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Counting on Character: NHA and Civic Education

Counting on Character: NHA and Civic Education

Counting on Character: NHA and Civic Education

AEI Policy Brief Focuses on Michigan-based Charter Operator

The AEI Program on American Citizenship has released their second case study looking at how citizenship-oriented charter schools go about their work. In this piece, titled "Counting on Character," Joanne Jacobs takes a close look at National Heritage Academies (NHA) and its approach to character and citizenship education.

NHA, which operates 74 schools in nine states, is the nation's largest charter operator in terms of student enrollment, educating over 48,000 students in grades K-8. Jacobs reports that NHA schools hold a weekly "moral focus assembly," and that the schools explicitly teach manners through interactions with educators, school leaders, and families. Jacobs also makes the notable distinction between no-excuses charters like KIPP, which make "performance character" (persistence, grit, and the like) the focus of their education efforts, while NHA emphasizes virtues less designed to help students get ahead, and more about helping students "be their ethical best in relationships and roles and citizens."

AEI's Rick Hess says "I think it's a tremendously interesting piece that shows a school system taking character and citizenship very seriously, and which forces readers to confront vital questions on how we really feel about schools teaching old-fashioned values to 21st century kids."

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Click HERE for the full policy brief.

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