Ethical issues in curriculum development


  • Fostering Student Ethical Development as Part of the Curriculum
  • Ethical Issues in Education – Barriers to Learning in Schools
  • Our Curriculum
  • What Are Some Ethical Issues Every School Must Discuss?
  • Fostering Student Ethical Development as Part of the Curriculum

    Tenure protects teachers from arbitrary dismissal by school officials. Tenure derived from the Pendleton Civil Service Act of , which was originally established as a merit system for government workers.

    Tenure rights for teachers in the United States date back to , when the NEA lobbied for these rights. States define tenure laws for teachers in public schools, including elements like probationary periods and termination procedures. A school district can dismiss a tenured teacher for justifiable reasons such as noncompliance, immoral conduct, committing a crime, and insubordination. A teacher can also be dismissed for financial reasons, such as when a school district has a deficiency of funds.

    Tenure does not guarantee a teacher a job for life, nor does it offer lifetime employment security Hart, The focus of tenure is on supporting and protecting good teachers. It is an earned process that mandates due process.

    The benefits of a continuing contract or tenure are that a school must show cause in order to dismiss you because you, as the teacher, have due process rights. In addition, teacher tenure has been shown to increase morale and overall teacher involvement within a school and collaboration among colleagues.

    Presently, some states are changing their legislation as it relates to teacher tenure. Department of Education both require states to evaluate student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Therefore, some states have begun to change tenure laws to adhere to the accountability requirements stipulated by the U. Department of Education as it relates to teacher evaluation and student achievement.

    As a result, some tenure systems have been removed or revamped with annual contracts requiring satisfactory performance. Additional states are also currently contemplating limiting or removing tenure for teachers.

    Both have been in existence for more than years and support teachers, along with other school personnel. As unions, both organizations support their members with collective bargaining, whereby they work alongside teachers as they negotiate with their respective school districts to resolve disputes, as well as to lobby Congress for state and federal legislation that would impact educational related issues, including teacher rights and responsibilities.

    In some states, teacher unions will support your right to strike as a means of collective bargaining. Because of their legally-binding nature, negotiating fair contracts can be a common cause of a strike.

    You can join either organization, but since not all states recognize unions, the NEA or AFT may not be able to assist you with collective bargaining or school board negotiations, depending on your state of employment. Even so, each professional organization provides support, a rich network of educators, and professional development around issues and opportunities that can be beneficial for your teaching practice. It is not often that educators are permitted to strike because they are employed by the state and are considered vital to public service.

    Still, some teachers do strike regardless of state laws that may prevent them from striking, such as we saw in in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

    When teachers go on strike, the impacted school board can obtain a court injunction to order teachers back to the school and teachers can lose pay for each day on strike. In many states, they can also be dismissed from their teaching positions for striking. Academic Freedom Many teachers consider academic freedom to be a constitutional freedom outlined by the First Amendment. Because a teacher is a state employee and has signed a legally binding teaching contract, the teacher has a legal obligation to adhere to the rules and regulations identified by the school board and the laws of the state and federal government.

    A teacher represents the school and cannot do whatever he or she wants in the classroom. Likewise, a teacher does not have complete freedom of speech to say whatever he or say wishes either.

    All teachers must follow guidelines represented in their teacher contract and the policies and procedures of the school board. While the legal system has afforded teachers the right to select appropriate class materials, the educational purpose, the age and sophistication of students, and the context and length of time to complete assignments must all be considered.

    For example, if you wanted to teach the muscular system in human anatomy in your sixth grade science curriculum, but this content is not taught until tenth grade, you would not be able to change the curriculum framework set by the school district per your teaching contract.

    If an activity aligns to your curriculum framework and you have followed the guidelines set forth by the school board, you could, for example, have a speaker come into your classroom to talk about an aspect of your curriculum or use an article published in the newspaper. This would not be in breach of your contract. As you prepare for class instruction, consider your assigned curriculum, review school policies, and ask your school principal or other mentor teachers for guidance. In the editorial, they were very critical of a policy that the school board had just passed.

    They also included many allegations that were not accurate. The community reacted very strongly on both sides of the issue. What rights does this teacher have for freedom of expression outside of their position as a teacher in this school district?

    Freedom of expression for a teacher outside of the classroom has been challenged in the court system if it was felt that the speech or behavior was disruptive to the effectiveness or efficiency of a school.

    Because a teacher has a professional responsibility to their school, educators must be careful about what they say, both at school and outside of school.

    As a professional educator, you are an employee of your school district, and you have certain legal and ethical responsibilities as a representative of your school district.

    That means that you need to be careful about what you say or even post on your personal social media accounts. In the Pickering v. The court held that teachers were able to voice concerns, even if those concerns were unfavorable to the school, as long as the regular school operations were not disrupted.

    This influential case regarding First Amendment rights and freedom of speech for public school teachers established precedent that public employees have the ability to speak out on issues of public concern, even as state or government employees. Even so, the rights of public employees continue to be challenged in the U. In Connick v. Myers , the Supreme Court again reversed a lower court decision and ruled that speech of public employees is protected only when they speak on matters of public concern.

    Court cases surrounding dress code requirements established by school boards and imposed on teachers in their local schools have established some legal precedent, but this also continues to be a hotly debated topic. In East Hartford Education Association v. Board of Education , a public school teacher was reprimanded for failing to wear a necktie while teaching an English class. Joined by his teachers union, he sued the board of education on the basis that the admonishment for the dress code violated his rights to free speech and privacy.

    This case was heard in the U. Court of Appeals who found that the school board was justified in imposing the dress code. As a teacher and public servant in a position of trust, the court felt that this professional requirement and overall governance by the school board on the appearance of its teachers was warranted.

    For many teachers and students alike, dress and personal appearance is considered a freedom of expression. Geographic diversity and individual school culture can also be a factor in what is allowed or not allowed as it relates to dress codes in schools across the United States Sternberg, n.

    What is acceptable in southern California may or may not be in West Virginia or Vermont. School principals often become the main authority for ensuring compliance Waggoner, A standard of reasonableness is useful when crafting a successful dress code, along with clarity of language and flexibility dependent on the situation to determine appropriate dress and professional presentation.

    Review the dress code for your school and district to ensure that you are in compliance. Dress codes are one part of the professional behavior you may be expected to follow once you sign a teaching contract, so it is important to know exactly what your dress code policy says and what your rights are. Liability and Teachers Now, imagine an elementary school teacher is outside with their students on the playground.

    Two children ask if they can climb on the climbing wall. The teacher agrees and begins to walk over so they can monitor their play. At that very moment, a child falls off the monkey bars she was playing on and begins to cry. The teacher quickly walks over to the fallen child and notices that she has a cut on her arm.

    Can this teacher be sued for negligence? This means that while in school it is the responsibility of educators to make similar judgements as it relates to the safety of children that a parent might make.

    Because an educator is legally responsible for the safety of children under their supervision, a teacher is considered negligent if they fail to protect a child from injury or harm. Accidents happen, and there are multiple ways that a child could be injured, such as in the playground scenario described above, in the lab of a science classroom, or even running down the hallway. However, if it is determined that negligence did occur, or even if a parent believes that negligence took place, a liability suit can be brought against the teacher or the school.

    The person who was harmed can bring civil or criminal charges against the student or teacher who threatened harm. In addition, a teacher can be dismissed and lose his or her teaching license as well as be criminally or civilly charged. Protections exist for teachers that limit liability. These include: A reasonable attempt was made to anticipate a dangerous condition; Proper precautions were instituted to include establishing rules and procedures to prevent injury; Students were warned of possible danger; and The teacher provided proper supervision Legal Information Institute, n.

    The Supreme Court of Wyoming held in Fagen v. In another playground accident in Louisiana several years later, Partin v. Teachers can have a lawsuit brought against them for civil liability or civil statutes if it is believed that: a student has been mistreated or abused either verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually. Once you begin teaching, your school and state will have specific policies regarding liability protection for teachers.

    What happens if what some families deem offensive is the lived experience of others? Teacher Privacy Privacy is considered to be a protection in the U. Constitution under the Fourth Amendment as it relates to unreasonable searches and seizures U. Constitution, Fourth Amendment. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Ortega , the court ruled that public employees retain their Fourth Amendment rights with regard to administrative searches in the workplace. For teachers, the school is considered a public place and therefore there are minimal limitations placed on search and seizure.

    All places in a school building and on school grounds are considered public space. This means all classrooms, teacher desks, offices, even student lockers are considered a part of the workplace and can be searched, and items seized.

    Personal belongings are separate from this public workspace. This means your personal effects, such as a phone or bag, do not belong to the workplace and if searched, require a warrant. For your own protection, use care when deciding what to bring into the school. Religion and Schools The First Amendment separates religion from the business of the state.

    Government is prohibited from imposing religious beliefs on any person. Public school serves as a state government service and therefore it must be neutral and not promote religious beliefs on anyone in the school. Religion in schools has been challenged from prayer in schools, to religion in the curriculum, religious clubs and access to public school facilities, to artifacts and clothing.

    Ethical Issues in Education – Barriers to Learning in Schools

    In the past it was rare for a student to call a teacher at home. Things that in the past may have been black and white are now gray. Where do we draw the lines? Even though most people believe that their actions are guided by logic and reason, we all have an innate ethical sense that urges us to make predictable choices.

    We each find words to create rationales that support our choices or decisions. However, ethics education is about recognizing the real power of our own innate ethical sense and how it influences our behavior. School environments are environments of trust. Our nation, our communities, as well as our families and students expect a great deal from teachers.

    The teacher-student relationship is one of the foundations of our society which can help others to flourish. Among many ethical issues, the difference between right and wrong is made clear by laws and legal provisions. However, there are some other areas where we need to think and decide on the best practice for ourselves, our classrooms and our schools. Such areas of greatest risk regarding ethical concerns in education may include, but are not limited to, conduct, assessment and planning.

    Conduct Conduct is an important aspect of ethical practices. Conduct can include boundary violations, abuse or improper relationships. In the education context, teachers should have vision, hope and creativity. However, be cautious as sarcasm and cynicism tend to inhibit these qualities. Know also that cynicism and sarcasm are signs of anger or pain and they should be respectfully addressed so that possible deeper needs and concerns of instructors can be nurtured.

    Teachers must be honest and promise this ethical habit. Falsification of data or information related to assessment violates every model of ethical conduct and law.

    While on the surface, in the moment, or initially such conduct may seem to benefit students or the school, it in fact injures not only both the student and school, but also the teacher and society as well. Planning Good planning is a part of the commitment that every teacher needs to make as a professional. Remember, teachers are committed to prudence. Prudence, for centuries meant the establishment of right goals and selecting the right means to achieve this goal.

    A prudent teacher creates the right goals and selects the best means to accomplish the goals. Learning activities and lesson plans are developed in advance and the learning environment is created and assessed in a dynamic way so that it addresses the real needs of each student maximally, across all modes of learning.

    Like this article for teachers? Professional Learning Board is a leading provider of online professional development classes that teachers use to renew a teaching license or renew a teaching certificate.

    In my Organizational Psychology class, students were invited to raise and question ethical aspects of all topics under discussion, including the hiring process, job training, motivating employees, and providing performance feedback.

    Through cases, news clips, and films depicting various situations, students identified core issues, potential ramifications, resources, and options for next steps.

    Learners led discussions on current events related to organizational matters, identifying ethical components. We also devoted a week to examining conditions, considerations, and potential consequences associated with deciding whether to be a whistle-blower. Workshops that prepare students for specific roles Training sessions that prepare students to assume particular responsibilities, such as Resident Assistants and Tutors, offer opportunities to highlight ethical matters that may arise, as well as expectations for handling these concerns.

    I conducted Teaching Assistant training that addressed ethical quandaries these individuals were likely to face while supervising laboratory work or holding recitation sessions.

    Through discussions of specific predicaments they were likely to face, participants considered issues such as grading assignments, maintaining suitable boundaries when interacting with their students, and using appropriate humor free club membership database templates teaching Diamond, Common components of the lessons In all of these settings, students were encouraged to: Note ethical issues and quandaries they may encounter Analyze specific situations, including organizational values and stakeholders Reflect on and share initial reactions to gain awareness of varying perspectives and experiences regarding the concern at hand Determine and utilize resources that support decision-making Generate a number of possible responses and discern potential implications of each In going through these steps, learners realized how seemingly simple circumstances warrant thoughtful action on their part.

    By being intentional about discussing ethics with our students, educators can help them become more cognizant, skilled, and empowered to deal with ethical matters they will face in their professions and other areas of their lives.

    As a result, learners can develop an appreciation of considerations, resources, and guidelines available to help them make mature, productive, and ethical decisions.

    During the program faculty will learn how to provide students with skills to identify and contend with ethical matters in specific professions, civic life, and as part of the educational process.

    Miriam Rosalyn Diamond is a faculty developer who has led courses and lessons on ethics for students as well as educators. In East Hartford Education Association v. Board of Educationa public school teacher was reprimanded for failing to wear a necktie while teaching an English class. Joined by his teachers union, he sued the board of education on the basis that the admonishment for the dress code violated his rights to free speech and privacy.

    This case was heard in the U. Court of Appeals who found that the school board was justified in imposing the dress code.

    As a teacher and public servant in a position of trust, the court felt that this professional requirement and overall governance by the school board on the appearance of its teachers was warranted. For many teachers and students alike, dress and personal appearance is considered a freedom of expression. Geographic diversity and individual school culture can also be a factor in what is allowed or not allowed as it relates to dress codes in schools across the United States Sternberg, n.

    What is acceptable in southern California may or may not be in West Virginia or Vermont. School principals often become the main authority for ensuring compliance Waggoner, A standard of reasonableness is useful when crafting a successful dress code, along with clarity of language and flexibility dependent on the situation to determine appropriate dress and professional presentation.

    Review the dress code for your school and district to ensure that you are in compliance. Dress codes are one part of the professional behavior you may be expected to follow once you sign a teaching contract, so it is important to know exactly what your dress code policy says and what your rights are.

    Liability and Teachers Now, imagine an elementary school teacher is outside with their students on the playground. Two children ask if they can climb on the climbing wall. The teacher agrees and begins to walk over so they can monitor their play. At that very moment, a child falls off the monkey bars she was playing on and begins to cry. The teacher quickly walks over to the fallen child and notices that she has a cut on her arm.

    Can this teacher be sued for negligence? This means that while in school it is the responsibility of educators to make similar judgements as it relates to the safety of children that a parent might make. Because an educator is legally responsible for the safety of children under their supervision, a teacher is considered negligent if they fail to protect a child from injury or harm.

    Accidents happen, and there are multiple ways that a child could be injured, such as in the playground scenario described above, in the lab of a science classroom, or even running down the hallway. However, if it is determined that negligence did occur, or even if a parent believes that negligence took place, a liability suit can be brought against the teacher or the school. The person who was harmed can bring civil or criminal charges against the student or teacher who threatened harm.

    In addition, a teacher can be dismissed and lose his or her teaching license as well as be criminally or civilly charged. Protections exist for teachers that limit liability. These include: A reasonable attempt was made to anticipate a dangerous condition; Proper precautions were instituted to include establishing rules and procedures to prevent injury; Students were warned of possible danger; and The teacher provided proper supervision Legal Information Institute, n.

    The Supreme Court of Wyoming held in Fagen v. In another playground accident in Louisiana several years later, Partin v. Teachers can have a lawsuit brought against them for civil liability or civil statutes if it is believed that: a student has been mistreated or abused either verbally, physically, emotionally, or sexually. Once you begin teaching, your school and state will have specific policies regarding liability protection for teachers.

    What happens if what some families deem offensive is the lived experience of others? Teacher Privacy Privacy is considered to be a protection in the U. Constitution under the Fourth Amendment as it relates to unreasonable searches and seizures U.

    Constitution, Fourth Amendment. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Our Curriculum

    Ortegathe court ruled that public employees retain their Fourth Amendment rights with regard to administrative searches in the workplace. For teachers, the school is considered a public place and therefore there are minimal limitations placed on search and seizure.

    All places in a school building and on school grounds are considered public space. This means all classrooms, teacher desks, offices, even student lockers are considered a part of the workplace and can be searched, and items seized. Personal belongings are separate from this public workspace.

    This means your personal effects, such as a phone or bag, do not belong to the workplace and if searched, require a warrant. For your own protection, use care when deciding what to bring into the school.

    What Are Some Ethical Issues Every School Must Discuss?

    Religion and Schools The First Amendment separates religion from the business of the state. Government is prohibited from imposing religious beliefs on any person. Public school serves as a state government service and therefore it must be neutral and not promote religious beliefs on anyone in the school.

    Religion in schools has been challenged from prayer in schools, to religion in the curriculum, religious clubs and access to public school facilities, to artifacts and clothing. Table 5. Vitalethe Supreme Court upheld that nondenominational prayers were unconstitutional because it promoted religion and schools could not officially encourage student prayer as it would interfere with the function of school. Schemppthe Supreme Court ruled that the state legislation passing a law requiring all schools to read the Bible daily was unconstitutional.

    Kurtzmanthe Supreme Court held that prayers or blessings by clergy at the opening or closing of a public ceremony in a school violates the free exercise clause. From this case there was a test that courts use to determine if religion in schools is constitutional.

    The questions are: Is the policy or the act for a secular purpose? Does the primary effect either advance or inhibit religion? Does the law or policy result in excessive entanglement of government and religion? Graham that a Kentucky state law requiring the Ten Commandments be posted in school classrooms was illegal. The courts have upheld that there is a separation between church and state even to the extent of your own personal beliefs. Ina teacher refused to teach a city-designed curriculum that she said violated her own religious beliefs.

    In the Palmer v. Several sections outlined below follow those shown above under Teacher Rights, but with additional emphasis on the students themselves. Courts have mandated that for a school to operate safely it needs to have broad authority to establish rules and regulations as it relates to student conduct within the school.

    This means that parents agree to give some level of control to schools when they enroll their child in the public school system. Within the U. Freedom of Speech and Expression Schools have an obligation to provide a safe and orderly learning environment. Reasonable limits are put in place regarding language, such as banning offensive language, to assure appropriateness and respect.

    Forms of expression that are protected in schools include: the right to wear religious clothing and talk about religion, to be free from bullying and harassment, and to be free from racial or national origin discrimination United States Courts, n. Des Moines Independent School District It served as a landmark Supreme Court case and the decision upheld that free speech was permitted in schools.

    The student was reprimanded by the school and the student sued the school claiming that his constitutional right to freedom of speech had been violated. The case went to the U.

    Fraser that a school is not required to permit offensive or disruptive speech on school grounds at a school sanctioned event because offensive speech or language disrupts the educational mission of the school and is inappropriate for a school setting.

    Freedom is also limited as it relates to a student newspaper. In Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeierthe U. School environments are environments of trust. Our nation, our communities, as well as our families and students expect a great deal from teachers. The teacher-student relationship is one of the foundations of our society which can help others to flourish.

    Among many ethical issues, the difference between right and wrong is made clear by laws and legal provisions. However, there are some other areas where we need to think and decide on the best practice for ourselves, our classrooms and our schools.

    Such areas of greatest risk regarding ethical concerns in education may include, but are not limited to, conduct, assessment and planning. Conduct Conduct is an important aspect of ethical practices. Conduct can include boundary violations, abuse or improper relationships.

    In the education context, teachers should have vision, hope and creativity.


    Ethical issues in curriculum development