Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Johnson explains comment

Late last night MNPS BOE member Karen Johnson (District 6-Antioch) posted a comment to yesterday's "Say What" post and I think her very reasonable explanation should get at least as much exposure as my questioning of it. Here it is:


I just returned to Nashville and was forwarded your blog statement with reference to me again. What most people don't understand is the constant fire I am under by a small group of people who want to paint me as being against my own race. I am not against anyone and the wall that I was up against at this meeting I am not going to go into. The fact is I was told that here you go again, voting for someone who is a white male versus the black candidate. I was accused of this for the vote I made for the chair giving my vote to David Fox. I was accused of being against blacks by the rezoning vote, and now I had accusations around this situation "I was told we are watching to see if you do the right thing this time" The fact is that my vote is not based on race "ever" but I did have to lay it out there what I was challenged with. There was no doubt Jesse Register was the most qualified and I stand behind this vote also. It's unfortunate the meeting was not taped so that the entire context of what I said could be understood. Those who were there understood it and in fact I received calls after the meeting that were very positive. It's unfortunate that you would reference my comment the way you did, but nevertheless I made the choice that I felt was right based on Dr. Register's clear qualifications exceeding the other two candidates. I am excited about working with him.

Karen Y. Johnson

12:32 AM

If I understand her correctly she was not expressing her own frame of mind but giving voice to the comments she knew were coming her way based on the criticism she'd already received. Johnson gets credit for understanding what was coming her way and still voting her conviction.

As she writes above, it's unfortunate that the meeting wasn't taped so that I, and others, could have had access to the context of her statement instead of memory of a news clip that became vapor almost immediately. I know video equipment is expensive, as is its maintenance and the people to operate it but I do hope the system finds the money to ensure that future meetings are always covered. It's a sad state of affairs that citizens feel the need to keep an eye on their representatives but such is our time.

I do want to thank Karen Johnson for so quickly clarifying her comments.

1 comment:

N.S. Allen said...

You have to feel bad for Ms. Johnson, because, on the one hand, education policy decisions should never be made with race as the primary, motivating factor.

On the other, with the achievement gap and America's history of educational inequality, no one should be the least surprised that race does become the motivating factor for a lot of people, when certain decisions are made. It's only natural, even if it isn't good, so someone like Ms. Johnson is caught in an unfortunate catch-22.

(Which isn't to say that all of the decisions she's drawn fire for were good ones. Voting for the re-zoning was awful, regardless of the racial question. Voting for David Fox was fine and probably the best option out of the board.)