Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion
Education Opinion

Catholic School Teachers Walk a Fine Line

By Walt Gardner — March 04, 2015 1 min read

If Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has his way, teachers at four San Francisco Bay Area Catholic schools will lose whatever little freedom they have in contradicting church doctrine (“Morals Clause in Catholic Schools Roils Bay Area,” The New York Times, Feb. 27). They will be forbidden to publicly challenge the church’s teachings regarding homosexual acts, contraception, and embryonic stem cell research. In addition, the archbishop wants to designate teachers as part of the ministry, a step which would deprive them of protection under federal anti-discrimination laws.

Similar morality clauses are already in place in Oakland, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Honolulu. But so far, they have not provoked the same pushback. If the archbishop prevails in San Francisco, I expect to see other cities falling into line. How teachers will react if the movement goes nationwide is hard to predict. However, strictly from a legal standpoint, I don’t think they have much of a case. The only leg they have to stand on is the attempt to reclassify them as ministers of the church, which they could claim they never signed up for, and is an end run around laws that govern other employers.

There are 318 teachers in the schools under the archbishop’s jurisdiction in charge of educating 3,600 students. I don’t know how many teachers there are Catholic. But being Catholic is not a condition of employment in most Catholic schools. As a result, some non-Catholic teachers will feel muzzled. Yet they certainly knew beforehand that Catholic schools are dogmatic in matters of faith. That’s why I doubt they stand much of a chance in the controversy. I wish them well, but they signed a contract with a morals clause, and a contract is a contract.

The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read