The state of our country’s education system is one of the most complex and incendiary issues being discussed today. From government to private industry, from presidential campaign politics to television and radio, addressing the problems in our schools has become a hotbed of controversy, particularly since the tragic 1999 Columbine High School murders. But while controversy and blame-placing among grown-up factions was overshadowing progressive action, a group of high school students in a small mid-western town took it upon themselves to do something about the eroding behavior that was wreaking their school. In A Cry for Character, Dary Matera tells the true story of the first ever character education program that was pushed for and created by students themselves against the most unlikely opponents—the teachers themselves.
Born out of the violent tragedies that have rocked high schools around the nation, A Cry for Character chronicles the journey taken by a small group of students in Illinois who decided enough-is-enough and demanded to be taught right from wrong along with algebra and grammar. After a year of dissident and often destructive senior class behavior that marred the school’s most beloved and time-honored traditions and disgraced the community, a group of underclassmen at Mundelein High joined forces to reverse course and pull in the reins on reprehensible behavior. What followed was a series of innovative student-led courses that not only infused the ethically rudderless students with a welcomed set of guidelines, but gave them a sense of pride in who they are and what they could achieve. The resulting model “Character Building Curriculum” they developed is already being followed by other school districts across the country and is sure to make major headlines in the coming months.
Essential reading for teachers, students, and parents alike, A Cry for Character is a powerful look at one of the most remarkable trends taking place in American schools today.
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