Glenda’s Corner: Ethical Decision

As a mother, citizen and leader in my family and community my ethical positions and boundaries have been formed by my childhood upbringing.

Glenda Lee

If someone were to observe my life I believe at least three values would be apparent that are important to me; they are family, education and community. The value of family, education and community was drilled into me from the paternal side of my family. I became involved with children at the very young age of eight and right on into my adult life. Working in the youth field became my career choice as a young stay home mom as I provided childcare and educated other’s children in my home. By 1999 after five years of being a stay home mom, my career took me out into the community and my awareness of the issue concerning my community became a burden on my heart and I wanted to do something to effect change for the better.  So I rolled up my sleeves and jumped right into it as an advocate on behalf of children and families, and program creator.

I was born the second oldest child to my parents; I have a younger and older sister. We were very close to my father’s side of the family, where family and the children were valued. I had two aunts who were very involved with all the children in our family and the community. They would gather together community children along with us and kept us busy in group activities. My one aunt Flora started a non-profit youth camp for us and children of the community. She was very involved in the community and marched against segregation with Father Grappe. As we became teens she worked for UWM college recruitment and continuously spoke to us about higher education.

So began my life lessons of family, community and education as a value. I was a stay home mom until my children were in school all day, and took in family and friends children to care for them while home with my own children. I have helped to raise my god-children, and a mentor of children within my community. I continuously preach higher education to my children as well as to all who cross my path. I am an educational presenter to youth groups, and also read story books to children in schools and youth organizations. And last I am an advocate for issues involving families and children, I have written to my state and congress person in regards to critical issues involving my community.  

Now as a mother I have often run into disagreements with my husband/now ex., on how to solve ethical issue concerning our family. I have come to understand that the abusive and neglectful household and extended family he was raised in plays a role in his approach, and conversely how I was raised contributes to my approach. Example, we both value our family and don’t want to see them hurt. If one of our children is bullied, I would take the reasonable approach of diplomacy with the school and parents; which is in contrast to how my husband would handle it, it’s just all out war, yelling and threats, the good thing is that I usually can smooth wounded feeling over between all parties.  It is my life’s experience and understanding of what I’ve learned that all people around the world whether they be men or women that their culture and how they are raised plays a major role in how they approach ethical decisions.

My own upbringing that has contributed to my values has brought me face-to-face with one of the most heart wrenching ethical decisions I had to face. I started a job with a voucher elementary school (Labrew Troopers Military University). It wasn’t long before a started that I began to see a school of horror. The whole school was a cesspool of violence, the children 4K-6th grade fought, screamed and cursed out each other as well as the staff. I came in and turned around the 1st grade class as I was behavioral management specialist to aid the teacher. I was quickly promoted to 4K teacher, turned that class room around within a week. Amongst the hell, I had paradise behind my four walls. 

But then one day I saw what was happening in the drill hall, and the transitioning room where children who were disobedient were sent. I could not believe what I witnessed. Children were under military controlled exercise not fit for children, made to carry car tires around their necks and run around the gym, cursed at and demeaned verbally and physically. Children fingers and arms were being bent, children slammed into walls, sat on, and unsanitary condition used in the cafeteria and food handling. I began to speak up in the staff meetings, and with some persuasion twice I got a few teachers to voice their concerns, but they soon quitted down for fear of losing their jobs if they stood. I was faced with an ethical decision that had to do with major values of mine, education, family and community; do I risk losing my job that supported my family, taking jobs from my co-workers, do I risk my safety and my family as retaliation was a possibility.

Then there were these defenseless children, who would advocate for them, and save them from this abuse and neglect. So first, I decided that if I could get the owner to understand that he must put a stop to this horror then all could be solved without any of the risks listed above. I demanded to the principle to tell the owner that I demanded that things change immediately. The response in the next meeting came back, that if I spoke any more of this issue I or anyone else would be fired. So I took my next and only approach, I started videotaping and recording meetings and conversations. I then reported it to the Dept. of Instructions, Social Services Child Protection, wrote my congressperson, senator, governor, call a reporter of the Sentinel and wrote President Obama. I also told my co-workers, I refused to get a paycheck off the blood of children and that they should prepare for their worst fear because I would not stop until I saw this school closed. In the end I was able to assist in helping to close the school as they were also under investigation for voucher fraud. 

So, I worked with men, some of whom were of the US army reserves and women whom shared my values of family, education, and community, yet our approach to this horrible ethical decision brought about different approaches. Some co-workers said they knew it was wrong, and that their approach was to try really hard not to send their students to the drill hall or transition room. One religious teacher and friend of the owner said prayer was the answer, others said they spoke up in the meeting and so they tried, so their conscious was clear; all said they had to their own family to think of.  So I ask you “What do you think was the contributing factor that we shared many of the same values and yet our approach to such a horrible situation was so different?” 

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