The Virginia legislature, in 1999, amended the Code of Virginia to require establishment of a character education program in all public schools for all grades in the Commonwealth. The purpose of character education programs is to instill in students civic virtues and personal character traits so as to improve the learning environment, promote student achievement, reduce disciplinary problems, and develop civic-minded students of high character.
Classroom instruction may be used to supplement a character education program; however, each program will be interwoven into the school procedures and environment and structured to instruct primarily through example, illustration, and participation, in such a way as to complement the Standards of Learning.
Nothing in the Code shall be construed as requiring or authorizing the indoctrination in any particular religious or political belief.
The Frederick County School Board adopted the following core character traits and definitions as the foundation of the character education program at its July17, 2000 meeting.
- Respect—acceptance of one another’s differences, appreciation of and consideration for self and others (all people of all ages), honoring the rights of others
- Integrity—commitment to living by the core character traits of respect, citizenship, honesty, empathy, caring, and responsibility
- Citizenship—loyalty to democratic ideals; community-mindedness and volunteerism; respect for authority, laws, and rules; concern for the common good
- Honesty—consistent trustworthiness and truthfulness
- Empathy—understanding the feelings of others
- Caring—concern for others, fairness, kindness, courtesy, generosity of spirit
- Responsibility—accountability, reliability, understanding and accepting that there are consequences for decisions and actions, work ethic, commitments, dependability