Houston Teacher Resigns As Video Shows Grades Being Traded for Book Reviews

A high-school teacher in Spring, Texas has resigned after allegedly telling his students they would get a passing grade for buying his book and reviewing it online.

On Friday, TikTok user tizzyent shared a picture of a board from inside a classroom at York Junior High School, where teacher Brandon Downing was offering the students a 100 grade for downloading two free books, flipping through to the end on Kindle, and giving both tomes 5-star reviews.

In a letter seen by Newsweek that was sent to parents at York Junior High on Tuesday, Principal Melanie Bujnoch said: "I want to let you know that the York teacher referenced in the TikTok video and on other social media platforms has resigned, and his classes will be covered by a substitute for the remainder of the school year. We are working with the parents of those students directly involved to address any questions."

According to the Conroe Independent School District (CISD) Board of Trustees meeting agenda from April 20, 2021, Downing was one of hundreds of teachers approved by the board for a one-year contract.

@tizzyent

#greenscreenvideo greenscreenA Junior High teacher says buy my books & you'll get a 100!

♬ original sound - TizzyEnt

In the video, which has received more than 680,000 views, TikToker tizzyent explains that the students had the option to either complete a 26-page assignment or buy the book and leave a review for their teacher.

The video caused outrage online, featuring on-screen instructions from the teacher that told students: "Do not say 'he's my teacher' or 'I'm in his class' or anything like that."

Viewers of the video were outraged by the teacher's behavior and flooded the comments with their thoughts. One commenter wrote: "A 26-page report is insane. He's basically forcing them to buy the grade."

Another TikTok user wrote: "That's a straight-up abuse of power and very unprofessional," and one commenter said: "He ought to be fired."

"Wow, what happened to being ethical?" asked another viewer.

The viral video found its way through the entire Conroe community, prompting students from the school to comment, including one who said: "I had him as a teacher and y'all are making a way bigger deal out of this than it is. He was a great teacher and nice to everyone."

Meanwhile, other commenters pointed out the similarity to many college experiences: "You basically have to do this for college," wrote one TikTok user: "In order to take the class, you must buy the book the Professor wrote that's hundreds of dollars..."

Since the incident, one of Downing's books Mammoth: Protecting the Herd has received a barrage of 1-star reviews on Amazon, with comments including: "Unfortunately I won't be getting a grade for my review since I'm not one of Mr. Downing's students," and: "A teacher that's making his kids buy his book and give it 5 stars so they can get a 100% in an assignment or write a 26 page with art project form a book? This is just sad and abusive."

York Junior High School
York Junior High School. A teacher at the school has resigned this week after a viral video revealed he had been asking students to review his book in exchange for grades. Google maps