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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category Character Education. clear filter
  •  Character Education in Alaska

    Thursday, May. 5, 2011 2:22 PM

    The Bering Strait School District has become the latest to adopt the Ethics Center's Character-Based Literacy Leadership curriculum. 

    As the district describes itself:

    "The Bering Strait School District, in northwest Alaska, serves fifteen isolated villages on the Seward Peninsula, on the eastern end of Norton Sound and on two islands in the Bering Sea. Current enrollment is approximately 1800 students and is almost 100 percent Alaskan Native Inupiat, Yu'pik or Siberian Yu'pik Eskimo.Although the number of students served is relatively small, the area served covers approximately 80,000 square miles. Most of the schools are accessible only by small bush aircraft."

    CBL Trainer Tom Kostic will provide both in-person workshops and Web-based presentations for the district's scattered teachers. 

    The CBL curriculum is used by the majority of California county offices of education, as well as individual school districts nationwide.


  •  Educational Administration and Theatre

    Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2011 12:59 PM

    This April 7, noon-time discussion explores using ethics case studies as theatre to promote authentic exploration of challenges for administrators, staff, and teacher-leaders in both K-12 and higher education. Presenters are Jerome. Cranston, assistant professor of educational administration, Faculty of Education at University of Manitoba, and Kristin Kusanovich, senior lecturer, Department of Theatre and Dance and Liberal Studies Pre-Teaching Program, Santa Clara University.

  •  The Dangers of Corporate Education Reform

    Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 4:53 PM

    Diane Ravitch, historian of education and policy analyst, decried what she called the "corporate reform movement" in education when she spoke at SCU Feb. 24 at the invitation of the Ethics Center. 

    Countering the movement’s chief claim—that schools should be run like businesses—Ravitch took on many of today’s popular reform ideas including evaluating teachers based on test scores, merit pay for teachers, and charter schools. She especially challenged the notion that the problem with the system is bad teaching, and that the schools will improve if they fire bad teachers and principals. These proposals, she argued, are wrong. “They are based on ideology not on evidence, and they are demoralizing millions of teachers.” 

    As an example, she cited research on merit pay, which she said has never been shown to work. A study by Vanderbilt University’s National Center on Performance Incentives, released in September 2010, found, “Rewarding teachers with bonus pay, in the absence of any other support programs, does not raise student test scores.” Still, Ravitch reported, the US Department of Education has released $1 billion to support merit pay programs.  

    Ravitch was especially scathing about the recent documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” which holds up charter schools as a solution for problems with the current system. A basic claim of the movie, that 70 percent of eighth graders are reading below grade level, is, according to Ravitch, a complete misreading or misunderstanding of the National Assessment of Education Progress. In that test only 30 percent of students were labeled “proficient,” but that grade, she explained, is the equivalent of an A. The accurate figure is 25 percent of eighth graders reading below basic, a group that includes English language learners and children with disabilities.  

    Ravitch also strongly disagreed with the movie’s conclusion—that charter schools were the answer to problems in the system.   She referred the audience to the Stanford University CREDO study, which found that it found that “17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference.” 
    Ravitch stressed that she was not a supporter of the status quo in our nation’s schools. “But we need improvement based on proven strategies, not radical strategies developed by non-educators,” she said. Proven strategies she suggested included high quality pre-K programs, parent education programs, easy access to medical treatment, more professionalism, superintendents who are expert educators, better assessments, balanced curriculum in every grade and diagnostics for low-performing schools instead of closing schools. 
    Ravitch's appearance at SCU was co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Club-Silicon Valley.  She was one of the Ethics Center's two 2010-2011 Regan lecturers.
  •  Diane Ravitch on the Paradox of Education Reform

    Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011 7:22 PM

    Author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education Diane Ravitch speaks Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm at the Mission Room of the Benson Center on the Santa Clara University Campus.

    A historian of education and policy analyst, Ravitch is a research professor at New York University.  Check out the blog she co-writes with Deborah Meier, Bridging Differences.  

  •  Bullying: Effective Strategies

    Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 5:21 PM

    In an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, Center Character Education Director Steve Johnson talks about what actually works to stop bullying:

    • Educating, not just punishing, the perpetrators.
    • Training bystanders to be allies of the victim.
    • Not allowing the isolation or taunting of any child for any reason.


  •  Character Education and Faith Formation

    Friday, Nov. 12, 2010 10:09 AM

    "Facilitating Ethical Literacy" and "Teaching Virtues Through Literature" are two workshops to be offered by Steve Johnson, Center director of character education, at the Nov. 19-20 Faith Formation Conference in Santa Clara.

    The conference will bring  more than 2,000 attendees from all over Northern California to the Santa Clara Convention Center. 

    Johnson will address the question, "Where do character education, moral formation, and catechesis come together for Catholic educators and parents?"  He will show how literature can be used to teach the virtues.

  •  School Days

    Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010 12:30 PM

    As youngsters return to classrooms for the 2010-2011 school year, many will be learning through the Character-Based Literacy Curriculum, a product of the Markkula Center's Character Education program. 

    CBL, which integrates lessons about character into high school language arts, social studies, and science courses, is used by the offices of education in the majority of California counties, as well as in individual schools and districts across the state.

    Sample Lesson Plans

  •  Survival Skills for Principals

    Friday, Jun. 25, 2010 3:59 PM


    Our own imaginations are not always sufficient to meeting the demands of our work. How, then, can we bring “the imagination of God” into what we do? That was the question Harold Hoyle put to participants in the Catholic School Principals’ Institute, a program of the Ethics Center and the SCU Department of Education.
    Hoyle, a clinical psychologist by training, teaches in the Education, Special Education, and Counseling Psychology programs at Santa Clara. He works frequently with teachers and administrators on issues of self-care and spiritual imagination. 
    Hoyle offered four exercises to help participants imaginatively set goals and get the support they need to accomplish them:
    I.               First, write down something you would like to accomplish. Now think about how you might revise that goal if you brought the imagination of God to the task.
    II.             Be aware of the narratives that give meaning to your life. Write down three stories about yourself and think about how the stories demonstrate your values.
    III.           In a study of teachers, the number one factor that prevented burn-out was having a supportive principal. What would you like to do to support the people who work for you?
    IV.            How can you get support for yourself?
    Hoyle’s presentation concluded the second annual Principals’ Institute. Other SCU faculty on the agenda were the Rev. Anthony Mancuso, visiting scholar at the Ethics Center and a teacher in the Catholic Educational Leadership Program; Marian Stuckey, former superintendent of schools for the Diocese of San Jose and current distinguished lecturer in the Catholic School Leadership Program; and Nicholas Santos, S.J., visiting scholar at the Ethics Center.


  •  Law and the Catholic School

    Thursday, Jun. 24, 2010 1:56 PM

    The most important legal responsibility for Catholic schools is ensuring the safety of students, according to Mary Angela Shaughnessy, SCN.   The second is “to be true to the teaching of the Catholic Church.” If a school puts “Catholic” in its title, Shaughnessy argued, it ought to be willing to teach the Church’s precepts.

    Shaughnessy, an expert on law and Catholic schools, was the keynote speaker at the Catholic School Principal’s Institute, a program of the Ethics Center and the SCU Department of Education. The second annual institute brought principals from many Northern California Dioceses together to discuss some of the challenges administrators face.
    Shaughnessy reviewed a number of issues about which educators and students often have misconceptions. For example, she explained that students in Catholic schools do not have the same legal rights as children in public schools. Constitutional rights can be asserted in a public school, which is seen as the agent of government, as the Constitution protects citizens from governmental deprivation of their freedoms. But Catholic schools are private, and can, for example, restrict speech that goes against the teachings of the Church.
    On the other hand, Shaughnessy counseled fairness in the treatment of students. Particularly in matters of discipline, she argued for a process that allows students the opportunity to tell their own side of the story. She recalled an incident that occurred when she was a principal and, due to false information from one of the school’s teachers, she suspended a graduating senior. When she discovered the truth, she wrote the student a letter of apology, which she described not as a matter of law but as a requirement of ethics.
    Shaughnessy cautioned against new policies some schools have instituted that forbid touching a student or being in a room alone with a student. While these represent well-intentioned efforts to avoid abuse, Shaughnessy said they are unenforceable; under such strictures, a priest could not hear a child’s confession, nor could a teacher comfort a child who had lost a parent. “Use common sense,” she advised. “The test is, if someone took a picture of this, how would it look?”
    She also urged principals to be aware that courts are holding schools liable not only for problematic behavior that teachers know about (actual knowledge) but also for behavior that they should have known about (constructive knowledge). So, for example, if a child is being repeatedly harassed on the playground, the courts may rule that playground monitors should have been aware of the problem and are therefore liable for not stopping it.
    Shaughnessy has taught at educational levels from elementary to graduate school. A J.D./Ph.D, she is a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. Her talk was the kick-off for the four-day institute, which will also feature Dough Grove, director of the graduate program in education at Vanguard University and an expert on assessment, as well as SCU faculty and staff.


  •  Catholic Principals Institute

    Monday, Jun. 7, 2010 4:55 PM

    Issues that challenge Catholic school leaders will be the focus of four half-day sessions this month, bringing principals together with leaders in the field of Catholic education.  Topics to be covered include assessment, laws and policies (especially around social media) student discipline, and building successful relationships with pastors and parish teams.  Presenters include

    Sr. Mary Angela Shaughnessy, SCN, J.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, Education Law Institute, Louisville, KY

    Doug Grove, director of the Graduate Program in Education and Assistant Professor of Education at Vanguard University

    Also presenting will be the Centers two 2009-2010 visiting scholars, Rev. Anthony Mancuso and Nicholas Santos, SJ.