INDEPENDENCE, Mo. —
The Leader in Me, which has started branching out into preschools and middle schools, is one of "literally dozens" of programs seeking to improve the school climate, said Paul Baumann, director of the National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement at the Denver-based Education Commission of the States, a nonpartisan group that researches education policy. He said most of the programs are run by nonprofits. The cost of the Leader in Me was "pretty high" in comparison, he said.
For a 400-student school, adopting the Leader in Me program would cost between $45,000 and $60,000 over the first three years.
The program's developer, FranklinCovey, acknowledges that the expense is one of the biggest challenges. Some schools are able to cover the cost using federal Title I money that's awarded to schools that serve large numbers of low-income students. And for schools that need help, foundations, community Chambers of Commerce or businesses might be asked to help cover the cost, said Meg Thompson, who oversees the program for Salt Lake City-based FranklinCovey.
Not everyone is sold though. Lakeview Elementary in Kirkland, Wash., a Seattle suburb, dropped the program this year after parents complained. Lake Elementary parent Paul Devries said he found the program "cult-like" and "objected to the group mentality." Some schools offer training sessions for parents.
"It's our responsibility as parents to teach values to our kids, not for kids to come home and teach FranklinCovey's values to us," said Devries, 53, a fishery scientist and water resource engineer. "Kids should be able to be creative and think for themselves and not be automatons and repeat the seven habits."
Asked how many schools had dropped out, FranklinCovey said that would be hard to calculate.