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Brewer: Character education key to higher achievement, fewer problems in students

TEMPE – A program helping students develop good character leads to higher grades and better attendance in school and decreases the chance that children will use alcohol or drugs, Gov. Jan Brewer said Nov. 13.

“Simply put, young people benefit from interaction and relationships with caring adults as mentors and as a source of advice and guidance,” Brewer said at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Arizona Character Education Foundation.

The nonprofit foundation provides materials and resources used in more than 900 schools as well as by youth groups and parents. Former Gov. Jane Hull and others proposed the idea in 1999.

Brewer said government should never attempt to replace the lessons that parents provide but added that schools can support and promote values that help not only at home but in the classroom.

“Really, how can we expect our teachers to raise academic standards if behavior issues are worsening?” she said.

Hull said she is proud of what the program has accomplished in its first decade.

“It’s important because it solidifies character within the school and with kids and their friends; it’s not just a one-person type of thing,” Hull said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, a longtime supporter of the program, told participants that it’s important not only to produce academically competitive students but also students of good moral fiber.

“It’s a waste to train somebody if that person doesn’t have character,” he said.

Tammy Linn, president of the foundation and one of its founders, said character education helps Arizona by instilling six core values: trustworthiness, fairness, respect, responsibility, caring and good citizenship.

“You can teach a person a job; you can’t teach them good character,” she said.

Julia Eck and Elena Boyd said character education has made their charter school, Bright Beginnings in Chandler, a better place.

“I do enjoy it because everyone is showing very good character at our school, and it’s made it a much more cheerful place,” said Eck, a fifth-grader.

Boyd, fourth-grader, said the United States would be a better place if everyone had good character. One person who already does, she said, is Brewer.

“I think she is a good governor for our state,” Boyd said.

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