Raising the bar at a high jump station takes some effort; however, getting the athletes over a higher bar is where the real energy needs to be expended. Schools likewise are raising standards in a reform era. While the standards have changed, we should ask how students will meet the new challenge? Can we expect positive results unless we alter their program in addition to our expectations.

Teaching without inserting values, in any case, is nearly impossible. As soon as people display actions and state opinions they inevitably are modeling values or professing value-laden statements. Character education provides a school and community the opportunity to join forces and resources to develop a listing of common universal values that can then be worked into daily lessons and activities. Universal values such as Respect and Responsibility have been generally easy for our school and community to come to consensus on.


If we look at the social and academic responsibilities of school and the demands that society places on schools beyond the 3R's, there are not enough resources to attempt to attack these needs piecemeal. We believe character education can help us insure success for children.


"Our greatest wearines comes from work not done". (Eric Hoffer)

Employers are often critical of student preparation for the world of work. Our character education program is designed for all workers of Camden Middle School and students are quick to realize that they form the largest group of workers. Diligence means hard work, and wins and successes are a result of it. It is because of this that CMS staff has high expectations for student work ethic.


Few people have debated that the basic moral values and positive character traits of the coming generation of youth have little resemblance to those that have brought such success and greatness to our nation. So great, in fact, that the United States of America has become the leader and standard bearer for the nations of this world for the past century.

But times have changed and we have mistaken liberty for license. The time has now come for right and wrong to be introduced as fundamental principles in life. But how does the community do that?

First, since we are dealing with children, this must begin in the home. Because parents represent the primary role model for their children, as they should, lifestyle behavior in the home is "caught" more than "taught". "Do as I say - not as I do" is not an appropriate way to set an example. The responsibility as role model is too crucial to defer to the school, church or elsewhere. This is the critical ground in nurturing the next generation, and is also the most difficult to impose these principles upon. The homes of others should be handled with respect and privacy.

Secondly, the public schools become the next greatest area of influence, working with children throughout most of the developmental years of their life. It is customary that school district employees be required to display behavior conducive to that of a role model, and it is essential that they aggressively teach and reinforce commonly accepted life principles of right and wrong. I feel that the school district will get the overwhelming support of the community, and should utilize those outside the school who represent positive role models to assist in the effort to teach the children these essential truths.

Thirdly, parents, teachers, administrators, clergy and community leaders should meet together regularly to assess progress, discuss ideas for ways to effectively instill principles into the youth, and to develop a rapport with one another that will give any plan we put in place a fighting chance.

Because this would be a new joint venture in our community, there will be adjustments made as we go along. But the children need us to act immediately and show that we are serious about their future.


By. T. G. Schaal Principal, Camden Middle School Camden, New York

If a student (or parent) suggest that they want to be successful in school, I give them the "B.A.R.E. FACTS" with confidence.

First, let's define successful. Being successful at Camden Middle School means making our honor roll; to do that, you have to score 85% or higher on ten week report cards.

There should be no confusion over what success means and there should be a way to arrive at that goal.

There is! We give every student at Camden Middle School a simple formula or recipe for success that we have detailed as our "B.A.R.E. FACTS". The formula has four ingredients.


"B" stands for behavior. If you distract yourself from the mission at hand, getting an education, it is easy to understand why appropriate behavior is a must. If you get placed in the office, or the hall, critical instructional time is lost. Furthermore, the effect on the class as a whole cannot be underestimated.

"A" stands for attendance. If you are not in attendance on a agiven day, you miss the available instruction. It stands to reason that no matter what the teacher and student efforts might be after the student returns, it's difficult to reconstruct the day. If you miss just two days of attendance during the course of the year, over 1% of the available instruction is lost.

Is attendance generally excelent at Camden Middle School? NO! I have drawn this conclusion on the basis that our elementary schools have a higher attendance rate, yet most of the childhood diseases affect elementary-age students. By the same token, students with a high temperature don't belong in school endangering themselves and infecting others. I advise students to give themselves the Saturday test. If it was Saturday, and the student would try to get up and enjoy the day, then school should also be attempted. Further, if a student is unable to attend school, he/she should be restricted from most activities and be under adult supervision for medical concerns.

"R" stands for reading. Reading is a 365 day requirement. We're looking for thirty minutes per day. While we do not specify the content, we know that students that read regularly, read and write better, significantly beter. Further, if students include newspapers, news magazines, and a variety of other informative sources, their general fund of information will help them immeasurably in every subject.

"E" stands for effort. Effort must be extended in class as well as at home in concert with reading and homework. Without doing the independent practice, students cannot fully partake in class activities and generally fall behind the students who regularly practice what they have learned. We are looking for a minimum of 45 minutes of homework from sixth graders and one hour from seventh/eighth grade students. Even more will be required of advanced placement students every school night. Generally this time can be subtracted from television time rather than from other meaningful activities.

Should students who miss class make up the work? Absolutely! In fact, if students are absent from school for illness, and their illness does not preclude doing homework (i.e., swollen knee), concerned parents should insist on such effort.

If students follow the B.A.R.E. Facts, I'm confident that they will be on our honor roll. In fact, parents and students seeing scores below honor roll range and in compliance with the B.A.R.E. Facts should schedule a meeting with counselors/teachers to insure a thorough review of compliance at school and future steps that should be considered to insure success.

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