Educating others is one of the greatest things one can do for humanity, I mean, if you’re a teacher – then your role is as much as vital and appreciated as of soldiers protecting nations from terrorists and attacks. Because without considering for themselves or family, they do their best to shape and train minds out of their limits – and that’s why it’s so hard to see a teacher quit and leave the premises – but when they go, they don’t forget to bestow some pearls of knowledge to everyone as their token of hindsight.
And that’s what this teacher – Amanda Coffman did. After teaching gifted students for twenty-one years, she resigned during a livestream for a school board meeting last week:
Amanda explained that the Shawnee Mission teachers in Kansas had been working without contracts for the past ten months. But on January 30th, 2020, the board passed a three-year unilateral contract that teachers had to respond before February 15th, 2020, and the choices were – either accept the deal, reject it – and work under the terms of the previous agreement, or resign.
But Amanda also mentioned that – several years ago, before she had even begun working for the Shawnee Mission district, severe educational funding cuts were made in Kansas – and thus, teachers had agreed upon increasing their workloads, like, from teaching five classes per day to six classes per day. However, the Kansas legislature was able to restore some of the fundings to school this running year, and so, the teachers wanted a commitment that the money would be optimized to hire teachers to reduce workload and class size. But the system did not feel that they had sufficient funds to make that sustainable.
And Amanda felt the district administration wasn’t willing to discuss things that affected the teacher’s work-life and career trajectory, and the new agreement was only the way to silence them until the spring of 2022:
Continuing, Amanda went on to explain that, “Teachers felt strongly that the district was attempting to silence them by issuing the three-year contract. Effectively, they wouldn’t have to negotiate with teachers over anything until the Spring of 2022. I have felt increasingly like my voice is not valued in the district over the last few years, and this public campaign to silence us all was the last straw for me.“
And after talking with her beloved ones, and reconsidering her decision, Amanda decided to quit, “This isn’t the kind of decision you make impulsively. I had been pretty open with my friends and colleagues that if this was the way that the contract went, I was probably going to resign. I’m not sure how many believed that I really would, though! I called my parents the day before and sent them the link to watch the livestream.“
Amanda mentioned that it was a hard choice to make, but she had to do it for drawing attention to how valuable teachers are to the students:
Amanda added, “If I quit in the way that I did. There was also a sense that I was calling the district’s bluff. They didn’t think any teachers would leave.“
Plus, Amanda went to a parent-teacher conference before her quitting:
As she explained, “That Friday, I packed up my classroom, went home, and cried. Every time I would start to lose my resolve, the district would purchase an ad in the local paper, or their spokesperson would be on TV telling everyone what a great deal this contract is for teachers and how happy everyone was with the outcome. That made it more important that I tell our story rather than letting the administration tell it for us.”
Amanda was one of more than 2000 teachers – a replaceable cog in a big machine – but for her students, she was a teacher – and one of seven teachers that students saw every day, and to them – SHE MATTERS!
And wait, Amanda has one ending message: “We as a country really need to rethink the way we treat our teachers. No, I didn’t go into teaching for the money. I care enough for my students to stand up and say that they, and I, BOTH deserve better. We deserve better working conditions for teachers and better learning conditions for students. When teachers are overworked, undervalued, and denied opportunities for autonomy and advancement, then learning suffers. Not because we take it out on the kids, but because society takes it out on the kids. Undervaluing teachers is undervaluing the future.“