Three New Case Studies
Educators and school and district leaders across the political spectrum face heightened challenges as Donald J. Trump assumes the United States presidency. Our mission at Justice in Schools is to help educators and policy makers ask good questions about the ethical dimensions of their work, offer shared language to talk about the ethical choices they face, and provide frameworks and heuristics through which they can understand others’ points of view. In honor of Inauguration Day, we have therefore posted three new cases and teaching/facilitation guides and other supporting materials. These cases address civic ethical dilemmas that we anticipate educators will face (and are already confronting), about how to decide what to treat as a controversial issue, how to distinguish between political and harassing speech, and how to address student civil disobedience. We invite you to explore these materials, and share feedback about how we can make them more useful.
Overview of the Project
Educators and educational policy makers are faced with ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. For example:
Currently, educators and policy makers tend to wrestle with these dilemmas on their own, with little guidance or even acknowledgment that ethical considerations are an essential part of their work. Justice in Schools (JiS) is designed to affirm that ethics matter, and then to help educators and policy makers reason through the dilemmas they face. JiS doesn’t necessarily provide answers. Rather, Justice in Schools helps educators and policy makers ask the right questions, offers shared language to talk about the ethical choices they face, and provides frameworks and heuristics through which they can understand others’ points of view.
Moral, political, and educational theory serve as important sources of shared language and ethical frameworks. In part, Justice in Schools helps bring these theoretical resources to those practitioners who work in and with schools. However, moral and political theory have also generally been developed to specify what the world would ideally be like, if people behaved in truly moral ways toward one another, and if institutions were designed to be truly just. These theoretical insights are important. But they fail to address many of the most important questions that educators and policy makers wrestle with because they don’t explain how justice can be implemented under unjust conditions or in unjust contexts. Each of the dilemmas above, for example, is grounded in at least one starting injustice: that teachers and schools districts do not have the resources to meet all of their students’ needs, for example, or that race and class continue to structure students’ educational opportunities. Justice in Schools helps moral, political, and educational theorists ask the right questions about justice in non-ideal contexts, develops new language to talk about educational ethics, and provides empirically-informed frameworks for developing a philosophically rigorous and pragmatically useful theory of educational justice.
Justice in Schools pursues these aims by using normative case studies--complex, empirically-researched ethical practice and policy dilemmas--of justice in schools. To learn more about the normative case study method, to read and comment on normative case studies we are currently developing, or to offer your own dilemma of justice, please explore our website further!
In the News and Around the Web
Great new EdCast on "Teaching in Complex Times" featuring Meira Levinson, Jacob Fay, and Laura Burgos. We encourage you to listen!
New cases featured on Harvard's Usable Knowledge.
Hear Meira Levinson talk about dilemmas of educational ethics on Harvard's EdCast.
Ethical Dilemmas on Rick Hess Straight Up
Meira Levinson and Jacob Fay guest blogged about challenges of educational justice and ethics on Rick Hess Straight Up. Check out our reflections on school closure, teaching Trump, and the potential for a Presidential Commission on Educational Ethics. There's also a thoughtful article about the issues we raised in the Huffington Post.
How to use these cases in teaching
Harry Brighouse has posted a really terrific reflection on Crooked Timber about his use of cases and commentaries from Dilemmas of Educational Ethics in his undergraduate class this year.
New book featured in Usable Knowledge
Click here to read more!
New Article: Moral Injury
Meira Levinson discusses the concept of "moral injury" through case studies – the trauma of perpetrating significant moral wrong against others despite one's whole-hearted desire to do otherwise. See publications page.
Non-gory case studies
Justice in Schools project, "non-gory" normative case studies, and the ethics of pandering in the Boston Public Schools discussed on philosophers' blog Crooked Timber. See here for a terrific conversation initiated by Harry Brighouse, with substantive commentary from numerous philosophers.