Monday , December 5 2022

Opinion: Open letter to Commissioner Johnson

Dear Education Commissioner Johnson

I have some comments for you regarding the SCS Boards decision not to renew our contracts.

Here are some things to think about and hopefully consider.

1. When we were hired by the ‘Board’ we never interviewed with the Board. We were interviewed by the school management team. We never spoke with the Board and we never even met the Board. As teachers we assume that our performance will be evaluated by the Management Team and our department heads and not the Board.

2. In our offer letter it states ‘The appointment will be for a contract period of one year with the possibility of renewal for a two year period before becoming an indefinite appointment’. Nowhere in the actual contract or in our operating manual are we told how we may be ‘possibly renewed’ or ‘not renewed’. As a matter of fact in the contract there is nothing at all about any rights, privileges or evaluation of performance or who will determine our ‘possible renewal’.

3. Our evaluations and our classroom performances are done by our department leaders. How is it that our hiring is recommended by the Management Team and our Department Head but our renewals are done ‘Suddenly’ by the Board? Has the Board ever sat in our classroom? Has the Board the educational background to now suddenly decide our fate as professionals?

4. The contracts we signed are by the way legal in the sense that we signed them but I must point out to you that the ‘New Teachers’ did not receive their contracts until the week of August 20th. Correct me if I am wrong but we had already left our other jobs and committed ourselves to Saba Comprehensive and those who came from abroad arrived on August 5th to begin work without knowledge of the contents of the contract.

I know from teaching Business and dealing with contracts for the last 40 years that the spirit of a contract is that it is supposed to be negotiable. We had already began working and had no knowledge of the contents of the employment contract and were not given the choice to negotiate any shape form or fashion of the contract. As a matter of fact the contract was not even signed by the Board….they required us to sign the contract first. Usually a contract is signed by the person making the contract first and then signed by the person accepting the contract and usually there is a meeting to discuss the contents of the contract.

5. Several of us questioned the fact that the contract was missing any provisions for ‘renewal’ and asked Management about the fact that there were no provisions for this ‘implied’ renewal and were told that if we wanted to get paid we had to sign our contracts ASAP.

6. Two of the returning teachers were hesitant about signing their contracts for the reasons mentioned above. One teacher was informed by management that she had to sign the contract. The other teacher was allowed to continue to work the entire year and did not sign his contract. Where is the consistency?

 

7. Some of the teachers who have now been with SCS for two years are being given an additional ‘one-year’ contract and some are being given the ‘implied’ two year contract that is mentioned in the offer letter. Again, how is the logic applied and where are the guidelines?

 

8. If our hiring is by the recommendation of the SCS Department Manager then how can our performance in the classroom and the decision to not renew us be made by the Board? We never see this Board in our classrooms, they do not have the ability to determine our renewal. They have the ‘POWER” and we understand that but where is the process? Normally in any job you are given performance evaluations and you are told what you need to improve on and if you are doing something incorrect you are warned and given the chance to correct it or you are given the option to resign.

 

In the real world of teaching a teacher would know by January or February whether or not they were making the ‘Grade’ and could make an informed decision on whether or not to continue on the next school year and they would have some idea whether or not they would even be recommended for a ‘renewal’. At SCS it would seem that we are suddenly at the mercy of the Board and not our evaluations or our overall performance. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes but where are the policies and procedures and where is the protection of the dignity of your teachers?

One last thing. I would like you to consider the fact that teaching requires a ‘Family’ and teachers are all like a group of ‘Foster Parents’. We all have to come together as mothers and fathers to our charges and we all have to work very much like a divorced couple that has remarried. Every teacher has a different viewpoint for the ‘best interest’ of the child. The children at SCS are seeing a new batch of teachers every year so in fact they are being moved from one ‘Foster Family’ to another. It takes a minimum of a year for all of us to learn and be comfortable with each other as teachers and it takes a minimum of a year for the students to be comfortable with how each teacher teaches and how to best interact with one another. It breaks my heart to have students that I have spent the last year trying to reach and to now have them come up to me and tell me how much they will miss me and how they hope that I can continue teaching. They even admit that their attitude at the first of the year has changed and some have even apologized for the way they acted at the beginning of the year. Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job it is a lifestyle and we all give our 200%.

We at SCS are finally a FAMILY and the Board is destroying that FAMILY

Please do whatever you can to keep our FAMILY intact.

Thanks for your time,

Dearly Departed Teacher at SCS

(Name withheld on request)

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