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Understanding the development and definition of ethics, the role of ethical theory in determining appropriate character and conduct, and the relationship between ethics and leadership will assist you in becoming both an ethical and well-respected educational leader.  

Part I: Using the assigned readings for the course as well as additional applicable scholarly sources, describe in sufficient detail with supportive reference citing what you believe to be the definition of ethics, the character traits, and conduct of ethical educational leaders.  

Part II: Many, if not most, difficult decisions experienced by educational leaders do not involve a clearly defined or simple right or wrong choice or course of action to resolve a particular ethical dilemma. Review the ethical dilemma below, and then use Badaracco’s (1992) four-question framework to analyze right-vs.-right ethical dilemmas. Keep the following in mind: 1. Which course of action will do the most good and the least harm? 2. Which alternative best serves others’ rights, including shareholders’ rights? 3. What plan can I live with, which is consistent with the basic values and commitments of my company? 4. Which course of action is feasible in the world as it is? Be sure to defend your identification of an ethical plan to reduce your budget expenditures for the upcoming school year to your board of education, using the proposed reductions from your school district budget committee. 

As a superintendent of a large high-performing suburban school district with extensive parent involvement and support, you have recently learned a significant amount of your state funding will be reduced for the upcoming school year. A school operating tax referendum was recently approved by voters in your school community and you also secured a 3-year contract agreement with your local teacher union, resulting in minor pay increases for teachers. The state funding reductions will require you to eliminate a significant amount of money from the school district’s operating budget. A school district budget committee has revealed reduction proposals in teaching positions as well as in supplemental services and programs for students. These proposed reductions involve:

  1. A reduction of teaching positions resulting in enlarged student class sizes reaching or exceeding the union agreed-upon maximum limit; additional pay would be required for teachers whose student class sizes exceeded the union agreed-upon maximum,
  2. The elimination of high school busing because this transportation service is not required by law in your state,
  3. Parents being required to pay additional costs for their children to participate in all extra-curricular activities, including all school sponsored athletic programs, and
  4. The elimination of programs for identified gifted students because these services are not required by law in your state. 

Length: 4 pages, not including title and reference pages
References: 3-5 scholarly resources

Your response should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. 



Leadership: Theory and Practice 7th Edition by Peter G. Northouse

Link Topic

Link Topic


Subject Administration Pages 4 Style APA


Understanding the Development and Definition of Ethics

Over the years, leaders have been forced to make critical decisions that affect the lives of many people within their leadership. Who is a good leader and what character traits should good leaders possess? The question of what good leadership entails has been a hot topic among scholars, leaders, and individuals across the globe. Nevertheless, good leaders have been perceived to serve as role models in making ethical decisions while developing and implementing plans of action to promote ethical conduct among their staff. Just like any other leaders in any given institutions, educational leaders have experienced ethical dilemmas in determining the moral course of action that protects the rights of stakeholders while enhancing academic performances. All the same, the question remains on the character traits of ethical, educational leaders.

Character Traits and Conduct of Ethical Educational Leaders

Over the years, the meaning and approaches of ethics and related concepts has created controversies among ethicists and philosophers. For instance, while Aristotle believed ethics to be the course of action that brought about more happiness, Kant believed the moral course of action to be that which is consistent with one’s duties. Nevertheless, the term ethics have widely been defined as a systematic approach to analyzing and determining between right and wrong in relation to the well-being of humans. Precisely, ethics refers to the moral principle that guides the behavior of human beings (Noriega & Drew, 2013). Educational leadership has become more complex due to the diversity of the American society. While schools have made various rules and regulations to govern students and teaching staffs, such regulations have been constrained by local, state and federal governments. As a result, many educational leaders have been forced to make complex decisions to safeguard the rights of different stakeholders, while at the same time ensuring academic excellence among students. Precisely, educational leaders must make complex decisions about the school’s curriculum and identify strategies through which input can be generated from both parents and the community to ensure desired educational results to organization’s stakeholders (Berkovich & Eyal, 2015). Educational leaders should, therefore, possess unique character traits to achieve the desired goals. Firstly, educational leaders should be confident enough to make critical decisions within their powers. Through self-confidence, educational leaders can make decisions without fear of critique from others. Secondly, educational leaders should possess excellent communication skills to communicate effectively with their staff without any constraints. Thirdly, educational leaders should be resourceful and accept new ideas that can improve the academic excellence of their students. Finally, educational leaders should lead by example so that their juniors can emulate their character traits (Myers, 2015).

Case Study

A reduction in state funding is anticipated in the upcoming school year. The state funding reduction comes after the school community voters approve an operating tax referendum. The news regarding state funding reduction also comes after a three-year contract was secured with the local teachers union which resulted in minor salary increases for the teachers. Due to the impending financial crisis that is anticipated in the school, the budget committee has proposed a reduction of supplemental services, students’ programs as well as teaching positions. As a superintendent of the learning institution which encourages strong parent involvement and support, what ethical plan would be the most effective in reducing the school’s budget expenditure?


Case Analysis

Educational leaders are responsible for determining how curriculum should be utilized within their learning institutions. All the same, superintendents are required to distinguish between federal, state and local requirements for the management of school funds and how to monitor the institution’s financial accounts. The leaders are also required to understand the importance of supportive services in such aspects as safety and security, student support services as well as transport services. Additionally, educational leaders should be aware of procedures for recruitment and retention of staffs as well as the implications of contractual agreements with staffs. The case study brings about an ethical dilemma regarding the right course of action that does not undermine the interest of the stakeholders while enhancing academic performances. The school had secured a three-year contract with the local teacher’s union which could foster pay increase among teachers. Reducing the teachers’ positions would, therefore, breach the contract, which might lead to various legal implications. Secondly, eliminating the busing program is more likely to affect most students who experience distance of financial difficulties. While parents can be required to pay additional costs for the student’s extra-curricular activities, the move can be considered unfair since the parents will cater for school sponsored curriculum programs. Finally, withdrawing programs for gifted students is more likely to be a de-motivating factor fostering poor performances.

Right Course of Action

As an ethics professor, Badaracco (1992) advocated for the dirty hand’s problems in the resolution of ethical dilemmas that require complex choices between various competing virtues such as fairness, respect, honesty, responsibility as well as objectivity. According to Badaracco (1992) managers should ‘get their hands dirty’ and make a decision that brings the least harm to the people (Badaracco, 1992). In his four questions for assessing ways that would resolve right-versus-right dilemmas, Badaracco advocated for the course of action which would serve the rights of the people as well as the shareholders (Leavy & Leavy, 2017). Additionally, Badaracco advocated for action plans that are consistent with the values and commitments as well as those that are feasible in the world.

With the speculated reduction in state funding, the school is more likely to experience a financial crisis in the upcoming school year. Therefore, there is need to implement an ethical plan to reduce the budget expenditures. Working in a high performing school requires a great commitment to students, teaching staff and parents, to ensure academic excellence. Above all students need the motivation to attain good academic results (Armstrong, Brown, & Thompson, 2014). Eliminating programs for gifted students would de-motivate the students towards their academic performances. On the other side, eliminating the school busing system would hinder some students from accessing their studies effectively. Additionally, allowing parents to pay additional costs including school sponsored athletic programs would be an exploitation of the parents. The right course of action will, therefore, be reducing the teaching positions, which will enlarge the student class sizes.  Reducing the teaching positions will cut extra costs that will be incurred in paying additional teachers. For all students to access an education and attend all classes according to the curriculum, I would advocate for an enlargement of the classes. Reducing the teaching positions would, therefore, be the right course of action since it will do the least harm and most good as most students will still attend their classes at the expense of a few teachers from the union.

Overall, many educational leaders have been forced to make complex decisions that undermine various virtues such as fairness, honesty, and responsibility. Students need the motivation to enhance their academic performances. While learning institutions strive to cut operating costs, implementing actions that cause the least harm to students would be an ethical cause of action for educational leaders.








Armstrong, S., Brown, S. A., Brown, S., & Thompson, G. (Eds.). (2014). Motivating students. Routledge.

Badaracco, J. L. (1992). Business ethics: Four spheres of executive responsibility. California Management Review34(3), 64-79.

Berkovich, I., & Eyal, O. (2015). Educational leaders and emotions: An international review of empirical evidence 1992–2012. Review of Educational Research85(1), 129-167.

Leavy, B., & Leavy, B. (2017). Joseph Badaracco: Working through “gray area problems” as a manager and resolving them as a human being. Strategy & Leadership45(1), 44-49.

Myers Jr, L. A. (2015). Preparing for Ethical Leadership: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Leadership Education14(2).

Noriega, P., & Drew, M. T. (2013). Ethical Leadership and Dilemmas in the Workplace. Consortium Journal of Hospitality & Tourism18(2).





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