Published October 21, 2003
Volume 11, Number 10

Pleasanton Community of Character Pledge Seeks to Help Define Ethics for Youth  

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides a definition of “character” as “moral excellence and firmness.” The Pleasanton community has taken that description to heart in its Community of Character Pledge. The Pleasanton Unified School District is aspiring to develop curriculum, create an atmosphere, and model behavior that instills personal, social, and civic responsibility.

“Back in about 1994, we started a group called the Pleasanton Youth Collaborative. We put together this group of people back then to try to do some things for kids that had some meaning. It involved the service agencies, the non-profits, and the city,” says Juanita Haugen, member of the Pleasanton  school district board of trustees. “That group evolved into the Youth Master Plan. That was three years in the making and then it became the Youth Commission.” Meanwhile, the schools decided in 1997 to have a strategic plan. One of the strategies that came out of that plan was to have character education in the Pleasanton school district.

Character education is the process of helping students develop and practice the core ethical values that society shares and holds important, including, but not limited to, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, honesty, justice and fairness, and citizenship and civic involvement.

A comprehensive character education program addresses critical concerns such as discipline problems, proper respect for students and teachers, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and poor academic performance. At its best, character education permeates every aspect of the school day. Building an environment that reinforces the traits that a community values, with parents as active players in the partnership, can help improve the qualities of honesty, respect and responsibility among youth in the community.

Some of the objectives of the character education program are:
  • That students and school staff have schools that are safe, orderly and drug free.
  • That all students and school staff learn and work in schools that have clear discipline codes with fair and consistently enforced consequences for misbehavior.
  • That all students and school staff learn and work in a school district that has alternative educational placements for violent or chronically disruptive students.
  • That all students and school staff has a right to be treated with courtesy and respect.
  • That all students and school staff learn and work in schools and classrooms that have clearly stated and rigorous academic standards.
  • That all students and school staff learn and work in schools and classrooms where high grades stand for high achievement and promotion is earned.
  • That all students and school staff learn and work in schools where getting a high school diploma means having the knowledge and skills essential for college or a good job.
  • That all students and school staff be supported by parents, the community, public officials and business in their efforts to uphold high standards of conduct and achievement

The Community of Character Pledge is broken down into six segments that are examined and discussed in the schools at different times of the year. Responsibility is the topic from August to October, compassion is addressed from November to December, self-discipline is discussed and worked on in January, honesty in February, respect in March and April, and integrity in May through July.

“This year, we’re looking to be identified as a District of Character,” Haugen says. “The school district got together with the city council and asked them to participate. So, the city council got into building the character traits in the Community of Character.”

For more information about the Pleasanton Unified School District’s Community of Character program, visit its web site at www.pleasanton.k12.ca.us/educationalservices/pupilservices/charactereducation.html.

Businesses can participate and sign up to be a part of the Community of Character pledge by joining the Community of Character Coalition. For more information contact the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce at 925-846-5858.

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