A public opinion poll commissioned by the Utah State Office of Education reveals 82 percent of Utahns believe parents have the primary responsibility for teaching values to children.

Even so, 83 percent said character education also should be taught in the state's public schools. Further, respondents said character education should be offered at all grade levels."It (the poll) reinforces what the Utah Legislature has been doing this year. The legislature has never before entered into values or ethic education before. This year they have a more serious concern than ever before," said Scott Bean, state superintendent of public in-struc-tion.

Values and character education were predominant themes of the 51st Legislature, which ended at midnight Wednesday. One bill passed by the body requires school districts to provide appropriate inservice training for teachers related to teaching values and qualities of character in the public schools.

While legislators devoted considerable time to values issues during the session, Utahns were evenly divided whether lawmakers should have input in deciding which values or curriculum should be included in values education.

Forty-eight percent said lawmakers should have little or no input while 48 percent said they should have a great deal or some involvement. Nearly a third of the respondents said they disapproved of the Legislature passing a law that requires the teaching of values in the public school system.

The poll found Utahns prefer that parents, teachers and district school boards, respectively, determine the content of curriculum.

Of a list of 24 values or character traits, a majority of respondents said all but chastity and morality ought to be taught both at home and school. Regarding chastity, 21 percent said the value should be taught only at home, and 17 percent said morality should be dealt with at home.

"That goes more into a religious area but it's still saying schools ought to enter into those areas. The emphasis is abstinence, which is what our programs teach. I don't think we're too off track from what parents indicate they want," Bean said.

The poll was conducted Feb. 16-20 by Dan Jones & Associates. The poll of 605 Utahns carries a 4 percent margin of error.

Utahns prefer that schools offer an integrated values curriculum rather than teaching the subject as a separate discipline such as math or history.

Formalized character-education programs that are offered in a few school districts have been well received and could serve as models for other districts to follow, Bean said.

"We feel like we have programs that work and districts can adapt them to their own situations. We don't plan on getting into huge curriculum development situations," Bean said.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Board of Education poll

If a new values program is implemented, how much input should each of the following have in deciding which values or the curriculum that should be included in values education?

A GREAT DEAL SOME LITTLE/NONE DON'T KNOW

LEGISLATURE 8% 40% 48% 4%

PARENTS 92% 7% 0% 1%

TEACHERS 58% 34% 7% 2%

DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD 21% 49% 26% 4%

OTHER 4% 3% 4% 90%

Should parents be involved in the teaching or implementation of values education in the public schools?

PROBABLY 94%

PROBABLY NOT 4%

DON'T KNOW 2%

If values education were to be implemented in the public schools, do you feel it should be taught by integrating it in all school subjects or should it be taught as a separate school subject like math or history?

INTEGRATED 66%

SEPARATE SUBJECT 25%

DON'T KNOW 8%

SOURCE: Utah State Board of Education. Poll conducted Feb. 16-20, 1995. Margin of error +/-4% on interviews of 605 registerd voters. Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates.