Ethical Principal Leadership

Underlining the professional commitment to put students first.

Topics: Principal Leadership

As we navigate the turbulent waters of culture wars and intensify our commitment to achieving educational equity, the role of school leaders has never been more critical. That’s why this issue of Principal magazine shines a spotlight on NAESP’s recently updated Statement of Ethics for School Administrators. The statement outlines a set of standards for professional behavior that transcends political or personal biases, reminding us that the well-being of our students should always take priority.

Ethical leadership in education is a commitment to inclusivity, fairness, and the pursuit of excellence for all students, regardless of their background or circumstances. In an era when educational equity is not just a buzzword but a moral imperative, school administrators are on the front lines, tasked with dismantling barriers and championing the rights of every child to a quality education.

But as Columbia University professor Mark Anthony Gooden writes, “Setting a moral compass is difficult these days, because a large—or at least vocal—group of noneducators is weighing in to tell principals and teachers that they should not fight for equity.” Read “When the Fight for Equity Becomes an Ethical Dilemma,” on page 24 for guidance on defending your school’s curriculum.

University of Alabama associate professor D. Keith Gurley also speaks to moral and ethical reasoning by outlining a four-prong paradigm for multidimensional ethical decision-making (see “Facing an Ethical Test,” page 16). “The framework can help explore the multiple perspectives of an ethically charged dilemma, deepen understanding of the situation, and choose a more informed, effective and ethical decision,” he writes.

As we bring NAESP’s new Statement of Ethics for School Administrators to life in this issue, let us remember that ethical leadership is not a destination, but a continuous journey. It’s a commitment to doing what’s right even when it’s difficult, and to ensuring that every child—regardless of their background—has the opportunity to thrive.

Kaylen Tucker, Ph.D. is Editor-in-Chief of Principal magazine.