• Ethical Leadership And The Stamford Board Of Education

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    By Dr. Rebecca Hamman

    Although ethical leadership involves all Stamford BOE members and the superintendent, there seems to be a disconnect. When decisions are based on the right thing to do for the common good, a lot of details seem to be left out. Why?

    Just listen to the students, families and teachers across the district. Ethical leaders making key decisions, including administrators from within the ranks, should not be making mistakes when it comes to safety, compliance, and follow through, but it continues.

    Just relying on ‘good’ people is not enough. So, what are the principles that help grow a healthy culture and long-term student achievement? For starters—respect, accountability, service and honesty. When building a world-class school district, everyone should feel safe to share their voice. These four main principles highlight the importance of how ethical leaders strive to do the right thing:

    Respect is mutual. Healthier workplace relationships can exist when the BOE, superintendent, and all district employees appreciate and support what each other is doing. Ethical-minded people talk through issues and challenges. This, in turn, creates a much more positive work environment, increases loyalty, and drives systemic success. As one example, the Panorama climate survey only captures part of the district teaching and learning picture. Central office leaders need to be assessed as well as comment sections included. Transparency matters for all at every level.

    Accountability is based on integrity. Every BOE member, administrator and educator must hold themselves accountable for their actions and stand behind their work. When challenges are confronted, ethical leaders lead by example, follow the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibility (Section 10- 145d-400a) and expect success—anything less is not acceptable. Last year’s Turn of River Middle School issue is an excellent depiction of what happens when problems are allowed to fester.

    Safety and learning should always take priority, not reacting nine months later. Our students deserve the best and require regular as well as alternative education programs. We cannot cut corners any longer! Service is doing what is right for the majority of students, families, district employees and the community. Ethical individuals have a strong sense of service. When district policies are not enforced, the entire district fails—case in point—Cell Phone Use Policy (5131.81) and Participatory Management (2001). Using the most current cell phone research, hopefully Policy 5131.81 will be revised and implemented with fidelity. In addition, Policy 2001 is about having consistent discussions with teachers rather than forcing Stamford Education Association (SEA) to the bargaining table. What is best for adults is not always best for our students—creativity must be part of the solution.

    Honesty is about building and maintaining trust. Ethical communicators speak openly and honestly about issues—they don’t hide behind their positions. Vision 2025 does not address overall achievement—skill scores and mid-term/final assessments both matter when new curriculums are implemented. Attendance and grades matter, too, and should not be separated… data is clear. With many schools failing throughout the district, students, families and taxpayers deserve to see progress. Different leadership styles have vastly different outcomes when faced with ethical dilemmas. The district does not improve if the BOE and their one employee are not part of the solution. Two questions come to mind for the upcoming school year: Are these individuals willing to be solution leaders or will it be business as usual? And ultimately, who is holding them accountable?

    You decide… you are the voter.

    Dr. Rebecca Hamman currently serves as a member of the Stamford Board of Education.  Her comments are her own, and do not represent the official views of the Board of Education or its committees.

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    Connecticut is a lost cause, Marxists everywhere.

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