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by admin on March 20, 2009

National Association of Catholic School Teachers

For the Fellowship application (below): note that it is only open to teachers from Jacqueline M. Walsh High School For The Visual and Performing Arts, Community Prep School and the Zaria Academy. Our national competition has terminated.

(A model for an IMPROVED CONTRACT follows)

Independent schools typically issue teacher contracts for one year only. It is also true that these can be terminated “for cause”–as vague as that is–or left unrenewed without warning. Under typical contract law, no reason need be given for non-renewal.

This creates in teachers a permanent position of weakness vis-à-vis the Head of School. The year-to-year quest for a new contract means that at no time during the year can a teacher criticize leadership without fear of the direst consequence.

When leadership is enlightened and tolerant all can participate in the direction of the school, and the faculty has a voice. When management goes wrong, however, and constructive criticism is not welcomed by the Head, the faculty quickly perceives that it has no true freedom of speech. Too often the teachers then tumble into a pattern of low morale and high turn-over.

One goal–and some faculties have achieved this–is a multi-year contract. Management need not view this as “tenure,” and it can be reserved for veteran faculty.

The security provided by such a package offers veteran faculty a chance, over a period of two or three years, to argue safely in faculty meetings for those changes which they see as essential.

Short of this goal, we encourage independent schools to design teacher contracts which are more in line with the norms and fair labor standards of this society. At the very least, contract language should show due respect to faculty who are highly educated, under-paid, and who can always shop for a new employer. Particular improvements are needed in language pertaining to termination. Fair and common procedure suggests that “cause” for termination should be defined, if only by reference to specifics in the faculty handbook, and that standard steps to counsel and to document under-performance should be outlined in the contract. We offer the following template as an improvement on the typical teacher contract.

Some schools have adopted this kind of language, with all its implications of fairness and due process. It is important to note that many other schools, who preserve the typically intimidating contract arrangements, could also benefit from discussions about their faculty handbooks. Administrations gain undue power from vagueness in these manuals; performance standards, counseling procedures, steps leading to termination, and severance procedures should be spelled out more concretely.

The following model contract gains strength–for both teachers and administration–to the extent that its terms are linked to clear language in the faculty manual:

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT

by admin on February 12, 2009

(created by the Murdock-Thompson Center for Teachers)

This agreement is made this ( ) day of (month, year) by and between (school name)–hereinafter called “the school”– and (teacher name)–hereinafter called “the teacher”:

The school hereby employs the teacher for the academic year ( - ). The school agrees to pay the teacher the sum of ($ ) for the year’s services, (fraction) of which shall be payable (biweekly, monthly) commencing on September ( ) to August ( ) inclusive.

  • The teacher agrees to enter upon and perform the services of a teacher at the times and places prescribed by this agreement, and for the duration established by the teacher’s division head; to perform all duties of a teacher faithfully and satisfactorily, as directed by the Head of School, and in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Faculty Handbook; to comply with and abide by all rules, regulations, policies, methods, and professional standards promulgated by the school and its Faculty Handbook, and to comply with those standards promulgated by (religious affiliation, educational philosophy, or other guiding tenet of the school’s mission).
  • In addition to specific responsibilites assigned by the teacher’s division head, the teacher will have general responsibility shared by everyone for the welfare of the students and community. These include, but are not limited to: (list)
  • In addition to teaching duties of no more than ( ) sections, the teacher shall have such supervisory, coaching, advising and other duties as may be prescribed by the division head or the Head of School. These include, but may not be limited to: (list)
  • Re-employment under this contract may normally be considered automatic unless the teacher, or the school, is notified to the contrary no later than the first day of (February, or March), (following year).
  • The school’s renewal of this contract shall be at the discretion of and in the control of the Head of School, except to the extent that the school allows a dean of faculty or a peer advisory board to intervene in contract negotiations. The Head of School’s decision not to renew this contract, except when it is related to the safety and well-being of students and other members of the community, shall derive from the teacher’s failure to perform the duties or adhere to the standards established either in this contract or in the Faculty Handbook.
  • During the term of this contract, when the Head of School becomes aware of deficiencies in the teacher’s performance which might lead to non-renewal of this contract, the Head of School shall initiate the series of counseling steps prescribed by the Faculty Handbook, and continue these steps up to the minimum number therein prescribed, in an effort to improve the teacher’s performance. The Head shall inform the teacher of the content of the record that is kept of these counseling sessions.
  • The teacher’s signature at the bottom of the enclosed copy of this contract, presigned by (school official), indicates the teacher’s acceptance of its contents and his or her recognition that he or she has made a contract with (name of school).