10426186_1609364589283404_4696401318423214016_nAs teachers think about the 11 Principles, it can be easy to focus solely on the students. Helping students to become smart and good citizens is the ultimate goal of character education, but helping teachers become smart and good citizens is an essential part of the process.

What you do as a teacher matters even more than what you say. Serving as a good role model for moral action and citizenship will inspire your students to do the same. In February, Becky wrote a piece on teachers voicing their opinions on ESEA Reform and the importance of contacting your local representatives, but there are many other ways that you can get involved.

From leading a service learning initiative to coaching a sports team, there are daily opportunities to participate in cultivating moral action in our youth. Sometimes, standing up for a cause or initiative you believe in can be the most meaningful way to take action. I had a teacher who taught an entire lesson silently, in honor of our Gay-Straight Alliance’s participation in the Day of Silence. A number of my high school teachers and college professors were actively engaged in Ferguson protests. Students remember the instances where teachers take a stand. Now Character.org has a cause that we think you might be passionate enough about to take a stand.

Dr. Edwin Powell, a professor at Howard University has created a petition to establish a Character Development and Citizenship Education Council in Washington, D.C. and he needs your help. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Powell to learn more about this important initiative.

The increase in incidences of youth violence, particularly in the D.C. area inspired Dr. Powell to begin this initiative. He says, “Schools are now reporting more disciplinary referrals related to physical aggression than ever before.  High school students in the District of Columbia are exposed to fights and acts of bullying on public transportation, in schools and public spaces. It is time to act!”

Just as we at Character.org advocate for character education, Dr. Powell also believes that it is the solution to our schools’ problems. He says, “Character education is essential because it provides ALL students with social and emotional development that many youth are not receiving at home or in their communities. It is a cost-effective way to deal with the root causes of community violence and other social ills. It is integrated into the curriculum and the entire fabric of the school that teaches our children civility.”

Interested in getting involved?

Dr. Powell recommends three ways you can help:

  1. Go to www.charactermattersdc.com and read more about the initiative.  

  2. We are looking for volunteers to partner in this effort by collecting petition signatures so that we can get this important measure on the 2016 citywide ballot.

  3. We desperately need financial contributions to support the purchasing of signs and other marketing strategies.

You can contact him at epowell1_1@hotmail.com for more information.