School Board Member Karen Johnson Says She's Under Pressure to Vote Based on Race



OK, this is exactly what I'm talking about when I say we ought to disband the school board. It started with blogger Kay Brooks criticizing board member Karen Johnson for saying she wondered if a white guy could run a diverse school district like Nashville's. Johnson was talking about Jesse Register, our soon-to-be new superintendent.

Then Johnson, who actually wound up voting for Register, defended herself in a comment:

"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."

Now, I ask you again Dear Pith Reader, is this any way to run a school district? It's like we're talking about the Italian parliament here. That Johnson's under pressure to vote based on her race is bad enough.  But it's no worse than the Chamber of Commerce giving great wads of campaign cash, then bullying board members to vote for a student rezoning plan to remove inner-city black kids from Hillwood. Johnson may have resisted pressure from black constituents when she voted for the rezoning plan, but did she knuckle under to the Chamber, which funded her campaign?

Switching to an appointed board with mayoral control wouldn't entirely stamp out interest-group politics like this, but it might help.

h/t Kleinheider

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