Morals and Contracts

secondplace
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by secondplace »

@psyguy

It's not ...'changing your position when the data changes, thats what smart people do. Its being open minded to evolving events and keeping your trajectory fluid.'

It's reneging on a commitment, it's signing contracts in bad faith.

Presumably you're okay with schools doing this, or potentially doing this, to you? Any other position would be hypocritical.

You can have your standards. I'll have mine.

Hugs. xx
PsyGuy
Posts: 10591
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:51 am
Location: Northern Europe

Discussion

Post by PsyGuy »

@secondplace

Yes it is. There was no ''Do you IT take this IS to be your lawfully bound employer, to honor and cherish them until you both shall full fill the terms of the contract? Do you IS take this IT to be your lawfully bound employee, to honor and cherish them until you both shall full fill the terms of the contract?''. There were no oaths, or vows its ''X agrees to do work for coin which Y shall remit, and Y agrees to remit an agreed amount of coin for such services as rendered by X'' when that doesnt work for X or Y they part ways, move on, and move forward, its a business decision not a "relationship".

No Im not okay with ISs doing that at all, not that it would stop them, ISs and leadership do it ALL THE TIME. This site is filled of ISs that broke contract and leaders that broke their promises, for reasons.
cms989
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by cms989 »

There are no friends in this game. A contract is not a moral obligation, nor does breaking one mean you signed it in bad faith. A contract is a legal agreement that outlines all benefits, costs, and penalties for conduct taken or not taken. It is incumbent upon the school to make plans based on the reality of these agreements, which exist in a world where teachers plans change sometimes at the last minute. That is without mentioning that probably most teacher contracts will not be dutifully honored by the school in one way or another.

Some people like to sit upon a high horse, and it costs them dearly. I would not recommend being one of those people. Do what is best for yourself. You are not an indentured servant.

To put a finer point on it, contracts are meant to cover the agreement in its entirety. If I thought the agreement meant I was duty-bound to be indentured to the school for two years, I would require a lot higher salary for what is some type of house arrest. As it stands I don't require that salary because I know I can move on.
nathan61
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Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:08 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by nathan61 »

the op asked "Are there morals when it comes to signing a contract and then reneging on it?"

Yes, morals are a social construct, and most people would agree that signing a contract in bad faith is immoral. The gist of the original question was something to the tune of "can I sign a backup contract and then keep interviewing at preferred schools." Most people would see this as super shady and totally opportunistic behavior. If everybody did this then recruiting would be an absolute mess. But very few people do this because they have this ingrained moral sense that their word is worth something. Someone else may be coveting that job, and they will have to move on to their third choice because you accepted the job as nothing more than a fallback. It sets off a chain reaction where other people lose out.

There are some shady schools, I am sure, but after more than 15 years overseas (at non profits) I have encountered mostly good honest behavior from schools. Most people who reneg on contracts do it because of unforeseen events, and not because they continued applying for jobs.
cms989
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Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by cms989 »

@nathan61 that is a fair point, and I got too far caught up in the discussion to remember the OP. I would still argue it isn't as clear cut and there are some factors to consider:

- consequences of reneging - if done 6+ months from start date, the school may be able to easily find a replacement
- degree of certainty that you will fulfill the contract - I would argue this is never 100% with anybody, something tempting could always come along

What constitutes good faith vs bad faith would then be a matter of opinion . . if I signed with 99% certainty of taking the job but then got offered $1 million to teach in Hawaii, did I sign the contract I'm reneging on in bad faith? OP would be closer to the bad faith end of the spectrum by signing while still actively interviewing elsewhere, but would be reneging fairly early on in the process. I'd argue it is a legitimate way to job search given the constraints we operate under (how many other professions need to commit to a position almost a year in advance for a commitment of 2 years, with different parts of the world operating on different timelines etc.).

My experience has been that most schools, even non-profits, operate mostly out of self-interest of the stakeholders so I am fine being more cutthroat. If you are bailing at the last minute putting Acme Non-Profit School for the Blind in a bad spot then I'd concede morals would more heavily come into play.
nathan61
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Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:08 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by nathan61 »

@ cms989

In my experience schools interview several candidates and offer the position to their preferred candidate. If they don't accept the position, schools offer it to the second choice. Often the candidates are interviewing with multiple schools. So when someone accepts a position in bad faith, the second-choice candidates also get screwed. Maybe it was their dream job, and it would have been offered to them, but they lost out because you took the job as a placeholder/fall back while you searched for another job.

So I see this behavior as damaging to more than just the schools. Schools may be cut-throat, but they don't keep interviewing candidates and then renege on contracts because they found someone they like even better than the person they offered the contract to. At least I've never heard of this.
cms989
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Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by cms989 »

Ultimately I think we all have our own calculus but I tried to argue that there is a calculus for everyone and it isn't an absolute right or wrong. OP is trying to figure out theirs.

To your point about another teacher's dream job, for me it is hard to factor in a hypothetical that in all likelihood isn't true and for its randomness could swing in the other direction (your taking a job could lead that second choice teacher to end up in a better place).

It's worth noting that at least through Search there are consequences to reneging so I would go back to my argument that a contract is not a moral obligation . . consequences for reneging are clearly spelled out and enforced. To the extent one feels using that option is beneficial to them, it is available following the letter of the agreement that was signed. Yes the school will need to conduct another round of interviews but such is the nature of their business..
nathan61
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Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:08 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by nathan61 »

You can keep breaking contracts everytime a better job opportunity pops up. But this is opportunistic freeriding. It only works to your advantage because everybody else is signing one contract that they intend to honor. So you will end up with a better job not because you are a better teacher or leader or a more charismatic person, but because you were willing to cheat and lie. If everybody did this then you would lose your advantage, and schools would come up with systems to avoid this behavior.

There are not many highly desirable international schools, and nobody likes a cheater, so there is a big risk of ruining your reputation by behaving like this. I took a job two weeks ago, and just today I saw my dream job pop up, and I didn't even consider applying for it. I've already signed a contract, and the people at both schools probably know each other, so aside from the moral aspects I'd run a risk of losing out on both positions by merely applying.
cms989
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by cms989 »

At the risk of beating this topic to death I'd just say that, in addition to finding your characterization of 'cheating and lying' as about as reductive as can be of my arguments, I welcome schools to take action in response to this behavior. Like I said I recognize a contract for what it is and don't think we should read into it things it isn't. Search already does this with its payment penalty for backing out. Schools could also respond by offering more competitive packages that dissuade teachers backing out, or by otherwise having a good reputation as a place to work.

Isn't that a sad state of affairs that you think you don't even have the right to apply for a position because a cabal of administrators might conspire to lock you out of two places that have yet to pay you a dime. And how you see yourself as honorable for playing along.
nathan61
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:08 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by nathan61 »

Please don't take any offense. I am merely responding to the situation as described by the OP, which is the common dilemma of "do I accept this job offer or wait for something better?" We all struggle with this, and since contracts are basically worthless, accepting a job basically amounts to a gentleman's agreement. People have been arguing about the moral dimensions of promises for thousands of years so it is interesting.

Since this is a forum, presumable read by many, I am making a case that it is a terrible idea to accept a job with the intention of finding another better position. Any decent school will have spent many hours interviewing candidates. They will have passed on other candidates. They will have contacted your references and it is not unlikely that they will send your references a note saying "remember that teacher for whom you gave a glowing recommendation? They signed a contract, said they wanted to be part of our school, and then backed out." You would want to have a good solid excuse for that, better than "I found a job I like better."
secondplace
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by secondplace »

@cms989

Nathan61 kindly suggested you don't take offence.

I'd suggest you should take offence to my stance.

Which is to honour your word, the contracts you sign and to act with integrity. It's what I would expect of schools, what I expect of teachers and most importantly what I expect of myself.

You don't want to do the same? Knock yourself out.

Personally, I couldn't act in such a way. Will I judge you for it? Yes.

xx
cms989
Posts: 70
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:07 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by cms989 »

@secondplace

I think it's not fair for you to expect an average, unremarkable teacher like me to meet the high and honorable standard you've set. You are a shining example for us all
secondplace
Posts: 170
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:40 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by secondplace »

@cms989

Xie xie ni.

It's what I do.

And you know what, it's not even difficult.

xx
interteach
Posts: 209
Joined: Wed Nov 29, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by interteach »

I'm in almost full agreement on honoring a contract, but for the first time backed out when it was clear I wasn't going to get the help I needed to get a complicated visa. Silence, wrong answers, repeated wrong answers, taking it up the line didn't do any good - and this was a not-for-profit school. I finally decided days before the stated deadline and nearly zero meaningful assistance that if this was how they treated my attempts to get there, I didn't want to know the rest. It is, ultimately, a two way street. Both sides need to show good will and due diligence.
Heliotrope
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Re: Morals and Contracts

Post by Heliotrope »

interteach wrote:
> I'm in almost full agreement on honoring a contract, but for the first time
> backed out when it was clear I wasn't going to get the help I needed to get
> a complicated visa. Silence, wrong answers, repeated wrong answers, taking
> it up the line didn't do any good - and this was a not-for-profit school. I
> finally decided days before the stated deadline and nearly zero meaningful
> assistance that if this was how they treated my attempts to get there, I
> didn't want to know the rest. It is, ultimately, a two way street. Both
> sides need to show good will and due diligence.

If you need the school's help for a visa and they don't help you in a meaningful way, you're right to back out.
Helping a teacher with their visa should be boilerplate stuff for a school. In situations like yours it can just be a burned out person at HR who's not functioning, but you took it up the line so there's really no excuse for failing to help you.
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