Everyone has had a parent tell them that “the ends do not justify the means.” Really? Is it true? This question has never been more important than in today’s world of K12 public education. NCLB, NEA, student censorship, Intelligent Design v. Evolution, school board politics – so many of these important education issues represent a breakdown in the “means” of our society’s ability to engage in meaningful discourse. When do the ends justify the means? Good question — here is the issue: when the means are cheapened, the ends are nearly always damaged in the process.
Last night I watched a school board elect a new Superintendent on a 5-4 vote. No problem there – the majority has the right to make decisions; however, it became clear that the minority had not been included in the decision making process in a meaningful manner. Why is this important? Because when the means are subjugated, then the ends are irrevocably weakened. The end result of this meeting was a new Superintendent; however, by not working diligently to get at least one vote from the minority, the majority has significantly weakened the leadership position of this Superintendent. Being a Superintendent in today’s world is a really tough job. It is patently unfair to a new Superintendent to have to deal with factious parents, students, teachers, administrators and board members – all because a board majority did not feel the need to follow the proper “means” in its decision making process. Although this may be the right person for the job, he now faces an uphill battle to successfully lead this district. The collateral damage to this decision making process is very real.
Being in the majority is a true challenge. It requires an unwavering commitment to the processes that properly represent the views of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority. A majority does not have license to act in an autonomous manner; instead, it represents a responsibility to use that majority position in a prudent manner. The same ills that afflict today’s political arenas now affect our schools.
So, when do the ends justify the means? The answer is very, very, very rarely. One of the core principles of education is that it teaches each of us the value of dissenting views. How can we expect our children to learn this value if we do not live it ourselves?
I know that I will be telling my children that “the ends do not justify the means; instead, the means validate the ends.”
~ LOUIS PICONI, Founder and Chief Executive Officer ~