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Ethical Leadership Platform

Jacob Tucker

The role of an administrator is more complex today than it ever has been. This reality is

based on the amount of decisions an administrator is required to make. Daresh and Alexander

(2016) explain that principals make hundreds, perhaps thousands of decisions each day. So how

do I ensure that I am truly making decisions that safeguard the values of democracy, equity and

diversity and promote social justice while ensuring that individual student needs inform all

aspects of schooling? Starratt (1991) and Furman (2004) develop four ethical frames in which to

make these decisions; the ethics of justice, critique, care, and community. In no particular

order, these frames will guide our decisions in terms of ethics and morals within our school

community.

The ethics of justice utilizes the existing laws, rights, or procedures to make decisions. In

many situations we will be required to adhere to the rules. “We govern ourselves by observing

justice. That is, we treat each other according to some standard of justice that in uniformly

applied to all our relationships” (Starratt 1991, pg. 191). There will be situations in which the

governing rules, laws, or procedures will be greatest factor in the ultimate decision making

process. However, it is becoming more and more obvious that there are underlying inequities

that exist in society. This is where the ethics of critique come in to play. The ethics of critique

requires questions such as: Who benefits? Which group dominates the social arrangement? The

ethic of critique requires us to respond by first considering the outcomes for marginalized

populations.

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In contradiction, the ethics of care and community are people-centered. These ideas

require making decisions based on how they can affect people. It draws into our humanity.

Staratt (1991) explains that the ethics of justice cannot serve its purpose without being

complemented by an ethic of love. The ethic of care focuses on the demands of relationships

rather than a contractual or legalistic standpoint. Furman (2004) takes this point even further

by introducing an ethics of community. Furman (2004) explains “a sense of community, of

connection with others, is based in relationships, which depend in turn on the ongoing

processes of communication, dialogue, and collaboration, and not on a set of discreet

indicators such as “shared values” and “shared decision making.” Thus, community is not a

product or entity that can be measured, but an ongoing set of processes that are facilitated by

educators who understand and are committed to these processes” (pg. 221). In other words,

decisions should be made with the school community in mind and should be made by the collective as

much as possible, not by one individual. “It is only through “social discourse” that the voices of the

marginalized can be heard and the inequities of the system can be exposed” (Furman 2014, pg.220).

Daresh and Alexander (2016) explain that the decisions made by administrators never come

with “answer keys”, but that these decisions are judged by the inclusions of morals and ethics. As your

administrator I promise to make the best decisions I possibly can, and will do so utilizing the frames of

ethics mentioned. When needed, I will make decisions that are solely based on the ethics of justice. I will

try to always consider marginalized populations by utilizing the ethics of critique. I promise to make

decisions based on an act of love and care for individuals using the ethics of care. And finally, I promise

to include the school community in as many decisions as possible and to make decisions that ultimately

will further our school community, specifically our students.

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References

Furman, Gail. (2004). The ethic of community. Journal of Educational Administration, 42(2), 215-

235.

Starratt, Robert. 1991. Building an ethical school: a theory for practice in educational leadership.

Educational Administration Quarterly, 27(2), 185-202.

Daresh, J. & Alexander, L. (2016). Beginning the principalship: a practical guide for new school

leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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