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Philly students outside School District headquarters during recent anti-gun violence rally. Photo: LBW
Philly students outside School District headquarters during recent anti-gun violence rally. Photo: LBW

Give students ‘right’ examples for life

The new School Board needs renewed emphasis on ethics.

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When the nine people Mayor James Kenney announced as his selections to serve on the new Board of Education formally begin their operational control of Philadelphia’s public school system on July 1, their immediate focus should be improving the quality of education.

Thinking that elevating the quality of education will automatically be Priority #1 for the new Board of Education, while a natural presumption, can perhaps be ‘wishful thinking’ if past practice is any predictor of future performance.

The messy state of Philly’s school system from funding problems to instructional inequities exist in part because of actions-&-inactions by the old Boards of Education operational before imposition of the SRC, that expiring state entity that didn’t earn honor roll stature during its tutelage of the largest school system in Pennsylvania.

One practical educational improvement is back to basics instruction for students in personal finances like how to pay bills, manage credit and save money. 

Another basic for real world educational advancement is instruction in ethics – informing young on critical distinctions between right and wrong. Youth need what far too many adults failed to learn: respect for ethical behaviors. This major failure exposes impressionable youth to bad examples.

For instance, Mayor Kenney’s immediate predecessor, Michael Nutter, appointed a person to the SRC who failed in adherence to ethics. That appointee voted to close a number of schools across North Philadelphia yet that appointee made sure their grandchild’s school in North Philly remained open.  

One practical educational improvement is back to basics instruction for students in personal finances like how to pay bills, manage credit and save money.

Law enforcement in Philadelphia is an arena where ethics are abused all day-every day despite police and prosecutors each having codes of ethics they are sworn to uphold. 

Integrity is one of the three ‘core values’ of the Philadelphia Police Department according to the PPD’s Directive 8.10. That ethics statement seemingly establishes zero tolerance for “corruption, abuse of authority, official misconduct and even the appearance of improprieties” by police personnel.

However, Philadelphia has a putrid history of police and prosecutors bashing whistleblower cops who expose misconduct inclusive of corruption and abuse of authority.

Take former PPD Sergeant Tyrone Cook, a 24-year veteran, fired in 2010 after he filed formal complaints for corrupt misconduct against a few detectives and one Philly prosecutor related to the false arrest and detention of Cook’s nephew. 

Cook uncovered the evidence that cleared his nephew. Cook’s investigation also uncovered evidence documenting the depths of misconduct by the lawless law enforcers Cook named in those complaints. 

But Cook faced castigation not commendation. 

After Cook lodged those complaints, PPD officials suddenly fired him for being late 38 times in 2004. Officials in 2010 provided no valid evidence that documented Cook’s chronic job tardiness six years earlier. 

Ethical antics are evident among Philadelphia’s news media. Some news accounts last week of former Sheriff John Green’s jury acquittal headlined him ‘beating’ corruption charges. In 2015 when six narcotics cops were acquitted of corruption headlines did not demean them as ‘beating’ those charges.

Ethics ‘schooling’ can enhance students’ civic growth, complementing traditional instruction in reading, writing and math.

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