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Beyond Your Board’s Code of Ethics NSBA—San Francisco,CA—April 8, 2003
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  1. Beyond Your Board’sCode of EthicsNSBA—San Francisco,CA—April 8, 2003 James C. Klagge SB Rep.—Montgomery County, VA Professor of Philosophy, VA Tech

  2. Two Goals • Wake You Up! • Leave with some helpful ideas: • How ethical issues arise • Some moral principles • The dangers of ethical issues • Can we reframe ethical issues?

  3. Ethical Issues • How do ethical issues arise? • People’s welfare is affected • Some kinds of cases in board’s code • Misbehaving: Misleading, confidentiality, personal advantage, being partial, etc. • Some kinds are not • “Cub Scouts on the SB”!

  4. Cub Scouts on the SB! • Many choices we make trade-off the welfare of some people for the welfare of others: • Salary scales: new vs. experienced teachers • Salary/PTR: Teachers vs. Students? • Average students vs. special students • Snow routes: Supported st’s vs. unsupported • Meeting standards vs. caring for kids • Some school vs. another school • Other cases?

  5. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it.

  6. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Salary scales: new vs. experienced teachers

  7. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Salary/PTR: Teachers vs. Students?

  8. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Average students vs. special students

  9. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Snow routes: Supported st’s vs. unsupported

  10. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Meeting standards vs. caring for kids

  11. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • Other cases?

  12. Some Moral Principles • Do what will produce the greatest good overall, regardless of who is benefited. • Do what will benefit those least well-off. • Do what will benefit those who most deserve it. • How decide between these principles?

  13. Dangers of Ethical Issues • Cases where people dig in their heels, and are not willing to accept trade-offs: • Mascot issues • Sex ed, Gay-Straight Clubs, Evolution, Math texts! • Others?

  14. Dangers of Ethical Issues • Labeling an issue as “moral” puts everyone on the defensive. • Calm, reasoned discussion becomes very difficult. • School boards, as political bodies, are suited for search for common ground, compromise, and “majority rules”.

  15. Dangers of Ethical Issues • Once an issue is labeled as “moral,” compromise is often ruled out as betrayal, common ground is difficult to find, and “majority rules” is anathema. • Playing the “morality card” can be a substitute for having to gain popular support for your position. • Moralists vs. Populists

  16. Reframing Ethical Issues • Can we avoid moral issues? • Not always. Examples? • Can we minimize people’s framing issues as moral issues? • We can try to avoid doing it ourselves! • Don’t give up on the responsibility to marshal political support for your views.

  17. Reframing Ethical Issues • Moralistic decisions, made without popular support, are not generally sustainable in the long run. • Moralists do the right thing, regardless of what others think. • Moralists don’t make the best leaders. • Good leaders encourage a process that might lead people to do the right thing.

  18. Beyond Your Board’sCode of EthicsNSBA—San Francisco,CA—April 8, 2003 James C. Klagge www.phil.vt.edu/Jklagge/Homepage.htm Click on “Public Issues Publications” Jklagge@vt.edu