Parents, students, school employees and county residents surveyed by a school system task force overwhelmingly favored the teaching of values ranging from freedom of speech to compassion in the county public schools.
The task force, appointed in April 1989, drew up a list of 18 values, then, last March, sent out 10,000 questionnaires randomly through PTAs, school administrators, and school employee paychecks asking people whether they agreed that these values should be taught in school.
Of the 2,775 people who responded, 88 percent said "yes" and 3 percent said "no" (undecideds omitted), R. William Sowders, executive supervisor for social studies and a task force member, told the school board at its meeting Thursday.
He said that 96 respondents wrote in "expressions of concern" generally stating that schools should not teach values.
"I think it should be done at home" and "I don't think this is the job of the public schools" were typical comments, he said.
Respondents submitted 648 suggestions for values to be taught, but the task force did not add any to its basic list.
Joan M. Palmer, associate superintendent for curriculum and supervision, said many of the suggested values were included in the task force's general listing. Others were religious values that could not be added, she said.
The task force's recommendation for values education is scheduled for a public hearing at the Nov. 8 school board meeting, but the proposal has already won endorsement from student leaders.
Parag Desai, a student task force member from Atholton High School, reported that the Howard County Association of Student Councils voted overwhelmingly at a general meeting Thursday to support values education.
Board Vice Chairman Deborah D. Kendig agreed. "Oh, we need this program," Kendig said after reading survey results that showed 21 percent of the students undecided on whether democracy should be taught as a value.
Sowders said the "top values" for students were freedom of speech, respect for self and equal opportunity.
Values that led the list for school employees were honesty, responsibility and integrity. The 75 community leaders who received questionnaires gave most weight to commitment to learning, respect for human dignity and integrity.
The 350 citizens who clipped questionnaires from local newspapers gave strongest endorsement to the values of honesty, integrity and responsibility, Sowders reported.
If the school board adopts the task force proposal, the 18 values would be woven into school courses, starting in the 1991-1992 school year.
The list: appreciation for diversity; commitment to learning; community service; compassion; democracy; equality of opportunity; freedom of thought and expression; global responsibility; honesty; integrity; justice; perseverance; respect and care for the environment; respect for human dignity; respect for self; responsibility; responsible citizenship; self-discipline.