Sunday, December 13, 2015

Does "character" count in the leadership of the APS?

The APS School Board is taking another run at removing the Pillars of Character Counts! from their own standards of conduct.

In a meeting of the District Equity and Engagement Committee, link, Tuesday night, the board will attempt again to resolve the problem of double standards of conduct and hypocrisy in the APS, by lowering student standards closer to their own.

Their act is one abject moral cowardice.

Moral cowardice is not new to the board.
The board has a code of ethics of their own, link.
Which is by their own admission, utterly unenforceable.

The APS student standards of conduct are the Pillars of Character Counts!, link.  Because they are the student standards of conduct, they are the standards of conduct of their adult role models.  Else, is naked hypocrisy.

The leadership of the APS would like stake and interest holders to believe that they are accountable as role models.  They are not.  There is not one of them who will use the phrase Character Counts! and role modeling in the same breath.

This isn't so much about Character Counts! as it is about character education in general.

If we really want students to grow into adults who embrace character and courage and honor, someone has to show them what character and courage and honor look like.

The formation of character in young people is educationally a different task from and a prior task to, the discussion of the great, difficult ethical controversies of the day.

If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.  - William J. Bennett, author and former U.S. Secretary of Education (b. 1943)
If we want students to hold themselves honestly accountable to meaningful standards of conduct, someone has to show them what (self) accountability looks like.

In 2006, the board voted unanimously to strike the role modeling clause from their own standards of conduct.  It used to read;
In no case shall the standards of conduct for an adult,
be lower than the standards of conduct for students.
Ever since, there have been two standards of conduct in the APS;
1.  Students are expected to model and promote the Pillars of Character Counts!; a nationally recognized, accepted and respected code of ethics.

2.  The record of school board members and senior administrators is that they are demonstrably unaccountable even to the law; the lowest standards of conduct acceptable among civilized human beings.
In July of this year, then Supt. Luis Valentino tried to remove mention of the Pillars in the APS Student Behavior Handbook.  He wanted the Pillars, which have been in the Handbook for two decades, simply erased without discussion, link.

The board thwarted him, link, but have apparently changed their minds in some meeting somewhere sometime that I, who pays close attention to their meeting agendas, never saw on a. to be stricken again.

Now, they're about try it again.

In a meeting where no public input will be allowed, they intend again to strike the Pillars from mention in student standards of conduct.

The change will be approved, apparently, in a meeting the following night, link, depending on the meaning of the word "matters".

They must strike the Pillars from mention because there is not one of them with the character and the courage to hold them self honestly accountable to the same standards of conduct that they establish and enforce upon students.

I wish there was more public outrage.

I think there would be, except for the Journal's willingness still, to cover up the ethics, standards and accountability crisis in the leadership of the APS.

I blame Journal Editor in Chief Kent Walz personally, though he can't be alone among editors turning a blind eye to the leadership scandal.

I can't help but notice that the Journal is yet to cover the settlement of lawsuit against the leadership of the APS.  One wonders; why not?

photo Mark Bralley

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