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Ethical Decision-Making in Early Childhood Education

Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making

ISBN: 978-1-78714-416-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-415-6

Publication date: 16 May 2017


The purpose of this paper is to examine the question of parents’ rights to make choices regarding the education and upbringing of their children.

Article 26(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children’. However, authors including Joel Feinberg also argue children have a right to an ‘open future’, implying parents and the state have obligations to ensure certain elements are present in a child’s care and education. Commodifying education and early childhood care where it occurs in many developed societies, ostensibly provides parents with greater choice regarding the education and upbringing of their children. However, following the work of Brenda Almond, I argue that parents do have some rights to make choices about the care and education of their children. But just having the freedom to choose from alternative schooling or caring options may be insufficient to provide a choice in any significant sense, if one is only choosing between service providers all offering essentially the same service.

It would seem then, that responsible leadership and ethical decision-making by the state and by service providers requires them to engage in consultation with parents and facilitate their participation in determining the nature and content of educational and developmental programmes for children.

Leaders in these roles will also need to have a strong sense of the competing demands on content coming from this array of ethical requirements.



Kemp, S. (2017), "Ethical Decision-Making in Early Childhood Education", Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making (Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations, Vol. 17), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 95-103.



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