Teachers union deal: ‘Special consideration shall be given to non-Christians,’ racial minorities

Robby Soave Reporter
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A teachers union contract for a Michigan school district that was initially extended until the year 2017 specifically discriminates against Christians, white people and men in the very text of the deal.

The details of the Ferndale Public Schools contract, which were first reported by the Mackinac Center’s Capitol Confidential, establish that non-Christians, racial minorities and women received special priority in hiring decisions.

“Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith,” reads the text of the contract.

After inquiries made by The Mackinac Center and The Daily Caller, the district has opted to immediately remove the language from their contracts. A spokesperson for the district told TheDC that the language was “antiquated.”

“We were able to submit this language to legal counsel and it is being removed from the contracts,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The district does not discriminate.”

As written, it seemed likely that the contract violated several laws. Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting the consideration of race in public contracts and university admissions. That law is currently being adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court — and experts expect that it will be upheld.

The contract’s special treatment for non-Christians may be even more obviously problematic. The Federal Civil Rights Act — as well as Michigan’s own civil rights law — prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of religion.

The contract was originally negotiated in 2011, but was extended by administrators until 2017. (RELATED: Many unions circumvent Michigan right-to-work law)

Rana Elmir, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, declined to denounce the contract in an interview with Capcon.

“There’s nothing wrong with encouraging people from diverse faiths to apply for a position,” she said. “In fact, doing so recognizes that our classrooms and communities are diverse. However, public schools themselves should not be in the business of promoting particular religious beliefs or religious activities over others and they should protect children from being coerced to accept religious or anti-religious beliefs.”

The contract fails to encourage diversity in at least one way, however. Despite the contract’s assertion that female applicants should be given priority hiring alongside racial minorities and non-Christians, the teaching professions is a field absolutely dominated by women. Only about 20 percent of public schools teachers today are male.

The district had a partial explanation for that: The language was likely drafted in the 1970s, when the teaching profession was less of an exclusively female vocation.

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