Transgender students. Wage and hour laws. Uber. These topics were not in the syllabus of any classes I had in undergraduate and graduate course work. Administrators and teachers at independent schools must continue to stay abreast of current topics in education. These three were among those discussed at the recent FCIS conference for Florida private school leadership.
Parents looking for great schools may be focused on safety, academics, extra-curriculars, quality of faculty, student success, communication, and cost, but topics like transgender students, wage and hour regulations, and the use of Uber or other public or private ride-share options can tell a great deal about a school.
No matter who a child, parent, teacher or staff member may be, the way a school exhibits respect for that person translates into how the school cares for the individuals in the school.
Even with the laws and best practice guidelines available to schools and all other workplaces, the manner in which the laws and practices are conveyed to community members trumps the application of the law.
Obeying laws and following best practices is fundamental. Treating people with respect and making them feel ownership and safety shows the true nature and core values of a school or other organization.
Ridesharing & Students
The use of Uber could take some pressure off the life of a busy parent. At Shorecrest we want to support our parents and when possible lesson the stress they may experience from their busy lives. However, the safety of our students always supersedes the desire to lighten the load of a parent/guardian.
Even with the basic background checks required by taxi companies and rideshare firms, young people getting into a car with an unknown person defies the stranger-danger rules children hear from the time they enter school.
Beyond giving the school permission to release a child to an unknown person, parents need to educate their children to ways that increase their own safety in all situations. Is the child confident enough to say, “ Let me out.” Will she tell a driver to slow down, not text and drive or participate in other dangerous activities? Will he put on a seat belt?
Schools can set up guidelines that encourage parents to have discussions that lead to safer and more confident children. One of them is to have all responsible parents/guardians sign and notarize a consent form giving permission for a child to get into a car with a stranger.
Wage and hour laws have created loads of extra work and some significant changes for workers and their employers. If these laws result in better treatment of people, then the work is worth every minute and dollar spent to make workplaces and jobs fair.
No doubt the wage and hour laws are complex but not nearly as complicated as trying to sort out unfair or unethical labor practices. Like with safety, fair treatment supersedes any inconvenience.
There are members of our society who experience a wide range of emotions when confronted by a person who is different than they are. Transgender children and adults have moved into the civil rights spotlight. Businesses and schools that are committed to being respectful of all people realize that the bathroom one uses is just one of many locations and situations that need to be addressed.
In some places there are laws that determine how public and private organizations should behave. However, we do not need laws to instruct us how to be respectful and allow individuals to be full participants in our community. Schools like Shorecrest strive to ensure that all members of the community are safe and treated with respect and dignity. This cannot happen when one is denied a right to be oneself.
Our Mission at Shorecrest uses words and phrases like college preparatory, lifelong learning, diverse, personal and academic excellence, physical well-being, creative achievement, and commitment to social responsibility.
Within that Mission is the charge for students to pursue personal excellence. In fact, we ask all members of the community to strive for personal excellence and that includes being able to understand and embrace our five core values.
Respect is one of the five and in the increasingly diverse and connected world an essential value to ensure that civility and our democracy survive.