California County Boards Of Education Recognize Orange County
Character-Based Literacy Program
The Orange County Department of Educations Character-Based
Literacy (CBL) Program has received the California County
Boards of Education 2007 Exemplary Program Award. CBL combines
character education and standards-based literacy, which are
integrated across the curriculum. Orange County Superintendent
of Schools William Habermehl states that its first objective
is to promote practices that positively influence the cognitive
process that encourage school pupils to become good citizens.
Presently, 32 county offices of education and 17 school districts
in California are using CBL.
The CBL project was developed by Steve Johnson of the Markkula
Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University to serve
students who have had marginal success in school and are at
serious risk for school failure and antisocial behavior. For
this reason, the program began in the court-community schools
operated by the county offices of education. These schools are
a safety net for students who are incarcerated; in foster or
institutional care; homeless; hospitalized; or in special community
schools for expelled, delinquent and out-of-control youth. CBLs
value-themed units are both innovative and exemplary, moving
students away from anti-social thoughts to pro-social thoughts,
values and behaviors, while maintaining a high degree of academic
expectation. CBL began as a vision of teachers and administrators
who believe that student character, literacy, and school success
can markedly improve in special schools settings.
CBL engages student imaginations, connects them to characters
they care about, and provides opportunities to discuss the value
context of the literature while placing them within a historical
timeframe, often integrating science as well. All of the middle
school and high school reading selections are taken from Californias
Recommended Readings in Literature so student readings mirror
their community of neighbors and friends from other schools.
This also makes their transition back to regular schools all
the more successful.
Major funding for the development of CBL has come from the
Walter S. Johnson Foundation and from the Markkula Family Foundation
through generous and repeated multi-year grants. Additional
funding for expansion in southern California has been provided
by the Daniels Fund and the Von Der Ahe Foundation.