The U.S. Congress has been asked to appoint a 17-member commission to explore ways in which values may be taught in public schools. Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) would establish a one-year commission to “identify common values and recommend to the President and Congress how those values can be included in the curricula of U.S. schools.”

Hall’s proposal builds on other expressions of concern about the absence of clear teaching about right and wrong in the nation’s classrooms. Earlier, a coalition of leaders in education, government, and religion called for better teaching of democratic values. Their statement, “Education for Democracy,” noted, “It is absurd to argue that the state, or its schools, cannot be concerned with citizens’ ability to tell right from wrong.”

The legislation introduced by Hall identifies several reasons why a commission on values in education is needed. “Many Americans no longer make determinations of right and wrong,” the measure points out, “… and this phenomenon crosses economic, social, religious, and age lines.” Public schools charged with teaching these determinations “have abdicated this responsibility,” the bill says.

The evidence of this is clear, according to Hall’s legislation. It cites “a national epidemic of incidents” in which ethics have little or no bearing on behavior, as well as alarming increases in the numbers of teen pregnancies and incidents of drug abuse and suicide.

In a speech to the House of Representatives, Hall said, “We are raising a generation of children who cannot distinguish between right and wrong. They are not prepared to make ...

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