A story this week begs for more exploration, and this is the place to do it. First, as usual, the story.
“My husband and I were told that people were finding out about it. So I knew this day was coming,” said Brianna Coppage, an English teacher at St. Clair (Mo.) High School. School administrators learned of her paywalled adult web presence, and Coppage, 28, was put on leave; she resigned rather than be fired. She set up the site over the summer to help pay off her student loans. “I have multiple degrees in education, and it would be helpful for extra money,” she said, knowing with her $42,000/year salary it would take years to pay it all off. She kept her face off the videos and didn’t use her real name, but someone told the school. “I’m not advertising it to students, but adults in the community continue to do so,” she said. That turned into a blessing: with so much publicity her paid subscriptions on the site have skyrocketed, so she doubled the price. In the past six months her take has been over $1 million. “I have no debt now, and that’s really freeing,” she said. “We were deeply disappointed that this negative attention was brought to our community,” grumped school superintendent Kyle Kruse. (RC/KMOV St. Louis, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) …Beating the system designed to keep working people impoverished? That’s a shamin’.
We all say we want well-educated, dedicated teachers for “our kids” …but don’t want to pay them a reasonable wage. I didn’t have room for more quotes for this story, so let’s expand things here where there’s more room.
I’ll begin by making one thing clear, using the “p-word” and site name which (if I used either in the newsletter) would have necessarily meant it would be filtered by many email providers: her OnlyFans paywalled site — which means you can’t see the content without paying — is hardcore porn in nature. The “softest” advertised aspect is “self play.”
I have never used OnlyFans myself, but if you really want to find her there, I’ll make it easy for you: her handle is BrooklinLovexxx.
“I have multiple degrees in education,” she told KMOV St. Louis, which didn’t elaborate. Hell, with some teachers having no degrees at all, one degree would be a great start! Multiple — frankly, in any subject — is icing on the cake, assuming they’re from legitimate institutes of higher education.
And at least one of hers was: the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She then worked as an academic adviser at the Missouri University of Science & Technology in Rolla before she was hired at the 750-student St. Clair High School, which is in a town of about 4,800 residents. A small town for sure.
“There is this expectation that teachers should be the moral leaders of students, and I do not disagree with that,” Coppage said. “I taught the curriculum. I taught students reading and writing, and I didn’t guide them on my thoughts or beliefs.” On the other hand, “I can’t control what people think of me. I just know that who I am as a person, I’m not doing anything illegal. I am a good friend. I am a good family member. That is all I can think about right now.”
What did she mean by her site being “advertised” by adults in town? Someone linked to her OnlyFans account in a St. Clair Facebook group. That’s when she knew it was out of control, and decided to resign from the school.
But what she really wanted to do is teach. “I’ve definitely gone through a grieving process, especially during that first week and second week,” she said. “Just knowing I won’t be going back to education and I won’t ever be seeing my students again in the classroom. That was tough.”
But then there this: “Missouri is one of the lowest states in the nation for teacher pay,” she said. “The district I was working for is also one of the lowest paying districts in the state. I feel like times are tough. I have student loans.” She was in a no-win situation …unless she came up with a creative solution at the risk of public disapproval.
There are clearly two worlds of thought on this: she’s not doing anything illegal, and did everything right in the sense that she didn’t talk about it, didn’t use her name, and didn’t show her face. And on the other hand, she works with children in a small town, and parents would clearly be uneasy (to say the least) with her side job, and odds are (in a small town) word will eventually get out.
“Our [school district employee] handbook policies are very vague and just say something about represent yourself well,” she said. “Did I violate that? I feel like that’s a matter of opinion.” She says that if teachers are to be held to high standards, then they need to be paid to the same standard. They’re not.
So who is “right” here? Her, and her “right” to have a non-illegal side job? Or the school, who has an obligation to provide good role models for the students?
Other than say both sides are right, leading to a conundrum, I’ll leave it up to you to hash it out in the comments.
Pretty early in the controversy, and well before the “exceeded $1 million” bit came out, the weekly St. Louis Riverfront Times scored a pretty candid interview with Coppage.
“The public outrage was swift,” the paper said — “not against Coppage, but at the school for acting so aghast that an employee they paid $42,000 a year would work to supplement that income.”
Well, that’s not what made the public aghast, is it? They didn’t exactly embrace her specific job. But let’s press on.
She was making $10,000/month at first (vs $3,500 before deductions at school) on OnlyFans, and “It didn’t blow up until I collaborated with some other creators who have a big following in St. Louis.” Which, of course, is probably how someone recognized her and informed the school.
“I really had two choices” when she was discovered, she said. “One was to delete everything and hide from it, and my name was still going to be out there anyway. I knew that I wasn’t going to go back into education. So it was either run and hide, or lean into it. And at the end of the day, I still have bills to pay and I still have like a family to provide for. So it was not really a difficult choice to just lean in.”
She now has tens of thousands of subscribers. Even just 10,000 subscribers at her old rate of $10/month is a six-figure gross. One source said she had “more than doubled” the $10/month subscription price. It adds up fast, so “leaning in” it is. If she’s smart, she’s banking a lot of the money for the future. And it sounds like she’s smart.
“A lot of people [are] asking, why didn’t you just get a part time job somewhere,” she said. “That seems like that would’ve worked better but teachers also take all of their work home. We don’t get to stop working when we leave the school day. We don’t get to grade all 130 students’ papers during the day. It’s just not possible when you’re teaching, so we take that work home with us on the evenings and on the weekends. Getting a second job is really not possible.”
Despite the school district’s actions, “The reaction has been very, very supportive,” she asserts. “I’m honestly surprised. Many people are saying, ‘Leave her alone, this is her personal business.’ A lot of people are pointing out this wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage. The support has honestly been overwhelmingly positive. There’s always going to be those negative comments that are out there. But they’ve been few and far between.
“Someone reached out to me and they said they were an administrator at a Catholic school. They said, ‘You do you. You’re doing awesome. You deserve all the support.’ That was surprising.” So Kruse is more reactionary about staff having sex with their husbands than a Catholic school principal. Go figure!
Even support from her family. Her husband, of course, knew about it from the start. “But it is tough to have these conversations with your family. That’s never easy.” They were “Shocked, at first. But then supportive.” Still, “I’m not embarrassed for myself. I’m really not even worried about myself.”
“This wouldn’t happen if we paid teachers a livable wage.” Kind of the crux of the matter, eh? That and the educational loan system is rigged against them, with high interest rates even when big borrowers were getting whatever they needed at near-zero interest rates for years.
“Follow the money” a friend likes to say. Well, “the money” shows what we really care about in this country, and in general it’s not teachers and other service workers, and certainly not sex workers.
So Coppage is left with only one thing to do: “I’m just going to lean into my online presence and try to make the most of it.”
Start IRA and Roth accounts pronto, Brianna!
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