonymous Alerts at Thatcher USD and empower their students to ‘stand up and report it’ to bolster student sensitivity for issues and concerns,” Anonymous Alerts CEO T. Gregory Bender said.

Numerous schools across the country are already using Anonymous Alerts, including Newtown Public Schools – where a school shooting in 2012 left 17 students and staff dead.

Mark Pompano, director of security in the Connecticut school district, touts the benefits of the app on the Anonymous Alerts website.

“We have seen a significant drop in both bad behavior and safety concerns,” he said, “creating a more positive school climate.”

For more on increasing “thickness” of moral endowments and “density” of community see James Davison Hunter and Ryan Olson’s The Content of Their Character.

Teachers and principals interested in addressing bullying in their school may go to the following website for support:  https://www.duckbrand.com/promotions/sticktogether

PA lawmaker wants to fine parents of school bullies

Pennsylvania state Rep. Frank Burns thinks parents should be held responsible for how their children behave in school, and he’s introducing legislation to impose a framework of increasing penalties for parents of students who bully their classmates.

“Parental accountability is a big factor in bullying,” Burns told The Washington Post. “A lot of parents refuse to believe that their son or daughter is bullying people. They want to believe their kid is great and would not do such a thing.”

Burn’s bill would change that dynamic by requiring school officials to notify parents each time their child bullies another student. Parents would receive a warning and administrators would be required to take some form of action after a first offense.

A second offense would require parents to take parenting class, and a third bullying incident involving the same child would trigger a hearing in which a judge would determine if there’s enough evidence to levy a $500 fine, according to the news site.

Parents would then face a $750 fine for each bullying incident after a third offense.

The Pennsylvania legislation, which would also include cyberbullying, among a package of three bills Burns is proposing to curb bullying in schools.

According to the Post:

One proposal would have the Department of Education create a system that would allow people to report bullying anonymously. It would also penalize educators, either by some type of disciplinary action or suspension, if they fail to report a bullying incident. The other would require schools to track and report incidents of bullying to create real-time data, according to his office.

Statistics from a School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey show that while millions of students are bullied in school every year, incidents of physical and verbal assaults, as well as use of “hate-related words” is on the decline.

In the light of the ongoing crisis of school shootings, stopping bullying has a heightened urgency. Effective approaches to stop bullying within schools is discussed in the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture’s new book on moral education, The Content of Their Character.  This book illustrates how some alternative schools have developed effective ways of eliminating bullying from their school experience. A coherent moral environment serves to reshape the attitudes and values of students.  In the book one Montessori student expressed concern over some of the students who were joining the community. He said, “They’re not going to make it in this type of community because their morals aren’t the standard that it’s supposed to be. But, over time, you saw them grow and, over time, you saw maturity…. The community influence was really getting to them.” So while it is important to get parents involved and hold them accountable, researchers suggest that there are no substitutes for creating a robust school culture regardless of parental involvement.

“In 2007, some 31.7 percent of students ages 12 through 18 reported being bullied at school,” according to a U.S. Department of Education Data Point bulletin released in March. “In 2015, the percentage was 20.8 percent.”

Regardless, Burns’ push to punish parents for their child’s behavior at school certainly isn’t unique.

The Post points to North Tonawanda, a small city north of Buffalo, New York, where local officials passed a law in October that imposes a $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail on parents of students who violate curfew or bullying laws.

In Shawano, Wisconsin, parents face a $366 fine if they fail to correct their child’s bullying behavior after a first offense. A second offense comes with a $681 fine, according to the news site.

For information about addressing bullying within a school culture see https://www.duckbrand.com/promotions/sticktogether.

Teenager replaces a neighbor’s flag

Moses Lake, Washington resident Junior Villarreal’s home security camera recently caught a young man on his front porch, and he took to Facebook to identify the culprit.

In early March, Villarreal found a plastic bag hanging from his front door, and inside was a fresh American flag. Surveillance footage revealed a teen leaving the bag behind, and Villarreal snapped an image of the young man and posted it online, Fox News reports.

“Attention. He didn’t do anything wrong but does anyone know who this kid is? He drives that light blue jeep parked on the street,” Villarreal posted to Facebook. “Well I just bought a house that has a flag pole with an old tore up flag still on it and wasn’t gonna change it out until the weather got better but this kid was kind enuf to stop at my house and leave a new flag on my door knob yesterday. That’s what was in the bag.”

“Well anyways, I just wanted to thank him and tell him I appreciate what he did,” Villarreal wrote. “That was so generous of him.”

The Facebook post led Villarreal to 18-year-old David Phillips, whom he thanked and offered to repay him for the flag – an offer that was rejected.

Phillips’ mother, Simone Phillips, explained to iFiber One News that her two teen sons grew up in the military, and they schemed together on the patriotic act “out of respect for the flag.”

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found that when individuals are embedded in larger spheres of moral obligation, moral behavior is enhanced. Three areas are noted in their research: immigration, religion, and the military. They found that people “respect and honor those serving, those who have served, and those students thinking about joining. This is particularly true in rural high schools. In this incident the flag is not a symbol of an ongoing culture war, but an act of kindness and neighborliness rooted in this larger context of meaning.

“Simone says David and her 16-year old son Luke were traveling through the area and noticed the flag. Later that day, she said the boys came home and talked about getting a new flag for the home’s owner,” according to the news site.

“After some debate, Simone said her son Luke pulled his American flag off his bedroom wall and offered it up as the home’s replacement flag. On Saturday (March 2), just after 4p.m., David hung a garbage bag with the flag in it on Junior’s front door.”

Villarreal said the gift was a welcomed surprise, and it serves as a testament to both Phillips’ character and the positive influence youth can have on their community.

“With all the negative news about school shootings, it was really nice to see a teenager do something like this,” he told iFiber One News.

Many folks responding to Villarreal’s Facebook post agreed.

“There is future hope for our country!” Michael Roxbury wrote. “Great kid!”

“There needs to be more kids like him,” Stephanie Hale added.

For teachers and principals interested in fostering qualities of good citizens in their students support can be found at the UK’s Jubilee Centre.



Survey: School bullying continues years-long decline

New data from the National Crime Victimization Survey shows reported incidents of bullying have dropped by more than a third since 2007.

Data from the School Crime Supplement of the national survey released in mid-March shows 20.8 percent of students reported being bullied in 2015 – a nearly 11 percent decline from 2007.

According to U.S. News & World Report:

A similar – though not as significant – decrease was also seen in students reporting being called a hate-related word, with the 7.2 percent reporting such an experience in 2015 down from some 9.7 percent in 2007.

Moreover, the percentage of bullied students who reported being bullied most frequently – as in almost every day – also decreased, while the percentage reporting that they had told a teacher or other adult about being bullied increased.

A Data Point bulletin published by the U.S. Department of Education reports the School Crime Supplement involved a nationally representative sample of students between the ages of 12 and 18.

“The SCS asks students whether they were bullied or called hate-related words in the school building, on school property, on the school bus, or going to or from school,” according to the bulletin. “Specifically, students were asked to report if they were made fun of, called names, or insulted; were the subject of rumors; were threatened with harm; were pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on; were pressured into doing things they did not want to do; were excluded from activities on purpose; or had property destroyed on purpose.”

Students were also asked if bullying involved “hate-related words” targeting their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or disability.

This survey is good news suggesting that there are positive benefits from the growing culture-wide sensitivity to bullying. No longer is a “boys-will-be-boys” attitude tolerated. The combination of external stigma and internal programs has helped to improve school climate. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found that “When social institutions—whether the family, peer relationships, youth organizations, the internet, religious congregations, entertainment, or popular culture—cluster together, they form a larger ecosystem of powerful cultural influences.” Around the experience of bullying these positive influences are now bearing fruit.

“Among student who reported they were bullied, the percentage who said the frequency of bullying was ‘almost every day’ decreased from 6.6 percent in 2007 to 4.2 percent in 2015,” the U.S. Department of Education reports. “The percentage of bullied students who indicated that they reported to a teacher or another adult at school about being bullied increased from 36.1 percent in 2007 to 43.1 percent in 2015.”

U.S. News & World Report noted that the progress in combating bullying in schools as administrators “have increased their focus on bullying prevention and focused more intentionally on what’s known as social and emotional learning in an effort to improve school climate.”

For more information on the National Crime Victimization Survey, please visit the Bureau of Justice Statistics website.

Teachers and principals interested in addressing bullying in their school might find support from the following resource: Stick Together

Waffle House waitress earns $16,000 scholarship after her kind act goes viral

Waffle House waitress Evoni Williams said she was just doing her job, but local leaders contend her act of kindness for an elderly patron displayed the type of character that deserves recognition. Williams was working a hectic morning shift at the La Marque, Texas restaurant when an elderly man quietly asked her to cut his ham. She thought nothing of it, CNN reports.

“I was just like, ‘Sure! If you need help, that’s what I am here for,” the 18-year-old said. “My cook was calling my name to pick up food I had on the board, but I continued to cut his ham.” The two chatted briefly and a customer waiting to be seated snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook. The act of good will soon went viral, earning Williams widespread recognition and a college scholarship.

Adrien Charpentier, known by restaurant staff as “Mr. Karaoke” for his crooning at the local senior center, told CNN he’s recently struggled with his health, particularly muscle weakness in his hands, and waitresses at the Waffle House often help him out. “I can hold a fork fine and dandy, but to cut it looks like I’m going to stab somebody,” he said, adding that the help from Williams and other waitresses is greatly appreciated.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I need help and the waitresses issue it to me.” Williams’ gesture also meant a lot to La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking, who came across the photo of her cutting Charpentier’s meat on his Facebook feed and decided to highlight the good deed. “Somebody tagged me and it immediately, it just touched my heart,” he said. “It’s so wonderful that the younger generation cares about the older generation.”

Character is most often revealed in small unseen acts of kindness. Though this action went viral, what is significant about Ms. Williams was her automatic response of kindness. It was not because she wanted some kind of self-advancement or sought self-actualization. It was simply an immediate need, which she met quietly. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture found that character is revealed when the motivation of the person is simply “to be their best self.”  The act itself was an end, not a means to some other end. This is what makes Nini’s kindness so telling. It was this authenticity that made her action so compelling and inspiring.

Hocking declared March 8 Evoni ‘Nini’ Williams Day in hopes of building on the good will. “There is a lot of love in La Marque, Texas,” Hocking said, “And we intend to perpetuate that.”

But Hocking wasn’t the only one touched by the viral photo.

Austin A. Lane, president of the nearby Texas Southern University, also took notice. “Many of the college’s alumni saw Williams’ story and wanted to help,” CNN reports. “Through the power of social media and good will, Texas Southern University awarded Williams a $16,000 scholarship.”

“It is awesome,” Williams said. “I feel excited and happy.”

Williams told CNN she plans to study business administration in hopes of one day opening her own restaurant or hair salon.

“We wanted to reward Evoni’s act of kindness and let her know that good deeds do not go unnoticed,” TSU administrator Melinda Spaulding said. “She has the character of the type of students we want at Texas Southern University.”

For more on developing this kind of selfless behavior, see “The Moral Ecology of Formation” in The Content of Their Character.

Teachers and principals interested in character formation in their school may find help by consulting the UK’s Jubilee Centre.


PA students stage ‘Walk Up’ to highlight compassion, kindness during national student walkout

As students across the country walked out of class on March 14 to protest school violence and advocate for gun control, others took a different approach that seemingly targeted the root issues fueling deadly school shootings.

“We are doing a ‘Walk Up’ campaign where students will approach other students that maybe are sitting alone in the cafeteria and say something nice to them for 17 straight days in honor of the students in Florida,” DuBois Area Middle School Principal Michael Maholtz told the Courier Express.

This is a wonderful case study in proactive character formation. Rather than relying on political policy changes to address generic abstracted problems, this program addresses the immediate, concrete, and local expressions of the problem. This program tells an alternative story. Solutions are not exclusively to be found in state capitols or national legislatures. Rather, they are to be found locally and addressed simply. Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture sociologist James Davison Hunter Hunter writes, “This narrative integrates the self into communal purposes binding dissimilar others to common ends…. Character outside of a lived community, the entanglements of complex social relationships and their shared story, is impossible.”

Students across the country walked out of class on March 14 to protest gun violence in the wake of a school shooting last month at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead. The shooter, a troubled former student who was reportedly ostracized by his classmates, struggled with mental illness and made previous threats of violence that were ignored by law enforcement. The shooting sparked calls for restrictions on gun ownership from many politicians and many students at the school and beyond, culminating in the massive nationwide student walk out March 14.

Students and administrators at the Pennsylvania middle school decided to do something that would have an impact at their school. “Instead of walking out of school on March 14, (we encouraged) students to walk up – walk up to the kid who sits along at lunch and invite him to your group, walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to her, smile and say, ‘Hi,’” guidance counselor Maureen Gregorio said. “It’s time to put a stop to the bullying in schools,” she added, “this is only a start but is a step in the right direction.”

The lesson blended well with the school’s Extended Learning Opportunities program, which centers on character education. During a segment on March 14, students watched a video titled, “Empathy Can Change the World.” “It’s a really quick video that’s real nice with students who are talking about things, not in particular that they can do about this movement, but just in general how you can recognize students who might need you to talk with them or ask them to sit with you, or just recognize that they’re there,” Gregorio told the Courier Express. “Our goal is to encourage students to be kind to others, and that being kind matters.”

Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton said the decision to focus on reaching out instead of walking out was also about safety.
“The concern is not necessarily with students walking out, the concern is, what are they walking out to?” she said.
“ … We wanted to encourage them to support and commemorate this tragic event in a safe, positive way,” Gregorio said.
“But our hopes is that this isn’t just a 17-day event — that this will be a way of lifestyle change that they’ll be kind and courteous to people as a lifelong skill,” Maholtz said.

Teachers and principals interested in character formation work in their school will find the UK’s Jubilee Centre useful.

State lawmakers move to ensure students understand their civic responsibilities

Lawmakers in multiple states are pushing legislation to ensure students understand how government works and to understand their responsibilities as citizens before they graduate from high school.

Massachusetts lawmakers introduced a bill in mid-March – “An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement” – that would require all public schools to teach American history and civics, including topics like the election process, Bill of Rights and the functions of local, state and federal government, WWLP reports.

“We’ve had a remarkable outpouring of young people in response to the gun tragedies,” Secretary of State William Galvin told the news site. “I think that converting their anxiety, their concern, their deep passion into actual policy means making sure they understand how the process works and making sure they’re registered to vote.”

Lawmakers, educators, and students alike recognize the urgency of these concerns. For students school shootings are perceived as a life or death issue, for others democratic vitality hangs in the balance. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture recommend that at times like this it is wise to take a step back and ask “How should we think about the moral formation of children today? What is the path and process by which children are formed as well-integrated individuals who are caring, honest, and trustworthy—healthy human beings living virtuous and meaningful lives as civically minded and committed members of a just community?”

Senate Bill 2355, currently in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, would not require students to pass a civics exam, but would require two student-led civics projects, a requirement that would go into effect for freshman next year.

In Florida, a Constitution Revision Commission is recommending a proposal to inject additional language into Article IX of the state constitution that requires the legislature to educate students about civics.

“As education is essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, the legislature shall provide by law for the promotion of civic literacy in order to ensure that students enrolled in public education understand and are prepared to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a constitutional democracy,” the Florida recommendation reads.

The sponsor of the legislation, former state Senate president Don Gaetz, told the Tampa Bay Times the state already has a law that requires schools to teach civics, and students to pass a test, but the proposal to change the constitution will ensure it stays that way.

“The Legislature changes its mind,” he said. “Especially education issues go in and out of fashion.  The constitution enshrines what we don’t change our minds about.”

The Florida proposal is expected to be on the November ballot. For more discussion on creating a moral ecology in schools see the Institute’s new research study, The Content of Their Character.

For teachers and principals interested in student moral and character formation, information can be found at the UK’s Jubilee Centre website.