That ethics is fundamental for leadership in education is self-evident. When compared to any other profession, educators are entrusted with not just professional responsibility but moral responsibility. This is so because educational institutions are the incubators of tomorrow’s leaders in various walks of life. Luke Wood and Adriel Hilton present a cogent case on the why community college leaders should “employ ethical paradigms while constructing and considering alternative courses of action in decision-making processes”. (2012, p.196) They identify five paradigms of import: ethic of justice, ethic of care, ethic of critique, ethic of the profession and the ethic of local community. As the two scholars articulate leadership ethics is a complex enterprise, with its numerous dimensions and that the value of any ethical principle is measured only upon its application. Considering how leaders in educational institutions confront dynamic moral issues on an everyday basis, these ethical paradigms serve a pivotal role in their decision making.
Indeed, acknowledging the changing role of educational leadership Starratt gives an insightful account of its nature and dynamics. In the milieu of globalization, the catchphrase in education is to “prepare the present generation of young people to participate as active citizens of the global community, rather than as spectators or tourists.”(2005, p.124) Leadership in this context needs to be multidimensional, especially one whose moral vision takes a “proactive responsibility for making this kind of learning a reality”. (2005, p.124)
Moreover, ethical leadership in education is imperative because it is a public enterprise. The broader educational objective is to create morally conscious citizens, whose education should encompass more than vocational skill acquisition. As scholars Shapiro and Stefkovich remind us, every administrative decision is potentially life altering for the students. (p.1) Without sound moral paradigms for decision-making, our schools may not produce ideal citizens and human beings. Particularly, in the complex and diverse postmodern globalized world we live in, the strong foundations offered by the ethical paradigms go a long way in supporting educational leaders.
Shapiro & Stevanovich, Multiple Ethical Paradigms and the Preparation of Educational Leaders in a Diverse and Complex Era, Practice and Paradigms in Ethics, Chapter 1, pp. 1-8.
J. Luke Wood & Adriel A. Hilton, (2012), Five Ethical Paradigms for Community College Leaders: Toward Constructing and Considering Alternative Courses of Action in Ethical Decision Making, Community College Review, 40(3), pp. 196-214, accessed via Sage Publications.
Starratt. Robert J. (Winter 2005), Responsible Leadership, The Educational Forum, Volume 69, pp.124 – 134.
George, Bill. (Fall 2007) True North, Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, pp. 46- 51.