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Laura Bush and Education Secretary Rod Paige listen to a speaker during the White House Conference on Character and Community, June 19, 2002. White House photo by Paul Morse.

Mrs. Bush's Character and Community Initiative

One of the best things we can do for our nation's future is to provide positive and beneficial experiences for growing children, especially during the vital formative years.

As Mrs. Bush visits communities across the country, she is promoting proven, accountable programs that encourage parents to read to their children early and often, and urging schools to use sound, research-based programs that will help prepare children for success in school and life. She believes that what we do for children, beginning the day they are born, has a direct and profound impact on their future and the future of our country.

Children who are prepared for reading and learning when they enter school are more likely to succeed and stay in school. Tragically, children who do drop out of school are more than twice as likely as successful students to be unemployed, arrested, or to engage in substance abuse. Mrs. Bush also recognizes that schools and educators must teach more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic; they must teach character.

Character education provides children with the tools to develop moral and ethical strength, and it plays a vital role in helping ensure that all children are prepared to succeed throughout their schooling, and in life.

Mrs. Bush's Character Education Initiative encourages schools and school districts to develop curriculum that teaches strong values, promotes high character, and develops a sense of responsibility to the community. Mrs. Bush recognizes that strong values are shared by good people of different backgrounds and faiths. And she believes it is our responsibility to teach these universal values to children -- values that we share in our diversity: respect, responsibility, honesty, devotion to family, commitment, and compassion. It is essential that these moral landmarks are taught with confidence and conviction because they will guide America's children through a successful life.

Family is the first place these values are learned. And parents expect schools to be allies in the moral education of our children.The lessons of the home must be reinforced by high standards in our schools. Schools should be safe and orderly; they should be decent and drug-free; and they should teach character by expecting character. They should be places where rules are set and, more importantly, where rules are enforced, where students see values in action, are empowered with effective curriculum, and are inspired to become active citizens who will shape the future of our nation.

Reach Out and Read
Ready to Read, Ready to Learn
Healthy Start, Grow Smart
Careers in Teaching
White House Conference on Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers
Transition to Teaching
Teach for America
Troops to Teachers
The New Teacher Project
Mrs. Bush's Character and Community Initiative
Family Resources

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