District of Columbia Public Schools is hosting public forums as part of its second search for a new chancellor in as many years, and it’s clear many are looking to avoid ethical issues that plagued prior administrations.
DCPS’ most recent chancellor, Antwan Wilson, resigned in February for bypassing the district’s admissions lottery process to transfer his daughter to a limited enrollment high school – the same exact issue that led to the departure of the previous chancellor, Kaya Henderson, WAMU reports.
The situation wasn’t lost on those who participated in the public forums in August and September, when many spoke of the importance of selecting a new leader with strong character.
“Given the history we have in the city, I think we need a chancellor with a deep moral compass,” Anacostia High School volunteer Aaron Jenkins told WAMU. “(We need) someone that has an understanding of not only the job they have to do as chancellor but also a deeper awareness of right and wrong.”
Emily Mechner, a mother of three students at Oyster Adams Bilingual School, echoed Jenkins’ sentiments.
“A lot of people at our table were really interested in our chancellor having a real strong ethical center, to have a real clear moral sense of what is right and what’s important for the schools and the community,” Mechner said.
Participants also identified a performance gap between schools in the district, the accessibility of central office officials, and a need for more family engagement as top priorities. D.C. Interim Deputy Mayor for Education Ahnna Smith and her staff documented the public forums, and she said “the mayor and committee members would receive a synthesized report of all the public forums”.
The city will consider the feedback, as well as comments submitted online, as committee members wade through applicants for a new chancellor.
James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote about how a person’s character is largely the product of a broader moral culture that includes school, home life, media, relationships and countless other factors.
“This moral culture not only gives us our ethical understanding, it also tells us who we are,” Hunter wrote in “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America” “It provides us with an understanding of what it means to be human and what kind of human we should ideally be.”
Great Hearts Academies offers a video about what the non-profit public charter school network is doing to develop future leaders schools and communities can depend on, with the character and integrity to serve others honorably.
In the video “Building Goodness by Building Character” students and school officials explain why Great Hearts is focused strongly on character formation, and why it’s important for the future.
“It’s not just about producing brilliant kids,” Great Hearts co-founder Daniel Scoggin said, “but brilliant kids who have the character to deploy that talent for a good that’s greater than themselves.”