Shame on Jefferson County's teachers, for putting up with representation of the kind that union president Brent McKim and executive director Steve Neal have been providing of late.These two leaders of the Jefferson County Teachers Association understandably feel an obligation to fight for members who lose their jobs. However, their recent conduct plays right into the hands of labor's opponents, who relish any evidence that a union ultimately will serve its own selfish interests rather than the broader interests of industry or society.
Are JCTA members proud of Mr. McKim and Mr. Neal for gratuitously and recklessly playing the race card, in a dispute with the Jefferson County Public Schools administration?
Do they want their leaders playing games with the most incendiary of local issues -- distorting numbers, obscuring relevant facts and reaching clearly unsupported conclusions on the school district's attitude toward race, of all things?
Superintendent Sheldon Berman has explained the non-renewal of one–year contracts held by 21 teachers, five of whom were African Americans, for poor performance, repeated misconduct or disciplinary problems. He has provided the facts -- not the speculation and innuendo that JCTA offered -- about 16 more teachers whose employment was not renewed.
Jefferson County teachers who already have earned their positions and their job security, and are fully familiar with the four-year process through which tenure is granted, will understand these facts. And they will understand these numbers: Of 419 fourth-year non-tenured teachers, 65 were African Americans, and all 65 earned, and were granted, tenure.
The duplicity in which Mr. McKim and Mr. Neal engaged is, or should be, beneath them as labor officials and community leaders. They say in one breath that they're "not accusing the district of racial bias." In the next gasp, they invoke "unlawful discrimination" and make a show of differentiating between two different kinds, then admit they don't know if they have found either in the contract renewal records.
This is agitation and propaganda, not serious, responsible representation of teachers. One hopes it won't spoil the good working relationship teachers seemed to be enjoying with the new superintendent.