Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The fight over Character Education in the APS

It would help if we agreed at the onset, to not get bogged down in endless debate on the definitions of terms like "character education" and "ethical".  The endless debate serves the interests of those who would rather debate than be held actually and honestly accountable to higher standards of conduct than the law, however they are defined.

There is some evidence that at least some people think it is important to teach children to embrace honest accountability to "ethical" standards of conduct. 

For example, we think honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct is important enough that we are willing to repeat a centuries old fable, link, which had been repeated to us when we were children, about a child, a hatchet and a cherry tree.

The leadership of the APS thought character education was important enough to resolve unanimously to adopt ethical standards of conduct, link, for students, and the continue annually, to require them to model and promote (honest accountability) to those standards.

The leadership of the APS thought character education was important enough, at the time, they had written in their own standards of conduct, a standard which read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
They have since removed the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct; by unanimous decision.  They think by so doing; they are no longer "legally" accountable as role models of student standards of conduct.

At the very least, the decision  
whether we should introduce students to higher standards of conduct than the law and further, encourage students to embrace them, 
should be made after at least some open and honest public discussion.

The leadership of the APS will not provide for that discussion.  The leadership of the APS will not support the Citizens Advisory Council on Communication and the effort to open two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve.

Whether you ask deferentially or more
insistently, their answer means no.
The leadership of the APS will not allow that discussion in any venue they control.

They have a publicly funded private police force willing to follow their orders to "eject" anyone who pushes the issue.

One moment, peaceful demonstrators quietly hold up posters some of which had to do with opening two-way communication and others having to do with Character Counts!.  Clearly, they are "disrupting" nothing.

Moments later, APS Praetorian Guard rolls on the poster holders,
 giving them the "APS thumb"; you're making them feel
 uncomfortable, you have to leave.
Whether there is community support or not, for character education in public schools should be determined in civil discussion in advance of the school board election and their hiring of;
a superintendent who;
  • is
  • is not 
expected to step up as the senior-most administrative role model of the standards s/he establishes and enforces upon nearly 90,000 of this community's sons and daughters in the APS.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor;
somebody has to show them what it looks like
to be held honestly, actually accountable to meaningful standards of conduct and competence
instead of showing them what it looks like
to squander the public trust and treasure in an in secret, cost is no object, effectively oversightless effort to escape the consequences breaking the law; the lowest standards of conduct; the standards of conduct that every higher standard is higher than.

photos Mark Bralley

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