Being the essential institute of children’s socialization, schools must be the space for clear rules and responsible adults; however, some problems are not yet solved. Based on the Code of Ethics for educators in Florida (2013) and the New York State Code, there seems to be a reasonable number of issues raised. Those are harassment, access to diverse opinions, and the necessity to create a challenging environment for everybody.
First, sexual harassment has become probably the most discussed problem in many spheres of social life, including education. According to the survey of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation (2017), 10% of American schoolchildren have experienced sexual misconduct from teachers. However, there is a common misconception of what is acceptable in a classroom. While Florida Ethics Code (2013) forbids any touch at all, studies prove the importance of tactile contact (University of Helsinki, 2018). Teachers end up considering these limitations even if they are not totally correct in order to avoid misunderstandings.
Secondly, the Florida Code (2013, p. 1) forbids to “unreasonably deny access to diverse points of view.” Hence, schools must be free speech spaces, but the Code does not define what unreasonable denial is. It is unclear if a teacher should stop a hate speech coming from a White pupil towards an African American, or for instance if it is adequate to gravel a student glorifying Nazism. Therefore, the recommendations leave a significant space for interpretations, which puts extra responsibility on teachers.
Furthermore, the New York State Code obliges educators to challenge students. A teacher must boost everybody’s potential with suitable tasks for each case. Meanwhile, there is an understanding that schools must narrow the gap between underprivileged children and the ones from regular families. By graduation, school is supposed to have mitigated differences between children, so that their opportunities were even. Such a system of appropriate challenge contradicts this idea, so teachers have to balance these two goals of education.
To conclude, contemporary educators face multiple challenges not only in teaching but also in ethics. Sexual harassment at schools is a generally condemned practice; however, in reality, some of its dimensions seem debatable. Moreover, free speech in schools promoted by the Codes may contradict the concept of schools being a safe space for everyone, especially discriminated groups. Finally, the Codes emphasize the importance of suitable challenges of all cases that do not correspond to the aim of educators to mitigate inequality among students.
New York State code of ethics for educators. NYSED: Web.
Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct and Exploitation. (2017). Sexual abuse by teachers is on the rise. The children’s center for psychiatry, psychology, & related services. Web.
The code of ethics of the education profession in Florida. Flo Education Standard Commission 6B-1.001. (2013). Web.
University of Helsinki. (2018). Is touching appropriate in school? According to a study, touch increases trust in class. University of Helsinki: Web.