Birding Ethics vs. Education Ethics: One Applies Common Sense, The Other Doesn’t Apply It, Or Sunscreen Either

"Don't worry, Mr. Sapsucker---the birders are looking out for you. Just be grateful you don't go to public school in San Antonio."

“Don’t worry, Mr. Sapsucker—the birders are looking out for you. Just be grateful you don’t go to public school in San Antonio.”

In the intense avocation of bird-watching, a code of ethics reminds practitioners of common sense. In public school education, there is no accepted code of ethics. And there is precious little common sense.

Cornell University’s Macaulay Library contains more than 200,000 bird call recordings, and 150,000 of them can be downloaded onto smartphones and other electronic devices. This allows canny bird-watchers to play the calls in the wild, attracting rarely-seen species.

Unfortunately, these realistic calls, experts say, can stress birds, including endangered species. Thus there is a code of ethics for the recreation of birding, The American Birding Association’s Principles of Birding Ethics, and it states,

 “Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is threatened, endangered or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.”

It’s a well-conceived code that gives behavioral guidance where guidance is needed.

Now let’s look at a profession where most of us would say common sense is essential, and where the lack of it leads to  unethical and unacceptable conduct born of institutionalized incompetence. No, this time I’m not talking about our government. I’m talking about the educational profession, and the public schools.

In San Antonio, Christy Riggs sent her 10-year-old daughter out to take a school field trip with a bottle of sunscreen to apply during the day. But the North East Independent School District has decreed that a child can’t have sunscreen at the school, so she  went on the trip unprotected, and came back sunburned.

.NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said sunscreen is considered a medication, something children need a doctor’s note to have in school.

“Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools,” she said. “We have to look at the safety of all of our students and we can’t allow children to share sunscreen. They could possibly have an allergic reaction; they could ingest it. It’s really a dangerous situation.”

Well, it’s hard to argue with that logic. We all have heard of those tragedies arising from kids guzzling sunscreen. Little bodies everywhere. A kid could also put out her eye on the bottle cap, or throw it like a missile, hit a classmate in the head where he has a congenital weakness in his skull, and bang! Game over, man!  Those sunscreen bottles are deadly.

And everyone knows that a “do not share sunscreen, bring your own” reminder will be ineffective, and that while the odds of an allergic skin reaction to sunscreen is a tiny fraction of the likelihood that an unprotected child’s skin will be harmed without it—this is San Antonio, remember—what matters is that the school can avoid any liability, no matter how remote, because that, and not the welfare of the children placed in your charge, is what you really care about, right, Miss Chancellor?

Get a note from a doctor. Get a note from a doctor to use sunscreen? Make an appointment, take an hour or two out of the day and pay  60, 100 bucks for a doctor appointment to get official certification that the sunscreen is necessary?

Ah. So as long as the carrier of the deadly sunscreen has said note, the fact that the toxic substance might harm another child no longer matters. Why? This idiotic policy isn’t logical, consistent or reasonable. Naturally, the school is now saying it will re-evaluate the policy at some future point, while students burn. We usually only find out about the incompetent judgment of educational professionals, you see, after kids get hurt. Birdwatchers, however, think about such things before birds suffer, and provide reasonable guidance.

You know what’s dangerous? Entrusting young children to supposed educational professionals who cannot be assumed to possess  ethical guidance, values, or the sense God gave a yellow-bellied sapsucker.




Pointer: The Clarion Ledger

Source: Daily Caller, KSAT


16 thoughts on “Birding Ethics vs. Education Ethics: One Applies Common Sense, The Other Doesn’t Apply It, Or Sunscreen Either

  1. It’s decisions like this that require a doctorate in education. Any lesser degree would hardly justify the high rates of pay simply for common sense.
    In short, they have to make it appear that they are doing something no matter how idiotic the decision may be.
    We have to stop concluding that simply because someone holds a PhD that they are experts in anything.

  2. This is not at all surprising to me. I have two elementary school age children and this seems about par for the course. Our Pediatrician’s office spends a great deal of I un-chargeable time managing these absurd “notes”, forms, waivers. I’m afraid this sort of mindset is a problem in public as well as (some) private schools.

  3. Nor is it particularly surprising to me. NEISD has, for sometime, been a bastion of lunatic decisions and gross overpayment of otherwise useless officials.

  4. This happened in Texas? Where the Alamo stands? Unbelievable, what the “helicopter parents” and fat assed dim witted school administrators have wrought.

    • Regrettably, yes. As mentioned earlier, the wealthy and wealthy-wanna-be’s in NEISD are appallingly ignorant. Check out the archives in the San Antonio Express-News web site for more information.

  5. The National Education Association theoretically has a code of ethics that apply to member teachers ( Despite its name, the NEA is a union rather than a professional organization, and is obligated to defend teachers that behave poorly, rather than discipline them.

    This is of course the union’s ethical duty, but it leaves a disciplinary void that district and school administrators must fill, and often fail to do. The administrators themselves have no union, so theoretically could be removed at will be the school board for ethical and professional lapses.

    That incompetent administrators keep their jobs more times than not is distressing. The public ultimately needs to hold its elected officials accountable, and demand accountability throughout. Very distressing, it is the incompetent school officials molding the future members of the public. This cycle must be broken!

    • It’s a fake Code. It is more of a union code: the portion regarding students has uselessly vague terms like “reasonably” making the provisions meaningless. Where is an acknowledgment of conflicts of interest? Where is the prohibition of personal relationships with students, or sexual relationships? Where is a requirement of competence? It’s an unenforceable code in every way, so vague that virtually every teacher could argue that she or he was in compliance. Which is 100% intentional.

      • Don’t most of our national and state laws ultimately use terminology like “reasonable” or “within reason” or “reasonably”? Those provisions aren’t meaningless, and in fact allow the laws to be enforceable…

      • I don’t disagree. The code of ethics here really is for show, and perhaps inappropriate altogether. It would be akin to the American Bar Association having a “Code of Ethics” for its member’s clients to follow. The union has a bottom line duty to represent and protect its member’s interests, and it is the school and district administrators alone that have the duty to discipline or remove unworthy teachers. That administers are themselves often incompetent has gotten us to the point that some teacher’s contracts are intractable.

  6. Logic or a sense of what’s best for the children doesn’t apply here. This is game of political power bought by captive union dues. The educators are protecting themselves against any means of litigation. If children have to suffer for the well-being of the educators, so be it.

  7. “…we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools”

    [Insert standardized joke about school cafeteria food here.]

    Do we really want to send our kids to schools that think their intelligence is at a level where they have to be physically prevented from drinking sunscreen?

    Also, if sunscreen is dangerous, isn’t everything else in the school dangerous? Pencils, pens, scissors, and staples are sharp. You can choke on water at the drinking fountain. Why bother taking them on a field trip at all? Why not teach the kids in padded rooms and straitjackets? I’m going to regret asking that…

    At some point, someone is going to have to put their foot down and say, “We took all reasonable steps to protect your kid, balancing resources with risk according to the competence level of most kids this age, and we covered a couple standard deviations of competence below average. You’re responsible for anything beyond that. We’re not a substitute for parents. If your kid is that fragile, don’t send them to us. We’re sorry, but we’re not paying you.” It’s cold, but at some point people have to take responsibility for themselves and their kids. Unless we outsource all responsibility to the government, since that seems to be the trend.

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