Voices from Our Community
An Ethical Look at the Proposed
$195 Million Bond Measure
Eleanor C. Wrobel, July 23, 2014
Rushworth Kidder, the founder of "The Institute for Global Ethics" and author of books on ethics, has identified five
values which he says are basic to the successful functioning of almost every social structure. He identifies these as:
respect, responsibility, honesty, fairness and compassion. Later, he added moral courage - the willingness and desire to
put these values into action and do what's right. In studying the viability of certain actions and plans, it might be
helpful to apply these basic values to the motivation and action of the ABC School Board and its proposed $195 million bond
issue. When principle, and ethics underpin or provide the foundation, the activity should be beneficial to all.
RESPECT - Does the board recognize and respect the taxpayer citizen, recognizing that to some, the extra $200
to $400 increase in taxes may create a hardship. With the cost of living escalating, and with taxes continuing to rise, it
will impact hard working citizens and those on fixed incomes to some degree as well.
RESPONSIBILITY - Has the district been responsible in including the public in its plans and discussions, providing
time for the public to become familiar with the plans, held public hearings to explain the plan, etc. Or, has the plan been
rushed through, voted on and approved too quickly to provide the correct amount of public scrutiny?
Is the district recruiting children from other districts? Is their home district paying the costs to educate them, or are
Will the district be frugal, and use the additional funds with economy and wisdom?
HONESTY - Has the board clearly and honestly explained why the additional money is needed and how it will be used?
Has it reported how much money the Bond Consulting Company hired by the district to promote the bond measure has been or will
be paid by taxpayer money?
FAIRNESS - Will the district take what it needs and need what it takes? Is the tax increase the board is seeking
to impose fair and necessary? Does the district really need $195 millions dollars more than they are already receiving in
COMPASSION - caring. Is there a sense of compassion not only for the children, but for those providers of the funds
who are being asked to give more than they can perhaps afford? We hear over and over, "it's for the children." It is often
stated or implied that those who oppose increases in school funding are somehow "greedy, selfish, uncaring, unfeeling" -
because "it's for the children." Is it all to benefit the children?
Why doesn't the district downsize if conditions such as an aging population and continuing reduction in the number of
school age children warrant it? Has there been any consolidation or closing of schools, any reduction in jobs?
Is there a desire on the part of the district to maintain jobs, influence and authority? If so, then, can it honestly be
said, it's "all for the children?
MORAL COURAGE - the willingness and courage to do what is right.
So, what is right?
It is right to:
* provide a sound education for children living in our district.
* provide the funding and upgrade in a responsible way, as needed.
* make adjustments, including downsizing, as needed
* include the public in the Board's plans to increase our taxes.
* remember: government serves the people, not the other way around.
If the actions taken by the Board are principled - based on respect, responsibility, fairness, honesty, compassion, then,
the activity is more likely to benefit all.