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Training Subversives: The Ethics of Leadership Preparation Author(s): Frederick C. Buskey and Eric M.

Pitts Source: The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 91, No. 3 (Nov., 2009), pp. 57-61 Published by: Phi Delta Kappa International Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/04/2011 01:41
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■Mping Subversives: The Ethics ofLeadership Preparation ^^C^^k
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C. Buskeyand Eric M. Pitts By Frederick

Constant Benjamin ||^H^PP^:'^-i^HHHHHHtt||^|opher in leadership ^H Wi I *"*®*"«I1PI!M -M. because it can be such an uncomfortable proposition.
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CarolinaUniversity, Western FREDERICK C. BUSKEY is an assistantprofessor ofeducationalleadership, Carolina Carolina.ERIC M. PITTS is a graduatestudentincommunity Cullowhee,North counselingat Western Carolina. Cullowhee,North University,

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Likewise, Starrattdescribes two overarching - to do no harmand to do forms of responsibility schoollicensure progood (2004). While traditional leadersto do no grams maybe adequateatpreparing evthere's little or to avoidbecoming harm, tyrants, idence thatthese programs prepareleaders to do good. In manyschool cultures, doinggood mayindeed involve actsofsedition. licensure maybe Principal preparation programs for school leaders neither option,choospreparing will or to who seditious to leave chance become ing in noa with leaders many winding up tyrannical, person'sland wheretheydo not commitharmbut failto do good. Many leadership proconsistently that train future principals operateon an asgrams sumptionthat the principalis the most powerful the personin theschool and can drivechangefrom in North for But, Carolina, example, top. program and tendto become assistant principals completers for relead teachers andfrequently haveno mandate Even whenaspiring form. schoolleadersmoveinto positionsof hierarchical supremacy, they'reoften withschool cultures confronted thatare so focused on testscoresthatevery otherconsideration palesin comparison. A DIFFICULTQUESTION in the opening At WesternCarolina University, week of the first core leadership class,we question our K-12 colleaguesabout theirassumptions about is a series schoolleadership. Amongthesequestions of threeinterconnected queries: 1. Have you everpurposefully or subverted or directive, program, sabotagedan order, policy? 2. If not,could or shouldyou? 3. If so, wouldyou tellus aboutit? Students displaya wide rangeof responses.For to do Wendelsaid,"No. I havealways tried example, Simand be a teamplayer." orders mybestto follow

"I haveneverbeen givenan orTriciastated, ilarly, thatI have had to makethatdecider or directive Victoria related: sion."In contrast,
of policiesI let slideforthis There werea number I ignored werenotin his as they student, programs likehell I fought bestinterest. (excusemylanguage) forhim,and hope withall of myheartthatit was notin vain.

an subverted Ellen shared,"I have purposefully order froman assistantprincipalat my current not be long-term thata student school by insisting suspended." to connotations attached Some students negative as in Mona's response: theidea ofsubversion, what tostand Youhave tobewilling youbeupfor - andbewilling tobring lieve isright for students and to subvert to thetable. It'seasy concerns your hard to be honIt'ssometimes pretend ignorance. estandputitoutthere. Others,like Patrick, put a positivespin on the word: andyou in theU.S. Army My dad wasa colonel wasnot orders that haveto understand dismissing I am,although, a bigboynow tradition! a. . . family I caneven. . . hopefully andcanhonestly saythat a real with fill this box[onthequestion list] tually zinger! summedup best the Perhaps Baird'sreflection when he stated: of the question complexity I don't befor this a few After about days, thinking this is badand I thought that I have. lieve Atfirst, to stand I've had theopportunity thatsurely up The truth orpolicy. a baddirective is,howagainst somegreat under that I'veworked ever, principals not that would metodo anything whonever asked of I'mnotaware ofstudents. beintheinterest Also, I'm either. have been that gonegative any policies it's to think aboutthisquestion, ingto continue ofme! inside burning showsthat Baird's statement peoplehaven't many been challengedto thinkabout the meaningsor ethicsbehind rules and policies they'reroutinely thekinds out.He also helpsus see that askedto carry thatone is askedto do can dependon the of things leadershipin each individualschool. Finally,for Baird and many others,gaininga deeper underthesequesthatwillallow themto answer standing is important. tionswithmorecomplexity FORMS OF SUBVERSION outthat Starratt on thistheme, points Expanding subversionmight occur in two broad contexts

Sometimes,leaders have to be subversivesinorder to do good. Leaders need to take five steps before practicingsubversion, includingbeing informed, and probing, checkingpersonal ethics, preparing, acting. Strategies for ethical subversion include simple actions designed to delay impletracking, ofa directive; mentation working circumnavigating, aroundthedirective orchangingitsimplementation; and breaching, the directive. sinking

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58 Kappan November 2009

as resist(2009). The first maybe easilyrecognized ifimthat or a would, directive, practice ing policy, form of resistance This harm students. plemented, in the tensionbetweenjusticeand care is inherent as thechargeto do no harm. and maybe understood The secondcontext is one in whichtheschoolitself - through or governance culture, practice, existing - inherently to some or all studeniesopportunity

them to deal with the challengesof workingin As our studentsbetterunderamoral situations? ethicsand justice,theybestandwhatconstitutes come overwhelmed by the numberof ethicalconWhen shouldtheystandand flicts theyexperience. When should theyremainquiet? Aspiring fight? to these limit themselves leadersin our classesoften to twoopthemselves twoquestions. They also limit

As our students better understand what constitutes ethics and justice, they become overwhelmed by the numberof ethical conflictstheyexperience.

theleaderis proacdents.In suchan environment, in order desiresof theorganization tivein resisting harm. to prevent to achievegood, not merely teamleadermayiniFor example, a socialstudies to collaboratively tiatean effort plan withhis coland to authentic develop learningexperileagues ences in the teachers'classes that enrichstudent An assistant principal maylead the establearning. freshmen forat-risk lishment ofa specialexperience in order to preventthem from failingEnglish. in thattheyareworking are proactive These efforts in that to achievegood, and they maybe subversive culture of the school elements (expectapowerful other leaders) may oppose such tions, tradition, changes. ethical A seriesofnotedscholars has emphasized school practice.Murphy suggested"reculturing" of leaderpreparation around the threemetaphors builder moral steward,educator,and community of offered a framework (2002: 7). Earlier,Starratt ethics:justice,care, and crithreecomplementary tique(1991). Fullan (2003) pressedfora moralimtheindividual thatis appliedto levelsfrom perative as a whole.Inherto theschool,region, and society kindofleadentin each ofthesecallsfora different leaders that school context is the expectation ership notonlyneed to model needto act.This meansthey butthey need to remake service and caring, organiservice andcaring zations intoplacesthatencourage by all players.Gross and Shapiro connect moral and argue to democratic school structures learning that's fora modelof school improvement explicitly linkedto socialjustice(2005). Gross asks,"Will we servofobedientfunctionaries a generation prepare will we or a bureaucratic accountability regime, ing who build a dema kind of leader can new prepare ocratic-ethical vision for the school and the sur(2006). rounding community?" How do we develop school leaders into moral stewards and servant leaders?How do we prepare

tions: deny or comply.To become more effective leaders,theymustexpandboththeirquestionsand to thosequestions. answers thepotential

gue or obey.

School leadersneed morenuancedoptionsthan artermed moreaptly or flight, perhaps simply fight beenadaptedfrom modelthat's a simple We offer in 1963 "Letterfrom his brief description King's four described Jail." stepsin King City Birmingham nonviolent protest: any • Collectionof thefacts whether to determine exist; injustices • Negotiation; • Self-purification; and • Direct action(2000). K-12 colleagues,we've from Based on feedback the processso thatschool leaderscan apmodified bothlargeand plyit to a widerrangeof situations, inpraca linearprocess, small.We present although works one as iterative more it's tice, probably decision points. multiple through - Collect all ofthenecessary • Inform yourself to makean educatedassessment information Have you heardfrom of thesituation. multiple sidesand sources?How reliableis your What What'sthetimeframe? information? the situation? underlie and personality politics forharm What'stheethicalcost or potential for What'stheethicalpotential to others? others? to good • Probe - Trynegotiation. Beginlow-level a curriculum For example, resistance. thethird to implement instructed coordinator in four newwriting yearsmayseekto program thedistrict's and test delayimplementation V91N3 Kappan59

commitment byaskingquestions, dragging herfeet, or requesting additional information. • Personalethicalchecking - Identify theroot of theethicalconflict. Check closelyfor personalbiases.Gauge thesoulful damageof versusthepossiblephysical/ compliance emotional theextent costsofconflict. Identify to whichyou'rewilling to engagein action. • Prepare- Assessand gather resources. Develop a plan foraction. • Act- Initiate actionstrategies.

and Broughillustrate degreesof folBergmann with on the as concentric lowership supporters rings insideand resisters on theoutside(2007). They catas passive,active,or subversive. egorize resisters and is in Bergmann Broughassumethatleadership theinterior of thecircle.However, whathappensif is part oftheresistance? How do "leaders," leadership whoaresupposed oftherings, lead to be atthecenter In moving from theoutermargins? theleaderfrom thecenter to theoutsideof Bergmann and Brough 's we maygain some clues abouteffective illustration, in reactive resistance forms. and proactive willcall forthesamerangeof Not every situation action.To help leadersanalyzespecificsituations, use a contextual framework forengagingin ethical actionand artistic insubordination.
FIG. 1

Relationships Between Cost, Compliance, and Resistance

themto deliver third and asking parties (contacting How fara leader information to board members). will go in taking actioncan be assessedby theperA withthedirective. ceivedmoralcostofcomplying highermoralcost indicatesa higherlevel of comthat are touse actions mitment andmorewillingness riskier and morecomplex. can be lumped into threesimplified Strategies groupings. involvegenerally simpleacTacking strategies ofthesystem to testthecommitment tionsdesigned until or to delay implementation to the directives thesituation changes. levelsofcreinvolves higher Circumnavigating is to risk. The of and circumnavigating ativity goal of or changethenature workaroundthedirectives to mitigate the negativeeftheirimplementation fects. to sinkthediare intended Breaching strategies as simple involve rective. can something Breaching a direcas "drawing a linein thesand"and fighting it mayinvolve tivehead on. Often, however, highly to end butthegoal is always machinations, complex to and the levelof riskis understood the directive, be high. leadersto take Key to the processof preparing themwithtoolsto do so. ethicalactionis equipping Sharp outlined both a method and 198 specific for waging nonviolentstruggle against strategies and totalitarian dictatorships regimes(2003). Fuinsuborleadersforartistic tureworkon preparing of ofa number dination mustincludetheadaptation to the school arena and guidelines thesestrategies forwhenand how to applythem.

is at moralstewards While thecall for developing of thenecessity and essential, once valid,admirable, in world of the them to clean messy stay preparing Failureto schoolsis also imperative. dysfunctional lambs the to fattening do so is tantamount only up to lead them to slaughter. However,the path to withquestions. is littered ethicalresistance teaching and a betweena maverick What is the difference the leaders for is it to How ethical prepare brigand? that of the organizations possibility subverting very is itto not How ethical willbe employing them? prein "taking all of their leaders to exercise powers pare ofleadership" theproactive (Starratt responsibilities 2004). raises a possibleframework fordeciding Perhaps this whole path of exploration Figure1 offers this but exploring when to comply, when to engage in passiveresist- more questionsthanit answers, answer the work to even as we in The is and when to active resistance. ance, path important engage their unAs our students it raises. choicesoftypes ofactionrangefrom and safe expand questions simple of ethical leadership,they see that on implementation to testthe derstandings (forinstance, stalling rife with seriousness of the directive) to risky and complex schools are complicatedenvironments
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K-12 When a particular conflicts of responsibility. was willing to let our program colleaguebeginning in whicha student dewas wrongly go ofa situation nied readmission, she laterdeclared,"I'm not done createtheopwiththisyet."When we, as teachers, forherto makesucha commitment, she, portunity to as a colleague,trusts us withthe responsibility provide the context,the tools, and the skills to IC tacklesuchissues.
REFERENCES and Judith Sherrel, Bergmann, Brough.Lead Me - I Dare You:ManagingResistance to School Change. Larchmont, N.Y.: Eye on Education, 2007. "TheSpirit ofConquest and Usurpation." Constant,Benjamin. InPolitical Bancamaria Fontana.Cambridge: ed. Writings, 1989. Press, CambridgeUniversity Michael.The MoralImperative ofSchool Leadership. Fullan, Thousand Oaks, Calif.: CorwinPress, 2003. forSocial a Movement Gross,Steven. "(Re-)Constructing in for International Electronic Journal Justice Our Profession." 10, no. 31 (2006). LeadershipinLearning iejll/vol10/gross.

Gross, Steven,and Joan Shapiro."OurNew Era Requiresa Educational New Deal: TowardsDemocraticEthical no. 3 Review UCEA 46, (2005): 1-4. Leadership." Jail."In from Jr. "Letter Luther, City Birmingham King,Martin and Multicultural Textsin Feminist Classical Western ed. James Sterba. New York:Oxford University Perspectives, Press, 2000. ofEducational the Profession Murphy, Joseph. "Reculturing Administration Educational Leadership:New Blueprints." 38, no. 2 (2002): 176-191. Quarterly to Democracy:A Conceptual Sharp,Gene. FromDictatorship Einstein Boston: Albert for Liberation. Framework Institution, 2003. for School: A Theory an Ethical RobertJ. "Building Starratt, Educational PracticeinEducationalLeadership." Administration 27, no. 2 (1991): 185-202. Quarterly RobertJ. Ethical Starratt, Leadership.San Francisco:JosseyBass, 2004. RobertJ. E-mailmessage to the author, 2, Starratt, February 2009. V91 N3

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