by Nadia Pflaum
Last Friday, 115 teachers with the Kansas City, Missouri, School District received notice that their contracts would not be renewed for the 2011-12 school year, district representatives confirm.
One of the axed educators, English teacher Amy Smith (not her real name), was
interviewed as part of this week's feature story on Southwest High
Non-renewal of a teacher's contract basically amounts to a pink slip,
effective when school's out for the summer on June 15.
Smith says she was resigned to this fate long before she got the official word. "I don't have a single regret leaving at this time," Smith says. "If I hadn't been laid-off, I would have resigned.
"The program I signed up to work for is no longer in place, and I am not able to develop professionally in a district where I can't be assigned to the grade level I'm trained to teach," Smith continues. "Steve Scraggs (the first of three principals who served at Southwest this
year) would have made sure I was, but now that he is gone, there are few guarantees I will be anytime soon. The constant instability of the KCMSD makes the district an unpleasant place to work. It's caused me to be a less effective educator than I believe I could be. I'd like to prove that I can do better elsewhere."
The second teacher who spoke with Plog says she also planned to leave the KCMSD before she received her notice last Friday. "Honestly, to sum up the year, I'm just incredibly sad," she says. "A person can only experience so much disappointment before they become numb to it. The kids in that district deserve so much more than what they are being handed. Most of them don't have the option to leave or else, trust me, they would."
Next year, she'll be teaching with another school district in the metro. "I hope KCMO can learn to actually put students before their political
agendas," she says, "but I guess I won't be around to find out."
District spokeswoman Eileen Houston-Stewart says, "We don't anticipate there will be another round of notices this school year."
The head of the local teachers union, Andrea Flinders, told The Kansas City Star on Monday, "I know good teachers are getting caught up in this. It's totally unfair and it's not going to make the district better." She urged those teachers who wished to appeal their non-renewals to meet and discuss their options.