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Saint Marys University of Minnesota

Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs

EDUW 695

Ethics and Issues in Education

Fall 2016

Stevens Point

Terry Vechinski

Portfolio Assignment

Code of Ethics
Ethics is said to be a branch of moral philosophy. Very often when we talk about ethics we

hear about right and wrong conduct as well as terms like morals and values. These can be a bit


Values are personal. They help us make decisions about what is right and what is wrong,

good or bad. Values are what we believe to be good. Its what many parents want their children

to learn and use to guide them as they grow up. These will help to guide in deciding what is

more or less important.

Morals are more far reaching. We, society, tend to judge others by their morals and the moral

decisions they make. Society imposes these upon each individual.

Ethics describe the group of people that have adopted them. They are a set of rules that are

upheld by the group internally. They guide the specific group and are found in every profession.

Ethical as well as unethical behavior involves and affects everyone in the profession.

In the field of education ethical practice is most important because teachers influence the

development of the individuals they teach. We need to provide effective role models. We can

and should teach our students what is right and wrong and how to handle certain situations. This

has to be done without stating our opinions as they relate to political issues. Sometimes teaching

ethical behavior may be confused with teaching a religious viewpoint. These are some

challenges that we might face. However, it seems to have become our responsibility in the

schools to teach ethical behavior. We can do this by adopting character or value based programs

in the school. Educators that fall under the code of ethics include the support professionals in

our schools as well as the teachers and administrators. This group works together to model

appropriate behavior for our young people.

There are several different educational organizations that have developed their own code of

ethics. The National Education Association, the NEA, has based its code on two basic

principles: Commitment to Student and Commitment to the Profession. The Association of

American Educators has used four standards or principles for its code: Commitment to Students,

Commitment to Practices and Performance, Commitment to Professional Colleagues, and to

Parents and Community.

The Code of Ethics for Catholic School Educators is the specific code that impacts me. It has

been adapted from the National Catholic Educational Association in 1999. This code of ethics

sets the standards of what is acceptable for Catholic school educators.

The mission of the NCEA is as follows: Rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the National

Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is a professional membership organization that

provides leadership, direction and service to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching

mission of the Church. In short, the purpose of the NCEA is to work with Catholic educators to

support ongoing faith formation and the teaching of the mission of the church.

This code begins with a commitment to students and states that the Catholic school educator

makes the well-being of students the foundation of all decisions and actions. This means that the

educator provides assistance with respect and reverence to each individual preserves the

students right to privacy and protects them from any threat.

The second principle is a commitment to the ministry of teaching and conveys that the

educator is to perform teaching responsibilities with diligence and integrity meaning that the

educator is to continue to grow as a professional by increasing their knowledge and skills

fostering the idea that we are lifelong learners. This also declares that the educator is to be
professional by respecting the dignity of colleagues and upholding the authority of the school

when dealing with the entire school community.

The third standard is a commitment to the community as an agent of appropriate change as

well as a preserver of basic tradition. This standard implies that the school community is an

integral part of the parish church in preparing future church and civic leaders. It also implies that

the educators need to be peacemakers and problem solvers and develop activities that foster

leadership in the school community in order for the students to respond to the needs of the time

and live out their Christian values both currently and as adults.

The purpose of the NCEA is to help students grow in their faith by supporting the

professional educators who interact daily with them students. The guiding principles in the Code

of Ethics for Catholic Educators help support this mission.

I like that this code is based on respect for the dignity of each individual: The dignity given

to us by God. Each individual has been created by God just exactly the way they are. Each of us

is special and unique and perfect in Gods eyes. How powerful if that God-given dignity was to

be recognized and honored in individuals everywhere?

I think many times we just know what is right and what is wrong. We use the law to guide

our decisions while sometimes not thinking about what is ethical. We have to remember to ask

ourselves a bigger question: What is morally and ethically and legally right?

In my journal entry I wrote about two situations where this code of ethics could be used to

help make the right decision. One situation was that of a reporting issue. Our priority is to the

youngest, the most vulnerable of Gods people, the children. When faced with the decision to
report (or not) suspected abuse, there really is no choice to make. I have learned that I will

report and let Social Services make the determination. My obligation is to the child, period.

Another situation that I wrote about was embellished just a bit. It is a situation where a

teacher and student appeared to be having a personal relationship. One of the ethical issues

educators face is how friendly should they be with their students? We want to get to know our

students. Students achieve at a higher level when they make a personal connection with their

teacher. That relationship is very important in the learning process. This may be a little tricky in

certain situations- like high school. It is something to be aware of and to coach and mentor our

new younger staff members about. It is for the protection of all parties involved. Obviously an

inappropriate teacher/student relationship would be unethical. Based on this particular code of

ethics, that type of situation would not be respecting the dignity of the individual or individuals.

As I mentioned in class one day, I have been in education for 31 years and dont remember

actually looking at a code of ethics before this. I appreciate this being brought to my attention

and will share the Code of Ethics for Catholic Educators with my teacher at our next staff

meeting so they cant say the same.