Teacher Contracts' Morality Clauses

What do you guys think of this sort of thing?  Where should lines be drawn for the hiring of teachers in Catholic schools? How should they be enforced -- i.e., should the powers that be engage in checks -- or just act if something were to become public?  Do social media play into your thoughts about this (e.g., the fact that teachers have Facebook pages and websites on which they could talk about any un-Catholic arrangements they live out)? Should other types of jobs have morality clauses written into the contracts pertaining to them? If so, which ones and why? If a non-Catholic teacher engaging in sinful activities kept any hint of such a thing out of the classroom, promised to uphold Catholic teaching in the classroom, and didn't have a public Facebook page or other internet pages that talked about those activities, should that person be fired?

From a blog called The Deacon's Bench:

“This is not a witch hunt”: Oakland bishop to meet with teachers over controversial new contract
May 10, 2014
By Deacon Greg Kandra

You may remember  that Oakland teachers are being required to sign a new contract similar to one in Hawaii and Cincinnati, requiring them to “model behavior in conformity with the teaching of the Roman Catholic faith.”

That hasn’t gone over well with some in Oakland:
Article quote Wrote:Tim Newman, who has taught science at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland for 23 years, says some of his colleagues won’t sign a contract forcing them to be disingenuous. Others worry the contract gives the diocese a reason to discipline them for actions outside the classroom.

“I will lose good teachers in my department,” he said.

    Diocese spokesman Mike Brown said “this is not a witch hunt.” He said the new language is an attempt by Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, who took over last year, to “be more clear about the contract.”

    “It simply states what was inferred before from a new bishop’s perspective,” Brown said. “There is no list of behaviors from this diocese.”

    Similar controversies have popped up elsewhere in the nation, most notably in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati this year, where a new contract banned teachers from “public support of or publicly living together outside marriage, public support of or sexual activity out of wedlock, public support of or homosexual lifestyle.”

    In California, earlier this year Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa tried to require educators to sign a morality clause that described contraception, abortion and gay marriage as “modern errors” that “gravely offend human dignity.” In March, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported that Vasa included the language to avoid legal challenges from teachers who were fired for conduct that contradicts Catholic teaching. He later backed down from the proposal.

    The contract in San Francisco’s Catholic schools requires educators “not to engage in conduct contrary to such (Catholic) principles in the course of Teacher’s academic or personal life.”

And late Friday, there was this development:   
Article quote Wrote:Oakland Bishop Michael Barber agreed to sit down with teachers from at least three high schools — St. Joseph Notre Dame and St. Elizabeth and Bishop O’Dowd — to explain the intent of the new contract language.

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, called a press conference Friday morning in reaction to our story, calling the new clause in the contract “hateful.” As a Catholic, former Catholic school student and the mother of a gay child, the issue hit Skinner personally.

    She worried about teachers who face an ethical dilemma: Don’t sign the contract and risk losing their job or be less than truthful and sign it. She wrote a letter to Barber Friday expressing her concerns.

    “I feel for these teachers who are facing a sort of double jeopardy,” Skinner said. “I hope the bishop reconsiders what he is asking them to do.”

    On Friday night, O’Dowd students were planning to out leaflets protesting the new language outside a performance on campus of “The Laramie Project,” a play based on the murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was gay.

    Late Friday, O’Dowd administrators sent a note to parents saying that they had met with Barber and “it is clear that there has been a great misunderstanding about the intent of the new contract language.” The note, signed by school president Steve Phelps and principal Pam Shay, said that no educators had been “released from employment” because of the new contract language.


From blog.sfgate.com/education:

The San Franciso Chronicle education blog.
Oakland diocese teachers asked to toe the Catholic line at home and at school
Posted on Friday, April 4 at 12:38pm | By Jill Tucker

Teachers and staff working at dozens of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Oakland will have to sign off on a new morality clause in their contracts to keep their jobs. It’s small paragraph that dictates behavior in both their professional and personal lives.

“In both the TEACHER’S personal and professional life, the TEACHER is expected to model and promote behavior in conformity with the teaching of the Roman Catholic faith in matters of faith and morals, and to do nothing that tends to bring discredit to the SCHOOL or to the Diocese of Oakland.”

That might be a problem for some teachers and staff, given that they’re not Catholic or they’ve married their same-sex spouse or because they covet their neighbor’s house.

Such language wouldn’t have been much of a problem decades ago, when most parochial or independent Catholic schools were run by nuns and priests. But these days, there are atheist, gay, lesbian and transgender teachers, and others who hold beliefs or act in ways contrary to Catholic doctrine.

Diocese officials, however, say the new language resulted from a meeting of California bishops in which they “realized the importance of spelling out the mission of the Catholic educator,” according to a March 15 letter to school staff from Rev. Michael Barber, Oakland bishop.

School employees were encouraged to read the new contract carefully.

But the diocese said the new language wasn’t that different from that in the old contract, which “any conduct that tends to bring discredit to the School or Diocese” as a violation of regulations.

“We don’t see a marked change in the language of the contract, only a clarification of what the Philosophy of Catholic education is and what are the expectations of a Catholic teacher representing the Church,” said Mike Brown, diocese spokesman. “The old contract specifically referenced ‘conduct in accord with Catholic standards.’ The new contract underscores this point with no change in what has always been the importance of teaching and abiding by Catholic principles.”

It wasn’t an effort to remove any individuals from schools, Brown said. Increasingly, personal and professional lives are merging via social media and this is in part an acknowledgement of that, he said.

“There’s no attempt to categorize individuals,” he said. “It’s not a witch hunt and it’s not a litmus test.”
Vox Wrote:? It's obviously a "litmus test" -- which doesn't mean it's a bad thing, necessarily.

Still there were apparently rumblings at some of the 54 East Bay schools falling under the diocese, according to some close to the situation, although it was unclear whether anyone would be leaving because of it.

School staff members are expected to receive their new contracts on April 15 and have until May 1 to sign them.

I remember an incident in 1981 where two fellow employees at a hospital I worked at were having an affair outside of the job on their own time. When the management found out about it they got in trouble. I remember another incident which occured in 1991 where the manager of another business had an illicit affair and she got pregnant. She was fired. Neither of these businessees were in any way religously oriented. 
One of the reason a kid is sent to catholic school presumably is to be in a place that is conducive to the Catholic Faith.  At least, the bare minimum, you have an honor clause where a teacher will not promote anything in class that is against Catholic teaching.  A Catholic school should instruct students in the Catholic Faith, that should be a duh moment (and most schools fail at this, miserably because the curriculum is just the public schools one with maybe a religion class twice a week).  I can understand that no everyone employed at the school is a Catholic, because you do want to hire the best teachers available or consider the limited pool to choose from (considering most catholic schools teachers can make significantly less than their public school counterparts).  But the teacher should at least have the respect for the institution he/she is working for, particularly when it is a religious institution whether they agree with it or not.  I think people are so touchy when it comes to the clauses that an institution imposes, that they voluntarily signed and acknowledged.  Part of the problem is that these things have so long been unenforced, that now you have people who are serious about enforcing it, that everyone is screaming foul play.  I think it would be better in these situations, if the diocese just closed up these schools, sold their properties (or rent them out) and build new schools and programs from scratch.  Start off small, recruit dynamic young Catholics straight out of college, and not to have to worry about all this nonsense.   
Pilgrim and I have both signed morality clauses when working for a public charter school.  This is just an excuse for Catholic bashing.  These clauses ae not new and should be a no brainer.  You work at a Catholic school, you uphold Catholic teaching.  It's common sense.
I think it is simple. Students and teachers should not associate on social media for as long as the student is registered at the school. Additionally, on Catholic grounds one is required to HONESTLY promote and defend Catholic teaching. Anyone in non-compliance gets the boot. Policing a persons life outside of work is impossible. At best we should require they keep it out of work in any way, shape, or form. If they don't like Catholic teaching then they don't belong working for a Catholic institution period.

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