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August 1997





Values and character education development usually occurs over a number of years and within a number of environments. Since family members are the first individuals with whom one comes into contact the influence of the family continues to be extremely important to a child's character and values development. This fact is particularly appropriate in the preschools and early school years.

As students progress through public schools, it is important that their education provide instructional opportunities, explicit and implicit that help them develop their beliefs about what is right and good.

The following definitions are intended to guide schools in providing the basis for the teaching of values and character education in the public schools.

The State Board of Education believes that there is a core list of values and character education concepts that should be taught in Georgia's schools. The following list has been adopted by the State Board of Education to be implemented in Georgia's schools.



Patriotism: support of the U. S. Constitution and love for the United States of America with zealous guarding of their authority and interests.

Respect for the Natural Environment: care for and conservation of land, trees, clean air and pure water and of all living inhabitants of the earth

Respect for the creator: our most basic freedoms and rights are not granted to us from the government but they are intrinsically ours; i.e., the Constitution does not grant Americans the right of freedom of speech, it simply recognizes that each of us is born with that right. This is to say that the founders of the republic recognized a higher authority, a power greater than themselves that endowed every human being with certain unalienable rights that no government or legal document could ever revoke or take away. In the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson names this life form that permeates the universe and from which our unalienable rights stem the "creator, "nature's God", and the 'supreme judge of the world'. If we are to respect life, the natural rights of all people and the authority which the founders based their legal opinions on concerning our separation from Great Britain then there must be a respect for that creator from which all our rights flow. This cannot be interpreted as a promotion of religion or even as a promotion of the belief in a personal God, but only as an acknowledgment that the intrinsic worth of every individual derives from no government, person or group of persons, but is something that each of us is born with and which no thing and no one can ever deprive us of.


Altruism: concern for and motivation to act for the welfare of others

Integrity: confirmed virtue and uprightness of character, freedom from hypocrisy


Accountability: responsibility for one's actions and their consequences

Self-Esteem: pride and belief in oneself and in achievement of one's potential

Work Ethic: belief that work is good and that everyone who can, should work



History and Development of the Concept

During its 1997 session the Georgia Legislature amended Part 2 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia annotated by adding at the end of said part a new code section 20-2-145 to read as follows:

The State Board of Education shall develop by the summer of the 1997-1998 school year a comprehensive character education program for levels K-12. This comprehensive character education program shall be known as the 'character curriculum' and shall focus on the students' development of the following character traits: courage, patriotism, citizenship, honesty, fairness, respect for others, kindness, cooperation, self-respect self-control, courtesy, compassion, tolerance, diligence, generosity, punctuality, cleanliness, cheerfulness, school pride, respect for the environment, respect for the creator, patience, creativity, sportsmanship, loyalty, perseverance, and virtue. Local boards may implement such a program at any time and for any grade levels, and the state board shall encourage the implementation of such plan. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.


Status assessment is the first step for a school system implementing values and character education. Planners should consider:

The system plan for values and character education should comprise what is being done plus what needs to be done to address the core values/character traits list, grades K-12. The content of the system's values and character education plan will reflect the mission of that school system; however, such topics as explicit and implicit instructional strategies to be employed, curriculum objectives, practice opportunities and staff development activities might all be included.

Curriculum Delivery Services

Infusing values/character traits across the curriculum in grades K-12 is one of the most workable, most used approaches. Many schools and school systems begin with a core staff-, e.g., all at one grade level, two per grade level, or all in a subject discipline and expand gradually to include all staff. Another approach matches core values/character traits concepts to appropriate disciplines; e.g., freedom of conscience and expression with civics or government; conservation with science courses. In most instances these concepts are addressed in segments of time, such as six-week units. Some elementary schools assign some time daily for values/character instruction.

The school, the home and the community, including religious institutions, should be used as venues to practice value/character traits. Students in all grade levels should have opportunities to practice values and character traits that range from role playing and decision making exercises to actual community service.

To ensure the broadest possible coverage, QCC objectives should be reviewed for all subject areas to identify those that can be keyed to the core values/character traits list. As part of the planning process, this activity would result in instructional strategies and lesson plans, including outcome statements.

A wealth of commercially developed material is available. Some is comprehensive; however, most resources are supplementary and topic specific. For example, drug education, sex education and law- related education materials may be relevant to a number of the core values/character traits.

As schools implement values and character education, the implicit curriculum should not be ignored or underestimated. The manner in which teachers and administrators relate, how teachers relate to parents and how we communicate with students all provide invaluable opportunities for modeling behavior based on the values and character we seek to develop in students. This modeling process should permeate the total school climate, including the way discipline is administered. Classroom management strategies, such as cooperative learning, can encourage the development of such values as courtesy, cooperation, self- control and dependability.

Staff Development

Extraordinary sensitivity and skill are required to conduct explicit instruction in many concepts on the values/character traits list; therefore, teacher pre-service and in-service training is important Some commercially developed program provide training, usually in the train-the-trainer mode, as part of a total package.

The Georgia Department of Education may provide technical assistance on preparing training grants for such activities as summer seminars. Local county extension service agents have training programs and a curriculum on values that are available through the 4-H organization. Civic organizations, such as Lions, Kiwanis, American Legion and Concerned Women of America can provide help.

The Georgia Department of Education often has workshops directed to the explicit and implicit curricula. The Georgia Education Leadership Academy, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Unit and the Student Support Services Unit, among others sponsor workshops on such topics as positive discipline alternatives, cooperative learning, managing conflict and sex education.

The Law-Related Education Consortium, coordinated through the Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia provides training and materials to help students learn about the responsibilities of citizenship, the law and court systems. The Staff Development Unit in the department of education can provide information regarding procedures for revising or writing local staff development plans to include values/character traits education emphases.

Funding Sources

There is an obvious, natural link among materials acquisition, staff development and funding availability. School systems implementing values and character education use a variety of sources to fund their efforts. Business, industry, civic and service organizations often sponsor activities in concert with their philosophy. Federal and state grant funds are available for training and materials in such areas as drug abuse and sex education. Building self-respect and respect for others for example, am appropriate activities under the heading of -values and character education as well as "drug education or "sex education.' School systems are encouraged to carefully examine the purposes and acceptable expenditures for all state or federal programs. Many private organizations and foundations offer funds for educational programs, includes values and character oriented education. Details on these sources are available from Student Support Services Unit and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Unit in ft Georgia Department of Education. Finally, state staff development funds may be used for training related to values and character education.


This section is intended to guide schools and school systems in assessing the values and character education program. The following procedures (which are not exhaustive or inclusive) may be taken as a whole or piecemeal and may be long-term or short-term in focus; they will be subject to extraneous variables. They could be determined with self-report scales, anecdotal records or published scales. The evaluation model suggested here focuses on process and product.

A. Process: things done, and the efficiency with which they are done

  1. Numbers and VW of materials used
  2. Numbers and kinds of activities
  3. Lesson plans; course objectives
  4. Curriculum scope and sequence statements

B. Product: the effectiveness (outcomes) of what is done

  1. Attitude changes regarding sell home, school
  2. Behavioral changes in groups or individually: discipline referrals, suspensions, dropouts, fighting, participation in activities, volunteerism, etc.
  3. Academic performance