MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Schools teachers are calling one school board member’s comments during a Facebook live inappropriate and insulting to teachers.
“You should be standing there praising God that you’re still alive, thanking God that you still have a job, and you should be standing there warm and inviting students to come back,” said Rev. Althea Greene on Sunday morning.
Greene told FOX13 she was talking in her role as a pastor when referring to some, not all SCS teachers, but the teachers’ union believes these comments are inappropriate.
She made the comments during a segment she calls “Real Talk with Rev. Al”
But some of Greene’s comments did not sit well with teachers, especially since Greene is a school board member and former educator.
“Many teachers still don’t want to go back to work tomorrow, but you know what, you got paid for March to May, and I didn’t say anything, and most of you didn’t do anything,” said Greene during her Facebook Live. “You’ve been teaching at home virtual since August, September, October, November, December, January, February alright, it’s time to go back to work.”
During her Facebook Live, Greene shamed teachers who didn’t take advantage of the district’s vaccination efforts ahead of the first day of in-person learning.
“Shame on you. We have done our part as school board commissioners, as the superintendent. We have done everything to stand up for teachers to advocate for you, to fight for you, and make sure you had an opportunity to get a vaccine,” she said during the Live.
But it’s this comment that has many saying the school board member went too far.
“Please go back with a positive attitude. Children don’t deserve your nasty, funky, sour attitude when they arrive back in the morning, and I mean it just like I said it,” said Greene during the Live.
Keith Williams represents more than 3,500 teachers as the executive director for the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association.
“You still don’t use a public platform to impugn the quality and the veracity of teachers. It is inappropriate at all levels,” said Williams.
He said teachers deserve an apology for these comments.
“You said it as if we were lazy, shiftless, want something for nothing, that is not true. That is not true. We worked too hard and too long to strengthen the students of this district to be insulted in that kind of a way,” said Williams.
Rev. Greene told FOX13 people are taking her words out of context. She said she wasn’t talking about all teachers, just a few.
“I was talking about people who wouldn’t call parents back. When I had those conversations with parents, I can’t get a callback, and so that’s not 98% of the people in the district because they do what they’re supposed to do. But you will always have a few people who fail to do what they need to do,” said Greene.
She said she made these comments during her worship time as a pastor. While it was a Facebook Live, she said it wasn’t a public forum directly for teachers. It was a conversation with her church.
“I will always be a school board member, but foremost I am a pastor, and so I don’t confuse my roles. So I’m not going to do what I was threatened to do on Facebook. ‘Oh, you owe people a public apology.’ Do I need to apologize for saying what I said? If somebody misinterpreted what I said, that’s totally taken out of context,” said Greene. “If they misinterpret what I said, then I apologize, but I meant the things that I said yesterday to the people that I was addressing, and I think we have to be real clear of that.”
FOX13 reached out to the school district for a comment from the superintendent about Rev. Greene’s Facebook Live.
A district spokeswoman said the district doesn’t usually comment on board member statements.
As far as a public apology, Rev. Greene said she’ll make her next public statement on Sunday to her congregation.