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Access to Knowledge

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Kaylin McCue

on 3 March 2013

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Transcript of Access to Knowledge

Access to
Knowledge Case Study 8.3 from
"Ethical Leadership and Decision Making in Education" by Joan Poliner Shapiro and Jaqueline A. Stefkovich Setting: Harford County
Blue-collar community
Mackenzie High School Stakeholders Minority Family:
Ruben and Gabriella Soler
Moved to Harford from Puerto Rico about 10 years ago,
Want a college preparatory education for their son Alberto

Goal driven
Youngest child of three
Often placed among lowest achieving students because of his ethnicity and language barrier Ethical Decision Making As the principal, how does Dr. Meyerowitz handle the situation ethically? The Situation Mrs. Polkalsky has placed Alberto in the vocational courses against his will. Dr. Meyerowitz believes that Alberto has been placed on this track because of Mrs. Polkalsky’s prejudice. It is no secret that the school operates to benefit the white students. Mrs. Soler is demanding that her son be placed on the college bound track because he should have the same educational opportunities as the non-minority students. When approached by Dr. Meyerowitz, Mrs. Polkalsky reasoned that her decision to place Alberto on the vocational track was for his best interest and that he did not have what it takes to do well in college. Mrs. Polkalsky also mentioned that Alberto’s family wouldn’t be able to handle the financial burden of college so he should reach for more attainable goals. Possible Alternatives School Demographics: 2,500-3,000 Students: 55% minorities
120 Teachers/Staff: Less than 15% minorities Ethics in High School Scheduling Kaylin McCue
University of Mount Union Principal:
Dr. Patricia Meyerowitz
8 years experience, compassionate, no-nonsense
Has recently picked up on the negative attitude from the staff towards minority students

Chairperson of Guidance Department:
Maryanne Polkalsky
Many years of experience, powerful in school and community
Uses power to place students where she feels fit
Places most minority students on vocational track rather than college preparatory track Facts Alberto has been placed in low ability groups for all of his education.
Minority students make up a majority of the vocational track.
The Mackenzie High School community is supportive of the current situation. Beliefs and Opinions Dr. Meyerowitz recognizes a problem with the staff's negative attitude toward minority students.
Mrs. Soler believes Ms. Polkalsky has no right to discourage Alberto's dream of going to college.
Ms. Polkalsky is certain that Alberto does not have what it takes to succeed in college. Option 1 Dr. Meyerowitz supports Ms. Polkalsky's expert opinion and advises Mrs. Soler to keep Alberto in the vocational track. Consequences: Alberto does not have a equal educational opportunity
The district is at risk of being publicly accused of mistreating minority students by an upset Mrs. Soler Option 2 Dr. Meyerowitz overrides Ms. Polkalsky's decision and allows Alberto to sign up for classes to prepare for college. Consequences: Dr. Meyerowitz puts her job on the line by upsetting the more experienced and powerful Ms. Polkalsky who has a strong pull in the community.
The possibility of more minority students and their families wanting just treatment within the district arises. Option 3 Dr. Meyerowitz and Ms. Polkalsky meet with Mrs. Soler to explain why Ms. Polkalsky believes the vocational track is best, but ultimately leave the decision up to Mrs. Soler. Consequences: Ms. Polkalsky may be upset that her opinion was not respected.
More parents may want the option to choose which track their students are placed on. Benefits: Dr. Meyerowitz does not offend Ms. Polkalsky Benefits: Alberto is given an equal educational opportunity
Minority students may develop a voice
Dr. Meyerowitz shows that she is not going to tolerate the mistreatment of minority students any longer. Benefits: Dr. Meyerowitz does not override Ms. Polkalsky directly.
Alberto gets an opportunity to take college prep classes after hearing the concerns of the counselor.
Other minority students may have an opportunity to join the college prep track My Opinions Tracking:
I do not believe that tracking students without the consent of the parents in ethical. Students should have an opportunity to take whatever classes they choose. The role of the guidance counselor is to advise the students of what they think is best rather than make decisions on behalf of the students.

Minority Students:
This district has more problems with minority students than just this one specific case. As an administrator, I think that Dr. Meyerowitz needs to address the inequality issues with her staff. Perhaps she could present some statistics showing the success of minority students in other schools and encourage her staff to close the achievement gap within their district. An important part of this would be developing a plan of action so that the teachers know where to start.

Handling the Soler Family:
In this case, I believe that it would be ethical to share the concern with the Soler family that Alberto has not been prepared efficiently for the college track because of his previous placement. I do not believe that it is ethical to tell the family that he should make more attainable goals because of financial reasons. Financial status should not determine the education that a students receives in high school.
I believe that Option 3 is the most ethical and that is the decision I would make if I was the administrator in this situation.
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