Editors Note: Here at Polite On Society, we focus on various aspects of education. As the issues involving education and American society get increasingly complex, the need arises to hear the voices of those in the field on what needs to change. Today, we have a featured post by Dr. Nicole Walters of Houston, Texas. The piece follows below. -M.P.
Is Moral Education for Emerging School Leaders a Cultural Imperative?
By Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters
We are presently experiencing a global crisis currently afflicting humanity, an attack of the moral fibers that constantly threaten to unravel present day society. Within many of our schools, non-profits, organizations, and institutions of higher education, there appears to be a fundamental omission of grooming emerging leaders with some sense of a moral compass; those who seek to create a culture that advocates for all children and families we serve. This is dangerous because those in direct position to affect change appear to model and sustain this ethos of leadership: supporting practices that unfairly stigmatize or unfairly treat ethnically diverse students; lack of respect for diverse perspectives in school governance and policies; the extreme situations with school personnel who have it “in” for capable staff members and refuse to mentor and share opportunities in a civil and collaborative manner; or educational leaders who do not reach out to their colleagues and communities in meaningful ways.
Those in leadership positions should set the tone of civility, fair, ethical, and moral treatment of others. It begins with an exploration of the inner territory as leaders search to find their own authentic voice. The need for moral leadership, and more saliently, the context in producing the kind of schools we need, is demonstrated in creating action plans that support and empower others to develop their moral compass—and has no barrier with regard to culture or language. Often, moral leadership is hard to identify because society presents too many conflicting messages about what is meant by leadership. If humanity is to move out of its collective adolescence and enter its age of collective maturity, we have to ask ourselves some pertinent questions.
First, are the current, textbook models of leadership capable of producing global leaders who are able to address, with integrity and justice, the essential issues facing all of humanity with respect to race, gender and ethnicity? Second, are the institutions which are brought into being by the currently prevalent models of leadership, capable of creating sustainable, inclusive, moral organizations? Third, what does moral leadership to prepare educational leaders look like? Good readers, what are your thoughts?
About Dr. Nicole:
Dr. Nicole McZeal Walters is a skilled educator with 15 years of professional experience holding teaching, administrative, consulting, and instructional design positions in school and non-profit organizations. Her public school career spanned 10 years as an early childhood and elementary educator in the Aldine Independent School District. In 2007, Dr. Walters founded an educational consulting company, The Early Initiatives Group, and co-created a nationally recognized model in teacher professional staff development with Houston A+ Challenge, (formerly the Houston Annenberg Challenge). She has also demonstrated expertise and success in performance excellence-based assessment, integration of school readiness indicators in charter and public schools, and non-profit board leadership development. Dr. Walters presently serves as the Regional Director for National Urban Alliance for Effective Education, San Francisco, and works as an affiliate faculty member at the University of St. Thomas in the Educational Leadership Program.
As a researcher and consultant, Dr. Walter’s varied research interests include quality practices in Educational and moral leadership, culture, language and cognition in urban school education and; teacher staff development. She teaches graduate courses in Educational Leadership, Cultural Foundations, Leadership Theories, and Clinical Supervision. Dr. Walters is also a blogger and co-creator of Education Made Visible, a web-based education news talk show. She recently joined Fox 26 News as an educational correspondent and expert.