By Judy Wallach
If all our children had the rich, ethics-centered education that I was privileged to receive at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, both they and our democracy would thrive. Ethics in Education Network (EIEN), originally The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS), the nonprofit I founded with some likeminded friends in 2001, supports ethics initiatives at schools and youth programs.
We post a weekly podcast, Ethical Schools, on our site, https://ethicalschools.org, and on all the podcast platforms. Our co-executive directors and co-hosts, Jon Moscow and my daughter, Amy Halpern-Laff, engage academics and practitioners in in-depth conversations about ethical classrooms, schools, and school systems have featured outstanding teacher educators at Harvard, Lehman, UCLA, and other top graduate schools of education; principals; teachers; students; non-profit leaders; and authors whose work has appeared in the New York Times, EdWeek, Teaching Tolerance, and numerous academic journals.
A number of teacher educators and practitioners use the podcasts in their classes and workshops. We post transcripts along with the audio on our website so educators can find the relevant segments easily and those who prefer to read can do so. Jon and Amy solicit articles from courageous thought-leaders, which we also post on our website and in our monthly emails.
Through experienced consultants, EIEN also offers on-site (or, for now, virtual) professional development for teachers and youth workers in the NYC area on social-emotional learning (SEL), with a focus on ethics.
Our founders envisioned a tuition-free school based and focused on ethics as a way of being in community and as a guiding principle in education.
For many years, we held a well-attended study group focused on Dewey and other progressive ethicists. Our founders envisioned a tuition-free school based and focused on ethics as a way of being in community and as a guiding principle in education. In 2009, we — The Ethical Community Charter School (TECCS) opened two public charter schools (in itself a story for a different day). One was in Bedford-Stuyvesant; the other was in Jersey City, across the river. They were beloved by families, students, teachers, staff, and communities.
Each school started with K-1 and grew yearly, incorporating not only ethics as its basic principle. but also teaching it as a unique subject at every grade level. The arts, despite their being eviscerated in so many public schools, were foundational subjects. Although both schools provided nurturing and stimulating environments, the Brooklyn school was not able to raise low-income students’ test scores quickly enough for the chartering authority and was closed. The Ethical Community Charter School – Jersey City has thrived and won accolades. Its principal was mentored for years by Howard Radest, its founding board chair and a beloved Ethical Culture Leader. It became a K-8 school with students who have been accepted into outstanding private and public high schools. As the school developed, it became independent under its own board and now operates on its own.
In the last two decades, we have learned and accomplished much to support ethical humanism in educational institutions. EIEN has become an important resource for educators who work toward creating ethical schools for all students.