The Ethical Educator: Pointers & Pitfalls for School Administrators is an accessible, nuts-and-bolts resource for education leaders at the school and district levels as they confront difficult ethical situations in their day-to-day work. The book features 100 real-life cases drawn from School Administrator magazine’s Ethical Educator column over the past ten years.
The dilemmas encompass numerous aspects of administration, from First Amendment and religious liberty issues to personnel and board relations. Every case provides an opportunity for the reader to consider how they might handle a similar situation and to reflect on the perspectives of experienced administrators who explain how they would address the dilemma. Each chapter begins with a down-to-earth introduction by a nationally recognized school district attorney, who touches on relevant legal parameters and case law.
Making ethical decisions tests us as administrators, for those decisions set precedents that shape how others perceive our ethical judgment and, in turn, the ethical identity of the school or district. The Ethical Educator: Pointers & Pitfalls for School Administrators will help the reader become a more effective education administrator, a more courageous leader of a school organization, and simply a human being with a greater sense of ethical alignment and purpose.
Sheldon Berman, Ed.D., served as superintendent of four districts in three states spanning 28 school years, receiving the Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year Award and AASA’s Distinguished Service Award. He has contributed guidance on administrative ethics through more than a decade of School Administrator Ethical Educator columns and has authored two books and numerous book chapters, articles, policy reports, and op eds on educational issues and innovations.
David Rubin, Esq., represents public school districts throughout New Jersey, is Past Chair of the NSBA Council of School Attorneys, and is a regular contributor to School Administrator’s Legal Brief column. He has litigated numerous precedent-setting cases generating over 50 published judicial decisions in state and federal court, and is a nationally-known author and speaker in the field of education law.
Joyce A. Barnes, Ed.S., served more than 20 years as an administrator and program developer for special and general education in the public schools. She is currently an independent writer and editor for education-related nonprofit organizations at the national level.
The Why and the How of Making Ethical Judgments
1 – Conflict of Interest
2 – First Amendment Rights
3 – Unequal Treatment
Part One: Discrimination
Part Two: Preferential Treatment
4 – Religious Liberty
5 – Duty to Report or Maintain Confidentiality
6 – Grading Practices
7 – Student Discipline
8 – Hiring, Resumes, & References
9 – Employee Discipline
Part One: Misappropriation of District Resources
Part Two: Danger to Self or Others
10 – Relationship Boundaries
11 – Funding
Part One: Obtaining Resources
Part Two: Appropriating Funds
12 – Taking a Stand on Community Issues
13 – Board Relations
Part One: Management of the District
Part Two: Interference with Personnel
Part Three: Errant Board Member
Part Four: Superintendent’s Contract
Ethical Choices Are Not an Afterthought
Appendix A: Code of Ethics of AASA–The School Superintendents Association
About the Authors
About the Contributors
With the escalating challenges school systems are facing, The Ethical Educator can serve as a desk reference for superintendents and other administrators as issues arise. This book provides dozens of real-life, straightforward cases ranging from conflict of interest to student and employee discipline to personnel to board relations and more. This is practical guidance I wished I had access to during my 27 years as a superintendent. The insights contributed by the authors come at a time when the need for excellence in public school leadership has never been more vital in our country.
In these challenging times, how we lead with care, empathy, and commitment to equity matters as much as what specific actions we take. This book offers down-to-earth guidance and support for administrators striving to follow an ethical path, make the right decisions in complex situations, and serve as ethical role models for students, teachers, families, and communities.
This book is a welcome tool to help school officials and their attorneys make ethical decisions. The topics cover the waterfront of legal and ethical issues faced by school leaders, and the book’s advice comes with great storytelling, humor, and insight.
Today’s events and circumstances bring unprecedented challenges, continually confronting leaders with difficult and unclear choices. At the heart of the most perplexing challenges are those that require thoughtful decision making, especially those that have limited precedent or legal guidance or are of greater complexity which must be framed in ethical terms. Leaders who anchor deliberation and decision making in an ethical framework will find themselves on more solid footing. The Ethical Educator is a most timely resource and should be a must-read that is placed on every leader's bookshelf to be pulled down at those moments of difficult decision making when leaders need guidance and support.