On Feb. 10, Indian Woods Middle School teacher Amanda Coffman ripped the Shawnee Mission School District after it failed to successfully negotiate with the teachers union and imposed a three-year unilateral contract. Negotiations surrounded increasing compensation beyond the 11 percent increase the contract provided and divvying up the teachers’ workload.
“Several years ago, a good friend decided to leave education, and she said to me, ‘Amanda, teaching is like a bad marriage,'” Coffman told the board. “‘You never get your needs met, but you stay in it for the kids.’ I didn’t fully understand what she meant until this past month. Just like a bad relationship, our communication has broken down. You aren’t listening.”
The district had given teachers the end of the week to decide whether to accept the contract, continue working under the 2019 contract or resign. Coffman chose the last of the three options.
“I thought maybe like a troubled relationship, we could go to counseling, get an outside perspective to work our differences,” she said. “But when you failed to show up for the conversation but sent your lawyer instead, I finally understood that this just isn’t going to work. The kids and I deserve better.”
Coffman then decided to take the opportunity to address her students directly.
“You all know that the most important lesson I want you to take away from your time with me is: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” she said. “Usually, I’m applying that lesson to technology violations or intellectual bullying, but it’s true in life as well. I could accept this contract, smile and stay silent about the lies the district perpetuates about its teachers, but that doesn’t mean I should.”
According to the Star, Coffman is one of at last two teachers who have resigned. A report further notes that nine other resignations are set to take place by the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
The paper reports that negotiations centered on how the district would spend $9.6 million in restored state funding. The union asked the district to properly compensate the teachers and ease their workloads since many of the teachers regularly work six classes out of the seven periods.
In the months leading up to Coffman’s resignation, teachers were attending school board meetings and sharing their experience with managing between 150 and 180 students every day, according to the Star. Despite their busy schedules, administrators reportedly told the publication that they did not have the time or resources to fix the teachers’ workloads for the 2019-2020 school year. The school board, instead, hopes to make those changes for the 2021-2022 school year.
Two weeks following Coffman’s resignation, she took to Facebook to address the video’s virality and the criticism she’s received from Internet users.
“Internet fame, which many of you crave, is hollow,” she wrote. “One million people *think* that they know exactly one thing about me. And they all have very strong opinions about that one thing! Write your life like you would a good story. Be a round, full character in your own future. I am more than the day I quit. You are more than your favorite video game.”
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