`Character' resolution is OK'd in Carroll

Residents asked to focus on one trait each month

September 28, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The Carroll commissioners agreed yesterday to emphasize character education - not with any specific program, such as one promoted by a fundamentalist Judeo-Christian group, but by following the example of the county school system.

Adopting a resolution making Carroll a "County of Character," officials will focus on a different trait each month, such as perseverance, responsibility or trustworthiness. They will encourage "character in schools, businesses, churches, county and city governments, community groups and families."

"Today, we were voting to say that we really want to be a character county," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier.

With the resolution, the commissioners formally affirmed what they had been discussing for months.

They chose an initiative that is far less structured than "Character First," a program promoted and sold by the Oklahoma City-based International Association of Character Cities.

The commissioners had envisioned banners on streets and posters in classrooms and at the County Office Building reminding employees and their families of the trait they should be emulating in a particular month. Instruction also had been envisioned.

Critics argued such government-sponsored programs are a concern because they promote religious values and might violate the First Amendment guarantee of church-state separation.

The commissioners have the support of several business and community groups and churches, including the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and the local ACTIVE Alliance - Adults and Children Together Improving Values and Ethics.

The county's initiative mirrors a program that has been effective in county schools.

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