The State Board of Education has heard from the founder of an institution that strives to improve the ethical quality of society by changing personal and organizational decision making and behavior in the schools.

Michael Josephson, founder of the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute, promotes what is known as Character Counts , an effort to have school boards, PTAs, and teachers emphasize good behavior as part of quality learning and performance. Josephson says there is an absolute link between school performance and character.

Josephson says the teaching of values and good behavior started falling by the wayside in the 1980s when self esteem was given the highest priority in child rearing and education. He says that while the self esteem movement had a lot of positive attributes there were drawbacks in that it created what he calls "self esteemia – the toxic effect of worrying more about feeling good than being good."

Josephson says the classroom environment suffered as a result of too many institutions becoming so focused only on giving positive feedback and of parents never wanting to say "No" to their children.

Character Counts is a framework – not a set curriculum – that does not exclude other programs, but does provide schools with useful strategies and guidelines for effective character education. Character Counts teaches consensus values known as the Six Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Download/Listen: Character Counts presentation to State Board of Education (:52:00 MP3)