Ethical Challenges in School Administration: Perspectives of Canadian Principals

By Benjamin Kutsyuruba and Keith Walker.

Published by Organizational Cultures: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The nature of ethical decision-making by educational leaders as moral agents has become a topic of increased attention in the field of educational administration. This article reports findings from a descriptive ethics study that allowed the participating Canadian school principals from the ten provinces and three territories (n=177) to express their own meanings and understandings with respect to the nature of ethical decision-making, types of ethical challenges, pressures and grounds for resolving ethical dilemmas. The research methodology consisted of self-report, open-ended questionnaires administered in both mail-out and on-line forms. Findings revealed that most often work-related ethical issues in their schools arose between school administration and teachers and staff. In their dealings with ethical dilemmas, participants experienced internal pressure of staying true to personal values and external pressure of stakeholder groups with different agendas. The concept of the best interests of students was regularly described as the core or center of ethical decision-making and the heart of educators’ work. The greatest practical implication of this research is its potential for providing educational leaders with a better understanding of the nature of ethical decision-making such that they are, ultimately, better able to make the tough ethical choices with integrity.

Keywords: Moral Agency, Ethical Decision Making, Educational Administration, Canadian Principals

Organizational Cultures: An International Journal, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp.85-99. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 474.697KB).

Dr. Benjamin Kutsyuruba

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada

Dr. Kutsyuruba is an assistant professor in educational policy and leadership, and an associate director of the Social Program Evaluation Group in the Faculty of Education at Queen's University. His research interests include educational policymaking; educational leadership; mentorship and development of teachers; trust, moral agency, and ethical decision-making in education; transnationalization of higher education; school safety and discipline; and, educational change, reform, and restructuring. His areas of teaching are educational leadership, school law and policy, educational policy studies, and policymaking in education.

Prof. Keith Walker

Professor, Educational Administration , Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Professor Walker possesses over thirty years of experience as a manager, teacher, minister, leader, scholar, and educational administrator in public and social sectors. His formal education has been in the disciplines of physical education, sports administration, theology, education, educational administration, and philosophy. He has earned national and international awards for his research work. In addition to his research work with senior educational administrators in K–12 and tertiary education, he has worked a great deal in the areas of building the learning community and the institutionalization of change. He is currently working on a number of manuscripts dealing with subjects such as leadership perspectives on hope, building trust, school board governance, university presidents’ responses to the new economy, adult education policy, building appreciative schools, and diligent leadership. He has recently co-authored a book on leadership for Pacific Islanders with Dr. Kabini Sanga. He was on sabbatical leave in 2004–2005, as visiting professor at the Centre for School Leadership at the University of British Columbia and at Azusa Pacific University in California.