Choose Civility Top 12 Principles
· Respect other people’s time
· Don’t shift responsibility and blame
· Accept and give praise
· Respect others’ opinions
· Acknowledge others
· Speak kindly
· Apologize sincerely
· Refrain from idle complaints
· Think the best
· Accept and give constructive criticism
· Don’t speak ill
Information provided by the Stanislaus County Office of Education
Last spring Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools Tom Changnon received numerous phone calls from school district administrators asking him to come speak at their local public meetings about the budgetary process. While attending these meetings, the superintendent noticed an alarming trend.
“The behavior of the people in the audience was so uncivil,” he said.
Changnon soon decided that something community-wide had to be done about this outbreak of rudeness. Inspired by the work of P.M. Forni, author of “Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct,” Changnon developed a campaign to “Choose Civility.”
Changnon’s plan is to involve the entire community, not just the students, because children mimic the behavior of adults around them.
“Research shows that two-thirds of the public believe that American society is uncivil and that the problem has gotten worse in recent years,” said Changnon. “Civility is a core value of a well-functioning community and one of its defining components. Quality of life depends in great part on how community members treat each other. This initiative will promote the importance of civility in a world becoming less civil, and encourage community members to choose positive and respectful behaviors in their personal and work lives.”
In September, the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) convened a board of advisors made up of community leaders from around the county — including Turlock Mayor John Lazar and Turlock Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva — with the goal of helping to guide the initiative.
The SCOE and board of advisors came up with a list of “Top 12 Principles” of civility. They include: listen, respect other people’s time, don’t shift responsibility and blame, accept and give praise, respect others’ opinions, acknowledge others, speak kindly, apologize sincerely, refrain from idle complaints, think the best, accept and give constructive criticism, and don’t speak ill.
“It’s very laudable for the superintendent to step forward and find community leaders and put forth this civility campaign,” Lazar said.
The Mayor said he is tired of hearing stories of road rage, inappropriate behavior and disrespect of the elderly.
“Respect was not really an exception in the past, but a way of life,” he said. “Hopefully, we can make it a way of life again.”
Silva said she was excited to be a part of the “Choose Civility” campaign.
“If we could just learn to be kind and have civility in our lives, our whole world would be different,” she said.
Changnon said he has heard overwhelmingly positive responses to the campaign throughout his travels around the county.
“It just gets people thinking about the common courtesy of treating people with respect,” he said.
“’It’s about time,’ I hear that a lot.”
The official kick-off of the “Choose Civility” initiative will take place at a breakfast event to be held from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 2 at the SCOE’s Event Center, 720 12th St., Modesto. A campaign overview and goals will be presented and Michael Josephson will be the guest speaker. Josephson is a former lawyer, law professor and entrepreneur. In 1987 he founded the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit organization named in honor of his parents.
Community members can register online for the “Choose Civility” kick-off event at www.stancoe.org/civility. Space is limited.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.