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I had a forum on this site for almost a year and a half, but in all that time, only one topic has ever gotten any traction: the one titled “Is the Leader in Me All It’s Cracked Up to Be?” I originally posted the question to see what teachers and parents were experiencing in schools that had adopted the Leader in Me program. As a parent whose kids go to a Leader in Me school, I was initially impressed by the program, but then started to have some doubts. I wanted to hear from others.

I have now closed that forum because I want to move the discussion here, so more people can talk about how this program has impacted their school and whether, in a time of fiscal belt-tightening, it’s worth the high sticker price.

What is the Leader in Me?

The Leader in Me is basically a philosophy that schools are taught to weave into every aspect of the school day. It’s not a curriculum or an instructional method, but rather a school culture model in which students learn Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Happy Kids, a spin-off from his original book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The program also encourages students to set and track personal goals and to take leadership roles whenever possible. In Leader in Me schools, students are often the ones who run the assemblies and programs, give guided tours around the building, and generally take on many of the responsibilities that were once the exclusive domain of teachers and administrators.

It sounds great, right? In theory, yes. “Overall, I love the concept of this program,” wrote forum commenter 2Sprouts. “I support anything that encourages and teaches kids to take personal responsibility, as well as how to effectively communicate and work with others. It was introduced to our school not long after the Sandy Hook school shootings and I couldn’t imagine a better thing we could do to try to prevent things like that happening.”

But others aren’t so sure.

Problems with the Leader in Me: An Overview

Objections to the program have risen for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common ones:

1. Cost. Franklin Covey is careful not to publish any pricing for its Leader in Me training; scroll all the way down in the Q&A section and you’ll see a non-committal response to the question of cost. They encourage people to call to receive a price quote, what they call an “investment summary.” But the most common figures I’ve seen hover around the $50 thousand mark for the basics. If a school wants to attain Lighthouse Status, they will need to pay for additional training and coaching. When schools are laying off teachers and cutting funding for many programs, the decision to pay for high-priced training definitely raises eyebrows.

2. The feeling that the program creates a brainwashed, cult-like atmosphere. The book that teaches the Leader in Me process recommends the “ubiquitous” approach, where the language of the Seven Habits is inserted into the day’s routine in any way possible: A lunchroom supervisor who sees a kid eating cookies before his sandwich might remind him to Put First Things First. A history teacher might ask students if either side in an international conflict was looking for a Win-Win solution. For some people, this approach feels forced. “At first, I thought people were kidding when they were working the language into every single conversation I was having at work,” wrote teacher KKB in the forum, “I was hearing things like, Well, if we begin with the end in mind, then that will be a win win for everyone, so let’s be proactive and put first things first, and then we’ll really be able to synergize. Seriously. People were saying these sentences. Then I realized that the language was so cliche’ and could be applied so broadly that there was no deeper conversation happening.” Another commenter by the name of 2x2x2 Mom, wrote, “It seemed to encourage everyone into black and white thinking about everything.”

3. The question of efficacy. Another objection is the lack of third-party research about the program’s effectiveness. “The results of this program have never been tested and proven scientifically,” writes mmbaldwin. “However, most schools give glowing reviews.” And some who work with older kids report that the approach is actually less effective than it is with younger students: “It’s way too cartoony and repetitive with the language for 4-6th graders,” writes 2sprouts. “Teachers and kids (and parents) are burned out with the language repetition.” In my own experience, my three elementary-aged kids simply roll their eyes anytime my husband or I use the language of the Seven Habits with them. And although they have been given some neat opportunities to present publicly, apart from that I haven’t seen the program have much of an impact on them. They certainly don’t stop arguing in order to seek first to understand, and the only one who seems to really care about them putting first things first is me. I think the underlying principles of the habits are sound; I just haven’t seen much evidence that they are sinking in with my own kids.

4. Corporate ties and corporate “vibes.” Some who question the program, like commenter mmbaldwin, are bothered by the fact that the training is being “pushed” on schools by local Chambers of Commerce. “The Chamber of Commerce is a big supporter of Common Core/PARCC testing in our area and we are NOT fans of either.” Others dislike the way the program’s structure tends to mimic other corporate models: Molly, a Redmond, WA, parent who protested her district’s implementation of Leader in Me, objected to the fact that part of implementation required promoting the program to other schools, which she said, “screams of pyramid marketing.”

5. Some see the program as culturally biased. “We are implementing it in incredibly culturally diverse schools largely without regard to the fact that these concepts and this language will run contrary to the backgrounds of many of the students,” wrote KKB. “A student from a tribal culture may generally be uncomfortable with the concept of ‘leading’ in the western sense of the word, and is it our job to try to make them comfortable with it?”

6. Finally, some concern has surfaced that the program has religious roots. Commenter elidyr wrote, “Without a doubt it is an indoctrination of our children with Stephen Covey’s Mormon faith teachings. While the habits seem innocuous by themselves, when you start studying Covey’s work you find the deep religious aspect hidden in the habits.”

What’s Happening at Your School?

I have attempted to summarize the issues with the program here, but I’m interested to hear your stories. Is the Leader in Me program showing clear positive outcomes on student learning and behavior at your school? Tell us about it. Have you had negative experiences with the program? Let’s hear it. Without an open discussion in a space that’s not sponsored by any of the interested parties, we’ll never see the whole picture. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. ♦


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  1. gahachino says:

    My school has been awarded Lighthouse status… and nobody wants to talk about the cost of the program. I’m seeing volunteers traditionally aligned with the PTA being bled off to assist in fundraising activities to support the Parent Lighthouse Committee. Has anyone else dealt with this? Like most, I’m okay with the basic principles of the seven habits, but I am soundly against the cult-like insistence of it permeating every minute of my kids’ days. The ongoing (obfuscated) cost compared with the lack of return on investment declaration is also upsetting. Looking for more discussion on this. Thanks for posting on it, super helpful.

    • Well FINALLY! This post has been sitting amongst the sound of chirping crickets for months now, and I was starting to wonder if it was just my imagination. I think as the program grows in popularity, we may see others come along and share their concerns as well. Thanks for posting.

      • My son is finishing up Kindergarten and I had no idea the program even cost money, I thought it was just a bunch of things the kids repeated. I found this post after searching for some song they were going to sing (it happens to be “There’s a leader in me”) for their “graduation.”

        I’ve always been annoyed by the endless stream of fundraisers at the school too – I wonder if the two are related!

      • Elizabeth says:

        Is this forum still open? If it is, I have some questions/concerns, needing advice.

        • This has been one of my most commented on posts, and yes, people are still somewhat active here. Since it is old, it may take a while before someone answers, but my sense is that there are a few participants who check back regularly and keep the conversation going, so go ahead and leave your questions and we’ll see what happens.

          • Kathi Ligon says:

            I just found out this week that our local school system is participating in the Leader in Me program. Thankfully someone mentioned Stephen Covey & the red flags started waving. While I don’t have children in school, I am very concerned & would like to know what steps I can take to eliminate this program. Please, please contact me by email or cell phone 623-670-6044

          • Hi Kathi,

            Although we can’t connect, there may be some other people reading this that might be able to, or you might want to reach out to contact others who’ve listed their information in their comments.

          • Michelle says:

            I really dislike this program. My kid is 7 and has been labeled as a poor leader by her teacher because she talked in class once, 4 months ago. At the time, she told me another kid was poking and tickling her behind the teacher’s back. I just signed the counseling notice and told my child to ask to be moved to another seat should the behavior continue. Little did I know they would still continue to punish her by exclusion from special events like seeing a newly released movie during school hours with the other kids because of this minimal infarction. My 2nd grader sees this as highly unfair, and well she should. During the movie she said a counselor took poor leaders for a walk and then they were made to stare at the school bus stop until their teachers returned to pick them up afterward. Absolutely no notification of these proceedings were sent home to parents of children they identified as poor leaders, only a calendar saying there would be a fun Friday movie and kids could wear pjs to school. My daughter awakened early and started crying that she wasn’t allowed to participate because of the counseling notice I had signed at the beginning of the previous semester. I was grappling to make sense of it, and watched my kid choke back tears in her school uniform at drop of while the other children walked around in pajamas. I called the office to ask what was going on but no one returned my call so at pickup I addressed said situation with a staff member who assured me very matter of factly that’s how the program works. She said any children that didn’t get to go got to have a field day and reading coach. However, that is not what happened for my kiddo. Furthermore, she said 2 other 7 year olds were sent to school in their pjs, as per the calendar when they had also been identified as poor leaders. She said the the teacher was very “angry” with the little boys and sent them to the principal’s office where they were made to change into uniforms. Furthermore, it seems that the names of other kids she gave me identified as poor leaders were all other children of colors who had been in her slower reading class the previous semester. This is how the program is being operated at our school.

          • I’m a retired teacher in FL. This program is getting an unusual amount of interest, none of it is good. People talk about the cost of the program, and what are they getting for their money? But as I see it, their biggest concerns are for the overall program that is being mindlessly taught to students starting at a young age. Very repetitive, it is “cult like“ and the children keep saying the same things over and over, like little robots. We are wondering if this is a religious program. It seems to have a hidden agenda of “culture“, which is actually learning about Islam. There is a very, very low percentage of Muslims in this area of FL and we are hearing this a lot about our grandchildren’s schools elsewhere. Is this a program that is mostly used in states like Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Michigan? The culture part of it is certainly disturbing because we are hearing a lot of religious context hidden in the agenda. A group of retired teachers think that this may be a roundabout way of introducing children to Saul Alinsky or Socialist-Communist ideas. My grandchildren are learning more about Islam than about Christianity, which is their religion. In fact they can almost carry on a debate about which one is better. I don’t like the undertones. Is there anyone who can give first-hand information about what is really going on in these schools? We have heard some teachers were fired for even questioning the program. One other point is that there has been a huge influx of new immigrant children in mid western schools where children are “dumped”. Hardly any parents or adults with these children who cannot speak English. Some classes are now being taught in Arabic, and the teachers who speak Spanish and Arabic are immediately hired regardless of their credentials. The schools are being paid by the federal government to have the Leader In Me program in the school. Teachers who have been there 15 and 20 years are being let go and these new teachers are leading these classes. A school that had 24 to 27 children in the class, are now overcrowded with 40 + children in a class. We are concerned and would appreciate honest feedback.

          • Eric Wenninger says:

            Cheryl, as was mentioned in the article, we think there are some valid concerns regarding the Leader In Me program. However, we don’t see any evidence that religious, cultural, or linguistic diversity is one of them. In fact, we see such diversity as an asset to our school systems. While there are unique challenges that arise from a more diverse student body, we believe that the benefits gained by students who interact with a community of multiple perspectives and experiences are worth it. It’s part of our mission at Cult of Pedagogy to equip teachers with the tools they need to respond appropriately to these diverse learners, so that all students can be successful.

        • Debra says:

          Hi I had to look up my own info about the Leader in me My sons school just started it and gave the parents a very vague explanation of the program -first cost was not mentioned and where they got the money Also there is a website called under the Q&A questions you will find some very interesting things that contradict it -whoever made up the site only tells half-truths about the program -so my advice look up the Author Stephen Covey and his book the Divine Center -which ties in with the 7 habits -now I don’t have anything against any religions but when you can trace it back to Mormon beliefs and they are selling this program to public schools it totally is against the law -I am going to be contacting our superintendant and a civil rights lawyer So I will keep you all updated.

          • Anonymous says:

            How is teaching values, responsibility and teamwork and setting goals illegal? Why are 7 habits used globally in corporations if there were no value or positive outcomes? 7 Habits does not teach religion. It teaches you how to be successful.

          • anonymous says:

            I too am very concerned about the non-secular roots of this program and the legality of it. Our staff meetings are starting to feel like AMWAY recruiting bc of LIM. The “natural laws” Covey refers to in the 7 habits are based specifically on Mormon teachings. He describes them further in his book The Divine Center, in which he basically calls every other religion a hoax, and says this: “”I have found in speaking to various non-LDS groups in different cultures that we can teach and testify of many gospel principles if we are careful in selecting words which carry our meaning but come from their experience and frame of mind.” [Divine Center, p. 240.]” This program has no business in public schools. How did it go with your civil rights lawyer? Did you try the ACLU? We’re like the third school in our district, so I’m worried we’re already indoctrinated.

          • Kathi says:

            Debra, please call me at 623-670-6044. I am working to get the program removed locally. I’d like to know what worked for you. Thanks, Kathi

          • gerard says:

            can you please contact me with your experience in dealing with this program? I’m sitting in our first training right now and have many concerns

          • How can you trace the 7 habits the Mormons beliefs? Please share the connections you see.

          • Lisa says:

            Any update ?

          • Thanks for your input. We find it so interesting and would appreciate updates on your journey.

        • Anonymous says:

          Our school is in its third year of LIM . I have done a lot of research and observed our building’s changes. If you would be willing to share your email, I can share with you more information. I’m commenting anonymously because the backlash for speaking out against this program at my school is awful.

          • Melody says:

            I would love to hear your concerns about the program. We are considering implementation on my campus.

          • Dave says:

            I would love to see the info you are offering. Trying to learn the pros/cons about the program. Thanks!!!

          • Jamie says:


            I am very interested in hearing your concerns about the program as our school is also considering it.


          • Chris says:

            Starting it this year.

          • Bspring says:

            I would be interested in any information. We are currently looking for something to implement at our school to build leaders and change our school environment. I don’t know anyone that has used this before.

          • Timothy Macdowall says:

            I’d love to see your research. Thanks.


          • Concerned Parent says:

            Can you please send me the information you have. I appear to be in the minority who has not drank the kool-aid. Our Principal is full-steam with this and, me, being on the PTA am extremely skeptical of this program and its origins.

          • Jackie says:

            I would love more info/perspective on LIM. 17th year of teaching, and talk of bringing this to our district….id like Real info.



          • Ann Lindell says:

            Having been through many many programs like this in 30 years of teaching (that seem to cycle every 2 years), this has my suspicions up. It seems similar to all the others. Would love to hear your reactions.

          • Mary says:

            I would also like to hear what you have seen, thanks!

          • Marilyn says:

            Hello, I am interested in learning about your building’s changes and other research that you have. my email address is
            thank you!

          • What is the actual cost a year to have this implemented. I am a teacher and it seems we do all the work, yet pay big bucks to have it in our school system. I can’t find the actual cost of it anywhere.

          • Laura Jecker says:

            I am a School board director in PA and this program is up for approval tonight. I would love to get any info you and any concerns you are willing to share.

          • Anonymous says:

            Can you please send me your findings? Thank you!

          • Shelley says:

            Please let me know the current culture in your s hool bases on the implementation of LIM. We want this out of our schools in SC.

        • Beth says:

          Here’s my first class concern, in Covey’s own words:
          Covey explains in this book that that he has discovered how to communicate Mormon truths to non-Mormons by simply changing his vocabulary. He writes, “I have found in speaking to various non-LDS groups in different cultures that we can teach and testify of many gospel principles if we are careful in selecting words which carry our meaning but come from their experience and frame of mind.” [Divine Center, p. 240.]

          • Run! This is a true cult in which money, teacher time, families and resources are being wasted. I have never felt so helpless and forced to use language in my classroom on a day to day basis Ias I do now. Our school is crazy and teachers are overwhelmed with bulllshit EXTRA crap you HAVE TO DO. Run! Don’t be a part of this wasteful program that costs THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to implement. As a Christian, I’m conflicted in teaching values that go against my own religion and the one’s of my students.

        • Kathi Ligon says:

          A couple of people have contacted me since I first posted about 3 weeks ago. Thank you both! I am very interested in talking with anyone who has been able to remove the Stephen Covey programs from their schools. I am not n southern Colorado, please call 623-670-6044

          • start watching at 55:56
   from board meetingJuly 2019 our school board was presented with the Leader In Me program. As soon as I saw it in the agenda I began researching the program and stumbled on this page. I was very very fortunate to speak to 3 people offered me so much information on the program and solidified my concerns.

            I presented the info at a board meeting but was overruled. The program passed with a 5-4 vote. We had a school board election and new board mmebers have spoken out about it as well. It was only a one year contract. I am happy to say it has been removed from the district after the year contract is up this June 30, 2020. 🙂

            Keep pushing and keep talking. You must fight for the children and bring it up at board meetings. Bye Bye

            Seesharpen your saw

        • Bob says:

          I would like to know any additional information that is available on this program. It is being proposed at the current middle school and I am not in favor of this program. However to be fair I want to know more about it before I make a decision.

          • Andrea Castellano says:

            Hi Bob, I think you’ll agree that this topic has generated a lot of interest over the past few years. Aside from the post itself, people have shared some good resources in the comments that you might find relevant. Best of luck!

        • Candice says:

          Hoping activity starts back up. I need help getting rid of the leader in program that my kids district just approved for 5 years! I wonder if a district is liable for all costs for licensing and materials used if they don’t extend the contract??

          • Andrea Castellano says:

            Hi Candice,

            We’re not certain of the particulars of the contracts for your district, but there are definitely ways to ask questions that get the conversation started and moving towards change, wherever you are. Best of luck!

          • Shelley says:

            What state are you in? I am in Sac.

        • Is anyone still out there to talk about this? Geez, I just realized your post was in 2017. What happened?? My kid’s school just implemented this program. I’m just learning about it, but I don’t have a good feeling. Anyone there?? It was difficult to find this space.. which tells me someone is hiding something. Please help??

      • Anonymous says:

        I am also anonymous to avoid backlash. We are attempting Lighthouse status as a school. The first year warm fuzzies were great. But now the program has turned into a mandate. Do not criticize this program because the person who developed it is LDS. Asserting your bias and bigotry doesn’t get us anywhere. Would you say the same thing if the originators were Jewish? Catholic? Baptist? Lutheran? Anything else? Ranking down on a dead man’s deam and life’s work is cowardice. My issue is the extra meetings, time away from getting required teacher work done, heading, planning, assessment, data entry and analysis, etc. It takes already taxed and burdened teachers to the saturation limit. 10-12 hour days of which I am only paid for 7. It’s a mandate that breeds discontent among teachers who are already exhausted from overcrowded classrooms full of kids who many times come from homes where there is no decent parenting. We were unified at first but we are splintering now.

        • Becky says:

          My school received Lighthouse Status at the end of last school year. I was on the Lighthouse Team, so I was required to spend hours and hours after school attending meetings and helping to gather evidence to create a power point presentation to apply for this status. During the very first meeting at the beginning of the school year, our principal said, “Anyone here who does not believe that we can achieve Lighthouse Status this year should get up and leave the room right now.” During the course of subsequent meetings, comments made about teachers and their less than perfect implementation of the program in their classrooms leaked out and caused defensive reactions among teachers. Instead of “seeking to understand” or “synergizing’, we were instructed to make sure that “what happens in Lighthouse stays in Lighthouse”. I found this to be cultish and frightening, sine the entire program is supposed to based on collaboration and empathy. The ongoing implementation of the program requires more time than any teacher has to give, so the school pays a parent a salary to run the program, even though our classrooms’ and specials’ (art, music, P.E.) budgets have been cut to an impossible minimum. I still see the students bullying each other and our suicide assessments have increased during the years we have been practicing The Leader in Me. As the art teacher, my wall space for displaying student artwork has been increasingly diminished to make room for more and more Leader in Me posters and displays throughout the school. I am going to retire from teaching in May of 2020 and I am looking forward to not having to be inundated with or promoting what I consider to be LIM propaganda.

          • Donnie Wilkerson says:


            Regrettably your experience is all too common and is being played out across the country by countless others but most are either too afraid to speak up or too brainwashed to know better. I am so sorry you had to endure this and even more sorry for those precious kids who’ve been deprived of instruction and subjected to this cultish propaganda. Your observation about suicide is telling indeed. There is fairly recent research pointing to causality here with LDS indoctrination. You might be interested to learn of the unusually high rate of adolescent suicide in Utah. I have spent countless hours and resources fighting this shameful program (TLIM) but FranklinCovey is simply too big and powerful for this poor country boy school teacher. It is going to take a national media investigation and spotlight if it is to ever be exposed for the sham that you, I and so many others know it to be. Thanks for speaking out!

          • Jake says:

            I couldn’t reply to Donnie’s comment. I was raised a devout Mormon, but no longer practice. All of my friends and family are Mormon though, so not trying to “bash” it, just pointing out my experience and the way it actually is.

            So I’m doing research on LIM as I have young children who will be in school in a few years and I’m debating homeschooling them as public schools just seem to be like Universities now in that they’re becoming indoctrination factories.

            Donnie made some excellent comments on the parallels between the LIM program and Mormonism. Just reading about the program reminds me of the indoctrination method using repetitive phrases that Mormons are taught to use from a very young age. I know this all too well! Utah is also the capital of pyramid schemes (Multi Level Marketing companies) and this program seems to have very similar attributes to MLM.

            I know the cult like feeling too, where you have to say the proper phrases, etc. Or you’re reminded by other Mormons on how to act or what to say, etc. Or you’re tattled on to church leadership if you do anything remotely “sinful” (ie drinking a cup of coffee)

            Also, group think is a big part of Mormonism and this program sounds like schools become groupthink cult like hubs.
            I just saw that a teacher was just fired in Indiana for speaking out against this program! She disagreed with it so they fired her! Only a cult excommunicates members who disagree.
            I just wanted to add my two cents and personal experience. This program sounds like it’s not in the best interest of our children. I’m surprised, yet not, that it’s even allowed in a public school.

          • Cecily Dees Barber says:

            I read your post with interest. I have been trying to research LIM, but most of Googles links are from the LIM website, very little in articles is out there. Your comment above is what I’ve been trying to tell in a youtube comment on the video of a teacher being fired for complaining about LIM. This video was posted Monday the 17th and has 99,000 views already. People are worried and seeking info. I can only give them a little, and I am not a teacher. Would you consider posting your recent comment on her video comments? Cecily Dees Barber

          • Anonymous says:

            Same here. I teach middle school science. My displays/posters have been taken over by LIM requirements. I spend more time prepping for this program then my actual required content class. We are trying for lighthouse status this year and putting on a dog and pony show. We are given daily lists of things that we need to display outside of our door and things we need to do in class. When we go to our committee meetings everyone is complaining. No one likes it. Our discipline has gotten worse since we started the program. Behavior problem students have been given responsibilities because that will make them better. You cannot make parent phone calls in our office because you have about 10 “office helpers” hanging out and listening to all you say. They have access to our fax machine, copiers, in our mailboxes. They are given freedom to roam around the school and take care of errands. Students that are well behaved get none of this and are not rewarded. Our reading and math remediation classes in the mornings have been converted to leader in me. They spend all of their time working on the notebooks, mission statements, WIGS, and don’t get to spend time on reading and math skills. The only thing the program has done is unite all of us teachers against the administration. Even though the teachers forced to head up the lighthouse teams hate it.

        • Kathy says:

          My school is also splintering but administration and a small cohort of teachers love the program. If you don’t you are seen as an outcast. We were once a cohesive school but now not so much. Any simple complaint falls on deaf ears. I’m not sure how we teach “synergy” when we don’t even heave it among the adults!

      • Matt says:

        Yeah, no thank you. My children will learn morals and values from my wife and I. I studied up a bit on this program and I did not like anything that I found, both the complements and the concerns of the program made it questionable to me. Any teaching where you say a certain phrase or phrases over and over is more brainwashing than teaching in my eyes. I want my children making their own decisions and have conversations with their own words, not just having a reflective predetermined response. Common Core is terrible as well. Teachers have it hard enough, get paid very little and yet the school boards push crap like Common Core down their throats. Schools are not parents of our children and certain life lessons need to be taught by parents. I’m sure there is good intentions with some of the Leader In Me program but no thank you. I’m raising children not drones. The leader In Me program reminds me of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” where kids are all walking in a never ending line. It may not be any of this. This is just my opinion on what I read.

      • … just got a gimps of this program from a Naughbor school after complaining about how my third grader has been handled at his school !
        Manhandled by the principal herself constant benching the playground with in adequate supervision and monitors with no sense of conflict resolution whatsoever! Other children relying on my son to protect them from bullies and then being punished for listening to and relaying problems 😡 I’m over it and this program we desperately need

      • Jason Leung-VanHassel says:

        My school district is looking into LIM. Are there any updated articles or research regarding the efficacy and price of this program post COVID and the massive rise in costs across the board? I’m trying to be an informed parent who can either support or oppose this program when the time comes.

        • Andrea Castellano says:

          Hi Jason,

          It’s surprisingly hard to find research on the program that is not promoted by the program itself. It might be worth considering the testimonies of those who have firsthand experience. You can find at least one Facebook group dedicated to the topic, and there is also this news article from 2016. You can also look through the many responses to this article, which span a number of years since Jenn’s initial post. I did find this research paper from 2021 that reports mixed results. Overall, I would say that regardless of the personal feelings of the individuals or groups engaged in the work of this program, it is objectively expensive and intensely time-consuming. Hope that helps.

    • Robert says:

      Our school just started this program. As a Christian father and a Pastor I am very concerned about this program. Values are to be taught at home by parents not at school ,and as they have told us in a newsletter about the program, retaught to the parents by the children. The indoctrination of the “win, win” goes against what we teach our children at home. “Win, Win’ means that you compromise. We teach our children that there are absolutes that are not compromised. I am going to have a meeting with our principal soon.

      • Virginia says:

        You are entitled to your opinion about Leader in Me, and I don’t completely disagree with it. The program isn’t perfect, and I still have some questions/concerns. However, as a proud teacher I must vehemently disagree with your idea that values are only taught at home. Quite frankly, I find it to be an insult to all educators. Each day when I walk into my classroom I am taking responsibility for not only teaching my students the necessary content, but also what it means to be a good person. I don’t impart my beliefs (religious or non) on any of my students; however, I do teach my students to be kind, respectful, empathetic, sincere in all they do, hardworking, and so on.

        • Jess says:

          Great points. As a parent and an educator, I can see both sides of this. As a parent, I do want to be the one to introduce values to my child, but it is unrealistic to not expect those values to be reinforced in other places, especially school. If the values are a little different, I would take that as a learning/teaching opportunity for my child. Maybe guide them to use their knowledge and power of choice to decide for themselves or teach them to seek guidance through prayer if you wish.

        • Dennis says:

          LOL, well, those that understand the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would realize the judgement of 7 Habits would more than likely from those who prejudge and don’t understand them. Habit 5, “First Seek to Understand, and Then Be Understood.”
          How many teenagers today have no idea about how to become a leader and organize their lives to bring about success. Look at our society and the reliance of most teenagers on drugs or other dependencies to exist in life instead of becoming a leader determining their goals and objectives providing direction for maximizing their success in life and benefiting society. If the parents do not understand how to bring the leader out in their children, the schools are the next best attempt. I support the Seven Habits of High Effective People since I have had much success in bringing out the leader in people as a Supervisor helping people create a game plan for their lives at work; in addition to the same being applied at home, such as understanding how to listen. Most people I find have no clue in organizing their life for success and are hungry for direction the 7Habits provide since both their parents and the education system failed to provide. Just imagine the leaders we could have in society if both the parents and the education system guided individuals using the 7 Habits. I sure wished my parents and the education system could have provided me with the opportunity to learn the 7 Habits through elementary and high school. I am sure my life would have been much different and much more successful. I am very glad I did come across the 7 Habits later in life since they have provided me much satisfaction from stepping up as a leader in society, at work, and home throughout the rest of my life.

          • Jennifer Howse says:

            Sacramento, California

          • Jennifer Howse says:

            The bottom line is a financial question. We are in our first year as a Leader in Me school. We are a Title 1 school and this is how our admin team decided to spend money. I spent approximately $500 this summer preparing my classroom with tables, flexible seating, etc. in order to create an environment where kids want to learn. I spent close to $1,000 in professional development to learn a structure that will address the needs of a diverse group of students. My decision to spend this money was based on research, specifically research about the brain.

            We just finished our first two days of school. I sent home the necessary forms along with my student supply list. As I was checking off the forms, I read the request for “free/reduced lunch” information. I wanted to cry. I was asking families to buy supplies totaling $15 when their gross income was about $2,200 per month.

        • K Waller says:

          I am a Christian parent and youth leader as well in my church. Unfortunately these values are NOT being taught in many homes and the misbehaviors that go with that are carrying over daily into the classroom. Believe me when I tell you that most teachers wish they could get through the day without having to deal with a moral or social issue that requires us to teach the students lessons they should have been taught. There are still some wonderful parents out there, however, more and more kids are not being taught and their actions are affecting others in the classroom and interrupting the learning process! The program does not teach win win in everything and it does teach them that compromise is part of life. As an adult I compromise daily and I want my child and my students to learn this skill. It doesn’t mean that they are taught to compromise on everything….Rules still apply!

          • colleen says:

            Compromise is not taught nor an acceptable strategy in this program. Compromise means you have to take away or lose out; therefore according to their teachings, only win-win is a solution. I have taken a 2 day course and have the manual.

        • Debra says:

          However you are imposing religious beliefs when you are following this program if you did your research you would know its tied to Stephen Covey and he is Mormon -check out his book the Divine Center and the & habits of highly effective people -you may find it insulting bc he says people are basically easy to manipulate by changing words to follow our beliefs-check it out

          • Ashley Brunjes says:

            Just because Covey is Mormon doesn’t mean that these principles have anything to do with his religious beliefs. They are timeless principles that all people should possess if they want to succeed in their personal and professional life.

          • Ashely, Covey himself specifically stated that his direct motive for writing “the seven habits of highly effective people” and the direct topic of our discussion “seven habits of highly effective teens” and “leader in me” was to teach mormon values by changing the wording to let it not raise any red flags. while many mormons are good people, and there are likely many mormon churches who do practice good values and strive to be good people, just different from us, there are just as many who are bad people, and mormon churches/communities that do those heinous acts that give them a bad name. while I am not saying that Covey is a bad person, what he is doing with this program is causing bad effects, and evidence points to the fact that this may have an ulterior motive. exhibit A&B: the money. figures higher up in this thread have spitballed 50k for a semi large school, and cutbacks for PE, art, science and field trips. as someone who experienced this firsthand, and met people who had been at the school longer than i had, this is absolutely true, they went from two-three field trips in a year to maybe one, got rid of an art class entirely for LIM art “experiences” (poured a bunch of paint on a piece of plywood, a lot of kids didnt really want to do it, and all the perfect kids got to pick their colors and pick where they wanted to put it, but those who werent like the book wanted us to be were scolded, and barely got to put any paint. we also didnt get to be in the picture, or in the videos, or be in a group for the few trips we did get to go on. i had good grades, tried really hard in school. when the district gave us a final, I worked really hard, and made a 24 page presentation, i worked hard on it, and i was really proud of it. i was told it was too long, and instead we watched a girl whos only work turned in was a 9 minute video about printers that she didnt even make. she got an a. for a video, she didnt even make, and i got a D, on a 100 point project, and two Fs on the 50 point peer grades, because i was considered a bad leader and was shunned by the rest of the school because of it. There were some figures about higher suicide rates higher up on the thread and i believe those too. i dont know how the school even afforded the program, because it got to the point where they were buying expired food and started selling parts of the playground to cover costs for lighthouse status. the treatment of those who dont conform to the book (bad leaders) is just straight up hellish, and apart from me, there were a few other children who had some kind of mental issue, but were high functioning enough to be in regular classes. their treatment was horrible. there was one guy who, whenever he messed up, would slam his head into the desk. nice enough kid, but he defintely needed some help, and all the teacher would do was make jokes about concussions at his expense, same teacher also tried to have me expelled because i farted. not even on purpose or rude, just because i had gas in her class after the god awful school lunch. i cold go on, but im getting to the point of tears. please ashley, think of the children, if not yours, for the ones who are already going to have it rough without indoctrination and gaslighting.

        • Christina says:

          Our local school is implementing LIM this year. We just found out about it and it was never brought to the communities attention. I’m against it for many reasons. If anyone reading this has been able to start or successfully remove this from their school please email me

        • Matt says:

          I’m sorry your insulted. I don’t believe I really care either way. Yes for sure a teacher can teach my kid to be nice and courteous as I do. But what I am referring to is teachers molding my child to their own personal morals and values. I even said teachers have it hard enough with little pay to be forced to go along with some of the stuff the board of education pushes on them. But I guess you didn’t read that part. Took on sentence out of my entire post and ran with it in a negative way lol. Not sure you should be a teacher lol. At least I teach my kids to study up on something before making a decision to totally bash it or them lol. Good luck in life with your paper thin skin. I thought we all were just having a discussion on this page with open minds and not passing judgement, like civilized people. Never said anything bad about teachers lol. But you are entitled to you opinion and your unique interpretation of the post lol.

      • Heather Brooks says:

        I agree 100% with Pastor Robert. My first experience with the program left me feeling undermined as a parent. I have lots of concerns, however do not want to sound like I’m ranting. I attended school when every teacher used different techniques and I feel like the differences are a strength to the students.

        • As an educator, it is important to have a common language in the school, just as in the business world. TLiM is not a lock-step approach, but a set of guiding principles and common language that allows teachers and students to work through the habits as best fits their individual needs.

        • Lana says:

          I wholeheartedly agree with you that it’s more beneficial to provide varied techniques as opposed to having everyone repeating the same words over and over.

        • Hassan says:

          I am Muslim. I have a master’s degree in education. I am also a school principal where I have students from 34 countries and more than 10 religions. I taught for 18 years in inner-city public, private, and charter schools. The best teachers I had in the urban/ghetto schools I attended were those who taught me pro-activity, start with the goal (end) in mind, put first things first, focus on winning and not making others lose, true listening is the key to learning and understanding, work together even with those who are different, and continuous improvement, hone your craft. Oh wait, that sounds like the 7 habits don’t they. The Leader in Me and the 7 Habits are just good practices for all humanity. They are not specifically Morman. They mirror the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa as well as teachings of Jesus (Isha in Arab/Swahili), Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mandela, Gandhi, Black Elk and more. I also have a doctorate in Comparative Religions. I work with an ecumenical group as well as with educators across the world.

          • Maria says:

            Thank you, Hassan, for your comments which are clearly borne of years of experience and expertise. In addition, the factor of diversity is the most pertinent. Our school, which is Title 1 campus & increasingly diverse, is implenting the 7 Habits this year. Teaching is my second career after 20 years in private industry working for a telecommunications company where I learned to work using the concepts in the 7 Habits. I will attend my first training in LIM this week and am half-way through the book. In my opinion these principles could positively impact the current culture within our school. I agree that the religiousity issue is benign for the reasons you sited. My only concern is the issue of cost. We shall see how that develops.

      • I agree with your statement that values should be taught at home; however, we are at a time in our society when, in many homes, values are not being taught at home, or the values being taught run contrary to the best interest of society.

      • Jessica says:

        “Win-win” is not a compromise, but a third alternative. A compromise would be a lose-lose since both parties do not get what they want. For example, you want to watch cartoons on TV and I want to play baseball. A true Win-win would be something new created that we both want to do- not a compromise of watching baseball on TV. I’m not completely sold with this TLIM program- but I have been trained through my school.

      • Norm Bossert says:

        I wish all parents would teach values at home – Christian or otherwise! After 43 years in education, I have learned that some (perhaps like Pastor Bob) do. Many do not. The values in this program work for so many of us – kids and adults. Win – Win also means that we listen and respect opinions different from our own. In the play 1776 I remember a line attributed to Samuel Hawthorne (I think) who said “I never heard anything so terrible it couldn’t be talked about.”

      • Ariel says:

        If you have ever taken an actual 7 Habits Course, you would know that the Habit- “Win, Win” is absolutely NOT compromise and Dr. Covey addresses that directly in his presentation of it. He clearly states that if you are compromising, that is not a win for both sides.

      • Jason says:

        As a 3rd generation Christian and who’s parents served their whole life as protestant missionaries, I have no problems with the Leader in me program.
        First and foremost, you’ve mentioned that you are concerned about the concept of “win-win”; as you may know if you have read the book (7-habits), “win-win” is not a ‘compromise’ but rather finding a way where both parties can ‘win’, this concept in made very clear in the book. E.g. finding ways to come to an agreement while “absolutes/values” are not compromised.

        Second, I agree that values (as well as faith) should be taught at home rather than fully relying on educational and religious institutions; however, I know that am not perfect and that children can learn from everyone; Secondly, even if our households are able to teach these values, we know that not every parent/family is able to do so.
        If I was only to care about my own child, we may not need this program but what is best for all the other children in the school? WWJD?

        Aside from my obvious approval of the program, I do have concerns about how costly this program is to implement in schools.

      • Terry says:

        You have completely misunderstood what “win/win” means. It not about compromise, but about thoroughly understanding another’s point of view and working with them to find another alternative to their way or yours. Covey even wrote another book to expand on this principle/habit/chapter from the 7 Habits book that he called “the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying, and the most exciting.” The book is titled “The 3rd Alternative”. And please remember that BELIEFS frequently are NOT the TRUTH.

      • Mary Ellen says:

        I find the premise to be invalid of some homes in our area.
        Values are NOT taught at home. That is the problem. 6 year olds are watching movies such as “Deadpool” and TV shows such as “The Walking Dead”. So when exactly are those children going to be taught morals and values? No, I am not making this up. I can’t.

        • Kelley says:

          Yes! Along with every horror movie and video games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto. I am a current principal and former kindergarten teacher and I had to explain what this was inappropriate on a regular basis. My school is a LIM school and I love the foundation of the philosophy, however I do not see the need to pay thousands of dollars for a banner to say we are a light house school and further market their product. We can achieve the same rewards if we simply continue to use he philosophy and strategies we have learned without paying thousands each year.

          • Debbie says:

            I am a parent and active member at a LIM school. We are a new school and our school was developed around the LIM program. It is a great school and our fundraisers are successful. Even so, the LIM has a price tag that depletes our PTA accounts. Most parents don’t realize how much it costs. Based on your experiences, does anyone have a suggestion on what are the must buy parts of LIM and what are nice to haves? I also don’t understand the Lighthouse Aspect of the program.

        • Cheryl says:

          The school that I work at is in the process of becoming a Lighthouse School. While the 7 Habits are great pieces of advice to introduce to young kids, I don’t think that the entire focus of the school should be centered around this. It seems to be the ONLY thing that matters. Meanwhile, kids are acting out every chance they get because we have put them in charge of themselves. Something is definitely wrong when you have teachers jumping OFF of the bandwagon as quickly as possible.

          • You described my school perfectly! We are expected to make LIM our main focus and the work load just keeps increasing each year. I just want to teach, and I can do that without the label of “Leader in Me.”

      • Win Win is the opposite of compromise. Win Win is about finding a new alternative. It also does not take away from respecting others for their values and beliefs. It is a way to live so where one does not overtake others all the time with their needs only.

        • Mary says:

          I work in a school district that has this Incorporated the seven habits. I personally have been working in the school system for 18 years and have worked in this district for the past 3 even though the salary is way lower than any other District I’ve worked in I must say I couldn’t figure out why I liked it so much until I realized it was because of the seven habits and how they run the school based on a person rather than their their need to learn education because that’s why they’re in school to begin with. So of course you are going to teach them it’s just in a different way a loving way and understanding way a way that teaches them to love the world and love each other and to go forward without fear and become a strong leader as a team player. I must say this is why I stay in this District because I cannot survive much longer financially without the pay so I don’t know what everybody is talking about having to pay for this. If that is true that all the parents are paying for this curriculum which is rare and new I wish they would at least acknowledge that the staff is not reaping any monetary benefits from this. The only benefit I get from this is the joy that I see a better future for our world when I can be a part of helping the human race become stronger and unified. So all of that being said before I venture out to find a new job in a district where they can pay me but I probably will will hate it because they teach in such a different way and force kids in ways that kids don’t want to go to school and so many differences I can’t begin to tell you but like the rest of you I need to survive so I must venture out to a new District. But I did my research and found out that the reason I love this District I’m in is because they are a lighthouse District it is Bellmore School District in Long Island and I think the only District in Long Island that is such a school district a very very good school district. And my hopes and dreams are that this contract year they will acknowledge teaching assistants with the proper salary saying that they are new in their District as a support staff. They must think win win LOL. On that note I do like the lighthouse school system and wish more would join.

          • Bernie says:

            My district has started LIM at one school- not the one where I teach. I have to say that if LIM focuses so much on teaching the 7 Habits rather than “ their need to learn education” – we need out.

      • Jennifer says:

        I am sure you do teach your kids values, but as a teacher/parent I can tell you that NOT ALL parents do!

        • Mary says:

          Of course not all parents do we are all different every single one of us not one of us not even a twin are the same. That’s where you have to accept people for who they are and work as a team player and know that things will always work out as long as you’re doing the right thing. It truly is a mindset of belief system well life will work out as long as you work it out the way you want.

      • DeeDee says:

        I have just completed the first training and read the book. Many of the principals taught I have learned by my parents and pastor. Although it does not mention a religion, I too got a cult like feeling, BUT it does have good basic logical ideas. I use these ideas in my classroom already…. for years; teamwork, listen, think then speak, plan ahead, have quiet time. I have told stories I call life lessons to encourage good choices. Now it is some program???? FYI The win-win was explained to be not a compromise, but like an agreement. We discussed you very topic and win-win was where both parties felt heard and represented. We shall see how this plays out. I was taught life was survival of the fittest.

        • Mary says:

          The 7 Habits to me is basically based a lot about the Buddhist if you will. Also based about going back in time where life was Grand because we just believed and trusted in ourselves. Overtime and centuries our belief system has changed for the worst. I believe this Lighthouse school system will help change our belief system because it is a mindset. And it will change it to the positive better stronger team playing leadership planet that we need. That is the problem we forgot where we are and what we are.

      • Josh says:

        Yes, LIM is an expensive program, but it is a great program. Some parents do teach values and ethics, but many do not. The job of the teacher is no longer to just teach academics. We need to teach the “whole child.” The LIM program has done so much to address culture and leadership within the school. LIM also address academic success and student engagement in their own learning. Any good program will cost money. It is very expensive to fly out trainers to the school and provide materials and on-line access for all the staff. Educators who say, “Oh, I can teach all this without having it tied to LIM.” Maybe you can, but can all of the staff? The point of LIM is to have all the staff, students and parents receiving consistent messages. The message that we can take control of our own learning and be kind and good people is not a bad message. I’m not sure how anyone could disagree with that message.

      • Bryan McDonald says:

        Win win is not about compromise, it is about finding a solution where both people can achieve their goals. Rarely are things black and white when decisions are made in real life.

      • Kerry Jarrell says:

        As a teacher at a first year leader in me school, I am really shocked there are basically no “leadership” roles for our special needs students. And rest assured you will not see one in one of their videos and to top it off to name of of your characters Tag a long Allie and give her a speech impediment is simply appalling!!!

        • Valorie Rudolph says:

          I am curious to hear more from your perspective and about special needs student’s involvement/exclusion!! I am NOT a fan of the Leader in Me program due to my own beliefs about religion being imposed on anyone being ridiculous. But, I am also a Mother of 2 special needs (autistic children) and a third who is ‘typically developing’. We moved from a school district that implemented this program and it made my heart sink that they did. We moved to a new, wonderful district, that appears to be beginning to implement some Leader in Me basics (words poppoing up on their homepage, a memo about training during the two weeks prior to school start being held at a local church, pertaining to Leader in Me, etc). I was so excited to have my children attending such an amazing school until I started seeing these things the past couple of weeks (new school year). I would sure appreciate any information or insight that you have on this topic. Thank you!

          ~A super concerned Mom~

          • Jamie says:

            Thank you for bringing up your concerns, I think your comment brought me here as I googled “autism and LIM.” My 8-year-old is autistic and attends a LIM school and I too am concerned with how does this fit for him? He was sent home with LIM backpack this week and I’m afraid the concepts and social interactions in the book are too abstract. If this LIM curriculum is going to be offered in public schools it seems there should be materials accessible to all kids. Teachers using this terminology with my kid is going to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher speech, “Womp, womp womp womp!”

          • Valorie, my school went really hard into LIM. they went as far as to get a lighthouse school, and me and the other special education kids went through hell. i remember when they got rid of an art class entirely for LIM art “experiences” (poured a bunch of paint on a piece of plywood, a lot of kids didnt really want to do it, and all the perfect kids got to pick their colors and pick where they wanted to put it, but those who werent like the book wanted us to be were scolded, and barely got to put any paint. we also didnt get to be in the picture, or in the videos, or be in a group for the few trips we did get to go on. they were so obsessed with being like the book, and like the district wanted us to be. people with downs or who looked “unhappy” were usually hidden from photos or videos. i couldnt even get my school picture taken with regular people or be taken as seriously when i reported bullying. i wanted to be a good kid, i had good grades, tried really hard in school. when the district gave us a final, I worked really hard, and made a 24 page presentation, i worked hard on it, and i was really proud of it. i was told it was too long, and instead we watched a girl whos only work turned in was a 9 minute video about printers that she didnt even make. she got an a. for a video, she didnt even make, and i got a D, on a 100 point project, and two Fs on the 50 point peer grades, because i was considered a bad leader and was shunned by the rest of the school because of it. There were some figures about higher suicide rates higher up on the thread and i believe those too. i dont know how the school even afforded the program, because it got to the point where they were buying expired food and started selling parts of the playground to cover costs for lighthouse status. the treatment of those who dont conform to the book (bad leaders) is just straight up hellish, and apart from me, there were a few other children who had some kind of mental issue, but were high functioning enough to be in regular classes. their treatment was horrible. there was one guy who, whenever he messed up, would slam his head into the desk. nice enough kid, but he defintely needed some help, and all the teacher would do was make jokes about concussions at his expense, same teacher also tried to have me expelled because i farted. not even on purpose or rude, just because i had gas in her class after the god awful school lunch. writing all of this earlier had me choked up. im full on crying now. in one year, i got 37 major referrals because I didn’t at like the book said i should. i qualified for a major reward becasue i beat the school record for most words read, but they didnt give me the reward because i was a “crazy” and a “troublemaker” and a “bad leader” I beat the runner up by 10x and 1.35 MILLION words. avoid LIM like a plague, because it is.

        • Mary says:

          Franklin Covey does not dictate the leadership roles. It is up to each school to come up with “leadership roles” that fit their school. Our school had several positions for special needs students.

          • Anoymous says:

            I will say that you will never really know how much if the LIM Curriculum is actually taught. They never send the Leader Binder home ever, not even at the end of the year. The only thing you will see is the overpriced agenda with LIM saying that the students write their homework assignments in. We are transferring back out to a traditional school. I also agree with another post where the teacher stated that the kids are in charge of themselves and run wild. Student who are well behaved prior to the program continue to be and those who had behavior issues continue to be as well. They ultimately end up bullying the well behaved students. With so much money invested and all the hype faculty become beholden to the program to admit failure and the children lose in the end. It’s a great marketing pitch that plays on parents desire to have successful children become successful adults, but that’s all it is, a marketing pitch.

      • Jess says:

        I realize this is an old comment, but I will add that a compromise is NOT win-win; a compromise is lose-lose; neither side gets what they want. The LIM book/lesson specifically states this, and encourages consensus- a way for everyone to get what they want.
        Example: only one orange left
        Compromise: we each get half
        Consensus: you take the peel for your recipe/I take the rest to make juice.

      • Debbie says:

        So if you don’t want values taught at school and their home life is not teaching themwhat is a school to do? I teach values in my class to help create a safe place for all students so they can then be educated . Values is close to the basic needs in life for a child to thrive.

      • Teacher in a leader in me school says:

        I know this is an old post, but I wanted to mention that we deliberately teach that with people working together to strategize a “Win-Win” outcome, we do not have to compromise. We teach that a compromise sometimes means someone is giving up something important to them. “win-Win” means work harder to come up with something you individually couldn’t come up with.

      • Ja Marchetti says:

        As a Christian I agree we are to teach values at home, but they are also taught and learned at school. Many Christians point to the lack of values kids have coming from the lack of prayer AT SCHOOL. And, while there are some absolutes in life, Jesus taught us a lot about win-win, too, like the virtues of patience, kindness, self-control, treating others the way we want to be treated, turning the other cheek and “walking the extra mile”. When we act with those virtues, not only do we win, but so do the people with whom we interact. Learning to compromise is not synonymous with learning to be subversive to authority. In fact, parenting coaches, including the famous Christian Dr. Dobson, teach us NOT to engage in power struggles, but to give our kids choices that equate to a win-win. I’m glad my son learned this concept in leader in me. We need a world of kids that don’t think the world should only revolve around them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually, if you read the 7 Habits Book, to think “Win-Win” is NOT about compromising, it is about thinking about a 3rd alternative so that everyone can be happy. Compromising means that all parties have to give up a little bit of something; therefore, no one is truly satisfied. We have adopted the Leader in Me at our school and while I do not think it is the perfect solution (there will never be the perfect one), I do love that this guides students, teachers, and staff to be respectful, responsible, leaders, take charge of oneself, and set goals (short and long term). Regardless, of Covey’s religious background, the Leader in Me has no mention of religion. The language used throughout the 7 Habits is language I want my students using anyway. I may not have used the specific terms that the 7 Habits uses, but the overall ideas are exactly what educators want to see in children. With the global competition, we need to teach children not only computational skills, but also how to get along with others, how to be leaders of something, and how to be organized and responsible. While it is fabulous you teach your child values at home, the sad truth is many families don’t or don’t know how. I certainly don’t appreciate a child having a tantrum and throwing a desk in class. Children come from many types of families and backgrounds. Educators have to take these children from where they are and teach them that there are better ways of diffusing a situation, how to appropriately deal with valid emotions, how to appropriately interact with peers and adults, etc. As I mentioned, the Leader in Me is not the perfect solution, but we have seen a positive impact at our school. Many children who normally wouldn’t have a voice, now do. They feel empowered and assured that they may not be able to control some things that happen but they can control how they react. As far as the money, our principal mentioned that it was pricey, but we applied for various grants, therefore haven’t paid for anything so far. We are in the 3rd year since implementing the Leader in Me.

      • Lorraine Joubert says:

        No win-win is not compromise. Lose lose is compromise. Win win is both has to win…

      • Patrick Bridge says:

        I saw the video of the recently fired teachers from Indiana posted. I have to say it was confusing because she was also seemingly exposing “red for Ed” and that whole portion of it as part of this “indoctrination” and like it was some big conspiracy. With all the misdirection in media, the video seemed suspicious to me, and I have been trying to find out more about it, but not much has come out yet, like news articles about it. I thought it might have been an anti-public school campaign led by DeVos. I am a parent of a kindergartner and 3rd grader and truly have no idea what is the truth about this. I will say that I am not religious, but I am not afraid of the common values that most religions teach. My kids happen to be doing well in school so far, but it is a little uncomfortable for to me to know that the program is fairly new and maybe untested. But, one of the comments from a longtime educator seemed to think these programs come out cyclically. It is tough for me to speak against it and I feel biased toward supporting “red for Ed” and a program that teaches these types of values. I can imagine how some high strung kids could not quite fit into these programs and could either get bored or turned off to it. Sometimes these types of youth become really excellent free thinkers. It is a pain in real life when it seems people don’t know how to cooperate to get to a common business goal in the workplace, but it takes all types in the world. It probably depends on the principal and other administrators as to how “culty” it gets but “indoctrination” seems maybe a bit overboard for teaching “golden rule” type values. Lastly, I will say that I can see how this movement took hold in a stronger way, now, to compliment “anti-bullying” efforts. It seems to be a natural way to encourage inclusiveness. I do get how it could feel “culty” and it has me thinking twice, but what is the alternative? Teach kids to stomp all over each other to get ahead in life. That seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen as well. Very interesting and has me thinking, now. Still feel public school teaches need support and competitive money to ensure their own mental health and success. It’s hard to handle children. My thoughts are that the current administration, does not have respect for the profession, and that is something I do not agree with or appreciate.

    • Norm Bossert says:

      It is an expensive program It is also funded in many different ways, some public, some private.

      • Sue Ogborn says:

        I am pretty sure it is a non-profit corporation is it not? Non-profits pay the high ups big salaries; people do all the work and funnel up money to the top. Its called a Pyramid scheme. They have these un-argueable topics, like Bullying and Leadership, volunteering to suck people in. How can someone be against it? Use mind control on people taking their workshops…oh another class, and another class. Look up Stephen Covey with “cult” behind it and you get another perspective. He also attended Landmark Education (Landmark Worldwide as it is now) That is the biggest cult facing people today. Their ways of mind control have put people into a psychosis. My experience with these folks have given me PTSD, and to bring them to our schools is scary to say the least.

        • Donnie Wilkerson says:

          The almost sole benefactor to the “round tripping” I Am a Leader Foundation, Andrew Cherng, is also a big fan of Landmark. Anyone who doubts the Covey cult connection would do well to research this scary group. These folks and their minions spurn free inquiry and as such pose a clear and present danger to liberty and freedom. It’s time for a national exposé of Landmark and Leader in Me! Round-tripping refers to the practice in charitable organizations where contributions (tax deductible!) come full circle to help just an intended select recipient. The IAALF receives about 4 million dollars a year from Panda Express (Cherng’s company). It then issues “grants” (around 100 per year at usually about 40 grand each) to gullible schools who must agree to pay Covey another $7,500 – $8,000 per year for five years from its own coffers. Additionally the school must agree to host annual events to help sell other investigator schools on the program (think pyramid marketing). Interestingly the schools never see the “grant money”, it’s paid directly to FranklinCovey! In effect they get a product that’s worth arguably nothing for the “‘bargain” price of $40,000 rather than its grossly inflated sticker price of some 80 grand . . .the kicker, Panda ostensibly gets a 4 million dollar write- off while Covey adds 4 million (plus the other 4 million from the schools) to its Education Practice Division revenue. Take a look at FranklinCovey stock prices (stock symbol FC on the NYSE) and you will find that, before the advent of TLIM, shares were trading at pennies each (0.72 in April 2003) with the outlook for the company bleak. When this exploitive program came along Covey stock peaked at near 23 dollars (22.50 in June 2014). The stock is most recently trading in the high teens amid less than lackluster performance by the company’s other divisions. Leader in Me has no place in our public schools!

    • Tracy says:

      Our principal informed us today that we will be participating next year. What are your thoughts on implementing it in a pre k classroom ?

      • Autistic Mom of Autistic Kids says:

        The program will be great for a Pre-K classroom. Please remember to keep leadership responsibilities developmentally appropriate for the children and provide appropriate opportunities for any intellectually challenged children in the classroom. As a mom of an Autistic Child in a Leader In Me School the only issue I have ever brought up is that there were not enough opportunities for our kids to be responsible for things. My son’s teacher cured this by making him responsible for the technology in the room. He is good with tech and that worked well. The program is great but sometimes I feel as though teachers underestimate our special needs kids.

      • I am at a school that has been working with the LIM philosophy for 4 years. Before LIM we would use words like “responsible, respectful, honest, work together” these area all words that parents and care givers use with children so that they will see the impact of their actions on the larger world. The LIM language does the exact same thing but in my mind makes it more specific and allows these ideas to transfer into middle, high school, and life.

    • Mike Sherry says:

      A colleague of mine and I just published a story about a Leader in Me controversy in Blue Springs, Missouri. You can see it here:

      • Debra says:

        Do you have a phone number I would be interested in getting in contact with you my number is 843-640-3448

    • Matt says:

      Great read. Every elementary school in the district I teach in is now a leader in me school. I’m not a fan, we are a district that can’t give raises to the staff. It spend money on this! The administration keeps saying grants they get but there’s no way, TLIM needs to make money off this, after all they are a business too. This is my schools second year doing this, our principal keeps adding more work from lim on top of the school things we need to teach. It’s only October and you should see how high strung all the teachers are. 3 teachers told our principal how we need tone down the LIM and all she said was ” get use to it, it’s not going away.

      Teachers are not happy . The district loves it, which makes me think they are getting kick back or something. I can attest, teaching was so much more fun 3 yrs ago before we started the LIM. Now it’s seems like a dog and pony show. No one will speak there mind because they don’t want to be looked down on from the administration!

      • I can understand how it can seem like more to do – however, it truly is implemented in everything you do. The three main components of LIM are: goal setting and tracking, building leaders through action, and teaching life skills using the habit language.
        Before LIM, I was already setting goals and tracking them with my students and I would be doing this without LIM because it has been proven to increase learning and drive motivation – now I just have a schoolwide structure to do it within. Before LIM, every student in my classroom had a classroom “job” because it increases the feeling of contribution (same reason we have chores at home) and gives each child a purpose. Before LIM, I used words like responsible, respectful, honesty, now I use be proactive, put first things first, and did you seek to understand your friend before you gave your opinion. Same principals just in a structured way that is reinforced from grade level to grade level in similar ways. We know that it can take years for students to grasp concepts and this allows them to have this exposure in a positive, nurturing and supportive environment.

      • Lisa says:

        Oh dear. Should read “their” mind. I hope that was just a mistake due to fast typing? I’m saddened that this is just one more thing added to your teaching. It should not be something extra and definitely not a dog and pony show if it is to benefit the students. Stressing teachers out will negatively impact students because students will feel the negativity if teachers are against the program.

        • Mindy says:

          I think when a school tries to implement too fast it creates frustrated teachers. This happened in my district. The cost is unbelievable, but most things in education tend to be that way.

      • Debra says:

        I think this program will not work in my district To many kids come from broken homes and parents who are not around when kids come home from school.They force these habits down my kids throat he is so sick of it I refuse to let Mormon teachings be part of my child’s life Also I think the teachers at my sons school are to scared to say they don’t like it bc they don’t want to lose their jobs

    • D.J. says:

      I have been to many LIM schools-schools that were high achievers before the LIM, remain high flyers. Otherwise, I have not seen turn around being attrubuted to LIM-exception being the school in NC.
      Much more I could write but suffice to say I don’t endorse

    • Smoke and mirrors at best…my five year old son knows the habits but there is no substance…Sure, LIM has increased trainings, PD, etc. but still not much to it.
      Very expensive
      You get much more bang for you buck from Responsive Classroom

    • Donna says:

      Here’s the thing. You don’t have to buy the program. You can read the books and incorporate the ideas into your own school culture as appropriate and meaningful to YOU and YOUR STUDENTS. As a staff we made a conscience choice to NOT become a ‘Leader in Me’ school, but to focus on promoting the qualities of leadership and learning into areas that WE deem valuable and effective for maximizing student growth. We don’t have pay anything for reading a book that is published and integrating the ideas into our school culture. We DO NOT call ourselves a ‘Leader in Me’ school., but teaching leadership and helping students connect and understand how those ‘habits” impact how we grow and achieve does make a positive difference. Franklin Covey doesn’t own the belief in fostering leadership any more than they own the alphabet used to write their books. What they own in a system of delivery. Schools are filled with smart, hard working individuals who are capable of reading books and figuring out how to best use ‘ideas’. We made the choice to focus on ideas, not systems, for the same reasons found in many of the posts here- costs and misalignment of purpose by the company. We are thoughtful, intelligent educators that can read a book, understand the material and implement accordingly. If you read the original “Leader in Me” book, that’s what happened. Teachers and administrators read Covey’s book and used the ideas to improve student growth. The company just did what companies do- saw an opportunity to make a product out of it and sell it. We need to keep doing what educators do- teach with thought and care.

    • carmen says:

      Hi, it tis so good to find people talking about this.
      this program is being implemented this year in my daughters elementary school and I don’t like it. first like you say this is not part of the school curriculum and the parents have to pay for it? I don’t think so.
      plus I don’t agree with the writer’s Mormon principles.

    • Kathi Ligon says:

      Oops! I AM in southern Colorado 😜

    • Speaking as a student leader in me feels like they are just acting like we are stupid and can’t live our own life my PTA has no more money for 5 years. I will be a junoir in high school before they can even move out of it.

    • JA says:

      How do you stop this if you have a principal who is convinced it is the best thing.. Our school cannot afford this program.

    • Carrie Gale says:

      I am special education teacher in a school that has The Leader In Me program. The fact that it is repetitive and used in all classrooms is a benifit for my students who need consistent and easy to understand social questions. The cartoon nature of the material helps them remember how to behave in different situations they otherwise don’t get.

    • Jeff says:

      My district is in its 5th year of implementaion of LiM. We adpoted LiM in response to a shooting at our high-school, hoping that a district-wide cultural re-boot would prevent a similar, future act of violence. Presently, the district is in the process of applying for (ahem… purchasing) the Lighthouse status add-on.

      At my school, LiM has become background noise for most of us. One principal speaks in LiM cliches endlessly; the other seems disconnected. The teachers are resisting the district’s forced conceptualization of daily LiM. District administration has tasked the classroom teachers with raising standardized test scores, yet LiM does not directly facilitate this goal. Mandatory morning meetings and mandatory individual goal-setting appointments, and oh yeah… those first 8 days, detract from core subject teaching time. Each campus has hired several in-house coaches devoted to implementing the LiM program. These coaches, all experienced teachers, could help each school raise test scores by reducing class sizes. Our implemetation of LiM and our district goals do not align.

      LiM has also exacerbated our school’s discipline struggles. As a LIM piggy-back, we have adopted and rely upon the restorative justice model to apply consequences for violations of school rules. The kids rarely receive consequences that are meaningful or to be feared. Kids will instigate a violent encounter with another child only to be returned back to the classroom to continue disruptive behavior. My elementary school has devolved into the Wild West because of a twisted interpretetation of Leader-in-Me.

      LiM is complicated. The “Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Prepared” PBIS model language was much easier to remember and incorporate into daily language than the 7 (sometimes 8) habits.

      My school, my district is struggling. Test scores are embarrassing compared to neighboring districts. Student discipline is a significant obstacle to achieving academic goals. The school board is airing its dirty laundry and is imploding in full view of the community. Staff morale is low. Leader-in-Me is not the answer to any of our struggles. Related side story: the local private schools are experiencing record enrollment.

      • Candice says:

        Jeff, Thank you for your input. I used your comment within my email to our board of education here in Missouri. I wish there were more current comments like yours. I opposed this ridiculous program. They didn’t even ask teachers, or parents, if this is something they would want. They just rubber stamp approved it. I am so mad about it.

  2. KTAU says:

    The school I work at is a Leader in Me Lighthouse school. The culture of our school changed dramatically after we started implementing tLIM 6 years ago! I can’t imagine teaching at a school that doesn’t use this character building program. At first, I could see how it might appear “cult like” because the language being used feels forced. Quite honestly, if you aren’t used to speaking a certain a way, and then you make a change, it would feel foreign to anybody. However, after our first year learning and implementing the 7 Habits, more authentic use of the habits began to happen and has evolved into what it is today.

    If you are a nay sayer, anti-this and anti-that, it will be Greek to you. There’s no use trying to understand it, because you never will. Your attitude will dictate that. However, if you are the type of person who seeks a positive approach to learning something new, you will be just fine! Yes, it takes time for the language to feel natural using it. However, you will reap such amazing benefits if you stick with it!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad to hear from someone who has had a genuinely positive experience with the program, and I appreciate the acknowledgment that the language can be a challenge at first. Have you seen a difference in student behavior and academic performance since implementing the program?

      • JBOOKS says:

        Disclaimer: No person/program/idea is perfect. These are just my very heartfelt pluses about The Leader In Me.

        I feel very similarly to KTAU; I don’t want to imagine what our school (3rd-5th grade) would be like today if we hadn’t been implementing and living the 7 Habits for the past 5 years.

        We have tracked and seen dramatic decreases in both office behavior referrals and attendance issues. Because we combine LIM with Kagan cooperative learning structures, our students are engaged and in charge of their learning. An engaged student wants to come to school. They make it a priority to be present and participate. Behavior referrals have dropped off because many classroom and playground conflicts, which can tend to escalate quickly and require principal attention, are now talked through using the language we share. I’d venture to say that 70% of the time, problems are worked out between students without any teacher intervention. There is severe decline in bullying behavior; our students just don’t stand for it. Rudeness, force, and backstabbing? The students won’t tolerate it. Bullies are shunned and then welcomed back when they can change their ways or are willing to work at being a more productive member of our school society. I think forgiveness is a trait that can be celebrated no matter what your background may be, as are many others that the program encourages.

        The language of the program, I’m sure, can seem cultish. I hated it at first. My husband hated when I used it at home. But now, the students at his middle school have all been through the program when they were in younger grades and he uses it as much as the teachers in my building. The level of language and vocabulary involved in the program is so much deeper than “Think Win-Win.” There are leadership tools, big rocks and little rocks, the time matric, shifting paradigms, W.I.G.s, data tracking, celebrations, and endless other phrases we use frequently when empowering our students to take charge of their lives. The power of a delta (something to work on improving), not a “minus” when talking with a student about their progress; the way an anxious child suddenly lets go of a bit of his burden when he learns about circles of control; when a student is suddenly turning in every homework assignment on time after weeks of bringing back nothing, all because she’s finally setting up action steps to reach her goal of earning a B in math…well, I could go on forever, but these are a few of the priceless ways I’ve seen the 7 Habits very vividly touch and change our student’s lives.

        • Jeni Howell says:

          Also, there are much deeper and less cartoonish/repetitive ways to go deeper into the ideas with the kids the older they get. My experience in the business world, before I was a teacher, tells me that the habits are pretty universal in the western world of independence…not a religious indoctrination. One of the best parts of TLiM, in my experience, is spending time with each child and their data to help them figure out where they need to build strength and then supporting them as they do that. It’s empowering to the kids and ignites a true turn around in some of our highest need kids.

        • Heres the thing though. I dealt with this firsthand, and maybe it works for you, but I went through hell on earth because of leader in me. cheated out of grades because they wanted to put responsiblitity on the students and made peer grades. excluded from school pictures because i would make the program look bad. the cut out art classes and sold parts of our playground/lunch yard whatever you wanna call it to cover costs. bought expired food to save money. when i got diagnosed with autism, they purposefully played videos that put us in a bad light and when i tried to report the relentless bullying they told me i just needed to synergize with them and that i was instigating. never a suspension or detention, ever. i wasnt even allowed in yearbook pictures other than my own. class lineup picture? nope. carried the rest of your class on the highest test scores in the school so you guys get your picture in the news? too damn bad, you’re bad for the school,i cant believe you would even think that you would be allowed to do that. tired of being treated like a second class citizen, and desperately hoping to be transferred to another class because at least a different form of habit flavored manipulation would be better? not a chance in hell, get back to the corner where you belong.

    • I agree with you. The LIM is not a “program” it is a philosophy of how to live life. As an adult you cannot properly model it, share it, teach it – until you live it. It is more about living the habits and then those habits will come through naturally for your students. If you think of it “as just one more thing to get in” it will not work for you or your students.

      • SLAW says:

        I am so glad someone said it, you must live the habits in order to teach to others. I work in a LIM school and we have made vast improvements and we are still working on improving. Read the book! Understand the program and grants for schools before judging. Grants are not given from Franklin Covey, that money comes from other sources. I think any philosophy or new way of thinking that includes language others are uncomfortable with gets labeled as a “cult”. My school has become a top growing school in a district of 35 schools, before LIM we were middle to low growth. The philosophy works, student own their learning and are proud to share their successes.

    • Anna says:

      Our principal informed us today that we will be participating next year. What are your thoughts on implementing it in a special education classroom ? Is special education welcome to this philosophy?

      • Donnie Wilkerson says:

        Avoid at all costs! These impressionable precious kids are especially vulnerable to this corporate/sectarian indoctrination.

        • Si Sireeni says:

          i have made a few posts about this before, but my school was considered a prime success story. it wasnt, and the treatment of the sped students was hellish. look at my other posts on here for more info.

  3. a says:

    I agree that children need to achieve positive goals including leadership, however, my concerns are with the methods, the almost mantra like phrases and the true cost. Also that the basis for this method lie in the writings of a Mormon who stated that if he changed the verbiage of his message, he could get non-believers to believe.
    There has been no independent research done about LIM, that I have been able to find. All roads lead to studies commissioned by Franklin Covey. I have voiced concerns to local school boards, the provincial education authority and members of the press. However, it’s like the elephant in the room. Either there’s no response or the responsibility for a decision on implementation is passed to another.
    Has anyone else had this reaction?

    • Would you please site your reference to “changes the verbiage of his message, he could get non-believers to believe.”? What particular “methods” are your cause for concern? Perhaps these methods are the way your school is choosing to implement the 7 Habits and not part of the program itself.

      • cb says:

        I believe this Stephen Covey quote is what a is referring to above – “I have found in speaking to various non-LDS groups in different cultures that we can teach and testify of many gospel principles if we are careful in selecting words which carry our meaning but come from their experience and frame of mind.” (The Divine Center, p. 240.)

    • Debra says:

      Yes I have contacted a couple of reporters but it seems that no one cares even the parents seem not to care that’s why I say this program will not work in my district

  4. Tracey says:

    We are in our 1st full year of implementation and were awarded Lighthouse Status last summer after just “trying it out” (i.e. investing in the program). I’ve seen some good changes already but am anxious to see the long-term effects. I feel it promotes nothing but positive life long learning, and that ‘s something our society is sorely lacking…

    • I agree that the program does promote some important values — feel free to come back and tell us how things go next year!

    • JBOOKS says:

      No offense, Tracey, but I’ve never heard of a school with less than 2.5-3 years of implementation receiving Lighthouse Status. It isn’t an off the cuff award, there is a 180 point rubric for meeting the criteria necessary to become a Lighthouse School. I can’t imagine your school did all of that in 1 year. I’m sorry to be a doubter…

    • Debra says:

      How much did you invest?

  5. Anonymous Poster says:

    I am a teacher at a public elementary school. My school has been implementing the LiM program for the last few years. When we were first introduced to the program, the videos and stories were so inspiring. Children were being empowered to step up, speak up, and LEAD! It seemed like an amazing opportunity to help our kids reach their full potential. Everyone voted yes, let’s become a Leader in Me school.

    Before I go any farther, please know that the 7 Habits themselves are wonderful. I have no problems with the habits themselves or teaching them to my students.

    One of the first promises that was repeated to teachers many times was that the program requires no extra work. “Just incorporate the language into what you already do!” That has proven to be incredibly false. On top of our regular duties, we now are responsible for MANY other duties relating to the LiM program.

    Every grade level is responsible for planning and working on a service project. This is presented as a way for the children to lead by serving others in their community. While I love service projects and believe we should by all means serve others, I do not feel that its right to take instructional time away from elementary students to complete a mandatory project each year. The LiM program provides many examples of students “leading” these projects, from brainstorming ideas, making posters, baking cupcakes or making jewelry, to manning the booths to sell items to benefit those in need. While this seems like an awesome thing, I have yet to see any of our students (K-4) have the ability to do this independently. It is the teachers who have to come up with the project, create (or recruit parents to create) whatever product we are donating, or ask parents for monetary donations. Typically the burden falls to the parents to either buy something, make something, or donate money. We also have to create displays for the hallway to chart our progress toward a goal (once again, the teacher’s responsibility).

    We also were required to begin using data notebooks. I think data notebooks have their good points, but it is very time consuming to have kids track behavior, attendance, and test scores, especially in the lower grades. (And this is about to become even more time consuming…)

    We have “school-wide leadership roles,” which the students love, but once again, teachers have to remind them constantly that it is so-and-so’s day to raise the flag/take out the recycle bins/hold the door/etc. because they don’t remember their schedule. These are in addition to classroom jobs.

    We have Leadership Day each year. Teachers are responsible for creating a song or skit relating to a habit, teaching it to the kids, helping the class create artwork to display in the hall, choosing a few kids to stand in the hall beside the artwork to tell visitors how it relates to the habit, and writing/helping them memorize a few lines about what they should be saying. This means more rehearsing – not just the song or skit, but having them rehearse their lines for the hallway.

    (We also have to choose kids to be in various spots around the school to talk to visitors about their data notebooks, our service project, and to serve snacks. This requires more rehearsing. Since the kids are scattered all over the school, instructional time is a goner for these 2-3 hours. And I don‘t care how good of a “leader” a kid is, you have to keep one eye on them while they‘re in the hallway because they will inevitably get rowdy.)

    Now our school is on the way to becoming a Lighthouse school. This means that in addition to everything we’ve had to implement, we now are adding student-led conferences this year. We have to track a lot more information in the data notebooks like classroom tests and school-wide assessment scores (which will take up even more instructional time), and practice with students regularly so they will be able to “lead” their conference when the time comes. I strongly feel that in the time it takes to do all that, I could be teaching my students what they need to know, and meet with their parents myself if there are any concerns.

    The cost is also absolutely ridiculous!!! To hang a banner up announcing we are a LiM school costs something like $1,200 a year! Everyone is required to attend a symposium and the cost of that was at least $300 for each person! We have had several training days with representatives from Franklin Covey and I have been told that these people are being paid about $2,000 per day that they come to work with us. This does not include the cost of the workbooks for students, books for teachers, murals and bathroom makeovers, signs and posters all announcing the 7 Habits.

    I attended a symposium a while back. Now, remember when I said how those initial videos were so neat? These kids standing up in front of a crowd and explaining how they “put first things first by doing their homework before they play” and “synergize by helping their sister with her homework”? Well, the students who spoke at the symposium, as well as the students at the elementary schools we toured, didn’t go off the script much. You could tell that behind all of the beautiful artwork and immaculate school campuses was a LOT of rehearsing. I remember one little girl coming confidently up to me, looking me in the eye, shaking my hand, and announcing, “Hi! My name is ______. Do you want me to tell you about my Habit??” She told me what it was, what it meant to her (the standard line I had already heard a thousand times), then skipped down the hall to grab another stranger’s hand and repeat the same spiel. She was like a 7 Habits robot. Sadly, that was repeated throughout the two days of the symposium. And I’ve seen it in my own classroom. Ask any of my students what it means to “Put First Things First” and they will all chirp in one breath, “Workfirstthenplay!” Well, guys, what does that mean? “IdomyhomeworkbeforeIplay!” Why should we “Sharpen the Saw?” “Balancefeelsbest!”

    I hope I do not come across like a sour, burned out teacher. I love my job. I love my students. I want, more than anything else, to be a good example for them, to help them to be ready for the next grade, and to give them an awesome school year. I believe they should be taught personal responsibility. They should learn to put first things first, to get along with others, to work well with their peers. I also have come to see the LiM as a big marketing scheme. Schools are paying WAY too much to implement this program. It is information good teachers are teaching their students anyway! The only difference is, this program makes schools LOOK great to people on the outside. It is all about paying Franklin Covey a ridiculous sum of money to put on a show.

    • Thank you so much for this detailed response!

      Everything you’re saying speaks directly to what I’ve seen at my kids’ school. I do think they attend a wonderful school, and I feel the administration and teachers are all very much interested in providing the best education possible, but I think the Leader in Me program has been a distraction. As a parent, I see a lot of instructional time being taken away for preparing for leadership days (exactly as you mention above), we have to go out and buy new clothes because they are expected to dress up on these days, and I know that LiM events take time away from the school day. And still, I don’t really see my kids putting first things first or seeking first to understand before they push to be understood…the habit they are best at is sharpening the saw! Overall, I don’t see the habits really sinking in, which should ultimately be the point.

      I appreciate you taking the time to offer your perspective here — the response has been slow to this post, and I have found very little elsewhere online that is critical of the program in any way, so I hope we are providing some kind of resource to help schools make an informed decision when thinking about moving forward with this program.

      • Perhaps the site council of the school needs to present these concerns to administration. Be specific. Be kind. But be honest. Look for a “Win-Win”. (Couldn’t resist throwing this in.) Once again, it appears the implementation has become problematic. The tail is wagging the dog.

      • Childhood used to be “playhood.” Now preschoolers need to be stuffed into yet another mind-numbingly bizarre role as Tony Robbins? They’re little. 3. 4. 5. There is a strong delusion upon the earth right now…

      • erin says:

        You’re spot on – all marketing hype at our school too.
        We’ve been had, but lord knows there’s been tons of scams and misspending over the decades when it comes to public education funds. This one is no different.

    • A Sharp says:

      “LOOKS great to people on the outside”… Yep, that’s what I see going on at the school my kids attend. They along with many of their classmates (the ones who still think for themselves) are quite exasperated with the indoctrination and how their teachers have become more like police than ones who would help our children learn. The worst is that every time the principal sends out any correspondence to parents, she makes sure she slips in every.single.catch phrase in the 7 habits. I can’t help but roll my eyes and frankly it makes me angry because I don’t see evidence of how this is helping any of the students. I am also disappointed because this same principal is so busy trying to get the school to the semblance of this standard that she is neglecting her own children in the process. That quest for greatness? It comes at a price. I guess one would have to choose what is worth the sacrifice. Overall, though in theory, the 7 Habits are good principles by which to live, this whole thing really, really creeps me out. Remember Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”? I thought they were too young to understand things like that but they have managed to figure it all out on their own, and I would venture to bet they are not the only ones. There comes a point in which there’s enough showtime, already, and maybe we, parents and teachers alike, should get back to the business of teaching children all of what they truly need to know to survive once they become adults.

      • Thank you for adding to the conversation. It’s good to know that my own doubts and questions are not completely off the mark. I’m really curious to hear from schools where they are seeing a marked difference in student behavior, attitude, or academic achievement as a result of this program.

    • Teach31 says:

      I’m a teacher in a school that is seeking light house status. You have just explained exactly what every teacher Iour school has been saying for two years! However our principal is so caught up in this he will not seek first to understand but is determined to reach his goal. His goal! The teachers I work with are the best group of women I know and we all take our job seriously. But, now we are being turned into robots for this insanely expensive pyramid scheme. By the way our standardized test scores have fallen to the lowest in the county. We have always been at the top. It is very sad that implementing this program has caused such a dramatic change. And the morale of the teachers is at an all time low. We love our kids but who has time to teach when we are always preparing for a dog and pony show!

      • Norm Bossert says:

        Your principal may not realize that the only way this (or any other school wide strategy) works is with percolation. Support must come from the staff, if imposed it (or any other school wide program) is doomed to failure. As an administrator, I believe in TLIM. However, it is not the only game in town. Schools should research such programs carefully and staff should determine whether or not to proceed. The it becomes the job of the principal to find the resources and support the staff in their efforts.

        • Conflicted says:

          Please tell me what other programs are out there…We have used Character counts and PBIS. We have shifted to teach TLIM. Most of the staff is either not getting it, not implementing it, or not “bought in.” I love the concepts and I am a light house team leader and I am trained to present to staff and parents. Our next step is to present to parents.
          I will say it does seem cult-ish and I am aware of how the program is working to make Covey money. I don’t like that aspect. I feel like we will bankrupt our program if we do not get away from it. I would like to have another program to present. My boss is totally bought in and I honestly think I might lose my position at the very least if I challenge her too much. If I had a logical replacement I would get a better result.

          • I am actually working on developing a character formation/social emotional learning program for leadership just now which would be a better alternative to TLiM, and would love to hear your feedback on how we can make our program a far better alternative.

            In addition to my experience as an education administrator I’ve got a background in psychology and we’re focusing our approach on evidence-based practices that can be adapted to local circumstances and not forced top-down.

            I’d love to hear from you:

          • An alternative you may want to look at is RedCritter Teacher ( It gives teachers the tools to give frequent positive recognition to students through digital achievements. It can be customized to fit each school or classroom’s unique culture.

    • I can appreciate your views and I see how you might see things this way. I just want to say – every day I hear teachers saying “kids are more than what is in this textbook” , “students are more than test scores”, “we never have time to do community building or character development”.

      This is our opportunity to do all of that. Building 21st century learners is more than academics – it is deeper thinking, problem solving, working with others, confidence, and having a voice. The things we do through LIM ( and it sounds like you guys are doing them all) are teaching our students these skills! It is more work – but we also have to remember that it should be student driven – so if as adults we are taking over to make what could be a small and effective service project into something larger and only do-able by adults – I think we are missing the true picture of why we are doing the service project.

      I will also say that we all know we start teaching students at a young age to be respectful of other people’s feelings – this is a life long skill that takes years and years to perfect and the majority of adults still don’t have it down and they have been working on it since Kindergarten.

      My point is that this is a process – you might not see the long term effects of this continued teaching of leadership right now – but just like with all of our “character ed programs”, academic requirements, etc the effects are often times not solidified for years.

      At my school we began really having to ask ourselves – “Is this about the kids”

    • Anonymous says:

      I am also a teacher whose school is LIM. I totally agree with everything you are saying! It produces a ton of extra work for teachers,and I have not seen the benefit of the program. I also do not like the fact that I am forced to practice the habits and come up with a personal WIG ( wildly important goal) and share my personal information with students during a weekly meeting. It takes away from instruction and I am not seeing the rewards.

  6. Anonymous Poster says:

    Thank you for the original post! I have been wanting to voice my opinion for some time now. Most of the teachers at my school feel the same way I do. I am very frustrated with the program. The added responsibilities keep piling up; I am overwhelmed one year and think maybe the next year will be better – and then over the summer we are told about a ton of new ideas we will be implementing for our “next step in the process.” When educators come to my classroom during Leadership Day and ooh and ahh over our school’s production, I want so badly to tell them, “Run! Don’t let this fool you! You don’t need it! You are doing a great job and don’t need to pay Franklin Covey an arm and a leg for, essentially, the opportunity to put on a dog and pony show.” I believe that it will eventually pass, as most trends in education do. I just hate that all this time and money are being wasted in the meantime.

  7. Nom de Plume says:

    Our school will be adopting LIM this year.

    Thank you for allowing this forum for teachers to speak freely regarding this.

    I fear that if I don’t shave my head, don the sackcloth, and begin chanting that it will affect my evaluation this upcoming year.

    The cost – we are tossing around the rumor of $40K – is outrageous. I thought, “Surely, that can’t be right…” Apparently it is, however.

    That is obscene. I am so disheartened that our Captain Queeg has decided to spend out limited funding in this manner. There are so many other things could directly affect students that would benefit from such an influx.

    And the emperor had no clothes…

    • Thanks for contributing, Nom. The fact that people feel they have to post anonymously is a sign that something is fishy. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

      • Blaine says:

        My school has had big issues with sharing leadership roles amongst teachers. Young inexperienced teachers were sent to observe a lighthouse school and make recommendations. They were dazzled but had little data to support its effectiveness. We spent a year implementing the habits but were looking for more resources. Before you know iit we are looking for “lighthouse status” using a grant from undisclosed sources! The infighting has begun over who is on the lighthouse committee -same damn people picked for everything. I can’t help but feel we have swallowed this whole due to the inexperience of staff members I wished the parents would ask for more explanations as well as the price list. It is not a very transparent program. The seven habits are important but I think it’s so much smoke and mirrors good teachers have taught a version of this in their classrooms and not charged extra to share their knowledge It reminds me of getting sucked into Amway!!!

    • Teach31 says:

      I can’t believe you just said that. Several of us have wondered when we will be called in for a shave!

  8. FALL GIRL says:

    I am very happy to have come across this website. Our school is a brand-new Leader in Me school. The program is being rolled out this year. While it does sound like a wonderful program, I do have some concerns. I am on the PTO board at my school and we are pretty worried about the cost of this program. We generally do well with our fundraising and we support many things at our school. My concern is that all of our fundraising will now be expected go towards this program. While I don’t think our principal will expect that at all, I do worry that parents will be expected to help fund the program on some level (either by outright donations or fundraisers earmarked specifically for Leader in Me). I worry that that will, in turn, affect our fundraisers and thus, affect the programs we have funded for our children for many years. Bottom line, I’m concerned parents will feel like they are writing checks to the school left and right, and in the end that will affect the PTO’s mission. It will be interesting to see how parents will respond to this program when it is officially rolled out.

  9. Matt Thornhill says:

    As the principal of a Leader in Me Lighthouse school, I feel compelled to comment on this topic. There are many comments listed throughout this blog that I do agree with. However, there are comments that draw concern as well. I have seen many initiatives come and go throughout my time in education, and this is one that I hope will continue to stick. I also understand that with any initiative there will be parts of it that may not. We have been implementing Leader in Me for 5 years now and have made several adjustments along the way. However, I strongly believe that the principles behind the Leader in Me are here to stay.
    I often refer to a poem I once shared with my teachers about buzzards and bees, each finding what they seek. The buzzard finds stinky dead things, while the bee finds sweetness. It depends on what you want to see. There are positives and negatives with any initiative and there are certainly more positives with the Leader in Me than the negatives in my opinion. I have seen our school embrace leadership in kids that never happened before. I have seen students take ownership of their learning that did not happen before. I have seen students come out of their shell to do great things. I have seen a deaf and hard of hearing student lead guests throughout our building with confidence through an interpreter. I have seen a student with a reading disability take on a leading role in a play. I have seen a student with a speech disability lead morning meeting. Perhaps we should have been able to promote this kind of culture prior to the Leader in Me, but it certainly has developed and grown since the initial implementation of it.
    I do agree that the cost is ridiculous, but there are a lot of things that can be implemented without spending a dime. However, on the other hand, there are some things that are priceless. Reaching students in a way when other initiatives failed is invaluable.

    • Thank you so much for this thoughtful reply. I really do want to hear from educators who are seeing positive results from this program, and I agree that the leadership opportunities in LiM are impressive…it’s one of the aspects I have appreciated about the program. Sometimes it does take a structured system to get schools to implement things that may have been possible without the program, but if the results are there, that’s what matters.

      I wonder if you can elaborate a little more on your experience as a principal. Can you pinpoint what it is about the Leader in Me program that has produced these results? I think most people who have commented here are generally in support of the 7 Habits themselves, but there’s a certain “Emperor’s New Clothes” feeling about the program and its associated costs…as if no one is quite sure how the funding actually benefits the school making the investment. My understanding is that a large portion of the cost goes toward training for staff. Can you give us some insight about how that training ultimately leads to the kinds of connections you’re describing?

      By the way, that buzzards and bees metaphor is wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. Matt Thornhill says:

    I apologize for the delay in responding to your questions…
    I believe both your questions correlate with each other – “Can you pinpoint what it is about the Leader in Me program that has produced these results?” and “Can you give us some insight about how that training ultimately leads to the kinds of connections you’re describing?” I don’t think we would have received the results we have without the training. I strongly believe that you first have to work on the “heart” before you change “behavior.” The LIM training opportunities work with the teachers on a personal level. During the training we hear a lot about private victories. It goes along with the concept you often hear teachers remind the kids: “Doing what is right even when no one is watching.” Kids see right through us and if we don’t believe in what we are trying to do, there is no reason in doing it. The training gives the teachers an opportunity to “live it” before taking the initiative into the classroom. We continue our training opportunities throughout the year with booster sessions during our faculty meetings led by our teachers (at no cost) who were part of the original training along with mentoring and observing throughout the year.
    With that being said, I will refer to my original post that I agree with the disheartening of the cost associated with it. However, every year I find myself a bit frustrated with the cost to educate kids in general. It seems every computer program, textbook, website license, etc. is getting out of control. In regards to the LIM, I feel blessed to be associated with our Chamber of Commerce and the community we live in who backed the initiative. They have supported us by paying for our training. They see a direct correlation between what the LIM is doing in the classroom and how it is going to impact the workforce at a later time. There is a slide I have shared with my staff and parents that includes what parents and business leaders want: Independence – goal setting, organization, time management, and planning (Habits 1-3); Interdependence – teamwork, conflict management, creativity, and analytical skill (Habit 4-6); Renewal – fun, desire to learn, good health (Habit 7).
    In regards to the “Emperor’s New Clothes” question, I would say that is all about perception and how you present it. I often say good teaching is good teaching no matter how you package it. As one of the earlier posters stated, a lot of what the LIM is about was already taking place and now finds a new life. It was good then and it is good now. Don’t let the cost of it interfere with implementing strategies that have been proven to help students be successful. I have collaborated with teacher friends from a neighboring district who have attended our Leadership Days and see how there are things that can be implemented without any cost. That is what we do. We read blogs, books, listen to speakers and find ways to implement strong, proven strategies into our own classroom making it our own.

  11. Emily says:

    Last year I worked at a LIM school that was in the final process of gaining Lighthouse status. Being new to the building, I was constantly pulled out of my classroom for training in LIM. I have no opposition to the 7 Habits and think they are wonderful lessons to teach all students. However, I do have a problem with schools spending $40,000 a year for this program, when teachers in my district have not had a raise in seven years. I would feel differently if there was independent research supporting LIM, but all evidence is published by Steven Covey and majority of it is anecdotal. I am in a new building this year in the same district with the same grade level and socioeconomic population of students, but the building I am in now uses PBIS (which is research based). The atmosphere between the two buildings is shocking; last year the students were rude, entitled, and had no respect for adults working in the building. This year the students are kind and courteous and I could not be happier where I am now. I should also note that I teach special education to students with emotional impairments and Autism and have found that LIM is a waste of time for my students because it is far too abstract for them. My students need clear and consistent positive and negative consequences and for $40,000, LIM offers neither.

    • Bonnie says:

      Schools do not pay $40,000 per year. A school that wants to reach Lighthouse Status will typically invest $40,000 – $60,000 over three to four years. Consider it staff development that focuses on 21st century skills, data driven decision making, professional learning communities, response to intervention, project based learning and social-emotional learning. These are all trends in education that a school could spend in isolated professional development. Whereas, TLIM provides a framework that puts it all together. By the way, not only are these trends in staff development but they are also the expectations in teacher evaluations now.

    • KD Young, former Art teacher says:

      Amen. Positively a waste. Negatively takes time from instruction.

  12. anonymous says:

    Thank you all for your insight regarding this program. As a parent, and school board member, I became interested in this program but wanted to do some research on it before asking the administrative team to consider it. The responses above have given me much more information, both positive and negative, to consider. Thanks for your time, and for your dedication to our children.

  13. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    My concerns and objections to the Leader in Me (TLIM) program and its purveyor, FranklinCovey, run deep and wide. My soon to be released expose will document over two years of exhaustive research both anecdotal and statistical which will clearly show why this program does not belong in the public schools of this country.
    Below is a brief summary of the key points contained in the upcoming release entitled Seven Problems with the Seven Habits: Why Leader in Me is NOT for ME!
    1. TLIM as implemented in the public schools clearly violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A long train of evidence documents not only the almost exclusive foundation in Latter Day Saints theology of Covey’s original seven habits but case after case of direct connections to LDS churches and/or church leaders in the origination and implementation of the program. In addition even more pervasive is an embrace of traditional right wing religiosity (non LDS). The evidence points repeatedly to direct connections to religious programs and leaders with the TLIM movement in PUBLIC schools.
    2. The Fourth Amendment is also summarily trampled in this process. Public school students and employees are required by this program to “internalize” Covey’s LDS based habits, to live, model and teach them not only at school but at home and indeed in everything they do!
    3. The program creates an almost cult-like atmosphere in schools that seriously embrace it (Many subscribing schools only superficially implement TLIM and many across the country have dropped it altogether.) Pick schools from every corner of the U.S., peruse their websites and watch their TLIM based videos and you will see students robotically chanting the seven habits and their related mantras. Hallways, bulletin boards and classrooms feature the same ubiquitous tree and silly animal characters from son Sean’s, Seven Habits of Happy Kids. Kindergarteners are taught to use words like proactive and synergize when they can rarely have any real understanding of what those words actually mean (and certainly not from where they originate).
    4. The cost of this program is exorbitant. Even if we could somehow get past the constitutional issues, schools and communities are paying millions of dollars to FranklinCovey for something they could do for little or no money. The cost of the program for the average school for a three year period is 75, 000 dollars or more. FranklinCovey engages in a giant “shell game” to make it seem that some schools get “grants” to help pay for the program. In all but a very few these grants come from the “I am a Leader Foundation”, a “non-profit” charitable foundation whose 501-C-3 status is tenuous at best. Though FranklinCovey maintains its separation from the foundation the distinction is wholly technical. The foundation is led by Stephen Covey’s longtime business partner and its key executives and board members are leaders in and/or large donors to the LDS church (as are a majority of FranklinCovey’s executive team and board) . . . see 1. above! Schools that receive “grants” still have to pay FranklinCovey another 35 grand or so in addition to the monies from the IAALF which go directly to FranklinCovey. Foundation funds are primarily derived from an approximate 4 million dollar annual donation from the Panda Express Company. In addition FranklinCovey stock before TLIM was selling for pennies a share and is now pushing twenty dollars per share with an expert predicted target of twenty-six dollars.
    5. Another very troubling aspect of this program is its reliance on a “pyramid” type marketing model. In order to attain the highest status, known interestingly as an oft faith based term, “lighthouse”, schools must agree to host at least one so-called leadership event each year. These leadership events often consume the entire day of instruction and require weeks of class time and practice so that come show time the kids are all singing and dancing the company line in an effort to woo prospective administrators, parents and teachers from other schools. These folks have paid about 50 bucks a pop to attend, which is FranklinCovey’s suggestion for how schools can help pay their annual Covey required licensing fees. If schools can just recruit enough new members they will not have to be out any money of their own. This, of course, is the tactic used by virtually all network marketers. The Salt Lake City area is home to the largest concentration of multi-level/ pyramid marketing companies in the world and most of them are LDS based. The head of the I Am a Leader Foundation has his own, Legacy Network, which is affiliated with none other than the much larger MLM, ironically named, Synergy Worldwide (LDS founded)!
    6. As of this date there exists NO peer reviewed quantitative research to support the efficacy of this program. The little extant anecdotal research is highly subjective and marginal at best. Due to my research FranklinCovey has now pulled from its website and literature any claims of academic improvement as a result of TLIM. The one attempt at bona fide research out of Western Kentucky University failed miserably as it was flawed from the outset with groups designed to yield favorable results for TLIM. Even with the skewed control group the research showed zero impact of the program even on its now stated main goal of character education! You will not find FranklinCovey saying much about this research however!
    7. Finally, though high sounding and seemingly innocuous, the seven habits themselves bear close scrutiny. It sounds good for the most part to be proactive, begin with the end in mind, think win-win, seek first to understand then be understood, synergize and sharpen the saw BUT are these the be all end all habits we ALL must adhere to? Being proactive and planning is good but often some of our best leaders are those who are able to react quickly when things do not go as planned. Courage and spontaneity are traits often left out here. In the real world there are often clear winners and clear losers and we do a disservice to kids when we lead them to believe otherwise. We would do well to teach them how to be good losers and good winners. It is also important to listen to others but we also need to learn the importance of speaking up and standing your ground. Teamwork (synergy), yes, good to learn but many of our greatest leaders, artists, scholars and craftsmen eschew teamwork preferring instead to work in solitude. Of course, knowing Covey’s origination of these habits makes it hard for me to embrace them even if I thought they were the paramount “paradigms” the proponents of this program would have you believe. Just for example, when Stephen Covey first coined the phrase “begin with the end in mind” he was offering instruction to Mormon missionaries to have a baptism date in mind for potential converts when they first approached them!

    These are but snippets of the volume of work I have amassed on this project. A more comprehensive document with detailed support will be forthcoming during late 2015. Anyone wishing further information please feel free to call or email . . . my phone number is 270-866-1244 and my email address is Thanks

    • Donnie, thank you for taking the time to share this detailed list of concerns. I think these are worthwhile considerations for anyone looking into the LIM program. I still feel the 7 Habits have merit; no, they are not everything and anything kids should be taught, but many of the same principles helped me succeed in school, work, and in my interpersonal relationships (not in this specific format, but the ideas in general). I see the Think win-win habit as an ideal to uphold when resolving conflicts, not in situations where competition is the primary focus.

      The pyramid stuff, though? That’s something I didn’t know about. I am aware of the leadership days, and I don’t love the time they take away from instruction, but I didn’t realize there was a connection between running those days, recruiting new schools, an offsetting other costs. As a parent at a Lighthouse school I deeply trust that my own administration has my kids’ best interests at heart, and because they were early adopters of this program, I doubt whether any of these factors (apart from the cost) ever crossed their minds as problematic. But now that the program has been around a while, I think it’s vital that schools think carefully before jumping in with both feet, and schools that are already somewhere inside that pyramid should move forward with caution, if at all.

      • Jo says:

        I have 2 children who attend a school who is a Leader In Me School. My son is in 5th grade and my daughter in 3rd. My son is very burnt out by the program mainly due to the fact that is was pushed on them all at once and they went from one day being a normal day to the next doing the leader in me stuff. He said he hates how everything in the school is leader this and leader that and the repetitive language. There is a hall leader, lunch leader, book leader etc. He gets annoyed. However there are good things that come out of it as well. Our school has lead groups that the kids attend they range from knitting hats for the needy to staying fit. Those programs are great and provide students with skills they normally wouldn’t get. The students lead everything in the school like assemblies which helps with public speaking and confidence. One thing I was not happy with was student lead conferences. I want to hear from the teacher on how my child is doing not from my child. We sit down to dinner at the table every night and talk I know how my children think they are doing and what they think they need help with, I want to know what the teachers think. Until reading this stuff about the cult like behavior I never looked at it that way but can see how some might. I do not think however that the leader in me program or the school will reverse the impact on the values I teach my children and that our Christian faith and attending church has given them. They know that the Bible is the most important book. I think all in all it is a good program. Like anything thee are good and bad parts, it’s our responsibility as parents to voice our concerns to the school and to teach our children the values they carry with them their entire life.

        • Jo, I forgot about the conferences! I don’t like them either. We basically get nothing out of them, and I feel like an important opportunity to get to know the teacher is completely lost.

        • Suzanne says:

          The program is absolutely not meant to be rolled out ‘overnight’. Matter of fact, Franklin Covey assists in a three year roll out. If this is the way it was done at your children’s school that is because the staff picked up the book, found some cute and free printables on Pinterest and ran with it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jennifer, I worked 3 years to get my family member out of Landmark Education in which Covey’s have ties with; they turned him away from their job, family and friends to sell for them, what they were presenting sounded wonderful, all the words “integrity” “empowerment” etc. I have to agree with Donnie about the Pyramid stuff; Its not always what is presented, what is bad, it is the more classes, the pressure put on the ones selling it, and the teachers, staff, and kids to do more, in this case for light house cost the school more in the long run right? they make more money off of the schools from it right? probably takes a lot of training $$. When the paper from “Challenge day” came home from school to my kitchen counter with the same wording as Landmark, I literally passed out I knew it was now in the schools, and its hard to fight because you look like a crazy person trying to fight some thing like Bullying or volunteering or Leadership classes.. and now the flood gates have opened we have had Challenge day, we day, Leader in me. Every time another one hits my desk its PTSD all over again. Everyone wants to empower our school now Leader in Me is a year long money making. Not sure why the Pastor above likes it. Very Worldly. They don’t let religion in schools but they let Scientology, and he likes it? Thank you for allowing this discussion

    • Becky says:

      I previously had my son in one of the best performing arts schools in the country….and while arts are his passion and we were so impressed after our school tour…my son HATED the school…the teachers and staff were all about test results and didn’t care about the students. Furthermore, my son was bullied…severely. In his last month there he was physically assaulted twice…and they did nothing about it. We actually moved and did a hardship waiver to get him into a Leader in me school….not because it was one of these schools, but because I could see that the kids at this school were different than the other dozen I toured….they were having fun and seemed happy? Strange concept for a parent who only saw miserable kids on every tour I took. Our son got into this school and is happier than he’s ever been. He actually likes school….ALOT! Some nights he’s so excited about going back he can’t fall asleep right away. The kids are all taught to get along…despite any differences…novel concept, eh? He also talks about the 7 habits so much that he begged me to buy the book for home. He’s in 1st grade and can read the whole book…because he loves it that much. He now talks about making goals for himself and treating everyone with respect. He thinks before he acts…he listens before he wants to be listened to….he strives to go above and beyond to help others. Today he luggeg a huge suitcase for his granny to show his “leadership” skills. For my son…this works…can’t understand how it would not be a positive thing for any kid. My so goes to a public school so I’m not paying anything more for this wonderful teaching philosphy…however…if I was asked…I’d most definitely pay for it or contribute my time to keep it going. Btw, Donnie Wilkerson…are you serious? There are “clear losers” …really? That comment alone discredits every single word you wrote. I hope people do their own research about this before believing anything you have to say…

      • John says:

        Amen! Thanks for your thoughtful reply. That has been my experience as well!

    • Stephanie says:

      Wow. I assume that you are a parent who has watched a child go through this program with your comments regarding a kindergartner not being able to understand. You’ve had a child go through the program? Or are you a teacher that has implemented the program and seen it impact kids? I think if you have real experience as a parent or as a teacher teaching this, that you have every reason to make your comments. If not, they are simply unwarranted. You are an outsider looking in. As a parent of 3 children, I have seen such a positive impact in our school and home life. I have seen my kids make better decisions and do better in school because of this program. This is speaking coming from a school that did NOT have a leader in me school to a leader in me school. These kids aren’t brainwashed, they are learning to become responsible citizens and think about their decisions and the big picture. It seems to me that you are just out to prove a point and I know that I’m not going to change your mind, but you also aren’t going to change mine. As a parent who has a LOT of concerns about what goes on in schools, this is not one of them.

    • Autistic Mom of Autistic Kids says:

      I really have to address this one issue. Mainly because if all your “research” is as faulty as this one principle then what you have to say has very little merit. Dr. Covey’s reference to lighthouses has nothing to do with religion. There is an old urban legend about a self- aggrandizing sea captain that thought his ship was on a collision course with another ship. He ordered the ship to move out of his way since the person he was speaking to was a lower rank than him. Turns out the “ship” was a lighthouse and no matter who he was or what ship he was on the lighthouse wasn’t going to move. Lighthouse principles don’t move. People move, things move, ideas move but lighthouse principles do not move. Paradigm shifts occur with every generation but lighthouse principles stand strong. Coming to understand this and realizing that our children are very capable of applying these principles to their lives is a huge paradigm shift for the educational community. I am glad they are making the effort.

  14. Donnie Wilkerson says:


    I am very happy for the positive experience your son has experienced with Leader in Me. As with any program that has had millions of dollars thrown its way some good will come.

    I work in and value public schools, love my job, my school and my 65 “grand kids” that I have the pleasure of learning with each and every day! Our classroom slogan, very simple, . . . Be Kind, Think Freely and Inquire Often . . . and I believe the order is important. Maybe my comments did not value the first one as much as it should as my realistic comment about “winners” and “losers” seemed to touch such a nerve with you. I challenge you to speak with one of any of the hundreds of students, parents or co-workers I’ve been fortunate enough to have in my life and you will be hard pressed to find one who would characterize me as one who would refer to someone as a “loser” as your impression of me seems to intimate. Certainly we are all winners in some context of life, love and happiness. My wife says that I look at everything through “rose colored glasses”. I do believe that NOW is the “good old days” and that on balance we do as a society and world get better each day. Further more I believe that our kids are better, too! I so tire of people who characterize “these kids today” in a disparaging way . . . we simply must value, love and respect them (especially as teachers) to bring out the very best in each. Apparently your son has experienced some of that value, love and respect at his current school and for that I am truly pleased. I will venture to guess, though, that it is more the people than the program responsible for that kindness! If my statement about “winners” and “losers” offended you in any way I am truly sorry.
    Now to the true meaning of my comments, “in the real world there are clear winners and clear losers”. Our kids daily engage in activities, ball games, and competitions of all types and, yes, usually there are clear victories and clear losses! Does that mean that Mitt Romney” as the “loser” in the last presidential race is somehow devalued or less a person or the Friday night football game “winner” is now entitled to brag and berate its opponent? . . . of course not! But I stand behind my comment that we should also be realistic with our kids! In the real world most will face, indeed in their very own scholastic world now, scores are kept. (Now, maybe they shouldn’t be, but that’s a whole other argument!) My point was that it is more important to put those wins and losses, those scores, in perspective and to make sure our kids know how to handle them. To understand why Mitt Romney graciously called President Elect Obama to congratulate him on his “win” while offering assistance and guidance in the future, to understand why still trying not to “lose” the game, the Friday night lights “winning” team also helped carried a terminally ill opponent over the goal line to score a touchdown! But, to have our kids mindlessly chant in a robotic cult-like mantra “Think win- win . . . you win, I win, we all can win” does indeed do them a disservice. Cooperation and compromise are certainly tools we need to model and teach but realism and kindness are at least equally as important.
    I model for and teach my kids to be KIND, to show compassion and TOLERANCE for all. I challenge you to dig deeper into this program and its purveyors . . . learn of the far-right connections to people, groups and programs that are not so KIND or TOLERANT. Go into any one of the scores of TLIM schools across the country who were once private “Christian” schools but are now “public” charter schools and ask gay, atheist, “loner” or transgendered students how well they are received by the principles espoused by Covey and many who now so proudly carry his banner? Ask the Buddhist student in “TLIM Public School X” how he feels about having the Bishop of the Latter Day Saints church across the street as her principal or the gay student at “TLIM Lighthouse Public School Y” how he feels about have a “manly man” FranklinCovey representative who is affiliated with anti-gay groups teach his teachers about “character development” or the “loner” (but smart, creative and compassionate) atheist GBLTQ student how s/he feels about having to “synergize” (“together is better”) with students of openly homophobic parents while sitting in the pews of a church, his now “public” “TLIM Charter School Z”. Schools X, Y and Z above are REAL TLIM schools! Similar schools, A-W and more are also exposed in my research!!
    Is there some good to come from this program or its espoused habits? Of course, but some good also came of Columbus arriving in the “new world” 523 years ago. But most of my students when presented with BOTH sides of his story choose to pay tribute tomorrow, October 12, to the hundreds of thousands of native people he and his men brutally exterminated rather than “Columbus Day”. My students read and analyze primary source documents, examine artifacts of the Taino, read works by Native authors, eat actual period food and drink from their culture and go on Saturday trips with me to places of historic note to better understand this REAL world in which they live. I believe in doing everything in my power to provide my students a rich and diverse exposure to those learning opportunities and in so doing I believe in your best characterization of the word they are indeed all “winners”!
    I look forward to a dialogue with you and would truly love to hear more of your thoughts . . . I may not always “seek first to understand” (ask me later, if you will, what Covey originally meant by that gem!) but I do indeed value your thoughts and appreciate the fact that you stand up for them!
    Have a great and kind day,

    Donnie Wilkerson

    • Morgan Walser says:


      Your simple statement of “Think win- win . . . you win, I win, we all can win” does indeed do them a disservice. Cooperation and compromise are certainly tools we need to model and teach but realism and kindness are at least equally as important.” Proves that you have not done your research thoroughly, you obviously completely miss the point of Win, win, it has nothing to do with compromise. You slant all your research and facts the way you want them to be seen. Saying how do you think student X and Y feel about the principle’s or leader’s beliefs? That is nonsense, unless you actually have a discussion with a person, odds are you don’t really know what they believe. Such as the fact that LDS are not Anti LGBTQ, they believe it is a sin and have a moral code against such acts, but they don’t hate and discriminate against those who are, or those who are of other faiths, if they follow their own religious rules that is.

      Anyways, you can certainly find connections between “Mormon” teachings and the seven habits, but you can also find connections between his teachings and the bible and many other areas. He isn’t secretly trying to indoctrinate anyone, just trying to improve society by teaching what he had learned in life.

      Also, why is it that you find fault with those who work for FranklinCovey and are actively LDS? I guarantee there are those of other faiths which work there and are also engaged in their religious communities. Since when is it a bad thing for a person to have faith in God and not hide it?

      • Suzanne says:

        You are completing misinterpreting the statement ‘win-win’. It does not refer to winning a prize or trophy. Win-win mentality refers to working together in order to complete a task, make a change, etc. For instance, two people are working on a project and each has an idea they believe is amazing. Instead of one person needing to give up their idea or both ‘compromising’ and losing some of their idea the two people can work together to come up with one even better idea.

  15. Anonymous Poster says:

    I would like to respond to Mr. Thornhill’s comments. First, I wholeheartedly agree that children should be taught the values embedded in the 7 Habits, as these are unarguably characteristics of successful people. Children will have a much higher chance of being successful in life if they have been taught to be proactive, to get along with others, etc. I also agree that these principles are here to stay, because all teachers who care about their students (and I feel safe to say that describes the majority of teachers) have been teaching their students these principles since the beginning of formal education.
    As to the poem about buzzards and bees… well… (unless I misread your intent) I was a bit hurt that I was being referred to as a buzzard! I sincerely love my job and my elementary-aged students, and I do my best to teach them and make their classroom a safe place for them to learn both the subjects they need to know and also things like self-discipline, self-control, and responsibility. Upon reflecting on the 7 Habits, I realized I was already teaching and modeling these qualities; I just wasn’t using the copyrighted Franklin Covey names.
    Having said that, I would like to remind you that the buzzards are as much God’s creatures as the bees, Yes, bees bring sweetness, pollinating the flowers and making honey, and yes, buzzards seek out the dead, rotten, stinky creatures upon which they feed, but without buzzards, what would happen to these nasty “bad” things? Buzzards have an important job! Likewise, if I am to be labeled a “buzzard,” please see it as it truly is. I am not being an educational “buzzard” – actively looking for things to call stupid, useless, wasteful, etc. There are many positive things about both my school and school system. Sadly, the LiM program is not one of them. It may be at your school, and that is wonderful. But it is not at my school. At my school, it is all a show. Teachers are already overwhelmed with the necessary tasks that come with the job – new Common Core standards, a new math series that has been difficult to adjust to, ACT and Aspire testing, and the day-to-day trials of difficult students and parents. All teachers know it is hard, some years more than others, to juggle all of these balls and keep them all in the air. Then we were offered a program and were told it would give astonishing results with little to no extra work… but once we accepted, we found ourselves drowning in a sea of extra responsibilities.
    I was on the original Lighthouse team. I went to the original training. I got all the books and manuals. I went to the specially rented facility for our training and I helped make posters and “WIGs” and helped decide on how the school would be decorated. And I was excited because I thought it would really help our school. I thought our kids would be like the kids on all the videos, who stand up in front of crowds of strangers and carefully articulate how they found the leaders in themselves. I thought that would be a great accomplishment if we could get our kids to that point.
    But our kids are not to that point. I am going to be very honest, and I hate that I have to post anonymously. Teachers have tried, but the extra work is too much and our kids are no better for it. The kids who were already leaders, are leaders, and the kids who were not leaders, are still not leaders, although maybe some are a bit more proactive than they were originally. Our upcoming Leadership Day is nothing but a “dog and pony show.” Do you know what visitors will see? They will see an awesome LiM school, striving to reach Lighthouse status. What they will not see is me, in my classroom, frantically going through my two kids’ leadership notebooks who will be presenting them to visitors, putting them in order, making certificates because they don’t have enough documented “victories,” pulling our class mission statement from their notebooks and having all of their classmates sign it, because it looks better presented that way. They won’t see me having to type up a speech for my student who will be explaining our service project to visitors that day, and giving it to him to memorize so he looks like a leader. They won’t see me typing up a speech for the student who will be talking about our 7 Habits artwork display, so he also looks like a leader and hits all the buzz words. And this is happening in EVERY CLASSROOM. They won’t see how much practice goes into it, all so it will look “natural.” And it kills me. But I love my job and I love my kids, so I do it, and I don’t say a word against it to anyone in administration, because I don’t want to make my job harder than what it already is. I still have to work with my principal after Leadership Day is over, and while I am not a “suck up,” I don’t want to be on his bad side, either, if I can help it.
    We were promised several times that it was “nothing extra” – just implement the language into what you already do. But that was not true. It was a lie and all of the extras are stealing time away that I could be teaching my kids what they need to know – what is in the state course of study and I am required by law to teach them. Tracking data, service projects, school-wide leadership jobs (that sounds nice in theory, doesn’t it?), and now, Leadership Day, are eating up a ridiculous amount of instructional time.
    The LiM program, from my experience, is not about creating leaders. The LiM program is about making money. If the heart of the Franklin Covey company was focused on helping create leaders, they would not have attached the price tags that they have attached onto these slogans, books, workbooks, training sessions, posters, and banners.
    Furthermore, I am sure you have heard the names Muriel Summers and A.B. Combs Elementary School. We were told the story of how the school was struggling, how Ms. Summers attended a seminar that inspired her to work with the Covey company to bring the 7 Habits to children, and how this program turned the poor, failing school around into the success story it is today. If you know what I am talking about, you may like to read this: Apparently A.B. Combs wasn’t struggling quite as much as Franklin Covey would like you to believe, and thus the LiM program wasn’t the magic bullet that erased all of their “problems.” The last time I checked, Blue Ribbon award winning schools aren’t typically known for behavior problems, low test scores, etc. And that is what I was led to believe was happening at A.B. Combs and what the LiM program helped resolve. My question is – why twist the truth?? I think you know the answer to that as well as I do.

    To respond to Donnie Wilkerson’s comments – I read on the LiM website that one of the requirements of becoming a Lighthouse school is to host a Leadership Day and invite other schools to show them what the program is all about. I thought it was just a one-time thing but was sorely disappointed to learn we have to do this every year! So yes, it definitely sounds like a pyramid scheme. I do not know if our visitors have to pay to come see us… but I went to a LiM symposium where I listened to guest speakers and toured two LiM schools on their Leadership Day, and my school paid my way. I believe my ticket for the two-day show was around $300. Our school’s Leadership Day is not part of a symposium though, so it is probably free to guests.

    Reserve me a copy of your book, Donnie! If I had the nerve I’d leave a copy on my principal’s desk as well. Maybe I’ll find the nerve to sneak it in. He definitely needs to read it, because he has bought this whole LiM thing hook, line, and sinker.

    • Thanks for your contribution. I also hate that you have to post anonymously, but I completely understand why it’s necessary. Your description of all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a perfect Leadership Day is disheartening, and sadly, I think it will ring true with many teachers at LiM schools. I remember touring a LiM school myself and being SO impressed by the poise of the children, by the nice-looking leadership notebooks, and the overall pride everyone seemed to show in their school. But that’s kind of the idea, isn’t it? To impress visitors. It worked on me and lots of the other people I toured with. But logically, it doesn’t make sense that those things could come together as a natural consequence of simply integrating the seven habits into regular instruction. And I think that’s the premise visitors are meant to buy.

      You sound like you care deeply about your students and you will work hard at whatever task your administrator sets before you. This is why your post is so important: You’re not just seeking things to complain about. You’re not just trying to shirk responsibilities. You’re not just being a naysayer for the sake of dragging everyone else down. You genuinely want what’s best for your kids and are putting hours into an initiative that may not really be helping them. I believe you speak for many teachers who will continue to quietly do what their administrators ask of them to preserve their relationship and support the school as a whole, even if they believe in their hearts that it’s stealing precious resources–both time AND money–from other endeavors that could make a bigger difference.

      So here’s my next question: If a school, an administration, has already gone pretty far down the LiM path and is starting to feel as if the payoff isn’t quite worth the investment, what’s the next step? My guess is that one important move would be to invite teachers to have an honest conversation about their concerns, assuring them that you really want to know what their experience has been and whether they are seeing true benefits in student learning, behavior, and self-efficacy as a result of this program. If their response is consistent with the experiences you describe here, what then? Is it possible to keep the baby but throw out the bathwater? Continue to teach the habits, set goals, track progress and provide leadership opportunities without the dog and pony show? Or does Lighthouse status come with a set of promises schools are contractually bound to keep?

    • A comment and a thought. . .
      Comment- I don’t know what grade you teach, but it appears you are doing a lot of the work that students might be able to do. You mention a lot of typing up of this and that, practicing, etc. Can the students step up and do some of this work themselves? They can rehearse their presentations at home.
      Thought. . .Can the good of TLiM be implemented without all the $$ going to FC and selecting only the parts of the program your site deems most necessary? I find that not all the bells and whistles of a program are necessary to gain the benefits.

      • Bonnie says:

        Well said, Len! If teachers are living the habits, then they don’t need to fake anything or frantically put things together. Those that struggle with making the process work in a real and rewarding manner have not gone past the first three habits themselves. They are stuck at a dependent level, waiting to be told how and when to do everything. They burn themselves out.

  16. Anonymous Poster says:

    In my school system, the elementary schools and middle school went through the 7 Habits training. After the first year, the teachers at the other schools were very vocal about the faults they found in the program and don’t do much, if anything at all, with it anymore. My school is different because as far as I can tell, my principal was the one who pushed the system to adopt it. He was even being paid at one point (not sure if he still does) to go to different school systems in our area and train their staff. He asked us to vote on accepting the original program but nobody got a say in whether or we tried to get Lighthouse status. I know as long as he is the principal we will keep on with the LiM but when he retires, I doubt we will do much with it anymore.
    Once a school reaches Lighthouse status, I’m not sure if they have to work to keep it… I am guessing Franklin Covey doesn’t come take it away though, if for no other reason than it would make the company look bad. And another poster here said something a while back about her school trying out the program and then being given Lighthouse status.

  17. Healthy Skeptic says:

    After five years of “Seven Habits” and “Leader in Me,” I am grateful to find a forum to honestly discuss these programs. I am a middle school teacher. Our feeder elementary school started the Covey program several years ago. At District-wide meetings, teachers were shown videos of the elementary children reciting and signing the 7 Habits. The District leadership praised this superficial display as evidence of a great program. About five years ago, the program came to my school. We learned the habits. We made posters. We used the terminology. Three years ago, we started the Leader program, with the training, the terminology, the Lighthouse Committee, and signs around the school. This year we moved up to something they call Core Academics, with the committee, the notebooks, the leader period every two weeks, and…no measurable improvement in our students’ behavior and continued decline in their academic skills and work ethic. We are wasting time, resources, and energy on a program that does not improve the things that are wrong with my school. It is very frustrating. The administrators have bought into the program. The District receives grants and say wonderful things about the program because they like grants and good PR. The administrators have never asked teachers for feedback, and those of us who are skeptical are looked on as not caring about the students. The administrators do not want to hear honest opinions. They do not want to do the hard work necessary to fix our problems. It is easier joining the “cult” and reciting the “gospel” of Covey.

    • Thanks for your contribution. It’s funny, this post sat mostly unnoticed for a good while when I first published it, but the comments seem to be coming in faster and faster lately. I’m grateful to those of you who have shared your experiences and although I welcome stories from teachers who have seen great benefit from this program in their students’ behavior or academic work, it seems my suspicions are being proven true here: that teachers in LiM schools are frustrated by the resources this program is consuming, but are afraid to speak up.

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:

      Healthy Skeptic,
      If you are so inclined I would love to hear more of your story. If interested please email me . . . or call me at 270-866-1244. The emperor’s new clothes are starting to ravel!

  18. Dawn says:

    I have read all of the posts with great interest. Apparently, I am late to the TLIM movement as I just learned about it this weekend! Prior to reading all these comments, I was thinking it all sounded really great. Now I am rethinking my original assessment. I have ordered The Leader in Me and 7 Habits books and plan on taking from them what I find useful, but I am not going to mention anything about TLIM program to my principal, which was my original intent.

  19. Covey 7 Habits in Higher Ed says:

    Beware! Covey’s 7 Habits is coming to YOUR community college and possibly to your local university. The Alamo Colleges in San Antonio (the local community college system) has adopted Covey’s 7 Habits as its Educational Philosophy. No kidding. It’s is now a Board policy, which means that it can be sole sourced (no bid contract) since it is board policy. How they got away with this is beyond me. It’s the biggest joke in the state. ALL employees are required to go through 3 days of training (imagine the cost in personnel hours – someone estimated this to be nearly $10 million). The Alamo Colleges has spent more than $4 million dollars on Covey’s 7 Habits training. The intention was to make Covey’s 7 Habit part of the core curriculum. The faculty fought it because the program was never vetted by faculty, and now administrators are trying to figure out what to do with all the books they bought. There are over 60,000 students at the Alamo Colleges. It’s scary. The whole thing started with the Chancellor making a casual observation of a kid who took part in Leader in Me program. The kid shook his hand confidently when introduced. The Chancellor claims that this incident is what sold him. Cute story but a horrible reason to spend 4 million on a program that has no theoretical basis and no research to support its efficacy (higher education, not habits). The Board of Directors even approved the management system based on Covey’s 7 Habits – 4DX. It’s forcing faculty and staff to come up with metrics for 7 habits improvements and display progress on large boards – like elementary kids. They parade these poster boards with cute graphs and pictures to the Board of Directors to show how much they (staff/faculty) have moved their markers. No one takes it seriously. The whole thing is a joke. It would be funny if it didn’t cost millions – millions of tax dollars and student tuition money wasted on a self-help book. Guess who supported Covey’s 7 Habits at the onset – the Greater Chamber of Commerce (of San Antonio). Beware – it’s coming to the higher education institution in your area. Pearson has partnered with 7 Habits to promote their self-help version of the 7 habits aimed at college students. It’s an aggressive sell to Board members. They seem to work through the Chambers of Commerce first then move into Boards. It’s consistent with the privatization movement across the country.

  20. Susan says:

    Hello, I am a teacher at a Middle School which has been a Leader in Me school for four years and is almost at Lighthouse Status. Our principal is the most zealous advocate for the Leader in Me program that you can imagine. The LIM program does indeed tout that this puts no additional work on teachers. This could not be FURTHER from the truth. Another teacher has posted a detailed list of all the additional things that teachers must do and I do all these duties plus more associated with LIM. The focus at my school is completely off academic achievement (until students fail or parents complain) then the principal temporarily shifts her focus to question the teacher about why students are failing. Teaching the habits during instructional time, constantly decorating the school, classrooms, and habits with 7 Habits themes, attending LIM PD rather than instructional PD, setting up and maintaining student leadership roles (yes, we had some of those before LIM ), assisting each student make and maintain a data notebook (or also called a Leadership notebook), creating and implementing a service project, creating and maintaining a “club” for students to attend monthly for a half day (at the expense of the teacher monetarily and at the expense of instructional time),teaching students and assisting them to do student led conferences, setting up assemblies to celebrate LIM and constant decoration for such LIM activities (at teachers’ expense monetarily) the list can go on and on. At LIM schools, all focus on academic achievement is shifted to LIM initiatives. Other than the data notebook and student led conferences, there is no focus on academic achievement. Yet, as a teacher I still feel my primary job is academic instruction. Are there some benefits? Yes, there are some. Some students really begin to understand their “data” and do better. Students LOVE all the activities that get them out of class (service projects, clubs, LIM assemblies, class time that is spent “learning” the 7 habits). Some students also actually benefit from learning the 7 habits. However, as a teacher of 20 years, most of us teachers incorporated character building into our curriculum long before LIM. I will close for now, but I honestly feel that the extra work this puts on teachers is so very unfair and something should be done.

    • Susan, thank you for your detailed contribution. Unfortunately, so much of what you say is consistent with others’ comments here. The time away from academics is a serious concern–maybe even more so than the money spent on the program, because there are already so many other things competing for that instructional time. This is even more true in Title I schools that have disproportionate numbers of students who read below grade level. Again, thank you for sharing your story.

  21. Unhappy Mom says:

    My daughter is a special needs 6th grader. Over the summer we moved to a new state and ended up in a LiM school. At the two prior schools my daughter attended, students were encouraged to let staff know if another student was breaking the rules, bullying, being rude, etc. At the LiM school my daughter gets reprimanded for telling a student if their shoe is untied. The teachers and students say “mind your own” and both have called her a “Tattle-tail”. My daughter is only to focus on herself 100% of the time unless a student is harming themself or someone else. The staff expects my autistic child to magically retrain her brain, not help others and not report other students being rude/bullying/disruptive in class. I have another meeting tomorrow with staff about this. The last meeting was horrible. I called the meeting, but when I walked in the principle took over and started spewing LiM crap and gave me a LiM pamphlet. I am not a fan, at all of LiM because these students are being taught to live in a bubble, not assist, not be proactive and not help things run smoothly. Tomorrow will prove to be interesting.

    • Hi, thanks for taking the time to write. It sounds like you’re in a tough situation. Some of the things you’re describing don’t sound like they are in line with the LiM philosophy. As far as I know, LiM doesn’t discourage kids from reporting on problematic behavior, and it certainly encourages kids to work together (that’s the whole “synergize” habit), so there may be some crossed wires at your new school. It may just be that they happen to be a LiM school, but that the culture was already leaning toward this “bubble” mentality? I’m not sure. As you can see from all the comments here, there are some issues with LiM that are fairly consistent across the board; this is the first time I have heard about students not being allowed to report problem behavior. I’m curious about whether there’s a connection.

      It must be very difficult to transition to a new school with a child who has special needs, since no one knows her very well yet. I hope tomorrow’s meeting is productive.

  22. Natayle says:


    While I am not commenting in relation to my experience with LiM, I am commenting to see if you know anything comparing the principles and student results from LiM and Bobby Deporters 7 Keys of Success. I am coming from a school that used the 7 keys of Success from Quantum Learning (at low cost) and I absolutely love teaching them, however I want to add a little more in my character-building program so I am looking at LiM. Do you know much comparing the two?

  23. Peter Kotski says:

    Our school quickly went from a Leader in Me school to a Lighthouse school. We are not allowed to discuss that decision. Some people have been punished for doing so. The small Lighthouse committee, made up of a few staff members, has complete control in our school and have created an elite community in our school. The only children allowed to have leadership status are those that have recommendations from their parents.Since the backgrounds of our families are all over the map and most are unable to provide written recommendations this policy excludes 95% of our population. Thousands of dollars are being spent on signage, training, books, t-shirts, curriculum, etc… I am very embarrassed for our school.

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:


      The concerns you relate echo those of many others across the country. Sadly, the recrimination and retribution you alluded to is all too common. The proponents of TLIM are quick to point out the overwhelmingly positive support found for this program on the web. I believe that many are simply afraid to speak out against TLIM and Covey. Fortunately that is beginning to change. My research indicting this program grows daily but it is vital that more teachers and parents come forward with their horror stories . . . we still do live in the United States of America with the constitutionally guaranteed right to speak out. I teach in an elementary school that did not choose to participate in TLIM but had the program foisted on us as part of a regional “Race to the Top” grant received by the Green River Regional Education Cooperative. Fortunately I work in a district that, though its leaders may not necessarily agree, allows me to speak out as long as I do so on my own time and at my own expense without invoking the school or district. You and all teachers should be extended the same privilege! If this program is as great as those who still see the “emperor’s new clothes” purport it to be, they should not be afraid to hear criticism?

      I recently took one of only three personal days ever taken in my 12 year tenure as a teacher to peacefully protest at the “Leader in Me Symposium” held in Owensboro, Kentucky. I handed out hundreds of informational flyers outlining the many problems with this program (FranklinCovey was not happy!). I would love to see others do the same in their areas. Another initiative that can help will be for those of us who see this program for what it truly is, a sham, to contact schools that are near TLIM schools especially as their “Leadership Days” approach and let them know the “rest of the story”! I am happy to apprise any who wish to contact me of upcoming “Leadership Day” and “Symposium” dates. (These dates are readily accessible on the TLIM website but upon notice of this comment it would not be unlike the Covey folks to take them down . . . I have a printed copy!) If you would like to share more about your experience I encourage you to contact me. I implore others who may read this to do the same. I assure all of my willingness, upon request, to keep confidential your name or any information supplied. My email is and my phone number after school hours is 270-866-1244.

      Thanks for your time . . . please have a great and kind day!

      Donnie Wilkerson

  24. why teach critical reading if you can't do it yourself says:

    We were told in not so many words we had to “buy in” or else we would be fired. I heard another school used the same approach. Why aren’t more teachers talking about this? Why is it so hard to find differing viewpoints on google concerning this program? I mean it’s google, I can find differing viewpoints on my hygiene products, but almost nothing on this, Well everyone’s job is on the line. Period, “100% buy in” is a term they use. You don’t have to believe, just keep your mouth shut and do it and don’t get caught voicing any negative views of the program.

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:

      Well said! My research finds many more folks disgruntled with TLIM than a cursory Google search might turn up. Some simply fear for their jobs but I think another big factor in this reluctance to speak out lies in the clever marketing and exploitation of kids that Covey so masterfully performs. No one wants to appear critical of those cutesy 7 habits song and dance routines and other staged events so typical of their Lighthouse status required “leadership days”. Talk to the kids . . . they will tell you (if allowed to speak freely) that they do not like this robotic regimentation and “Covey compliance”! I love and care for my students and will do anything in my power for them including fighting this wasteful, cult-like corporate grab of precious minds! Join me in the fight . . . email me your story. I’m happy to keep confidential anything at your request and will independently research your school and its TLIM implementation saga to add to an already voluminous data base of Covey chicanery condemming this shameful program! 270-866-1244

      • The Kentucky Teacher says:

        Dearest Donni-

        First and foremost- I love you! You are my new Favorite!
        I too teach in a leader in me school…eh, um, well…sort of. We were one, I think? Wait– No we aren’t– we were last year- (we did have a banner)- but we aren’t now…even though we still (gag) have to teach the habits, and our leader is still trying to come up with ways to still make this happen (why? I do not know).

        Our district never backed the program enough to fund it (or help fund it) especially in a school with a population where 100% of the students are on free (yes FREE- as opposed to reduced) breakfast AND lunch, and are at 92% minority.

        Sadly, I too bought into TLiM as well.
        In the beginning I was amped about it! I thought “YESSS!!!! This is great, I love it! Student leadership in a tough school, that is what we need!!” However, once investing in the cookie-cutter pyramid long enough it becomes an eye-opening shocker that it’s not so hot after-all, and now realize why our district was hesitant to agree with shelling out money initially, annually, for life, and beyond.

        The year that our school was the MOST invested in this program…and truly was leader in me(ing) everyone to death- our school dropped- to the bottom of the state- in test scores-

        Our school stated teaching the habits (10 years ago) when we first decided student leadership was something that needed to be focused on. Our convocation series was a hit, Pat Williams even came to our school that year.
        Since then, FranklinCovey simply (and smartly) capitalized on the naivety of school and tells them- “Your school can too, just come and see one of these schools in action.”

        Perhaps the real reason the little boy who left the performing arts school for a leader in me school LOVES it is because it involves A LOT of student led performing– acting, dancing, singing, learning lines for tours, etc, etc, etc, blah blah,–

        It does require SO MUCH teacher time- SO MUCH teacher money- SO MUCH wasted instruction–

        I recognize your area code and am guessing you’re in the western part of the state where the symposium was cancelled because of the blizzard last February-Did you know the $$ people paid to attend was not returned, instead- they still held it for one day in Bowling Green and then gave everyone a pass to attend something in August for 2 days in Georgia, I think I still have the email. Nonetheless, LiM doesn’t even staff the symposiums with their own staff, teachers across the state volunteer and in return get to attend for “free” where they are mostly stuck on buses all day, or running the check in desk. No lodging or meals are provided. It’s basically free labor.
        Oh, I could go on for days about the lies I bought into– However, I won’t. I sound like a scorned woman, but I’m just sad that I thought this language was authentic. It isn’t.

        While I admire Covey’s work, and do think his intentions were good, I think this million/billion dollar money making scheme just takes from an industry that cannot afford to lose a penny- If it was really about “creating leaders for life” it would be free or at a low ONE TIME cost-

        We can’t even access the LIM website anymore without paying additional dues- but…who am I?
        Just another lowly teacher 🙂

        Hmmm….Charter Schools may be in our future in KY- maybe we should start our own school….
        just dreaming the dream.

        • Teach31 says:

          Ms. Kentucky,
          The school I teach in had the lowest scores in our county. The teachers feel like it is a side effect of all the focus being on obtaining lighthouse status and having kids pulled from class so much. I wish there was something I could do. I’m close to retirement so I am the only vocal teacher in my school. It is obvious that my principal has become disenchanted with me the last couple of years.
          I feel like it is my responsibility to rid our school of this program. I also agree that since implementing lim our students have become rude and behavior has been an issue daily. Our principal doesn’t want to deal with behavior so that too falls back on the teachers.
          As I said I’m close to retirement but I still Love my students as much as ever and I want the best for them. LIM isn’t best for them. Teaching them respect, responsibility, and how to deal with disappointment if it happens is best for them! Oh, and subject

          • Teach31 says:

            I forgot to mention that we are the only LIM school in our county and before this program we were the top scorers ALWAYS EVERY YEAR IN EVERY SUBJECT.

        • Debbie says:

          I’m a dyslexic mother with dyslexic children. One severely dyslexic…Mean while “Jonnie can’t read” and my school chooses to spend money in this I stead of sending special Ed, reading specialist , teachers or para pro to a MI Dyslexia Institute to help the “SLD” otherwise known as Dyslexia or the unidentified “SLD dyslexic kids stuck in RTI with an EVADENCE BASED READING INTERVENTION SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO TEACH CHILDREN TO READ. It’s up to ME to Pay a private Orton Gillingham tutor to teach my son to read….Yet here we are with wasted time and money spent in this LIM. Leadership day was yesterday and it was a ” practice” run so parents attended this day . It made me sick to hear CHILDREN speaking about the importance of ” putting first things first” and doing homework before playing with my dollies after being in school ALL day long

    • LeaderInMeConcerns says:

      My kids’ school started this program a few years ago until a group of us parents worked to stop it. We did it largely without the support of the teachers, though, because they were scared to talk to us. My child’s teacher said she was worried about being seen talking to me when I was known to be a parent fighting the program. My own child’s teacher didn’t want to be seen talking to me??!! Red flag. She did, however, tip me off to go talk to another teacher. It was like some clandestine scene in a spy move. The teacher she told me to talk to said that he had voted against the program, had been told that was not ok – all the teachers had to buy in – and now he was on probation (for unrelated performance problems). He also told me that when they voted, the choices were “I want to do LIM, I will do LIM if everyone else wants to do it, and I don’t want to do LIM”. Most of the votes were in the middle, his vote was the only no. The principal told the parents who were fighting this program that the teachers were 100% on board with the program. Which gave the impression that they all wanted to do it, which was not the case. What they wanted was to not go against the principal who was the one who brought the program to our school and was crazy in love with it. They feared they would lose their jobs. I admit that this principal was a big part of our problem. We actually got rid of the program by getting rid of her, because she had many, many failures as a principal. To me, though, it felt like LIM saw her as a mark – a weak principal that would allow them to get a foothold in our district. Our school was the first, but other schools in our district picked this up after ours did, on the recommendation of our principal.

      As to why we don’t see more negative information about LIM on the web? I admit I feel like a conspiracy theorist saying this, but since I read it back in the days when I was desperately searching for information about LIM, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Read this article about how Mormons use the web to control their own image. And then try the searches they mention at the beginning of the article, and see what shows up in the top 3-4 results.

  25. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    Teach Kentucky and Teach31,
    Great to hear some words in support! Though few speak out, many share our misgivings with the Covey program . . . they are often simply afraid of recrimination. I am building a nationwide network of folks who like you and me love and care deeply for our kids (as I believe most of the folks in support of TLIM do!) but do not believe this is the way to best show that love and care. Free thought is being trampled and lots of scarce education dollars wasted! I do not relish being a naysayer and anyone who knows me understands that, but this program and all it entails begs for scrutiny and exposure. If you would feel comfortable sharing more about your particular schools and experiences I would love to hear those thoughts. I am happy to keep your identities confidential or even if you simply want to disclose the names of your schools . . . I will research from there. You may email me at or call 270-866-1244. We are out of school today for a special election and there is every likelihood that we will be out tomorrow for inclement weather so would be a great time to call. I’m also willing to drive anywhere within a reasonable distance to gather data . . . my files grow daily but I want to have everything fact checked and in order before going public with my research. I am in Jamestown, Kentucky by the way. Thanks again for your love and concern for kids.
    Have a great and kind day!
    Donnie Wilkerson
    (Sorry for any typos or grammar faux pas . . . found an “is” where there should have been an “are” in one of my earlier posts!)

    Donnie Wilkerson

  26. Personally, I do not like the underlying message of TLIM. While some may have more of a dependent mindset, I prefer to teach the values of independence, free thought, open questioning and good-old rugged individualism to my kids. I find TLIM’s message contrary. I know that the 7 habits have adopted “interdependence” to attempt to counter this concern but that is still teaching kids dependence. This is not superior to independence, it is the same as dependence.

    While the 7 habits sound good as sound bytes and have cute little pictures associated with them… they promote concepts that are contrary to the value system that we encourage for our family. For my kids, I drafted an alternative version of the 7 habits that we use to counter some of the nonsense and educate our kids on values that promote liberty… I included them in a blog article last November which is linked below for those that might be interested.

    Overall, I think that the current message at our school is a unsettling combination of group dependence, emotional decision making and “save the world” goal setting. It seems that many of these concepts are atleast partially influenced by TLIM program.

    Finally, even if you love the program surely you can see that it is unhealthy to promote these 7 habits in every aspect of our kid’s education. At least at our school the message is in everything from morning announcements, to lessons, to group sessions, to emails to parents, event themes, banners, posters… everywhere. As pointed out above, the habits are not an end-all solution, they are not universal wisdom… ***the kid’s deserve much more***.

    I hope to see TLIM discussed more openly in the near future. Unfortunately, at this time our school is not interested in feedback on the program.


    Our school continues to progress towards this horrid, drink the kool-aid or take a bullet, program. Teachers who have been vocal against have started to get reprimanded for anything admin can think of. They say we have not gotten the program but everything points to the contrary including a newspaper article that quotes the principal as saying we are bringing it in. Parents are not paying any attention and the few that came to a parents meeting were for it because it does indeed sound just peachy. Leaderinmeconcerns, that was a good link, thank you. If anyone else has anything I can use to push against this please post a link. Thanks

  28. Cybergogue says:

    I’m in a middle school fed by 2 elementary schools. One of the elementary school principals has ensured that it is faithfully applied; the other is less so. The students who come from the more rigorous “Leader in Me” School can’t stand it and see it as a chore. The middle school has implemented it loosely; we use some ideas and have students reflect on their weeks, but the ideas (circle of control, first things first, etc.) are offered as a language to express themselves and not as a requirement.
    My personal concerns were both raised by you, Jennifer:
    1) Its origins aren’t outwardly religious, but are certainly informed/influenced by Covey’s beliefs. And it smacks of assimilation and blindness to multiculturalism.
    2) The students see through it.
    We’re trying hard to use some of the program’s strengths without immersing our school’s culture in its waters, but there’s already a strong backlash from our students despite their young age. They’re sick of it.

  29. 7 reasons. This program concerns me deeply, and my Kindergartner has only been in the school for 3 months. #1 Why is any school trying to create 500 leaders? #2 The Lighthouse term is misleading, it is a term used by the Blue Ribbon commission and if they thought this was a remotely respectable program they probably would have sued by now. #3 My son has gone from being highly successful, well-liked, and happy… to constant punishment with a backpack full of notes home daily about bad behavior since moving to this school. #4 The language is impossible to comprehend at any age let alone by grade school aged children. #5 You are actually creating followers, and many many memorized rules to get rewarded. #6 Please trust the teachers to love the kids enough to teach them to be polite, forward thinking, independent & respectful throughout the day and let them get on with academics and art. #7 It is a gimmick A very expensive one.

  30. Savannah says:

    Can you please site your evidence? I completely agree. I’m actually doing a research project on this!

    • Hey Savannah,

      I have found almost nothing online that criticizes the program. I’m sure at some point there will be studies on the efficacy of TLIM that are not sponsored by Franklin Covey. Until then, the best we can do is gather personal accounts from people who are experiencing the program themselves. I’m finding that the comments that have been generated by this post certainly offer anecdotal evidence that the program is problematic for some folks. Good luck on your paper, and let us know if you come across any empirical research!

  31. The seven habits require personal change, personal growth and reflection. This is difficult and challenging because we need to be willing to work on ourself. The habits require self-discipline and time to integrate into one self. Many of us are not prepared to do this. We would rather work hard opposed to working on ourselves. In the case of teachers, it is easier to focus on academics – there is a strong cultural bias towards this tendency. Moreover, teaching character is complex, some schools are good at telling their students what character is, but very few are good at enabling their students to develop character. It is unrealistic to think that the LIM programme will work for all pupils, teachers and schools. Most importantly, for this to work the teacher must believe in it, and be open to it, and willing to apply the seven habits to their personal and professional lives. Only, if I am willing to apply these principles to myself can i stand a chance of teaching them to others. We can’t externalise the LIM onto teachers and expect change – you can’t force buy in. We are all unique and a one size fits all never works effectively. The seven habits will lead to life changing circumstances for some and no change for others. In the same way, the LIM will be a success in some schools and for some pupils, and be failure in other schools and has little affect for some pulls. This is normal. Nothings works all the time. It all depends on the teacher, on the pupil and the family culture. Personally, I believe programmes such as the LIM should be the beginning of how we redefine education for the teacher and the child. I believe, the teaching profession in society can be elevated to new heights if we can empower teachers with the skills to change children lives for the better opposed to mostly feeding children with information to pass tests.
    School needs to be a place that has high relevancy to life, for the teacher and child. It needs to become a place where teachers have the skills to teach children how to live a happy and successful life – this is not possible with too much focus on academics and test scores, Character has a critical role to play and programmes such as the LIM correctly developed can make a positive contribution. It may not be the answer, but it could be part of the solution. One more thing about the LIM, it would be so much better is FranklinCovey’s emphasis was less on enriching their pockets and more on enriching children’s lives. Corporate pricing strategies have no place in the educational market place.

    • Addie says:

      Very well said Clinton. I am at a TLiM school striving for Lighthouse Status. I have applied the 7 Habits in a way that is life changing, therefore it affects my students much differently than the teacher who is slugging through it. If anyone is seeing cult-like behaviors, you are doing it wrong. If anything, my students are learning to question systems and the actions of others. I am trying to pull them out of their reactive lizard-brain thinking and get them to see bigger pictures. As far as the corporate entity, I agree, its a bit much and kind of disheartening.

  32. SynergizingwithaDictatorialPedagogy says:

    All these comments scream, where is the research (peer reviewed) data to show LiM effectiveness? Even LiM’s own website cites a Research Literature review from the University at Rochester that questions its effectiveness. Why would a school spend SOO much time, money, resources, and professional development on something that is NOT evidence based>? Practices like PBiS or a plethora of other (character development) practices are available? The scary part is that some actually think LiM is a behavior intervention and not a character education program. Only in education would a business spend that amount of money on an unproven practice with a clear motivation for creating Covey worshiping. If it was so good, wouldn’t someone other than Covey’s SON be running the show? Wouldnt there be some sort of peer reviewed study? odd indeed. If you do everything the training asks of you and it isnt working—- it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right– it means it isn’t working. Synergize? First things first? how about begin with the end in mind? All platitudes— no substance. Try “reinforcement” “antecedent” and “skillbuilding”.

  33. RW says:

    We are a Lighthouse School and I quite frankly LOVE The Leader in Me programming. It gave a great framework and set up a system across the school for teaching strong decision making, conflict resolution, and encourage independent self excellence. I do feel the investment paid off for our school. At the same time, while TLIM is a framework, our school did not stop there. It is simply one tool in the arsenal. If the expectation is to bring in TLIM and see dramatic overhaul overnight, it isn’t going to happen. A school has to look at the concerns they want to fix, and build a comprehensive approach. For our school, TLIM was a great jumping off point. From there, the learning and advancement of skills has certainly continued beyond the program. I agree it is not a great program for older kids from the instructional standpoint. But our school doesn’t really use the materials at that age range, so it isn’t an issue. We are fortunate to be in a position where the program has advanced enough that virtually every kid in the school has been exposed to the concepts since Kindergarten. Thus the system now is, the foundation is laid in K and First, then they start to deviate away to broader concepts & approaches to self-responsibility, decision making, and conflict resolution skills. TLIM language is still heard, but it is certainly not the end all for meeting this area of education of the school. And rarely is anything from TLIM the first approach that you hear teachers using when they are supporting problem solving and skill building needs in fourth and fifth grade. The kids have simply advanced beyond it, and the teachers and staff kept introducing further components, not allowing TLIM to limit or hold back the opportunities to grow. TLIM simply provides the jumpstart to learning, and provided the “buy in” so to speak to get all staff on board. Seeing what I have seen in our school, I would pay the price all over again to get the same results. At the same time, we are a school that is very financially sound. There are not dollars being diverted from Peter to pay Paul by any means. Leader In Me has actually been paid for entirely through PTA fundraising dollars without having to sacrifice too much on other wishes for the school. (This year, TLIM was paid for, and there was still enough fundraising dollars left over to fulfill the technology wishlist of the teachers.) We are also a school with a tremendous amount of parental involvement and support due to the community area. I fully recognize that these circumstances do most likely put a bias to our experiences. If I had to choose in the budget between paying for TLIM and having Assistant Teachers available to support the classroom, TLIM would be gone. We luckily have the blessing to not have to make that choice! (From a standpoint of changes in the school, the school did keep data. I don’t have the exact numbers, but we have seen a significant drop in discipline referrals, completion of homework and assignments in a timely manner has improved, and from what we hear from the Middle School, the kids coming from our elementary are much better prepared for the new independence and self-regulation required in that environment. And as all the elementaries feeding the middle school are of similar financial standing and community background, the only thing we have concretely found to account for it is TLIM. Anecdotal evidence of course carries bias, but in all the things I love about our school, TLIM just stands out as being a big part of it!)

    • RW, thank you so much for this detailed and thoughtful contribution. It is nice to hear from a school that has had a positive experience with TLIM, and I appreciate the concessions you make regarding having enough budget to cover the expense, which I think is one of the primary issues people have with the program. Thanks again.

  34. Looks like I am a little late to this party, but I must say I work at a school that had TLIM going strong, we couldn’t afford to pay for the program anymore, and now our school culture is CRUMBLING. Now, to say I blame it all on taking TLIM out of our school culture would be false – there are other issues – but the students lack some of the basic tenants of TLIM that they used to know. Our behavior incidents are up, our counselor referrals are up, and our student smiles are down. That leaves me as a concerned educator – and while this is a multi-factored problem, losing TLIM’s core is definitely a part of our conundrum.

    Absolutely, like any program, TLIM has its flaws – but sitting at the core of TLIM is a program which positively impacts kids. I know TLIM can be “done” without paying for it, but I truly believe in the program. I wish Franklin Covey would recognize that it’s a win-win for them and for us to reduce the high costs of this program.

  35. blythe sinclair says:

    Anyone who goes along with this ridiculous program has rocks for brains. The principal at my last school fell for this hook, line, and sinker. Nothing mattered to her but The Leader in Me. She put thousands and thousands of dollars into this program and took money out of resources for our students (books, Math resources, gym equipment, you name it). She spent thousands of dollars on having the 7 habits painted onto the hallway walls of our school. Out of approximately 45 teachers on staff, only about 5 or 6 actually buy into this nonsense. EVERYONE else is against it. The behaviour in our school has become a joke. Just because you call a child a leader, it does not make him one! My recommendation is this: If your school is thinking of implementing this program, RUN, DON’T WALK to a school that does not have it. Every newspaper should be running articles about this pyramid scheme. Don’t let yourself be taken in by this. It is such a sad and sorry mess. Thankfully, that principal will be retiring (it’s about time) in only a few weeks. Let’s hope the new principal has some backbone and gets rid of this time and money waster.

    • dave says:

      Blythe your experience with the Leader in Me is very similar to the experiences I have had. We had a very active school with many activities and an egaged staff. When the Leader-in-me became the school focus many of the teachers stopped being as active in the school. The focus on non-curriculum activites like leadership day, binders, using Covey instructional workbooks made teacher’s not as interested in doing the activities that they once participated in. The choir mistress wanted to sing songs for the students, not to sing songs about leadership, the drama program lost it’s funding for plays because of the high costs of the LIM. The Principal’s vision was that activities were to be student directed (basically a way to minimize the dedication and effort put forth by the teachers). Instead of a well rounded amount of extra-curriculars the students only wanted “dodge-ball”. In the six years that the LIM was being implemented in the school about half of the staff moved to new school and even more teachers applied out but were unsuccessful. The program costs a fortune, classroom budgets were cut, the computers and technology were not being replaced. Proffessional learing at the school was all directed towards the LIM, board directives and focuses were being put on the back burner. The school was to track “behavior” this ment that nothing was being done with bad behavior. A student would never be suspended for hurting staff, students or parental volunteers. A very small number of the teachers were active supporters of the program, most of the staff went through the motions. Any concerns about the Lim were addressed by administration as “if you don’t like it apply out”. We were not able to ever get a straigh answer to how much money was being spent. The library budget was raided to fill the shelves with Covey storybooks (which believe it or not are actually worse than the Berinstein Bears) the office budget was used for printing reams of paper for the program, we decorated the school for the Leadership day with new murals and posters. It was very superficial, the students were able to parrot of the seven habits but none of it really stuck with the students. I was lucky enough to see the Lim as not compatable with my teaching style. It was too dogmatic, and very superficial. I moved to a new location which has; Leadership, an engaged staff and a commitment to student success, funny enough the other staff members have never heard of the Leader in Me. The underlying message isn’t bad in the Leader in Me, but you can do it alone, find activites for character development on-line, keep your staff motivated, spend money on the students, not to a huge company. When the Leader in Me sales staff comes to your school, try to convince your staff that this is a shallow program but a huge money pit.

  36. GTMom says:

    My child’s school is talking about implementing this program. Apparently several teachers and staff members have been to see it in action at other schools. When I said it sounded cult like I was hit with “you are a negative nelly”. After reading many of the comments here I see my thoughts are similar to what many have experienced. Has anyone ever gone against a school trying to implement this program? Has anyone ever had a gifted child in this program? What happens if kids don’t conform to this?

    • blythe sinclair says:

      If I found out my kid was going to a LIM school, I would withdraw him immediately and enrol him in a school that does not have it in place. This is a corrupt program. The Covey Foundation only wants money, money, and more money.

  37. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    If you don’t care to send me the name of your school I will make sure its key players each receive a comprehensive expose of the program. I have been communicating with prospective TLIM schools and believe that I may be making an impact in at least stemming the growth of this horrible, non-research based, unconstitutional program. Yes, others have been successful in preventing implementation and many schools that were previously TLIM have now summarily dropped this exorbitantly priced charade. Prospective schools would do well to check into what happened in Sammimish, Washington or even more telling the now dearth of TLIM schools in the once golden Decatur Alabama schools so prominently touted in the Leader in Me book. Call me at 270-866-1244 or email at and I will be happy to at least do my part toward stopping the further exploration of public schools.

  38. anon says:

    My child’s school is doing this, I the midst of financial crisis in the district. I am livid, but the culture is such that speaking up will mean I’m no longer welcome at the school, and I spend a LOT of time there.

    Recently, a paper with the seven habits came home, and I actually glanced at this one (previously, they’ve gone straight to the recycling bin). I was upset to see, under “Sharpen the saw”, “pray to God everyday”. We are atheists. This is a public school. I’m dumbfounded. Is this something our school added, or is this part of the program?

    I wish there were a way out, but I believe we are past the point of choosing another school for next year.

    Can someone please enlighten me as to what the heck is going on?

    • dave says:

      I suggest sending the religious indoctrination pages to the ACLU local in your state. Chances are after a letter or phonecall comes in the administration will back down.

  39. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    I am so sorry for your child. No public school student should be forced to participate in this shameful charade! Send me the name of your school and I will be glad to take on the TLIM cult pushers in the building and district! So many folks in school after school are faced with this same fear and intimidation . . . so sad! They say they want 100% buy in and when they don’t get it, the pressure is put on. The good news is that through forums like this resistance is finally resonating. We are making progress! My email is and my phone, 270-866-1244. Any information you wish kept confidential will be so honored.

  40. KRN says:

    I just interviewed for a job at a school that has this program. It is foreign to me so I wanted to research it, and found this site with all these interesting insights. I had actually two interviews back to back. The first was very formal, a little intimidating, but otherwise typical. This was the school without this leader program. My second interview, with the leader program, was the exact opposite. It was very casual, relaxed, no set of rigid questioning, and I left with a smile. Now I know the opposite atmospheres of my interviews cannot be correlated to the implementation of this leader program in one school and not the other, but there was a definite positive feel in the school that had the leader program. The comments made by the two second grade teachers and principal interviewing me were positive about the program, however, as they started explaining more in detail the seven leader steps, and how much work they put into it, I felt a little overwhelmed. I even commented, feeling ignorant, that I would have to learn the program lingo. Even though their response was positive it still left me scared to feel expected to learn this, seemingly intense, leader program, hence some research into it. As I looked more into the program I really like the seven steps (please excuse me if I am not using the right terms…and grammar ;)). I like some of the simple projects and bulletin board ideas I have seen used. I like the idea of our kids being taught leadership skills (my middle schooler does student lead conferences. Sometimes I like it, but sometimes I feel it’s a teachers way to avoid talking to parents), but from comments and slowly getting an idea of the depth this program goes I would not use it. I feel like a simple mole hill was made into a very positive yet complex mountain. Teaching our students to be good leaders, good citizens, and just good people doesn’t need to be so complex. It can very simple, and still have lasting effects. So thank you to everyone, positive and negative, for your comments. Every school district has their own unique culture, customs, circumstances, etc. So I understand each own’s perspective. I am not against this program, but I am not in favor of it either. It does sound like more research needs done before it’s worth the investment in more ways than one (aren’t we supposed to be using scientifically researched based programs anyways?). I probably will not take a teaching position at a school with this program. I see a much more simple and effective way to teach the same leadership skills without consuming funds and student learning time (and having to learn a new language). I was going to mention this program to my own child’s principal, but we are too poor a school and we’re teachers, we should be able to come up with something of our own that will work just as well. So thanks to all for some needed insight. With that said, I am LDS or more known as “Mormon.” Please do not get our religion mixed up with one man’s philosophy. Yes, Covey is Mormon but his teaching ideas are his own. They may stem from values we believe in, but they are not the doctrine of our church. Please don’t mix the two. Thank you.

  41. Mike Sherry says:

    Last post got buried. Here is another alert. For story about Leader in Me controversy in Blue Springs, Missouri, see this link:

  42. Elizabeth says:

    My PRESCHOOL did this. Our corporate office highly encouraged the franchise schools to participate. While I absolutely loved what it taught the employees, I was concerned about the appropriateness of teaching it to 3 year olds or even infants. I liked that the language was the same, no matter what teacher was in the room, but many of the concepts were just not what should be expected for preschoolers. The cost is what ended up causing our school to stop. We were well on our way to Lighthouse status when we determined the cost could not be shared between the corporate and franchise locations. To be honest we kept some aspects of the language, but overall we abandoned it.

  43. Blythe Sinclair says:

    Happy to announce that the new principal of my former school has announced that no more money will be spent on the LIM and that it will no longer be a focus at the school. I think he was able to see what a total waste of money the LIM is. Let’s all hope that no one else puts money into this pyramid scheme which only serves to increase the wealth of the Covey Foundation!

  44. Darlene Huten-Von says:

    Springtime is a change of season and this year it is also a time of change of administrators.
    After being at a Leader in Me school for eight years a new Principal has come in and has essentially killed the program.
    Our old principal had a bad case of tunnel vision. She believed that her staff was all supportive of the LIM, and she believed the program worked and she was getting great value for money being spent.
    Our new principal started the last week of May. After stating the school had NO MONEY for anything left including start up supplies for September he asked for staff opinions on everything. After a very productive staff meeting he discovered that the staff didn’t see the value in TLM. Only 5 people of a staff of 75 thought we should continue to support the Leader. Most of the comments said that the staff “didn’t see any value in it”, “behavior is worse”. “not worth the cost”, “better things are available for free”. Starting in the fall “if you want to do it yourself fine, but no school wide focus and no money for it at all”.
    When we look back at the amount of money, hours of training and time being redirected from curriculum and into the LIM it really shows what a useless program it is. The school I was at was a stop on the bus tour at the last Leadership Symposium. Painted slogans, banners and children who could parrot the habits.
    Before your school signs up for the program ask how many schools drop it after 3 years 5 years 10 years. Unfortunately the Leader in Me becomes a money trap, the more money a school spends the more they think they need to continue. Hopefully fresh eyes will see how much of a money trap it is

  45. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    If only all prospective TLIM purchasers could read the overwhelming majority of posts to this blog, Leader and Me would soon be a thing of the past! I am working day and night to stop this program . . . if you know of a school or district contemplating TLIM (in the “book study” phase or simply raising money for a possible future purchase) please let me know. You do not have to be involved . . . simply email the name of the school or district and I will take it from there. Your name will never be mentioned nor will I divulge my source (unless, of course, you want me to). I have already been successful in forestalling implementation in several schools but the map of new TLIM schools continues to grow! Please help me get the word out about this over-hyped, non research based, exorbitantly priced scam and stop this encroachment upon the personal freedoms of public school students and staff. Email me at or feel free to call anytime at 270-866-1244.

  46. Blythe Sinclair says:

    Donnie Wilkerson, please continue to fight the good fight! This program needs to be stopped. It is very dangerous.

  47. new hire says:

    I am a new hire at a school implementing this program. I have found the training very problematic, but have no idea who to turn to with my concerns.

    • Regretful says:

      I am in the same boat. I was hired by a middle school this past month. I went to the school today to pick up “materials” for my classroom. I was shocked when they handed me several books by Covey. The staff happily told me about the program and suggested (or rather told me) that I should have the four books read by the first day of school – which is two weeks away. Reading the books make me feel uncomfortable, as does ready a lot of the comments here. Plus, students must complete a 40 lesson workbook every year. I was given a teacher copy, with a very creepy script. It feels very cult-like, and I really wish the school district had mentioned they use this program before I took the job. I’d rather have no job than be apart of a cult-like program.

  48. LetThemLearn says:

    Mormon business character trait programs should have no place in public schools. Making money off the backs of children and their communities needs to stop. It is a child’s right to attend a public school that supports and facilitates their journey to make sense of the world around them through personal discovery, inquiry, and experience. Children should not be subjected to top down, indoctrination(s), of a predetermined vision created by non-experts in the field of education. Please, read The Leader in Me, The 7 Habits, AND The Divine Center. Research who Covey was, what is convictions were, and how he made his money. If any person does so, and still feels this is an okay program to impose on children, their credibility as an educator should be questioned.

  49. JESSICA says:

    I work in a High Poverty Title 1 school that is beginning to implement The Leader in Me habits. When we began looking into the book, we discovered that there was a lot of the things already happening with in our building, but we lacked a common language. When contacting TLIM organization for a quote, we just about fell over…it was going to cost us about $88,000!! Now we do not have this type of money.

    As a staff, we did our own book study and decided to break down the habits over a 2 year period. We did not want this to become “one more thing” for our teachers and staff. We recently changed our Reading structure to follow with the Daily 5/CAFE in which we utilize a lot of trade books to teach comprehension and reading strategies to our kids. This also plays well into teaching the habits because we can pull out when a character is illustrating a habit very easily as part of our daily instruction.

    This year, we are focusing on the first 3 habits that center on independence. Most of our students do not take their education seriously and have a sense of entitlement about everything they do or encounter. We want them to learn and understand that they must own their education and ultimately all the decisions that they make everyday. At the end of the 1st nine weeks, we are already seeing students begin to state that they were being reactive and not proactive in their choices.

    Our counselor has tried to purchase the curriculum to use as part of our character education and we are being told that this is not necessary until after the training that we are also trying to set up with the company. The cost of this training changed after our original quote and so we had to decrease the number of our staff members that will be able to attend because we can only secure a portion of it in grant money from outside community organizations. If TLIM refuses to except what we are able to do to incorporate their program into our students lives, then we will continue to teach the habits and utilize the language without them.

    • Jessica, this sounds like a very sane, reasonable approach. I think the book has plenty of information in it that can be useful all on its own, and without the pressure of the high price tag, I feel the concepts could be integrated into a school culture at a less frenetic pace. Thanks for sharing this.

      • Blythe Sinclair says:

        Jennifer, there is no sane or reasonable approach to implementing this program. Character education can be taught very well without paying one cent into the Covey foundation. I cannot stress how wrong it is to fall into this mess. Avoid it at all costs!

    • Blythe Sinclair says:

      This is a very dangerous and costly program. Do all you can to avoid being taken in by this company. The school I taught at no longer uses the program (the very gullible principal retired and the new principal got rid of it after requesting staff input). The staff was so relieved to be rid of this nonsense. You can teach a good solid character education program without being duped into paying for the Leader in Me. By the way, most of the kids can ramble off the 7 Habits but really have no idea what they mean.

  50. Lesa says:

    I realize that this is an old post…however since the inception of this cult into my daughters school a couple of years ago, I have seen the school decline. Communication between the teachers and the parents is null and void. Conferences are now given by my 10 year old and have very little teacher involvement. There is a huge sign that says we are “sponsored” by the local bank. The disciplinary system is not consistent and is really held over these kids head as the dreaded trip to the win room for not tying your shoes will ensue. There is little to no emphasis on free thinking. I could go on and on with the many problems that I see with this program, but it falls on deaf ears. I used to be an active member of the PTO and my daughter is straight A student on the academic team. I am an active and involved parent. Just what a leader in me school does not want. To top it off we are in Kentucky and are forced to take part in the four day testing joke known as KPREP. The end of year test that they spend all year teaching. They “practice test” at least four times a year. The amount of pressure that is placed on these kids for this asinine state testing is crazy and the fact that the test is four days long is even worse. Last year the kids even came home with their practice scores painted on their faces. A “P” for proficient and a “D” for distinguished. Imagine my confusion when I pick up my daughter at the end of the day and see a big P and D painted on her face. It went from a good and caring school to…I don’t even know what it is now, but its no good.

    • Michelle says:

      True that! I do not agree with using this program premises to discipline elementary students. It is very mean!

  51. Jeff Young says:

    My child’s school, Darwin Elementary in Chicago, has been implementing this program for the last few years, it replaced PBIS. While I like the ends that the program pursues, I have some concerns about the means it achieves them and the costs of the program. From the beginning I saw this program as corporate messaging which raised my skepticism alarm as I do not feel that there is any place in the classroom for it.

    I still struggle with it. I’m now on our school’s Local School Council, a post that I worked hard to get elected to. As such, I am aware of budgetary decisions the principal is making. We haven’t yet spent tens of thousands of dollars but I worry that we will. I also worry that the magnet focus of our school (currently a bilingual program) may be changed to this program. CPS is facing a fiscal crisis – this is one expense our district doesn’t need. I wonder why we can’t just incorporate the underlying message of this program into our school culture instead of having to pay for it. Everything the program teaches; being responsible for your own decisions, treating others with respect, maintaining good habits and practicing them – these are all valuable lessons. I don’t know why we have to pay for them.

    I see a glaring problem when the program you are paying thousands of dollars is the same one that will “certify” your school as to it’s effectiveness in implementing it’s program. I’ve debated pulling my daughter out of the school many times as a result, but finding an immersive bilingual program as good as ours will be hard.

    I was given the LIM book by our principal, which is what lead me here. After years of reserving judgement on this program, the saccharine nature of this book made me really doubt this program. None of the assertions in the book are backed up by data. Were the effects of this program on academic achievement truly studied, there would be data and papers cited in the appendix backing up the assertions. There are none.

    I’m beginning to plan how to address this at the school. Does anyone have any ideas?

    • Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for sharing this. As I still believe the habits themselves are pretty sound, I don’t see any reason why a school couldn’t continue to incorporate them into their school culture without all the expensive PD that goes along with it. This is how it was originally done at A.B. Combs (I believe), and taking this route would mean you’re not necessarily abandoning the principles, but you’re re-assigning the funds to more pressing needs. That would be the angle I would probably take, but I would be curious to hear what others suggest.

      • blythe says:

        Jeff, Jennifer,
        In my experience, I have seen that most school boards have developed their own character/social skills programs. I really must question as to why individual schools think that they need to pour tens of thousands of dollars into LIM when such programs already exist. Teachers tend to be very creative people with many, many ideas. I am sure that most teachers would be able to provide character skills activities for their students without paying into a money-grabbing program like LIM. It is interesting to note that the principal of one very large school I know fell for the LIM hook, line, and sinker. The program lasted about 4 years. The school was on the circuit for a LIM symposium. People at that symposium were put on buses and taken to visit that school. Two weeks later, that principal left the school and a new one came in. One of the first things he did was give the staff a survey asking their opinions of the LIM program and whether or not it made a difference. Only about 5% of the staff thought it was worthwhile; the rest pretty much indicated that it was a costly waste of time. The LIM no longer exists at that school (thankfully). STAY AWAY FROM THIS RIDICULOUS MONEY-SUCKING PROGRAM!

  52. Constanze Conrad says:

    Hi there, last year we moved from Germany to Northville, Michigan and at the beginning I did not pay much attention to the program since I had no clue what is it about. I am teacher for German as a second language and have a master in Comparative science of religion. This school year I began to wonder what is it all about The leader in me program and … was shocked. If you see the cult like structure, the vocabularies used and take the author´s backround. I got goosebumps. I wonder…aren´t the public schools secularized in the USA? If you look around in our school…mostly all you see is (in-doctrine like) trees of the seven habits, posters, paintings and so on). I wonder…if you are not a leader…what are you??? With this black and white thinking…follows you are a looser. So you grow a bunch of kids that do not know the feeling of being just fine. Fine is just average……nooo…excuse me: WE are building leaders!!!!! Welcome to cookie-cutter-robot kids, who in worst case bully kids that do not follow the seven habits. I am sure they will become kind grown-ups that actually care more about putting a smile on somebody´s face than being a leader. Sorry, that was sarcastic…put described pretty much what I observe in school.

    • Michellle says:

      I’m am so happy to see that I am not the only parent that sees the identification of the non-winners as losers to be problematic, and actually pretty disgraceful.

  53. Gary Eisenberg says:

    At our school, we had to give up 3 days of our summer vacation to be trained in the Leader in Me….. WITHOUT PAY!!!!! I believe the Leader in Me was Covey’s attempt to make more money by imposing his business model on schools. Our schools are suffering enough with this ill conceived idea that we can improve our kids’ education by imposing the business model on public education. It is no longer about educating the “whole child” but instead the whole focus is on the collection of data, posting goals and objectives, and spending much too much time on testing rather than teaching and learning. Covey’s work may be great for corporations, but when did elementary school become business school? You state that Leader in Me may work better in the younger grades. From my experience in Grades K-3, the language of Leader in Me is not developmentally appropriate since the students really don’t have sufficient life experience to understand the terms. Show me a student who really understands what it means to be “Proactive” in the younger grades, and I’ll show you a student who is talented and gifted beyond their years. We had a great Character Education in place already which we had to scrub to make room for Leader in Me. Leader in Me is not for kids, it is for adults who want to have bragging rights about how artificially special their school has become.

  54. Thanks for posting. I was looking for info on this program as part of a job search. I’ve decided NOT to apply to work as a part of this program. We need more open thinking in our schools, not robotic, catch phrasing.

  55. suburban mom says:

    I just found out that this is in pace in my 5th grader’s school- and today is Leadership Day! I am a skeptical of these types of educational fad programs that carry huge costs, and am heading out to see for myself. I might be calling Donnie soon…

  56. The Leader in Me is a great program. I am now a senior in high school, and this program was implemented when I was in early elementary school. I think it’s important to start kid out young with this program, as they learn the true meaning of the habits in elementary, begin actually implementing them in middle school/junior high, and then are total experts in using the habits in high school. My school is almost 100% student-led now. Any programs that the school does, pep assemblies, character education, it’s almost all ran by students. Our school also almost never has any fights, bullying isn’t too prevalent but of course it’s there, it is high school after all, and the students seem to know how to deal with conflict. I couldn’t imagine going to a school where the staff doesn’t trust the students enough to lead. The leadership skills I have learned are ones I will use for the rest of my life.

  57. Erin says:

    Our school adopted LIM 2 years ago. It was heavily and insistently marketed to us by a staff member/teacher who is a member of the LDS church, then a local police officer who works with youth – also an LDS member, and lastly a paid lobbyist who came to our school to present it to the staff with a great video presentation of smiling children around the world and Lighthouse schools (Lighthouse schools are LIM schools that have jumped through enough hoops). They key words here are LDS church and paid lobbyist. The programs was presented as “free” and “.,.They will come in and transform our school.” Neither of which proved true.
    The “free” aspect amounted to teachers on staff writing federal/state grant justifications to get money for this program – tens of thousands of dollars; as of this writing our school is into it for over $50K, oh, but no worries because it was “grant money” aka tax dollars. The Steven Covey Institute has designed an ingenious plant to get tax dollars for a moderately veiled religious organization. Not that this hasn’t happened before but…
    No one came in to “…transform our school.” We’ve had a few professional development days and a trainer/coach has shown up a couple of times.
    I agree with all the points in your above list. All true – excessive cost, cult-like atmosphere, non-existent efficacy, corporate vibes (more like corporate scam – I’d say Wall Street could take lessons from Harvard MBA Steven Covey’s business model – except they already have as these guys come from the same schools), religious undertones (one day on the morning announcements it was suggested that students help in their community by attending church sponsored events), and cultural bias for sure. We have atheists, Sikhs, Jews, agnostics, those who care not to lead, and those who have the wherewithal to to achieve.
    Teacher on our staff who fully support this are primarily within the younger grades 1st and 2nd and feel that this program helps students organize and get work done.
    Walt Disney, Ray Kroc, cigarette companies, and other corporate giants know well that convincing children that products (logos, phrases, language use) are good and wonderful will result in customers for life. Steven Covey Institute knows this too. Just like cigarette companies used Joe Camel, LIM plants the seed language now and then when LDS missionaries come knocking in 10 years and drop a few key LIM phrases like “win-win” or taking care of oneself full physical and spiritual self by “sharpening the saw”, well hey, we know who gets the customers or converts.

  58. Donnie Wilkerson says:

    Could you email me (or post here) the name of your school?

    • erin says:

      Why? Anonymity makes this a better forum. I will say that my school is west of the Rockies and rural.

  59. Manda says:

    My children attend a lighthouse school. When we moved here, I had a prek, kindergarten and 5th grade student. They came home singing and talking about the 7 habits and my kindergarten child was given a copy of 7 Habits of Happy Children. As I looked over, it was clear that they were teaching these children to create a business plan. It has created an environment where children realize that there are consequences, good or bad, for every action and they act accordingly. I am very conservative in my views and still love this program. I saw so many who had a problem with win win and I did at first, but after stepping back and looking at it, that is what we do as professionals. We give others what they want/ help others and in turn get what we want (payment).

    • Blythe Sinclair says:

      Teaching children that there are consequences for every action can be taught in much better ways than through the “cultist” LIM program. If you had any idea of how much money is paid to the Covey Foundation for this ridiculous program, I think you would be sick to your stomach. There is a school I know where the extremely gullible principal bought into this program and poured thousands and thousands of dollars into the hands of the Covey Foundation. This money came directly out of the school budget. Classrooms suffered through lack of books, art materials, resources, pencils, glue, etc. The gym budget was hacked by one third. The library lost half its budget. There was no money left for extra-curricular clubs, teams, etc. If you think this is still a good idea, I would suggest that your parent council ask the school administrators to open their books and show you exactly how much money is wasted on this program, The social skills you want for your children can be so much better taught through other means. On the whole, teachers tend to be very caring, resourceful, and creative. I know the majority of teachers have better ideas of how to teach social skills than the Covey Foundation. If you look at their storybooks, you will see that they are extremely poorly written (and boring). The workbooks are nothing short of a joke (and the Covey Foundation is laughing all the way to the bank). The school I spoke of got rid of the program as soon as that principal left, by the way. They are now struggling to get by because of wasted funds. Out of a staff of about 40 teachers, only 4 or 5 could see any value in the program. The others were adamant that this program needed to end for the good of the students. Please do not be duped by the LIM. The LIM should be renamed The Loser in Me!!!!!

  60. Betsy says:

    I have not read the comments so forgive me if I am repeating someone’s sentiment. I opened this hoping to see pros and cons. Unfortunately, the article only presented one side.

    • Hi Betsy,

      I wrote this post to share my own concerns and asked for others to share their experiences. I was genuinely hoping to hear about people’s positive experiences, and some of those have been shared in the comments. I believe Franklin Covey’s website does a perfectly good job of highlighting the pros.

      • Blythe Sinclair says:

        Of course Franklin Covey’s website does a perfectly good job of highlighting the pros. They are raking in thousands and thousands of dollars for their foundation. They won’t tell you any negatives of which there are many. This program is extremely dangerous. It is nothing short of a pyramid scheme: Use this program in your school and then hold “Leadership Days” and invite other schools to see your work so that other schools will buy into it and line the pockets of the Covey Foundation with money that has been taken out of school resources (less money for books, resources, extra-curricular, pencils, erasers, art and gym supplies, libraries, desks, chairs, spec. ed. , etc., etc. etc.) Similar programs can be done in schools at little or no cost.

  61. Helena Vukas says:

    I just searched for some info about the program and came across your post. Thank you for your valuable insights.
    I come from the perspective of human behaviour, positive psychology and professional life coaching and look forward to start delivering similar programs through local primary schools. Covey’s model can be useful if one can start from the 8th habit. Life is about purpose and intention. By teaching kids leadership skills without helping them to discover their UNIQUE values (intrinsic), strengths, talents, gifts and abilities can create an adverse effect and lead kids into negative emotional states such are remorse and rejection. The worst thing that can happen to kids and anyone else is to live their lives based upon someone’s projected values and expectations.
    So yeah, back to the 8th habit 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      Absolutely! Kids that don’t make the cut feel sullen, rejected, and depressed. That’s a lot of pressure on a 7 year old that’s already struggling with reading!

  62. MM says:

    I’ve worked at school that adopted LIM. The cost of the program was enough to close an early learning center and displace two employees. I know it was not worth the loss of the program.
    Secondly, it became a daily CHORE for teachers who have to give up valuable teaching minutes to make sure notebooks, goals, …. We’re completed before we got caught w it NOT done. Conscious choices had to be made-do I teach reading or complete the notebooks. Thirdly, valuable time was used to have hour long pep rallys where the whole school came together to scream and cheer for those kids that followed the habit of the month and to vote on which team was cleanest….except it hurt moral of one team that was never chosen-ever- and they gave up bc nothing they ever did was good enough. The teachers were left trying to encourage the “losers” every time. The one time the whole team dressed all alike and cheered wonderfully to only once again “fail” at our teamwork efforts. The students, but especially the teacher were discouraged and gave up. Very sad bc we can no more control the masses than you can. It’s suppose to be about individual insight and growth. And did I mention this was for K-2 school.
    I could go on, but lastly, the leadership day, although a sweet treat for the “leaders” is nothing more than a major puppeteer fiasco where a glorified “dog-and-pony” show is choreographed by the teachers and adults who are controlling the strings of the day which wastes again more valuable learning time to train, practice, and drill LIM.
    Again, the underlying principles are good. The way we let it take control is cult like and wrong.

    • At our school the “Habit Hero” replaced the “Honor Roll”. So, the emphasis is clearly on following rules not academic excellence.

      • Michelle says:

        Agreed, from what I have seen, this program seems to be obedience oriented, as opposed to leadership oriented. While obedience in school is important, to an extent, free thinking is of equal importance unless you want to live in a cookie-cutter society.

    • Sarah says:

      I completely second that! “Dog and Pony” show where the puppetmasters stand on the side.

    • Michelle says:

      Yes, don’t agree utilizing this for small kids. The “others” become the “losers”. This is a good example of self fulfilling prophecy by labeling small kids. They are either good leaders, or else they are poor leaders by default. I find this reprehensible.

  63. dave says:

    I was at a Leader in Me school about three years ago and it really destroyed our staff moral. The school focus became being a Lighthouse school. All staff meetings, professional development, and training all revolved around implementing this new program. Our staff budgets were slashed to pay for all the added expenses of this new program. After debating outliving the program or moving I decided to move after three years.
    Recently at my new school, we were supposed to have a guest speaker at our next staff meeting. Our principal posts the agenda a few days before in case any of the staff want to add anything. I noticed “Student Leadership” and “Covey” as one of the agenda notes. I ran down to the Principal’s office to ask if she was thinking of implementing the Leader in Me. She told me this was a presentation that another school wanted to give us. I quickly went into all the reasons I left my previous school and most of them revolved around the LIM. There was another staff member who had come from a different LIM school, I told my principal to ask her questions about it too. Luckily my new Principal listened to both of us and the presentation was canceled.

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:

      Thank you for your prompt action! You did your school, your staff and most importantly your kids a great service. More and more are seeing the light!

    • Anonymous says:

      My kids school has this and I hate it. It seems worse and more aggressive/encompassing every year. It is so much conformity and everyone speaking the same language and even wearing the same shirts. They are constantly told to wear their leader in me shirts. I don’t comply. I want my kids to dress how they want to dress, to express their individuality. If they wanted to wear the shirt I would let them but only if they wanted to. I think the school has no place using classroom learning time ,that they seem so concerned with not missing a minute of ,to spend time on this program. It is not educational. If they wanted to do anything they would be much better off displaying kindness and compassion and preventing bullying then teaching all children to be leaders. Many adults must be good followers in the careers and jobs they do. I hate that I have no control as a parent outside of homeschooling or moving. I do not like conformity and hate the lack of individual expression this program creates… from clothing,to speaking to thinking it is very robotic and all of one mind oriented. We are an artsy Christian family and I believe in FOLLOWING Christ and doing that in our own very unique individual ways. We are not all meant to be leaders. Being strong,capable,intelligent and sure of yourself does not always translate as leadership.

  64. Skeptical Teacher says:

    I am a middle school teacher in the Midwest. Our elementary adopted this program last year and said it was so wonderful it is being adopted (forced upon) our middle school this year. We (teachers) were given no opportunity to give input or given any choice. This week we are “highly encouraged” to go to two full days (*unpaid*) for LIM trainings. If we cannot attend we have to make it up another time. In addition, we just dropped our PBIS program which I actually thought was great, but yet again was another program we were trained on, used a couple years and then are now switching to LIM. As an educator (going on year 6) I am very discouraged and already cynical when a new program comes up, because it’s only a matter of time before we ditch it for something “better.” I am all for professional development, continually improving my craft, and helping out my students, but if LIM is truely “for the children” why are they charging tens of thousands of dollars? (So we can pay for the trainer’s plane ticket, hotel, and steak dinner?) This really bothers me, when I get half-way through the year and my classroom budget money is out, kids come to class without pencils, and I’m using my personal money to buy Kleenex for all the sniffly noses. I really do love teaching, but I am going into this training next week with the mind set of “jumping through a hoop” and missing my own two babies while I pay for a sitter. The program also feels like it’s show for PR to use, hey look what our district is doing that other districts aren’t! and we have this “gold star” status! I would benefit more if I was given the autonomy to choose this program, instead of being bitter that this was chosen for me. I have also heard negative criticism (and also seen first hand) that the program doesn’t not truely give leadership opportunities to all students. I’ve seen the same handful of students in my newsfeed and in the newspaper leading assemblies and running events. Those kids are natural leaders and would have stepped up anyways. My others thoughts before I go into this training, do we want a room full of leaders? Sure that’s a great skill to have, but are they going to tell me that all 900 students at our school this year are going to have experience in a leadership role? (Remember, I have not gone through the brainwashing, I mean training, yet.) Also we just cut a lot of sped teachers last year for budget reasons, so I am just irritated at how much this program costs. Can someone show me were every penny is being used?

    Discouraged and Frustrated Teacher

    P.S. I have never shared any of these thoughts at school, I am a very positive and upbeat person. I don’t want to drag anyone down!

  65. DeeDee says:

    After reading all these posts I sure hope my district doesn’t expect me to open house my room all the time to promote the program. We have enough interruptions as it is. I like the tracking data… we do that… the teaching kids to work together.. do that too… listen then talk,,, check. I think it is what what any good teachers does.

  66. Rev. Firmus says:

    My son just had his kindergarten screening today and we were presented with the 7 principles for the first time. He is our youngest son out of seven. I watched a presentation on the 7 as told by children and listened to the principal explain each one in detail. My wife and I looked at each other in disbelief as heard the explanation for “win-win”. To me the concept sounds like “everyone gets a participation prize”. My wife and I believe in American Exceptionalism. And in capitalism. We believe that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. There was only so many pieces of pie at the dessert table and you weren’t there to grab one and I took the last one? “Win-win” would say that I have to give you a piece of my pie instead of you being faster to get to the table. Sounds very socialistic in my opinion. Children need to be taught that sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. If we lose we take it on the chin, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and try harder next time. We study and learn from our mistakes Some areas of life there are no room for compromise. In my own household the areas where there is no room for compromise are God, Country and Family. We will not entertain any conversation that asks us to compromise on this. We understand that not everyone shares our faith and values but we, not our school will be the ones who instill values in our children. Needless to say we won’t be teaching the 7 principles in our home. We will stand firm and not compromise on our convictions.

  67. Daria says:

    I just want to know why CTA and Sacramento are allowing the Mormon church to infiltrate our public schools in this insidious manner, indoctrinating faculty and students with these teachings that are so detrimental to their mental health. There is nothing wrong with being assertive, using honesty to call out wrongs, and admitting to having a bad day now and then. As humans we have the capacity to feel a range of emotions. It is wrong to insist that people smile and “feel” happy during times of true grief and adversity. Get this Covey cult out my public schools that I support with my tax dollars.

  68. I’m new at a school that is in the midst of starting Leader in Me. Our population is not ready for this. When I went to the first two trainings, I became concerned of the cult like environment. I felt like I was in a religious study group. Because I come from an abusive childhood experience in an actual cult and was able to break free, it sent up a lot of triggers for me. I even told my principal I would not be completing the activities in the book right now because I was triggered. She is Trauma Informed and accepted my answer. Others in charge at the school feel like if you don’t buy in, you won’t be successful. I taught 17 years before coming here and I was successful as a teacher. Also, the cost is immense. It’s ridiculous. We have just now, in November, gotten the curriculum we need to actually teach. My desks are a hodgepodge and my tables are in disarray, threatening to tip over. I can’t believe what I am seeing. . .the food used to feed these kids is bare minimum. Teachers are pulling out of their own budgets to feed and get water for students. Students don’t have enough restrooms. Upper level grades are unmanageable with many teachers already leaving because students are combative, verbally, and physically aggressive. It’s sad. I want to help. I want to be there for these kids, however, I don’t think LiM is the way to go for these students.

  69. Sarah says:

    We are in Year 3. Each year that we have our trainer come in sometime in November, we tell her that the structure of the framework for Leadership, Culture, and Academics for the teachers isn’t working and every year we are given a new structure that will “solve everything”. Yesterday when we learned about the “new” structure someone asked how many people are using this? Her answer was everyone. So why were we taught two defunct systems? Is this one defunct too?

    I spend so much time trying to work within my groups that I am running thin and I don’t have time to do what I need to in my classroom. Supposedly this is supposed to bring about students being in charge of things but all it has caused is more work for the teachers because now everything has to be “leaderized”. An event that was put on by the same three people for 10 plus years is now being turned into something that involves about 6 teachers and a gaggle of kids. I’m past caring about the 7 habits, those have become words that people say and no one thinks about anymore. I care about my time and when I am having to be in meetings before and after school all the time with 15+ people to help students to make decisions that they don’t have the maturity to make, it’s like being a puppetmaster. (Don’t get me wrong they can make the decision should we get the apple or cherry danishes for Pastries for Parents? Although, should they also make the decision what time to start and end this event, which day of the week works best based on other teacher meetings. How much coffee and juice should be purchased? Yup, they have to make these decisions!) Plus only a handful of kids can come to these before and afterschool meetings. I’ll give you a hint they aren’t the second language learners, or the free and reduced kids. It’s the kids who’s moms are on PTO because they are the stay at home moms that have the time take their kid to school early or pick them up late.

    I feel like so much classroom academic time is lost because of the leader in me. Yes lost, not deferred. When you meet with your leadership group and you have nothing to do so much so that it is now one group’s job to come up with activities to fill the time when you run out of things to do, there is a problem. I just want LIM to go away so I can have about two hours back a week for me and my classroom.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m going to have to agree with some of your statement. My kid, who is a struggling young reader, list 2 hours of class time to this program last week. She got to sit in a room doing nothing while the children who were identified as better leaders and the teachers were rewarded with a special movie viewing.

  70. Jason D says:

    It is strange to hear that the succesful schools have great results to prove how well this program works and yet some schools do not have those same results but from these comments I can see the difference. Most of these negative comments from “educators” on here talk about lack of time and extra work and extra work is one thing most of our educators should have considered years ago. Most educators are in favor of “no kid left behind” because it is easy and requires less effort. It sickens me that this program has been proven over and over to work, it is filled with great moral values, teaches kids to be good people and yet some complain. The complainers hate change that is not theirs, they hate extra work and want to continue to try the same failed programs over and over expecting different results. You have to get away from your old ways and try new things. The old ways of educating our kids does not work. It has not for years and is likely not going to just start to magically become effective anytime soon. Move on.

    And on another note: Abolish the teachers union! Unionize the students and protect their rights above and beyond that of the educators!

    • blythe sinclair says:

      Make NO mistake. There is nothing good about this program. It robs schools of money needed for even the most basic resources (paper, pencils, crayons, books, etc.) while it lines the pockets of the Covey Foundation. It does not teach “great moral values” or teach kids to be “good people”. Most of the kids don’t even understand it. They are just taught to spout off the ridiculous 7 habits.

  71. Blythe Sinclair says:

    Please, please, please, stop this dangerous program from entering our schools. There is NOTHING good about The Leader in Me. It robs schools of the monies needed to provide the basic needs of our children The kids become robot-like while spouting off “the habits” but they neither understand them, nor follow them, Anyone who believes in this program needs to have his head examined.

  72. Frustrated Parent says:

    My child’s school has been doing LIM since 2013-14 school year. They just received Lighthouse status last week. I have read through all these posts and no longer feel as if I am the only one who feels this program has no place in a public school. After the first year of implementation, we had a dozen teachers leave the school. These experienced and well loved teachers have been replaced with younger and more inexperienced teachers. I believe the thinking behind this is they are cheaper to pay and more impressionable and willing to drink the LIM Kool- Aid. Our test scores have declined and our ranking for our state test scores has dropped over 20 spots this past year. NO ONE at the county office seems to have any issue with our declining state standing or lack luster test scores.

    I asked our principal about the funding for LIM and was given the run around. She didn’t want to give me exact figures or tell me how she was able to accumulate such a nest egg. Eventually, she told me she was able to fund LIM by using the funds from ice cream sales, vending machine proceeds and our after school program. I even discovered that the principal has consulted for Franklin Covey and has her own consulting business????? I wish someone can explain to me how in the world a 12-month employee has the time to be a full time principal and have her own consulting business without it negatively impacting her obligations to our school?!?!?!?! I contacted the county office regarding what I see as a conflict of interest and their response was they were aware of her work with Franklin Covey but they couldn’t tell me exactly what she did for them. When I asked if it was a conflict of interest or double dipping, the response was “definitely not”. What??? But the interesting thing was the info page for the principal’s consulting business conveniently disappeared 2 weeks later.

    Anyway, parents at the school either love LIM or hate it but very few willing to speak up. I wonder if parents were aware of the high costs of the program, as well as the expectations of Franklin Covey on our school to “market” LIM to others if they would be all for it.

  73. Katy says:

    I have a 18 year old that had been at a 7 habit school from 1st grade until 8th grade when he had to transition to a public school, it was personally disturbing to him that the kids at the public school could not be “leaders”, “think win win” and all those other good habits that were yes repeated to him often. The other kids he had been at the 7 habit school with, they are all very successful young adults now. going to college, volunteering and creating the life they want to live. I now have a 4th grader and a 1st grader who until last year had the 7 habits at their school. Since the removal of the 7 habits (which the school had for 12 years) the behavior has been atrocious… walking through the halls and hearing kindergarten kids saying “if you don’t i can beat you up, I can” instead of hearing “lets create a win win”, “lets be proactive”? Okay… don’t do the seven habits out of fear that your kids will be indoctrinated into being a mormon… come on. (just for the record I am not a mormon, nor are my kids…nor any other kids that I know that had graduated under the 7 habits program)

    • Carrie says:

      That is actually my problem with the program. That LIM children will be startled by the outside world because not everyone knows what “synergize” means. Creating new words with new meanings is one of the cult like aspects of this program. Yes, in a world where parents are not teaching children how to behave, schools do need some kind of social program. I think it should be left up to the individual teachers to chose what program and not instituted school wide for K-5. Children need to learn from a variety of influences, and in a variety of different ways. Depending on their personality, some children will absorb the mantras to their core but some will not. Some will question them and this program does not really allow for dissent, being different, or being from a culture where being a business leader is the most desired outcome.

  74. anonymous says:

    Does anyone else have a problem with teaching children alternative meanings for basic English words like “leader?” The definition of a leader is “1. the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” Beyond my own impression of the program as cult-like and overly corporate/profit-driven, my children find the program very confusing. I am very unhappy my school has bought into it and I’m debating what is worse – moving my kids from their friends or letting them be brainwashed by nonsense.

    • blythe sinclair says:

      I absolutely agree. I have a huge problem with the Covey Foundation’s very wrong definition of “leader”. I firmly believe that The Leader in Me is an extremely dangerous program and should not be allowed in any school anywhere. It is a money-grabbing scam that absolutely needs to be stopped ASAP. Anyone who falls for this nonsense seriously needs to rethink their values and head right away to a psychiatrist because they have been totally BRAINWASHED. Please do what is right for your kids and move them out of that school.

  75. Ashley says:

    My son is in K at a LIM school (grades K-5) in a very small, Midwest town. I don’t know much about it other than what I learned from the LIM parent’s info night at his school. It all seemed positive but I do feel like the school could come up with it’s own mission for much less than $30k. Especially when half of our students are low income and teachers are doing fundraisers for needed supplies. I just found out that this is the first year they’ve implemented the program after trying to figure out how to handle the 4th and 5th graders who were out of control. I’ve been told that they have seen a drastic improvement. My son’s class will be the first to go through the program from K-5 so we will see how it goes (if we keep him at this school). I wonder, though, what happens when they get to Jr. High and the school doesn’t have the program in place, after they’ve been so used to for all those years. Kids SHOULD be taught values and life skills at home, but unfortunately, these days, in many homes, they aren’t. So to have a program like this in place that teaches them responsibility, gives them roles within the school, etc., seems like a good thing. But to be honest, I’d rather pay for him to have more than a twenty minute recess, have more arts and exercise, and more nature and outdoor study. This article has been eye opening. Thank you.

  76. Stephanie says:

    I teach at the high school level, and my district has bought into this for implementation in the coming school year PK-12. So far, we have had a half-day of “training” that felt like a bog info-mercial and done a school book study of the Leader in Me book. Although I support the overall goals and principles of the program, I have concerns about how we we will be asked to implement it at the high school level. There is a section on the LIM website that applies to high school, but we have not been offered any evidence of what a successful implementation of LIM looks like at the secondary level. Structured programs for teaching values tend to be perceived by teens as artificial and can fall flat. I can feel the eye rolls and hear the sarcasm already! I feel like the 7 habits can certainly be encouraged in high school, but have any of your schools tried the LIM PROGRAM at the high school level?

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:

      TLIM is not good for elementary school kids, it’s not good for middle school kids and it’s not good for high school kids. FranklinCovey just wants your money! Don’t fall victim to the hype, instead, some ideas for that money . . . buy books for your library, take your students to the theater, museums and art exhibits, offer them elective classes on ethics, religion or philosophy, train your teachers how better to embrace diversity and acceptance to all, introverts and extroverts alike, even gay, lesbian and transgender students (check out the record of some of FC’s folks on this one?). Call me at 270-866-1244 . . . happy to discuss with anyone. Please have a great and kind day!

  77. I shared my experience a few years ago and wanted to provide an update… ultimately we left our school district and a heavy part of the drive to do so was the Leader in Me program.

    I think the final straw was replacing the academic honor roll with the go-getter obedience award. The literally remove the photos on the wall honoring academic success and replaced it with those that met the “leadership” goals of TLiM. To me that is terrible. The not-so-veiled message is that obedience is more important than academics.

    Along the way, TLiM influenced changes away from academics and really set the tone on other matters. We moved to a grading system where pretty much all kids got 3’s regardless. This was a problem after our move as our oldest didn’t realize that he had to turn in assignments to earn grades. This was not entirely due to TLiM, but they do encourage subjective grading which is the core problem. This is really doing our kids no favors.

    Another thing is that it is SO GOOD to now be in a school that is not following a cult-like program. It was so annoying to hear those 7 habits repeated over, and over, and over and over. Like working with zombies or robots. Now, we get to talk to real people again. We receive emails from teachers using normal words, not catch phrases. I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to grow up in an environment that dehumanizes communication the way TLiM does. Our school, under the cloud of TLiM, felt like a bad version of the Stepford Wives.

    Anyway, here is the blog post I wrote about our school a few years ago. I probably need to write an updated one now that we have escaped!

    • Marilyn says:

      Thanks for the update. I enjoyed reading your original blog post and I think you should indeed write an update. I am curious to know, how long were your kids at the Leader in Me School? How did you select your kids’ new school? Was LIM in more than one school in your district?

  78. For those trying to learn more about the implementation of the program, here is a website with various documents for parents to review as they conduct their research:

    There is also a recent Facebook Page called: Leader in Me Awareness for Parent and School Communities

  79. Saguaro says:

    I teach at a “Leader in Me” school. The program does feel cult-like following, and uses repetitive jargon. Its books/stories are boring and not really good examples of the habits. Feels like an add on curriculum. Although I think encouraging students to be responsible and have conflict resolution skills is important, if I could choose how to go about teaching that, the “Leader in Me” program would not be my choice.

  80. Mk says:

    I’m surprised by the negative feedback to be honest. This is our second year at a leader in me school and I’ll admit at first hearing the kids throw around synergize had me wondering was this was all about but I believe any programs success or failure is about your communities investment into it. I love that students are given opportunities to lead, to create, be take responsibility and accountability. The ideas of listen to understand then speak to be heard are powerful tools of communication. Win-win to me has not demonstrated giving up rather, opportunities for discussion, compromise, sharing, prioritizing. My child has used some methods from this program outside of school to manage conflict successfully. Rather than taking turns with classroom roles. Students have an “employment board” where teachers have posted leadership opportunities available to various grade levels. Students take initiative to show their interest in a particular job.. greeter, help with the flag, reading buddy, volunteer for assemblies etc… communicate the skills they bring to the table, have opportunities to impact their school community in a positive way. Gain insight into personal leadership, teamwork, school pride and self confidence.
    We appreciate these life skills and opportunities at an early age and have had a positive experience with Leader in Me! Thanks for the opportunity to share!

    • Eric Wenninger says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the program. While there has been a lot of negative feedback on the Leader in Me, in particular with regards to its cost, other people have expressed that their schools saw positive results similar to yours (see here, for example). Do you think these positive results are worth the cost?

  81. Kris says:

    Wow, so much negativity in these posts. The biggest obstacle I’ve experienced with The Leader in Me is the negative staff members that don’t themselves, strive to live by the 7 Habits. Change happens from the inside out.

    • blythe sinclair says:

      This program syphons off much needed resources (money) and rewards the wealthy Covey Foundation for duping those people who choose The Leader in Me (a robotic nonsense program) over the welfare of their students. Sounds like you have been sucked into this foolishness.

    • blythe sinclair says:

      Kris, this biggest obstacle is the fact that this program robs children of much needed funding for their education. The Covey Foundation gets wealthier by the second at the expense of the students. If you believe that there is any place for cult-like programs in our schools, then I suggest you re-read these comments and perhaps you will see that the “negativity” is really warning people to smarten up and realize how dangerous the Leader in Me program is.

      • Kris says:

        Businesses and stakeholders in our community are fully funding the Leader in Me. They see the value in teaching the 7 Habits to kids. Our job as teachers is to prepare kids for the workforce and to be productive members of society. The business community recognizes a need for students to learn these soft skills.
        I worked in a Leader In Me school for many years, and I saw first-hand its benefits. Staff morale was high; teachers helped individual students see the gift and leadership potential within themselves. Some would argue that it can be done without 7 Habits training, but it isn’t the same. I currently teach at a school that teaches character counts. There is a noticeable difference in building climate. I’m advocating hard to bring The 7 Habits to our school because I’ve seen the benefits firsthand. Infusing the habits into our curriculum served as a constant reminder to live my best life. You don’t have to agree with me, but it’s my experience.

  82. Marilyn says:

    Expecting staff members to strive to live the by 7 Habits and change from the inside is appalling.

  83. Educator and Leader says:

    I am a principal at a Leader in Me school (4 years) and fully believe in the Leader in Me PROCESS. Leader in Me is not a program but a process for school improvement in which leadership principles are taught, positive school culture is created and academic systems are aligned. The 7 Habits are just one part of the process and much deeper than the language of each habit’s name. There are effective principles for each habit that help us more effectively lead ourselves and be a leader of others.

    There is significant research by third parties about the successful impact of Leader in Me. You can find highlights at It is also endorsed by CASEL as an evidence-based social-emotional learning process. And over 3,500 schools in 50+ countries worldwide use this process to develop the potential of every child and every adult in the community. Since becoming a Leader in Me school, our students now have greater confidence and they believe that they can be a leader. Leadership is never forced. It is always a choice.

    The cost of the professional development for implementation feels high. In the first year, the staff is given eight days of high-quality professional development. Any consultant coming to a school would cost between $2,500 and $5,000 per day. The professional development from Franklin Covey is by far the best I have ever attended and during my 25 years in the field, I have been to a lot. The ongoing cost of Leader in Me starts at about $6,500 per year. This includes the IP license and ongoing coaching and professional development. A site license for any online program such as BrainPop, Learning A-Z, or Typing Club start around $3,000 per year. Most schools have some or all of these to support student learning. Everything has a cost.

    I appreciate everyone’s passion, questions, and opinions. You obviously want what is best for your children. Yet, it is discouraging to read some of the comments. Teachers and administrators care deeply about the children that they interact with every day. They need your support and encouragement. If the choice was to implement Leader in Me at your children’s school, it was made with intention and professionalism. Trust the educators at your school. Talk with them. Ask questions. Find out how you can have a voice. You are an important part of the team. We value you and know that you contribute to the greatest of our schools.

    I am happy to respond to any questions.

    • blythe sinclair says:

      You have been lured in hook, line, and sinker. If you care anything at all about your students, you will stop the nonsense of robbing money for teaching resources, etc. and giving it to the wealthy Covey Foundation. You do not deserve to be in a position of authority or decision making. You claim to care about your students but, by giving away the money needed to provide for them to a ridiculous program like The Leader in Me, you prove that you don’t care at all. Do your research. This ridiculous program needs to be stopped. Your students deserve better. They certainly do not deserve an administrator who makes such foolish decisions.!!! Wake up, smell the coffee, and stop drinking the Covey Kool-Aid. You have been duped. Anyone who is so stupid as to fall for this hogwash should be banned from being around children.

  84. Dave says:

    I have just returned to school after the summer break to set up my classroom. This is the first year since the Leader in Me has been removed from our school. I already feel the school moving in a more positive direction.
    The Leader in Me was brought in by our previous administrator who unilaterally made the decision to pump the school’s funds, professional development and focus into this program. Initially the staff was split on how this program would fit into our school. Very quickly it became apparent that the school would fit into the Leader in Me not the other way around.
    We started with a Facilitator from the Covey foundation who came to certify the staff. We watched slick highly produced training videos, wrote in notebooks, but left with a big “now what?”. There wasn’t any meat in the presentations. I had a serious question “What can we use instead of the word “SOUL”. I was basically ridiculed for asking this question (public system souls do not belong in our instruction). Another teacher was ridiculed when they were not participating enthusiastically enough when the staff was doing an icebreaker.

    The entire focus of the school became to become a lighthouse school. Students were given workbooks, staff meetings, parent interactions all rotated around the Leader in Me.

    The majority of the staff were not supporters of the program. People questioned the cost (we were told that good PD is expensive, that other programs have yearly costs), many questioned the way in which data was being interpreted to full fill the goals of the program. The staff moral dropped, the Leadership Day was dreaded. So much focus and instruction was wasted on LEADERSHIP. Our standardized test results went down.

    The Principal had blinders on. She couldn’t see what the program was costing or how ineffective it was. Her standard response was “we all chose to follow this path.” Interestingly enough she had a staff vote, if less that 70% of the staff voted in favour of continuing the LIM it would leave. A secret ballot was taken (the v.p was given the task of tallying the votes, we were not permitted to send a proctor). Amazingly 60% of the staff voted in favour of continuing. Since 60 is close to 70 and we invested so much money in it we continued.
    Finally the Superintendent made the principal move. The first thing our new principal did was declare “if you want to do it by yourself do it, no school funds will be spent on it”.

    The cost/benefit of this program is really disproportionate. Before entering into this program take a look at what really is important to your school. Is slashing budgets from core subjects acceptable to your school? What other programs have been done at your school, how can they be tweaked to support the social needs of your school? Can funds be better spent on supporting student needs better?

    In the days of financial restraint, austerity and high student needs, is committing to a very expensive program responsible? As a teacher I would not return to a Leader in Me School, if I was a parent I would be very concerned for my children.

  85. Concerned Mother says:

    I have worked for large corporations. “Flavor of the Month” or “Flavor of the Year” are comments I heard when large corporations would try a new program they paid for in order to get a more successful (ie. more money) company. All principals are the same. They are just packaged (flavored) differently. So, no, there is not an issue with the principles but in the ways they are presented and the disconnected examples the children see. Same in a large corporation when you have the top dogs (sometimes big kid bullies who made it to the top) pushing “their” message.

    My children are young and had no idea of my corporate world experiences. But they did not buy into this program. It’s just something they have to do to make the grown-ups happy. The problem is – actions speak louder than words. Schools try to “implement” a change with a program and the change is not there. Children need examples, not to repeat the 7 habits every morning along with the Pledge of Allegiance! The teachers and staff need to be the example and help the children grow good behaviors by direct interaction not a list of words. My children do not buy this Leader in Me at their school because it is not really how the adult leaders in the school behave. Don’t get me wrong – there are very caring teachers at the school. But this Covey “business-like” program will not work with kids. The children cannot make the connection. And I’m guessing there is more than a few teachers that do not feel this comes naturally. I believe this was the next step for Covey to make money off what he does. When I think of Covey I think of the old paper binders we used to use at work – outdated.

  86. This is my first year at a LIM school and the whole thing is wrong. I’ve been at six different schools and it is 100% a cult, and if you don’t agree then your treated like dirt. Please any info of teachers or parents removing it from their school would be greatly appreciated.

    • Blythe Sinclair says:

      Hi AA
      I taught at a LIM school for about 4 years. The principal drank the Kool-Aid and was totally caught in the web of the cultist Covey Foundation. After about a year, about 95 % of the teacher realized just how dangerous this program was and were horrified that needed funds for resources for the children had been cut so that the money could be used for the LIM. It was terrible. Luckily, that principal finally retired and a new principal was brought in.
      Within two weeks, she had a vote and got rid of the LIM altogether. It sounds as if you are having serious doubts about this ridiculous program. My suggestion would be to anonymously contact the school board about your concerns. If that doesn’t work, contact the media. Use some of the above comments to back up your concerns. Good luck. I hope you are able to get results.

  87. Texas teacher says:

    LIM has been in my school for about 6 years and it’s so sad what a waste of money it is. Educators speaking about leadership and 7 habits to children. There is still gossip, cliques, and favoritism among staff who are supposedly leaders. Very evident hypocrisy from administration who want to see the school decorated and painted, when attention should be on TEACHING. Staff is asked to decorate, paint, fundraise, sponsor clubs, all with minimal or no extra pay. Kids are enjoying the fun activities and clubs, but student achievement and behavior are at an all time low. Stress is at a record high, kids always crying or acting out daily. Staff is forced to attend pointless meetings and form action committees to make us a better LIM school. We are expected to actively participate because it goes towards our evaluation. Everyone wants to be a Lighthouse School and be featured as a model for other schools. It’s all about recognition and attaining Lighthouse status, but why do we need to pay LIM to be able to improve our schools? Money could be spent on other programs/purchases that would really help our school thrive. Every school in my district is on the bandwagon. LIM isn’t the answer.

  88. Greg Maynord says:

    I am a teacher in a school district that adopted Leader in Me three years ago and are in year four now. I do not support this program, however, do support teaching kids to be nice or kind humans. I do not feel any school system needs to pay to be able to teach kids to be nice. With that side note here are my direct thoughts about Leader in Me. We have had a lot of budget cuts which included teacher cuts, no salary raises for teachers, program cuts, funding cuts from both the arts and athletics, but pay raises for administration. The first year of the program costs $50,000. Each year or the closer your school gets to the “Lighthouse” status the more expensive it gets. To me the better you do with something the cheaper it should be. Out cost for this year (year four) is $58,000 and that is just the basic price to be part of the program. In addition to that our district has purchased or continues to purchase workbooks, online resources, posters, rights to paint and use quotes on our school walls, lanyards, shirts, and so many more additional items or rights to items. Teaching in Appalachia and I am sure many other schools around the world we cannot afford this kind of program if it means cutting other funding or teachers. We are now teaching in class sizes of 24+ in an elementary setting and early intervention is being done away with to help cut costs to continue Leader in Me. Being in an elementary all the words used with the program such as synergize or proactive are not child friendly. Everyone is impressed when some of our preschool-first graders can say these words or sing a song using these words. This is just an echo response. They have no idea what those words mean. They are being taught to memorize a phrase or song. This goes with the push from the program on our administration which means our administration push the teachers to implement this to the fullest. The easiest way to do so is to teach kids to memorize and spit back out these phrases. I feel this is a form of brainwashing and smoke and mirrors if you will. If our kids do not understand then who cares if they use these words? Now, I mentioned administration is pushing the program very hard on teachers because of the trickle down effect. Leader in Me is pushing the district office, they push the principals, and then they push the teachers. There is motivation there. The more push there is the more implementation there will be and the more likely we are to become “lighthouse” status. If we are “lighthouse” other schools can come visit our school to see what we are doing and see how the program is ran and how wonderful and effective it is. This happens because by that point it has been pushed so much everyone is brainwashed and clouded to think it is amazing, flawless, and the only thing helping their kids. There is a catch to the motivation to be able to have others come to your “lighthouse” school. It is $50 per person to visit. of that money $25 goes to the Covey Foundation and $25 goes to your district. The $25 that goes to the district does not have to be used in any specific way. In our district it will be used for administration bonuses. That is why there is a push for the “lighthouse” status. our district was told we could “rush the Leader in Me process” and become “lighthouse” in two years. That was motivation for us to buy into it. Well, that was a lie. Here we are four years into the program and still just having “lighthouse” dangled over everyone’s heads. I could care less because I do not support the program and have spoken out many times against it. I refuse to hang the posters in my room or incorporate the Leader in Me language. I still teach my kids to be good humans throughout our day together by using social stories and moment to moment teaching when an issue occurs. I am looked majorly looked down upon for not going with the program from most staff. There are other staff that don’t agree with the program, but they just go with the flow and blend in because it is easier. I am not that person and I advocate for my kids every step through the year. The district tells me it is a nonnegotiable and I have to implement it. I tell them is there a difference in my kids when they go to the next grade than anyone else’s? They neve answer me because the answer is no. The only difference is my kids are applying our skills to be nice automatically and are always there for each other even when they get put in different classrooms the following year. They support one another and have made life long friends due to a caring environment where we worked through everything together. Every teacher had to go on one of the “lighthouse” school visits I mentioned. Here is what I observed on my visit. The kids that presented were ALL either teacher’s kids or families that were friends with the administration outside of school. Teacher’s kids are the ones most see as the most put together or the best at academics. These are also the kids that will receive the brainwash at home too and be forced to learn what to say and how to say it in their presentations. When presentations were given we were allowed to ask questions and each time the student was asked a question the response was “Leader in Me has helped me grow and allowed me to find my voice. Thank you” there was NO other response. Red flag right there in my opinion. Looking at the rest of the school they have after school programs such as book folding, baking, gentleman’s club, dance and so on. The teachers are expected to donate their time to lead an activity. Further on into the school visit students would show us their Leader books. They either had memorized responses or had to read us the description of what they were supposed to say. Finally, my biggest heartbreak for the entire visit was intervention students. The Leader in Me process has students find jobs or “leadership roles” they are good at. I observed intervention students sitting in the corners of classrooms away from the other kids to possibly be out of the way or so we were less likely to approach them. Those are obviously the kids I was drawn to. Some classrooms did not have intervention kids in it so that is when I was read responses or got a memorized response. The “leadership roles” for intervention students I saw was sweeping, emptying trashcans, cleaning tables, and picking up trash from halls or in the gym where our “big meeting” was held. These are my take away thoughts from a teacher that is right in implementing this and the knowledge I have first hand. I hope this helps.

  89. That’s weird. I’m in 7th grade and every Wednesday we have to write about leader in me and it sucks. I never understood it, i knew no one was ever going to use it, and it was a waste of time. I had done it many times before middle school and it was so annoying. This article was certainly interesting.

  90. Ethan says:

    One thing that I find absolutely repulsive about the program, is that its forced down the throats of the students. In my school they are making it mandatory and even a grade for some of the assignments that go along with the program. I personally think that it is a waste of time, instead of focusing on the curriculum at hand (in my case Spanish 2) we’re being forced to partake in something that is forced, rather than an option.

  91. At best, Leader in Me is a benign but ineffective SEL content. My kids bring home these inane assignments meant to instill the concepts, but when I question them, they don’t seem to know what any of it really means. (“Whet your saw?” Even I don’t quite get this one.)

    My concerns: A) it’s based on a 30-year old philosophy – the world has changed a lot since the hyper-capitalist, cold war culture of the 1980s. B) These are the ideas of a white, male business leader and as such, it doesn’t do much to promote diversity or inclusion. And this is certainly not someone I want my kids to emulate. C) It seems designed to raise happy little capitalists, eager to claw their way up the corporate ladder. These are not values we espouse at my home. D) The fact that it’s based on religious teachings certainly gives me pause, especially when introduced into a public school setting. E) It takes funding away from more effective programs. F) It’s a cult of personality that undermines creative thinking and that’s really enough reason to hate it.

    • Donnie Wilkerson says:

      Well said! This program is wrong on so many fronts. Poor naive schools are still wasting precious resources here while feathering the coffers at FranklinCovey! CASEL should be ashamed for lending credence to this cultish garbage. There is still scant research to support any of this and what little exists falls apart under close scrutiny! Worst of all, innocent kids are being indoctrinated by this useless drivel. When will school administrators wake up and admit that the emperor is indeed wearing no clothes and that the KoolAid is poison?

  92. Anonymous says:

    My school is on track to be a “”Lighthouse” school. We’ve been doing LIM for 4-5 years. It’s ingrained. We teach the habits, have student action teams, and use Habits to help students understand mistakes and to promote leadership. Yet, our test scores have tanked!! We are a targeted school because of scores. But we keep pushing on to lighthouse status… make it make sense.

  93. Concerned mother says:

    Our school has implemented this. When Covid struck, this progran hit all the schools up that it could and schools used massive covid funds for the original costs. When I went to google it, the first option that popped up was Leader in me comtroversy, and that is when I went down the rabbit hole. I watched school board meetings, read reviews, I even analyzed their “data” that this works. When J analyzed the data, line by line on several of the reports they posted on their site, I saw that principal visits were theoretically reduced. Whereas they had a dozen visists for swearing the year before, they had a visit for ARSON, a visit for VANDALISM and several other terrible things that had not been a problem the year before apparently. I am finding they are trying to reduce principal visits for statistical reasons. Bullying has become tolerable somehow. So here we are, in the midst of this, our whole school district is contracted into this and lighthouse schools at that. I am looking for suggestions on how to get our schools away from this. It was snuck in, with no mention of cost or contract, and parents were not allowed into schools. Now all the walls have leader in me slogans, and the kids are acting terrible because they are suddenly allowed. I have seen a few kids pulled out of school now for people disliking the route we are taking. Further, the LIM Program comes in and advises our school on educational curriculum. They advised we adopt a sit and learn disposable workbook approach. Meaning SOMEONE is making a heck of a lot of money because we have to buy each kid several workbooks per year. Even the Kindergarten students are expected to adopt this archaic sit and learn approach. I am hoping to find a parent who was able to get this cancer removed from their school system in these comments, and that can give me an idea on where to begin. I do believe the principal is getting a kickback on this program. When he showed up, so did the program, but perhaps it was coincidental. Regardless, it is sickening that we can spend this amount of money on this program and yet can not pay teachers more or hire enough paras for the students who need them.

    • Andrea Castellano says:

      This is so disheartening to read. There are so many good programs out there that are responsive and affirming that could be used instead. If your school ever has the opportunity to seek out another program, let us know if we can be of assistance in making a recommendation. Hoping things change for the better soon!


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