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Front Page

In 1982 the curriculum guide entitled
"Citizenship in New York City"
was released.
It was written in the course of 30 days by Cybrary Man and two other educators.

These are some newspaper headlines about this guide:

New York Daily News
Can schools teach values if the parents can't?

..."In the early days, the citizenship course was designed to teach civics, to instill American democratic values in newly arrived immigrants," Salow says. "Today, we believe that many of the young people no longer ascribe to many of the American and democratic values. So we are trying to instill the same values, but not in the same way."

Salow, who wrote the new course in 30 days with Public School 9 Assistant Principal Marvin Polansky and Jerry Blumengarten, a teacher at Junior High School 166, both Brooklyn, says the program was carefully drawn up to avoid the kind of controversy that has been associated with other attempts to instill a set of values in students..."

New York Times
Children Get a Course in Responsible Behavior

City Hopes to Teach Children How a Citizen Should Behave


 

My Character & Ethics Page

My East New York Page (where I taught)

The Los Angeles Times front page article:

Civility1O1: Pupils Learn

How to Be Good citizens

By DOYLE McMANUS, Times Staff writer

NEW YORK A police car pulls up to your apartment building to investigate a burglary. A policeman gets out of the car—and someone on the roof throws a brick at him.  What do you do?

  “I’d run up to the roof to see who did it,” said Marc Baker, 14.

  “What if the guy had a 123-inch dagger or something?” objected Frank Fatta, 14.

  George Maddox, 13, gave a street wise grin and advised a more cautious course.  As the policeman ducked the brick, he said, “I’d die laughing.  Then I’d make sure the cops didn’t see me.”

  Welcome to Civility 101, New York City’s attempt to teach children the principles of responsible citizenship.

  Confronted by escalating juvenile crime, vandalism and weapons possession-and a sense that many children are unfamiliar with basic principles of ethics-New York public school officials have launched an experimental program to revive some old-fashioned values.

  “It’s a major effort to change the climate of life in our schools and in New York City,” said Charlotte Frank, curriculum chief for the Board of Education.

  “The question,” said Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola, the school

                                                              Please see PUPILS, Page18

PUPILS: N. Y. Fights Crime With Ethics

Continued from First Page

system’s chief administrator, “Is how do the schools respond to the loss of a sense of community In this society? The institutions that used to supply some of that no longer perform the function. . . . The main human services institution for youngsters Is the school”

The problem of antisocial children is not peculiar to New York. And school districts In several cities, Including Los Angeles, have tried relatively small-scale programs to prompt students to think about basic values.

At the same time, the study of ethics has made a comeback at the university level. Harvard University, for one, now offers courses in professional morality to students in its graduate schools of law, business and medicine.

But the teaching of ethics is probably being attempted on the largest scale In New York’s public schools, where the new citizenship program Is scheduled to go into general use next year and Is intended eventually to touch every one of 925,000 students.

In one suggested session, children act the roles of elderly robbery victims—°to become more sensitive to the trauma suffered by victims of mugging,” the program’s curriculum guide notes. 

Looting Question

In another, students grapple with the question of whether they would join in looting a sporting goods store during an electricity blackout—or whether they would report the friends who had.

In another, children re-enact the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death In Queens while 37 witnesses ignored her pleas for help.

The exercises are hypothetical—but to the eighth graders at Junior High School 364 in Brooklyn, there was nothing unreal about them.

When a visitor asked George Maddox and his classmates whether they had actually seen persons throw bricks at police cars, about half raised their hands. Then one girl raised her hand and asked plaintively, “How about rocks?” With the question expanded to include rocks and other objects, almost every hand went up.

When asked how many had witnessed a serious crime during the last two years, all 32 children said they had, several as victims of lunch-money muggers. One girl said she had watched from her mother’s kitchen one afternoon as a gunfight erupted in the parking lot across the street; a stray bullet, she said, came in one side of the kitchen and went out the other.

“That’s not unusual,” teacher Jerry Blumengarten. ‘and this isn’t a rough school”

New York’s juvenile crime problem is among the worst in the country, police officials say. The arrest rate for children under 16 is four times the national average and growing.

“Crimes for which juveniles are arrested today are more ruthless and remorseless and criminally sophisticated,” Deputy Police Commissioner Kenneth Conboy said recently.

8,082 Crimes Reported         -

Part of the problem is inside the schools. In the first six months of this academic year, 8,082 crimes were reported In the city’s 1,000 schools, including 683 assaults, 781 cases of weapons possession, 2,079 larcenies and 40 sex offenses, mostly rape or attempted rape. The fastest-growing problem, officials say, is the availability of guns; children as young as 10 have been found carrying pistols to school, sometimes to intimidate others but of ten for self-defense or mere bravado.

To deal with crime within school walls, the city has set up a special task force, hired 1,750 security officers and sped up installation of closed-circuit television monitors in high-risk schools.

But, most juvenile crimes are committed outside. And the problem in its broadest context, school officials said, is not just violent crime but a general breakdown in everyday morality and an increase In uncivil behavior— ranging from littering and playing radios on buses to major vandalism.

“These aren’t just New York City school problems,” said Elliott Salow, the citizenship program’s chief author. “These are societal problems, nationwide problems.”

“It’s a question of values,” said Blumengarten, the teacher at Junior High 364. “People get scared when they hear the word values used in a public school We’re not telling kids what their values ought to be; we’re asking them to think about what their values actually are.”

Blumengarten’s students, a multiracial group drawn from a massive middle-income apartment complex and a neighboring slum, had little difficulty pinpointing some of the things they value clean streets, safety from muggers, functioning subway trains.

But when the discussion of values turned to the issue of an individual’s responsibility when he sees a crime being committed, they were unanimously doubtful.

If, for example, they overheard two students planning to plant a bomb in a school, did they have a duty to war a teacher?

“If I didn’t and someone was hurt I’d feel guilty, said Hank Hsu, whose parents were born in Peking.

“1 wouldn’t feel guilty,” said Scott Kreisler. “I was just minding my own business.”

“You look at the three CBS men,” said Andrea West on,. referring to three television technicians who were shot down in Manhattan last month when they tried thwart a kidnapping. “They tried to do good, and the lost their lives. You have to look at the consequence first Are you going to get hurt If you try to help?”

Rachel Kling wasn’t buying that argument Excuse my language,” she said impatiently, “but if you want to cover your behind, in the long run you’re not covering yourself—you’re making It unsafe for everybody.”

Later, after the school’s harsh electronic bell had sounded and sent the eighth grade scrambling outside for lunch, Blumengarten recalled the exchange and smiled. “You don’t get that in textbooks,” he said.