- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Character education will expand from 12 to 23 D.C. public schools, thanks to a $1 million federal grant — another step toward administrators goal of teaching the Golden Rule in all city schools.
The five-year grant from the U.S. Education Department will enable 11 schools, serving 6,926 students, to teach teachers how to weave values and character education into daily instruction.
"It makes a huge difference in the classroom climate," said Miss America Angela Perez Baraquio, an elementary instructor herself, who dropped by two D.C. schools yesterday to motivate students and promote values.
"It just makes it easier to teach, and the teachers can get down to the business of actually passing knowledge on to the children."
Character-education programs are designed to instill such values as caring, civic virtue, fairness and cultural sensitivity. Teachers insist the lessons equate to fewer fights and disruptions in class.
Such lessons are growing in popularity across the country and are a key component of President Bushs education initiatives.
In his first budget, Mr. Bush has proposed tripling the $8 million that the federal government gives states to support character-education programs.
"We should not be afraid in our society to teach children the values which have stood the test of time: Dont lie, cheat and steal. Honor thy parents. Show respect," Mr. Bush told a school assembly in North Carolina last month.
The District uses a program founded by former real estate developer Peter Schwartz, called Values First.
Barbara Mickens, a third-grade teacher at Thurgood Marshall Elementary in Northeast, said she may talk to the children about forgiveness if a student accidentally bumps into another.
She incorporates character education into minilessons or may teach one value throughout an entire day.
"Because we implement it every day, it has calmed everyone down," she said. "Its wonderful."In her classroom, slogans like "Shower your life with values," adorn the walls, along with a placard explaining 13 values.Students memorize these and are often asked to recite them, as they did for Miss Baraquio. Asked about how character relates to sports, Kenyonnia Lewis, 9, politely answered: "It doesnt matter who wins. Just have fun."
At one point, the class told her in unison, "Miss America, the world needs more friendly folks like you."


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