Kim McKeever’s Speech to the School Board (5-27-09)

Former Kent teacher Kim McKeever told the Kent School Board why she left this district during the public forum portion of their May 27th meeting.  McKeever, a National Board certified teacher, is now employed by the Lake Washington School District.  Here is what she said:

I taught in the Kent School District for 10 years – most of my teaching career. During that time I have watched employees in this district become more and more frustrated, exhausted and demoralized; a place where the power resides in the central office and the people who have the greatest impact on our student’s education have no say. I have always been actively involved in my school. I considered my school to be the greatest place to work even as things got progressively worse for teachers around the district. Three years ago I joined the KEA bargaining team to try to bring another voice to the table on behalf of my peers and my students. During the time that I spent on the bargaining team I was amazed at the contempt some of the district administration had for teachers and the work that we do, and more importantly, the lack of knowledge of what we do. For them, the bargaining table wasn’t a place to come together and work out a contract that would be in the best interest of our students. Instead I sat across from people who viewed teachers with contempt and would respond to our offers with childish counteroffers that were meant to punish – not find common ground. Those two years were the most stressful of my teaching career, because I knew I was not, and never would be, supported by my district. For the district administration, it wasn’t about what was in the best interest of students – it was about winning. It was during a bargaining session in the summer of 2008 that a list was passed out showing where Kent ranked among other districts in teacher compensation. At the time, Kent ranked 3rd from the bottom. I believe you are even lower now. It piqued my interest enough to see what was out there. So I got online and began following the top district’s employment page. A job opened in a school district very similar in size to Kent – the difference was they were in the top 4 of teacher compensation. I applied for, and was offered a job within a week. Just by moving districts, my pay increased by $10,000 – FOR DOING THE SAME JOB! Most importantly, there is a mutual respect between the district administration and the union. Every decision that is made is done so based on whether or not it is in the best interest of our students. Teachers are honored for what they do every day with the understanding that education is not static. It is fluid and constantly moving forward. Teachers are expected to work hard and continue to grow in their profession, but they are properly compensated for doing so. Unlike Kent, I now work in an environment that is positive, not punitive. Up until now I had never worked outside of the Kent School District. I now realize that it is possible for the staff and administration to have a positive relationship. I am Nationally Board certified, an adjunct professor, a Fulbright scholar, my students repeatedly placed in the top 5 for state History Day, repeatedly participated in and received special recognition in VisFest, I was recognized by my PTSA for Excellence in Teaching, I was a coach, and afterschool advisor for numerous clubs – I cared deeply for my students and hated to leave, but I couldn’t work for the Kent School district anymore. You lost a good teacher, and you will continue to lose teachers like me in droves if you don’t provide adequate compensation, and learn that the ultimate goal is what’s best for our kids.


8 Responses to “Kim McKeever’s Speech to the School Board (5-27-09)”

  1. Ready to Strike Says:

    Kim has hit the nail on the head! Our district administrators AND principals are punitive to the teachers in Kent. We are looked upon as the “family dog” to be kicked when times are really bad, and given a morsel here and there at the whim of our “master” (in this case, KSD administrators). And as good pets, aren’t we just so grateful for that morsel! I have often heard my boss ask in a sardonic tone of voice, “Why can’t teachers just do their jobs?”

    We are often the scapegoats, but I have to ask this question to all my fellow colleagues, “How often have you accepted the position of scapegoat and why do you continue to let that happen?”

    Stand up for your rights teachers!

  2. No Strike for Us! Says:

    It is too bad that Kim and other teachers have had such bad experiences in Kent. I have only had good experiences. I don’t believe that a strike will fix the problems that Kim referenced, either.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    To “No Strike for Us”. How do you propose to compel the District to remove their proposals that will eventually drive good teachers away from the KSD? Do you even know what those proposals are? Have you given any of them any thought? Perhaps you are not a classroom teacher, therefore, in your mind, those proposals don’t affect you. If that’s the case, in my opinion, you are being selfish. You are not thinking of our students in Kent. You are not thinking of the taxpayers who expect a quality education for their children. It’s so logical for even the average mind to comprehend. Give it a shot, though, would you?

  4. A Great Teacher, That I am! Says:

    To the earlier poster who says they’ve only had “good experiences in Kent”. Let me guess! You’re fairly new to KSD and feel a certain allegiance to KSD. Wonderful for you. Now, I want you to think of your colleagues–the ones who actually teach the children day in and day out. If their jobs were that easy, then tell me why those who take positions outside the classroom (ie. Lit coaches, Math coaches, Librarians, etc.) NEVER want to return to the classroom? I’ll tell you why! Because out of all the jobs in education, a classroom teacher’s job is the hardest and the most crapped on.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Question for “No Strike for Us!” What do you think will fix the problems that Kim referred to in her speech? Kim mentioned our salaries and the attitude about our jobs from the district.
    I don’t think anyone wants to strike but there is a feeling that it is the only way the district will come to the table to actually negotiate a contract and not try to mandate one.

  6. LenDawson Says:

    If a strike is the only way to get better compensation, then a strike is what we need.

  7. KSD Student! Says:

    I remember Mrs. McKeever being an awesome teacher when I attended the school she taught at. It absolutely breaks my heart to lose good, caring teachers that work hard for us. There seems to be a lot of that going around, and it’s not fair to either my teachers of to my fellow students.

    So if both the teachers and students are getting screwed over, what’s the point? The administrators and their bottom line never taught me anything!

    If the KEA strikes, I’ll be right out there supporting you all.
    If KEA

  8. Voice of Reason Says:

    Let’s get rid of bad principals! Hey, what a concept. The principals who play games to get rid of teachers who speak the truth. The principals who discourage good teachers by giving them work they cannot possibly keep up with, and principals who make the work place uncomfortable by showing favortism.

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