Book Review

The Ethics of School Administration

by Kenneth A. Strike, Emil J. Haller and Jonas F. Soltis, Teachers College Press, New York, N.Y., 2005, 208 pp., $21.95 softcover

The topic of ethics has never seemed more important across the nation as we hear about incident after incident of ethical violations in the ranks of our business leadership, government, military and even among the ranks of school administrators.

The authors have put together a wonderful book to help guide school leaders through the many ethical issues that are a routine part of leading a school or school district.

Kenneth Strike and Emil Haller are professors emeritus of educational administration at Cornell University, and Jonas Soltis is a professor emeritus of philosophy and education at Teachers College. They have compiled an array of case studies posing ethical questions that really challenge us. Their thought-provoking questions after each case study causes one to ponder, “How would I handle this situation?”

For instance, one case study is about a physics teacher who writes an inflammatory article in an Aryan newspaper about his beliefs in white supremacy. Students were upset and wondered how he could teach Jews and blacks when he held such views. The case study is followed with difficult questions about freedom of speech.

The authors lead readers through the process of ethical reasoning. As one can easily see working through some of the case studies, the ethical route is not always easy to discern. However, by following a process of reasoning, one can develop skills that will help with these difficult decisions.

As educational leaders in our schools and communities, we need to model ethical decision making. This is an excellent book to assist us in that effort.

Reviewed by David Smette, superintendent, Jamestown Public Schools, Jamestown, N.D.