This viral Facebook post was written by Danielle Wilkes, an English teacher from San Antonino, Texas, who found herself at the center of attention with her response to an unusual request from Nike for unpaid work. 

Her thoughtful reply highlighted the misconceptions of big business and people in power who think that teaching is an altruistic calling, rather than a demanding job done by well-educated professionals. 

The ASK?

Everyone is familiar with Nike and what a mega-corporation they are, and teachers would expect to have their respect and support, especially since it is us, our students, and our families who wear their products.

Well, that is not what happened at all. Not by a Michael Jordon LONG SHOT!

Nike emailed teachers, including Ms. Wilkes, who had a very long day of completing many significant tasks that teachers do daily. They asked her to donate her time to attend a class that would enable her to grade essays for their scholarship program… ALL FOR FREE!

The request from Nike seems to suggest that Ms. Wilkes should respond with, “Gee, what an honor it would be to serve your great company for literally no compensation. After all, we aren’t in teaching for the money.”

Ahhh…..Hell to the no! Yes, our main reasons for getting into teaching are often to help students. However, we do know our worth, and this isn’t it.

The response

This was not the day to ask Ms Wilkes to give up time that she did not have. No, not the day at all. A teacher’s shift is long and hard; outsiders often do not understand the social and emotional toll of teaching. Her main points sum up many of the problems we face as educators.

“I want to clarify that you offer athlete endorsements up to 60 million a year, athletes that already have mountains of money, but you refuse to offer compensation to over-worked and under-paid public school teachers.”

“Although I am not looking for a handout, I would like compensation for my time. Currently, my district pays 40/hour for extra duties, so in 15 minutes it took me to process the absurdity of your request and plan a thoughtful response,  I am already 10 dollars in the hole.

She gives her mailing address in case Nike is interested in sending payment rather than requesting unpaid work. Is it a surprise that she has yet to receive a reply to her email? Although it is sad and needs to change, it is not surprising.

Ms. Wilkes’s straightforward response is an inspiration for teachers everywhere. We should refuse to give up precious family, friends, and mental health time for no compensation. We are well-educated professionals, not volunteers. Demanding to be treated as such is what will get these ridiculous requests to stop.

Teacher's response to Nike's request for unpaid work goes viral