File this one under ‘things that make you go “huh?” “
It was his first known day of work, but on Tuesday, Alex Christian should have been at a Starbucks to meet with his students.
Instead, he was the victim of teacher-on-teacher friendly competition among his peers.
His classroom in Olympia, Washington, was the scene of a Midwestern snowstorm. The storm had made the snow on the ground a foot deep in some areas.
His students needed him, so Christian accepted — temporarily — an invitation to drop by Amazon’s warehouse in Everett, Washington, about an hour’s drive away.
There, Amazon is stockpiling books it expects to sell in the next two months. A perfect kindling for a kindler, gentler teacher-pitch meeting, right?
Christian is among thousands of educators who have reportedly tried to solicit donations on Amazon’s website during teacher strikes across the country in recent weeks.
Teachers are angry about the education-funding crises in their states and work with little support from state and local governments. The lack of funding means that teachers across the country are walking off the job because they can’t afford to live in their communities.
For Christian, it’s all about the pizza.
In the Amazon classroom, there are thousands of pizza boxes and the clouds had yet to deliver the snow. In other words, their warehouse meeting was the ideal spot to organize a donation drive.
“Maybe if I took a picture, our students would see that … here they are donating their own textbooks. Here they are donating their own supplies. Here they are donating their own dollars,” he told NBC affiliate KIRO 7.
And even though Amazon is pushing for its employees to give back to the communities where they work, the company also has a workplace giveback program called GiveGood which has paid for employees to perform random acts of kindness, like writing checks to specific stores or donating to the American Red Cross, according to the company’s website.
So, it’s not like their employees couldn’t be donated. And there are plenty of options.
And why shouldn’t Amazon give back to its employees?
“Let’s take a moment to appreciate how Amazon, and America, is running on a power source that most people either don’t know about or aren’t aware exists, even though most of us own Amazon devices in our homes,” said Nonaen Fox, an education policy expert at the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity.
Fox, who previously worked at Amazon and serves as a consultant for numerous media and political organizations, said that for the company to try to solve the education crisis by having employees give back to the community seems counterintuitive.
“It is just another tax-funded corporate solution to a problem that we the public haven’t asked ourselves for yet,” she told NBC affiliate KIRO 7.
But that still leaves the company with a choice: Should they give back to the communities where they work or the communities where they live?
Fox said companies with global operations like Amazon have no choice but to be a part of the public life of their local communities.
“Just because the company lives in Seattle, Washington does not mean they are exclusively responsible for the education crisis in the Silver State of Washington,” she said.
In the end, though, Christian’s visits to his classroom went unnoticed. He only got one mention on social media, by his colleagues.
But he did have another incentive: Amazon is allowing other teachers to sign up for the same event.
“I knew it would make me a hero,” Christian told NBC affiliate KIRO 7.
But he’s also just thrilled to have Amazon’s support.
“Just because we’re leaving at 8 o’clock in the morning, doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice or not be there for my kids,” he said.