By David Anderson
Effective immediately, your teaching staff generally and your administration most particularly will no longer be held to standards requiring conduct that is morally upright nor morally reprehensible as we educators have no idea what ‘moral’ means.
Ty Beaver, writing in the Tri-City Herald this May 18, 2013, disclosed that the contract for the new Richland School District superintendent will apparently continue to include — for now — along with the customary performance evaluations, a clause concerning morality.
Whatever that is.
Thus no memo per the hypothetical disclaimer above to be read over loudspeakers during the morning flag salute.
Not all agree morality should remain however. “Some education officials question how to define moral conduct.”
One long-term school administrator quoted in the article said he “would be offended if anyone asked me to sign (a morality clause).”
Still another suggested that while morality “was standard language” at one time, perhaps a review would be in order, given morality’s “ambiguity.”
Sure. Should go without saying. After all, what a loosey-goosey, careless and imprecise, passé concept morality is.
Monkeys for example don’t have morality in their manual. They just do it.
Robert Wright has written a book in which he concludes from his ‘monkey-see, monkey-do’ observations, that “animals exhibit rudimentary moral behavior.” It’s entitled “The Moral Animal – Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology.”
Basically Wright’s thesis is that given we humans are reputedly a rung or two higher on the evolutionary ladder from our hairy predecessors — admittedly debatable in some cases — we should expect at minimum from our fellow mammals at least a modicum of moral reflection to be evidenced in our behavior.
Without having to spell it out which, of course obviously, monkeys can’t do.
So if you can’t define it, can’t spell it, what good is it to include it?
That would be a good question expect for two things. First, morality is mentioned already — as reflected in the Richland article — in many local and state-wide codes of conduct for school employees. Apparently for a reason. It is there and thus to remove it is to send a message – in and of itself – to the children being taught. Schools are not moral-free zones.
Second, we do indeed legislate morality – despite protestations to the contrary – and thus it would behoove us to leave it in without definition and deal with the immoral as the occasion demands, and as court case law supports.
A hypocritical example:
Upon the opening of the Grand Central Casino in Lakewood, Washington a then-Lakewood City Councilwoman claimed that casinos were exempt from condemnation (there was an initiative afoot to ban them) because gambling establishments were (1) legal; (2) profitable; and (3) amoral – or at least the moral argument was immaterial given (1) and (2).
Ironically the very same date of July 22, 2003 on which the council considered community criticism of casinos a non-issue, the same council was contemplating an ordinance to control wet t-shirts, bikinis and mud-wrestling in local taverns.
And it was also that council that on November 1, 2004 passed Ordinance No. 358 zoning Sexually Oriented Businesses (SOB’s) on the basis, in part, that “an improperly operated SOB (Lakewood’s designation) can constitute a public or moral nuisance.”
The question thus is not ‘do we make decisions based upon morality,’ even legislatively, but rather (1) whose morality shall we use – a monkey’s or some other; and (2) if ‘other’ then whose and how?
In his review of Wright’s monkeying around, Gregory Koukl declares that morality is so basic to human nature that it “informs behavior, judging it either good or bad.”
Unless Koukl is coo-coo, which is likely not the case since he is President of “Stand to Reason” — an apologetics organization (www. str.org), and the co-author with Francis J. Beckwith of “Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air” – then we, like the monkeys, are afflicted, infected, and are forever to be impacted with the morality virus.
It’s innate to us primates.
Thus when Florida teacher Olivia Sprauer is exposed for modeling in a bikini this past May 7, she’s fired.
When Tallahassee teacher Laurie Nenortas not only allows an “overly permissive classroom environment” that included discussion of sex encounters, but also recounts for the 10th grade students how she herself “lost her virginity,” she’s suspended 13 days without pay (May 14).
When “arousing portrayals of clothed females in provocative poses” is linked to violence against women, as Diana Russell’s research (and Sprauer’s picture might evidence) reveals, and one in four girls is sexually assaulted by the time they are 18, do we need to be spelling this stuff out for teachers, administrators?
When Tennessee officials axed their university’s first ever “Sex Week,” this past March 20 — programs that included “Getting Laid;” a workshop about oral sex; a poetry-reading lesbian bondage expert; and a campus-wide scavenger hunt for a golden condom, Sen. Stacey Campfield told Fox News, “We should be teaching these children what is important to learn so they can get jobs. I don’t know what jobs they plan on getting if they’re having seminars on oral sex and bondage. I don’t see how that will help someone in their professional career — unless they plan on becoming a porn star.”
In the examples above was morality mentioned in their manual?
Did it need to be?