As our district prepares to revise our board policy manual and we get ready for the representative to arrive on our campus to discuss the changes with our administrators, our treasurer, and me, I am amazed at the number of rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that guide our daily living. Our policy manual applies to the operation of our district and all school districts have the same, and almost identical, guidelines. We all use our policy manual to determine what action and/or decision can be taken or made so as to be compliant with board policy. We also run into this in everyday life – there are local, state, and federal statutes to which we must all adhere on a daily basis. One the best examples that can be used are traffic laws. We know and understand most of the laws which govern our use of a vehicle on public roads. Rarely do we have the opportunity to refer to a manual to help us decide if we are going to be doing something wrong if we aren’t sure of the law. Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is usually a local policeman, county sheriff, or state trooper at that exact moment we make the wrong decision to show us the error of our ways.
This reminds of my days as a teacher and principal when we were trying to revise the student handbook and we had to come up with more rules to cover the things that we didn’t anticipate happening, as well as some of the things we were trying to anticipate. Those handbooks kept getting thicker and thicker as we kept adding more regulations and procedures. The same can be said for classroom rules. What used to be covered with just a few lines has now become a fairly large document. I used to wonder why we just couldn’t write “Rule 1 – Behave” and leave it at that. Anybody that didn’t behave would suffer the consequences. And I am really dating myself when I say that the consequences you faced at home for getting in trouble at school were by far worse than what they did to you in school. It’s all about respect and integrity. You respect yourself and you respect others – and that goes for their feelings and their property, too. I think that we still teach the Golden Rule somewhere in our children’s upbringing and if we don’t, we should. It should make you stop and think about what you are doing if it might happen to you or if you were treated the way you were about to treat someone else. Having integrity is something we talk about and say about people for whom we hold in high esteem. Without going into the dictionary definition of the word, I just think of a saying I have seen posted in many places – “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking.” Sounds like a pretty good guideline to follow, along with the Golden Rule.
Why am I writing about this? I was prompted to write this, as I said before, when I started reviewing all of our policies. It made me think about the students, the staff, and the community members not just here in Versailles but in Darke County and also the majority of school districts in which I have worked. I have been fortunate to have been in some of the better, if not best, districts, where left on their own, everyone would pretty much do exactly what I was talking about. They would go about their business with a lot of integrity while exercising a lot of respect. While we live in such a law-suit happy society, we should be grateful for what we have in our corner of the world. Not sure if I was supposed to write about this – I’ll let you know after I consult the policy manual.
Dr. David Vail is the superintendent for the Versailles Exempted Village School District. He can be reached at David_Vail@darke.k12.oh.us. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.