Table of Contents

Situations Related to Ethical Principles

1. Fulfilling the letter or the spirit of the law?

2. Ensuring diverse points of view

3. Putting a square peg in a round hole

4. Protecting an individual's right to privacy

5. Ethical decisions in instructional media selection

6. Computers: Issues of health and safety

7. Adopting and promoting new ideas

8. A clash of cultures

9. Harassment, bias, and discrimination

10. Whose views? Yours or your institutions?

11. All the facts, please

12. Competing with your employer

13. Handling gifts, gratuitites, and favors

14. Engaging in fair and equitable practices with vendors

15. Greasing the squeaky wheel

16. Influencing your colleagues

17. Exploiting professional affiliations

18. Helping one another

19. Is honesty the best answer?

20. An ethical approach to doing business

21. Fair assignment of responsibility

22. Facing new copyright challenges

23. When a colleague is wrong

Greasing the Squeaking Wheel

The Situation
For about the 10th time, Matthew Turner examined his budget and the price list for new computers. No matter how hard he tried, there was no way that he could stretch this year's budget far enough to provide computers for all of the elementary schools in the city.

As computer coordinator for the school district, he had been asked to attend a meeting of parents the night before at Roosevelt Elementary School. It was not a pleasant experience! The school is located in a very affluent section of town. Most of the parents are well-paid professionals who wield considerable social and political influence in the community. One speaker after another demanded to know why their children did not have greater access to computers in the school. Threats were made to begin calling members of the school board and also to turn out at the next school board meeting to demand action.

Knowing that such pressure would place him in a difficult position, Matthew tried to figure out how he could pacify this very vocal and influential group of parents. Suddenly he got an ideal Three of the inner-city schools in economically depressed neighborhoods of the district were also in need of computers. However, Matthew figured that he could probably delay these purchases because the parents associated with these inner-city schools did not carry nearly the political influence of those representing Roosevelt Elementary School. He realized that he could calm some of the furor by simply using most of this year's computer funds to supply Roosevelt Elementary School. Certainly the school district administration would not object to his taking this action and, thus, avoiding the uproar that was sure to come from the parents at Roosevelt Elementary School if more computers were not provided.


The AECT Code of Ethics—Section 3, Principle 1
In fulfilling obligations to the profession, the member shall accord just and equitable treatment to all members of the profession in terms of professional rights and responsibilities.

The approach to solving his problem that Matthew is considering is, unfortunately, an approach that is too often used. It reflects a management style that subscribes to the notion that the "squeaking wheel gets the grease" as well as subjugating sound professional judgment to political power and influence. In addition to not providing equitable treatment for all of the schools in his district, it is a dangerous course of action because, although it might address an immediate problem, it does not solve the long-range computer needs that exist within the school district. It appears that Matthew has failed to develop a long-range plan for implementing computer technology in the schools of his district. Such a plan, approved by the school board, would allow all constituencies in the schools to see how the need for educational computing is being addressed and better enable them to make decisions on a systematic, rational, equitable basis rather than having those decisions be dominated by local political pressures.

Paul W. Welliver
Professor Emeritus of Education
Pennsylvania State University

Updated January 21, 2008
Copyright © 2001,
The Association for Educational Communications and Technology

1800 North Stonelake Drive, Suite 2
Bloomington, IN 47404

877.677.AECT (toll-free)