Facing little public opposition, the Howard County school board unanimously agreed last night to teach values in the classroom, adopting a list of 18 "common values" that will be worked into the curriculum.
The values, ranging from appreciation for diversity to self-discipline, were recommended by a 24-member task force of parents, students and administrators appointed by Superintendent Michael E. Hickey.
The task force said education in values was needed because of "increasing national attention concerning statistics on crime rates, drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and a general deterioration of societal values."
According to Karen B. Campbell, chairwoman of the five-member school board, "Teachers are doing this all along." The new policy will "give encouragement and support to those teachers," she said.
In adopting values education, which will begin next year in all grades, Howard County follows the lead of Baltimore County, which approved 24 values and ethics five years ago that were incorporated in every course.
At an earlier meeting, the Rev. Steward H. Frazier, had urged the county to be careful in the way it handled values education.
"The school board has to be vigilant to assure that a different form of religion is not being smuggled into the schools under the guise of values education," he said.
Otherwise, the proposal has attracted little attention since it was released. Only three citizens showed up to testify earlier this month during a public hearing on the recommended list of values.
The Values Education Task Force said that "it is of utmost importance that all within the school system recognize that this approach to values education does not in any way attempt to supersede or impinge on the rights and responsibilities of the family and religious institutions to teach morals and ethics."
The task force said that "values education occurs daily in the classroom whether it is recognized or not. . . . Values education in the setting of a public school system provides an opportunity to examine and revise the underlying principles which govern one's own conduct, choices and attitudes."
Values that will be taught in Howard County schools:
* Appreciation for diversity
* Commitment to learning
* Community service
* Equality of opportunity
* Freedom of thought and expression
* Global responsibility
* Respect and care for the environment
* Respect for human dignity
* Respect for self
* Responsible citizenship