GREENFIELD, Mo. — A teacher in Greenfield, Missouri said her contract will not be renewed because she used a worksheet associated with the book “Dear Martin.”
English teacher Kimberly Morrison said the worksheet was for students to complete before reading “Dear Martin.”
“The book is called Dear Martin,” Morrison said. “The main character is Justice. And he writes in a diary, if you will, to Martin Luther King. That’s the Dear Martin part of it. So he sorts through his experiences as a minority in this mostly White Preparatory School and his experiences about, you know, and asking, you know, how am I going to get through this? I want to live up to your standards.”
Kimberly Morrison has taught at Greenfield Schools for seven years. She started out as a substitute teacher and worked her way to being a full-time English Teacher. She was seeking tenure at Greenfield.
The worksheet asked students how racially privileged they are using true or false questions. Students would then tally up how many times they answered “true.” Morrison said this was meant to get students thinking before reading.
In a letter, Greenfield’s school district stated the decision not to renew Morrison’s contract stems from the content and subject matter of the worksheet.
Morrison said she taught from the book in the past, however, this is the first time she used the worksheet.
She said she found the worksheet online, and it was not used for grading or discussion purposes.
Morrison said an administrator talked to her about concerns regarding the worksheet in late February. She explained it was a self-awareness worksheet used before reading a chapter in the book “Dear Martin.” Morrison said administrators told her weeks later there were still concerns about the worksheet.
Several cities in the country have banned the use of “Dear Marin” in schools, including locally in Monnett.
“Books get banned,” Morrison said. “I don’t understand why. And we had talked about that this was a book that had been banned. [I said] let’s find out why.”
She received a letter saying the Greenfield School Board decided not to renew her employment.
“I would’ve spoken to students or parents about the issue,” said Morrison. “I would’ve told them firsthand how this fits into what was happening in our class.”
Greenfield’s Superintendent said by law, that if a teacher is not renewed for employment, they can request a statement about the reasons behind the decision.
Morrison made that request, and the district was required to provide a statement.
KOLR10 reached out to the Greenfield superintendent Dr. Chris Kell who said he could not comment on the issue since it is a personnel matter.
Morrison will continue to teach at Greenfield through the end of the year. She said her last day with Greenfield is when the current school year ends.
“I’m still sorting through what my next step is,” Morrison said. “I thought I’d be here until I didn’t want to be. I mean, obviously, I’m looking for other jobs. Beyond that, I don’t know.”