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Building An Ethical School

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When reflecting on what I have read in the book Building an Ethical School by Robert J. Starratt, and the information obtained from my current Ethics and Social Responsibilities class, I feel I have an abundance of valuable information that will guide me in creating an ethical school environment when I am a school leader.

When I think of an ethical school, I envision a school where all members of the school make decisions based on what is right and good. I read once in an article that real leaders concentrate on doing the right thing, not on doing things right. I believe this. If a leader comes to a decision doing the "right" thing, they are also usually doing things right. Having a responsibility to everyone involved in the school community, it is often not clear what is right or wrong or which perspective is right. This is the struggle that school leaders encounter on a daily basis.

As the leader of a school, it will be my responsibility to ensure that all students have the opportunity for a quality education in a safe learning environment. In meeting this responsibility, I feel that it is imperative to not only be concerned with the academics of a school, but to also focus on the creation or sustaining of a school that is ethical. When talking about being the leader of an ethical school, I am talking about being the leader of a school where the administration, teaching staff, clerical & custodial staff, students and parents engage in ethical behavior on a consistent base. Their ethics should be the principles that guide them in making the right or proper decisions.

In the creating of an ethical school, it is the responsibility of the principal to be the focal point of ethical decision making. If the principal acts in an ethical manner there will most likely be a "trickle down effect" causing those under him/her to also act ethically. The principal must ensure that his/her assistant principals are acting ethically and that they are ensuring that the teaching staff is acting ethically. The teaching staff must make sure to act ethically toward their students and in return that the students are acting ethically. When all the leaders of a school act ethically, it will facilitate the students acting ethically. "When youngsters encounter various teachers throughout the school day who model ethical values, when ethical concerns are discussed in various subjects across the curriculum, when multiple opportunities are present to practice the ethic of caring, the ethic of justice and the ethic of critique, when guidance counselors, coaches and moderators of student activities all consistently speak about ethical concerns, when the school corridors are hung with posters which reflect ethical values of self-respect, loyalty and honesty, and when the school and the home express consistent concern over ethical issues, the message is pretty hard to ignore." ( Starrat )

In my opinion there are several attributes that a school leader must possess in order to run an ethical school. They should be honest, respectful and fair. If a principal makes his/her decision based on these three qualities, and demands that the entire school body also possesses these qualities, there will be a great foundation to an ethical school.

Before writing this paper, I took an Ethical Orientation self-test. The perspective presented in the self-test was based on material from the course as it related to standard five of the ISLLC (Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium) standards. Standard five reads: Acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner. The purpose of the self-test was to provide me with an assessment of my understanding of ethical principles as they relate to my professional actions. After taking the self-test I was more aware of areas that I would need to concentrate on or work more on when becoming a principal, if I wanted to truly establish an ethical school. The self-test was a tool to guide me in being a more ethical leader. There were



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