The three stories I chose to write my paper on; are from pages 110 through 138 in Maynard-Moody and Mushenos Cops, Teachers, Counselors book. They focus on the street level workers using their discretion to make decisions in their jobs. The stories are titled, Im Disabled but want to be an EMT, Cut the Power, and Ignoring Orders. In this paper I will argue that street level workers use their discretion in ways that is not consistent with established rules while identifying different constraints operating on the workers and explain what the authors mean with the reference to the three stories I have selected.
To begin, street level workers use their discretion in ways that shows the presence of moral reasoning rather than following established rules of which they are supposed to follow.
For instance in the story Ignoring Orders the teacher in the story was supposed to have the mother, whose child is in the special needs program, sign a consent form to relinquish service. The teacher did not perform the task as she was supposed to because she did not feel that it was morally right. She instead sent in the paperwork without the mothers signature, which allowed the child to remain in the program. The second story entitled Im Disabled but Want to be an EMT is about a counselor who is contacted by a client who has a bad back and has decided to become an EMT. The counselor is asked to allow the client to take courses to become an EMT, but the counselors better judgment in the case is that someone with a bad back should not be an EMT. So the counselor tells the client that she will not authorize the training since it would more likely put the client at risk of further injury.
The third story, Cut the Power, is about a police officer who is called out to an apartment complex on a loud music complaint. When the officer attempts to make contact with the subject who has his music playing too loud, the subject curses and ignores him. Finally, the officer gets tired of the situation and decides to turn off the power to the subjects apartment. He then tells the subject, Ill tell you what. If I have to come back again, Im going to kick the door in, and I will take action. You will go to jail.
Im tired of this. This thing is over NOW. I hope we understand each other(Pg. 126). Here you can see how the officer has become tired of the situation and has used his discretion to end the situation without making an arrest, or the subject having to pay any type of court costs. The officer also uses his coercive power by turning the power off to the apartment, where the officer felt like the complainant in his moral views that something had to be done in the situation.
Each story has the worker in a situation where he or she is able to use discretion in their decision making process. In the case about the teacher and the special needs child, the teacher did not have to do what she did. She could have simply allowed the child to lose his counseling by having the mother relinquish the service by signing the forms. Instead, the teacher felt, according to her values, that the child needed the services and simply kept forwarding the forms without the mothers signature so that the service could not be stopped. For example as the teacher said in the story, I said, Well, that is not fair to him, because he needs help also (Pg. 110).
Another example would be, Anyway, I never contacted the mother again. I kept on forwarding the paperwork back downtown, and they eventually took it, and he is still getting social work. That is my way of saying Screw you guys. (Pg.111). The workers use their discretion to further illustrate on what is right from wrong.
The teacher also demonstrates a father or mother knows best attitude (Pg. 105) toward her student. She feels she knows what is best for her student in this case. In all three .