Everyday Heroes

Kansas Teacher Publicly Resigns With Powerful Speech Against School District

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An eighth-grade teacher in Kansas named Amanda Coffman is making waves on the internet after her resignation speech at a district board meeting on February 10th has quickly gained hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. During her public resignation, Ms. Coffman accuses the Shawnee Mission School District administrators of ignoring the needs of their teachers and refusing to “show up to the conversation.” The powerful speech has made an impact as the educational system in this country continues to be a topic of high debate for the upcoming election in the fall. Additionally, many are coming to realize with this video that the way teachers are undervalued in the United States in terms of compensation is unacceptable.

In the video, Ms. Coffman takes the podium and her speech starts off with a bang. “My name is Amanda Coffman and I resign my position as teacher for the Shawnee Mission School District, effective immediately.”

She continues, “Several years ago, a good friend decided to leave education and she said to me, ‘Amanda, teaching is like a bad marriage, 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. … When you failed to show up to the conversation but sent your lawyer instead, I finally understood that this just isn’t going to work. The kids and I deserve better.”

“Despite the accusations that we as teachers have not been focused on students during this difficult year, I’ve been thinking the most about what my students are taking away from watching the way that you [the district] treat their teachers. Talking to the board or the administrators in this building is like shouting into the wind and I won’t waste my breath,” Amanda explains.

Then, addressing her students directly, who she says may be “watching the live stream,” she says, “Alright guys, 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. […] I could accept this contract, smile, and stay silent about the lies this district perpetuates about its teachers, but that doesn’t mean I should.”

“I hope that in your future relationships, whether they be personal or professional, that you will walk away when you should,” she continues. “Just because you can accept less for yourself doesn’t mean you should. Here’s another important lesson: despite what you may be told, respect should not have to be earned. It is owed to you as a human being, especially by those who have power over you in some way. Disrespect in an uneven power dynamic is bullying. When we see bullying, we must stand up and call it out, even when it’s hard. Even when it comes at a cost… Starting over is never easy, you eighth-graders know that well as you prepare for high school. Let me assure you, it only gets harder as you age. But just because you can stay in a familiar place, doesn’t mean you should. Go chase your dreams, find your passions.”

Breaking into tears, she says, “I don’t know what I’ll be doing at 8:40 tomorrow morning, but I won’t be greeting you in the hallways. Please don’t see my empty doorway as a sign that I’ve abandoned you or that I don’t care. That empty doorway is my sign that you are still my favorite humans and I will always be your biggest advocate.”

“There will be no clarifying questions. I don’t answer to you anymore.”

The crowd seemed to be full of Ms. Coffman’s supporters since they erupted into cheers when she left the podium. According to the Shawnee Mission School District’s Twitter page, they have not made a statement about the allegations their former employee has brought against them. Additionally, Ms. Coffman’s resignation was not mentioned in the “Board Meeting Recap” published by the district, and the meeting minutes to not appear to be published to their website although they include a link to the agenda with the words “meeting minutes can be found here.” Hopefully, they realize that this resignation is making national headlines and they won’t be able to pretend it didn’t happen.