Capital News Article

Huang, Cindy, A voice for equality: Remembering the legacy of Aris T. Allen, the county’s first black school board member, Capital, February 14, 2016.

Snider Comment

“Alderwoman Sheila Finlayson, D-Ward 4, who ran Allen’s last campaign,…said the current lack of black representation is a step backward….”

Finlayson is the former president of TAAAC, the teachers’ union. I wonder how she would have voted if her desire for a more diverse school board conflicted with her fiduciary duty to faithfully represent her union’s interests.

Consider the School Board Nominating Commission during the 2014 election cycle when Kevin Jackson was the black incumbent running for re-election. TAAAC’s Executive Director, its VP, and AFSCME’s rep (all whites) all spoke out against Jackson, who was one of only two blacks left on the School Board. While in office, Jackson, who is aspiring to earn an MBA, apparently asked questions that TAAAC didn’t like. During the first vote count, the TAAAC VP and the AFSCME rep voted against Jackson. But after Jackson was nevertheless nominated the TAAAC VP changed her vote. All three union reps voted in support of Julie Hummer, who the governor eventually appointed instead of Jackson.

The Capital didn’t send a reporter to the two relevant public hearings and has never reported on this incident. But it is irresponsible for it to report on Solon Webb without also reporting on Jackson, who served on the Board with Webb and collectively were its last two black reps. In my years attending SBNC meetings from 2008 to 2014, I never heard an SBNC commissioner publicly speak negatively about any candidate, let alone a black one, until then.

Note that AACPS, which continues to control the SBNC website, deleted from it all minutes and video records from those two remarkable public meetings. The Democratic Central Committee recently filed a complaint with the Maryland Attorney General’s office complaining of such missing public records. A bill has been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly to prevent this from happening in the future.