Monday, July 13, 2015

"All that is necessary... is for good men to do nothing."

Recent events, including an administrative effort to abandon districtwide efforts in character education by means of "semantic changes" in the APS student handbook, have raised questions.

I submit; the most important of which is;

What will be the standards of conduct for APS students?

The answer to that question is not easy to pin down as you might suppose.

Student standards of conduct represent a policy decision by the school board.  The school board decides what the standards will be, and then charges their superintendent with administering the enforcement.

Two decades ago, the board adopted a particular set of standards of conduct for students.  Those standards of conduct require APS students to model and promote accountability to a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethical conduct; the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.

Twenty one years later, those are still the standards and expectation of students; they have been neither rescinded nor amended.

Should those still be our expectations for nearly 90,000 students in public schools?  Should we reaffirm the resolution or rescind it?  In favor of what else, exactly?

There are those who do not want to discuss student standards of conduct, in particular in public meetings; more particularly in meetings where there will be public input. The reason is; you really cannot talk about student standards of conduct without talking also about adult standards of conduct - right up to the most powerful politicians and public servants in the APS; school board members and superintendents.

The leadership of the APS doesn't want to talk about their standards.

One naively assumes that they are accountable to the same standards of conduct that they establish and enforce on students; that they are role models of student standards of conduct.  They are not.

School board members and superintendents have not been accountable as role models since a night eight years ago when they voted unanimously to strike the role modeling clause from their standards of conduct.  It read;

In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.

For the better part of a decade there have been double standards of conduct for students and their adult role models.

An independent examination and review of the standards and accountability that apply to school board members and senior administrators would find a lack of due process for complaints filed against them.  It would find a "culture of fear of retaliation" against whistleblowers and other complainants.

The question;

what will be student standards of conduct? 

and the attending questions about the roles, responsibilities and obligations of their senior-most adult role models, are uncomfortable questions to say the least.

I have been asking the same questions in one form or another for nearly a decade; ever since the night the voted to remove the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct. 

I will ask again Wednesday afternoon, at the public forum during the school board meeting, if the school board will engage in a public reconsideration of the 1994 resolution; a reaffirmation or a rejection.

I would appreciate support.  Though recently adopted school board rules prohibit audience members from standing up in support of a speaker or point, perhaps a little civil disobedience is appropriate in this case.

I'm not suggesting that the leadership of the APS is evil, but when Edmund Burke concluded that;
All that's necessary for evil to prevail in the world
is for good men to to nothing.
these are situations that concerned him; and your willingness to make sacrifices in support of "good" was the subject of his concern.

Stand in support of a public reconsideration of the 1994 resolution that made character education part of the curriculum, and accountability to higher standards, the standards and expectation for students and for their adult role models.

Sacrifice is the currency of commitment.
There is no equivalent gesture.

photo Mark Bralley

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