[The following is an excerpt from TrustED®: The Bridge to School Improvement]
People trust those who do the right thing. However, the problem of failing to “do the right thing” goes back to the Garden of Eden. Still, we are often alarmed by surveys about the societal state of values and behaviors like the one released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics a little while ago. A survey of over 40,000 high school students revealed that 92% of those students surveyed believe their parents want them to do the right thing, and 89% say they believe that being a good person is more important than being rich. Yet, these beliefs conflict with their actions and behavioral choices. For example:
- 1 in 3 boys and 1 in 4 girls admitted to stealing from a store within the past year.
- 21% percent admitted they stole something from a parent or other relative.
- 18% admitted stealing from a friend or lying.
- More than 2 in 5 said they sometimes lie to save money (48% of males / 35% percent of females).
- More than 8 in 10 confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.
- 59% admitted to cheating on a test during the last year (with 34% percent doing so more than twice).
- 1 in 3 admitted they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.
Again, the reality of unhealthy and disappointing behavioral choices (especially among teenagers) is nothing new. We all know far too well (and often from personal experience and disappointments) that our actions do not always follow our beliefs. But we must keep in mind that students, parents, faculty, and staff only trust administrators who do the right thing – even when it is not the easiest thing to do or may result in personal loss or embarrassment for the administrator. That commitment to maintaining and modeling character and developing trusted character within students also impacts students’ academic achievement levels.
Research conducted on the relationship between trust and school leadership has shown that when character development is highly valued and integrated into a school’s program and culture, student achievement increases with student performance on standardized assessments.
Has your school or university suffered from a lack of character, resulting in an overall diminished level of trust… [continue reading]