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Oklahoma Board of Education Member Says Pregnant Hire Could Be “Worthless”

Oklahoma Board of Education Member Says Pregnant Hire Could Be “Worthless”

The Associated Press reports that an Oklahoma Board of Education official is under fire after questioning the hiring of a pregnant woman. Upon hearing that the school board opted to hire Jessica Russell, who is set to give birth in April, former State Senator Herb Rozell remarked “If she has that baby in April and takes off six weeks, she’s worthless to us. She won’t be able to keep up.” The remark, made in front of the Board of Education and Ms. Russell, garnered some awkward laughter. Superintendent Janet Barresi quickly ordered a 10 minute recess and told Mr. Rozell “Your comment is inappropriate and not worthy of this board and this department.” Ms. Russell left the room in tears.

After the meeting Mr. Rozell claimed, “I didn’t mean to interfere. I was just hoping we could have her in April and May, because that’s when everything gets tied up.” Ms. Russell is to represent the Department of Education at the Capitol. According to the Associated Press “The Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes Feb. 7 and must end its business by May 27.” Ms. Russell was shocked by the comment and said she “felt humiliated and insulted. [She] couldn’t believe something like that would be said at a public meeting.” Mr. Rozell’s remark has caused numerous people to call for his resignation, including Senator Clark Jolley and Senator John Ford. Mr. Rozell has publicly stated that he would like to apologize to Ms. Russell in person, which she says is a “possibility.

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95 comments

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8:09AM PDT on May 5, 2011

Motherhood is so much more demanding than fatherhood. Men don't get pregnant and go through nine months of hormonal madness. Mothers are expected to take time off for sick children but not dad.

12:05PM PST on Feb 18, 2011

The question is; Should this guy resign? No. He answered a question put to him honestly. All this PC is out of hand. Because of it you can't get a straight answer from any polical figure. Looking at the news and watching political races, I get so frustrated because you can't get a simple yes or no answer
from politicians. They all dance around the question and by time they are done speaking, I've forgotten the question. Here's a guy that answered a question. Now, people are asking if he should quit or be fired? No. We have to make up our minds what we want from public figures. Do we want the truth or, do we want to dance? I'd like the truth. I don't know how to dance.
Forget Political Correctness.

10:20AM PST on Feb 10, 2011

This attitude of "their worthless to us", stems from looking at people like commodities. True to run a successful company you need everyone to be productive, which means by default you are more successful if you cut loose the dead weight. That is what it means to be a success in today's society. The more ruthless, the more successful. Is it any wonder that the most successful CEO's and Hedge Fund managers are borderline psychopaths?

12:45AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

It depends on what they're looking for. Are they hiring permanently or just need someone to take the remainder of the school year? If they are filling permanently, I wouldn't say she's worthless. She can still prepare lesson plans for the remainder of the school year, and with the help of a long term sub to cover the actual school time, while she does the administrative end of the teaching contract, it should work out fine. Then when she comes back next school year, she'll be ready to go. She is either most qualified for the job, regardless of pregnant status, or she isn't. Make the decision from there. So she takes maternity leave. If it's that much of a hardship, they're not obligated to pay her during that time, they just can't give her job away during that time. So either hire her because she's best for the job and deal with it w/o acting like jerks, or, hire the next person because that's what they need. Calling anyone worthless is just totally unprofessional. Will that person be talking to students that way? I would seek for his termination if he told MY child he's worthless because he can't keep up in math like his peers. Just because he's a man and she's a pregnant woman does not give him rights to be unprofessional about it. Is HIS pregnant wife worthless for having his child? I think not.

5:54AM PST on Feb 3, 2011

You know--I don't even really think his comment was inappropriate. "If that new ski instructor's leg is actually broken and he has to take off the entire ski season, he is worthless to us." I don't think that's offensive at all, do you?

10:07AM PST on Feb 2, 2011

I see that it was inappropriate but also the truth. Companies are required to give maternity leave and even after that, most businesses will allow the new mother to use any sick days or vacation days. So, imagine an extra 2 weeks onto that even, in some cases. Here is the thing, if they chose to not hire her, and she was best for the job, she could sue because of discrimination! Even though shoe wouldn't be able to work for 6 weeks! This is one area of the discrimination that is dumb. I agree with Kathy M. It has nothing to do with men or anything like that, it is just the policy. They have to keep paying her for those 6 weeks as well!

7:22AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

I have an idea. What doesn't one of the women posting on here start a company that hires only mothers?? Hire women when they are pregnant, knowing they will take off 6 weeks you have to pay for, and maybe not return at the end of it. Then make sure you have day care on sight, and you give breaks for breastfeeding. You run a successful company like that, let us know. Otherwise, quit complaining that a smart business decision is discrimination.

6:58AM PST on Feb 1, 2011

Give me a break, Charles. You think she's not going to take her 6 weeks off?? Damn right she is. And, if they give her a hard time--DISCRIMINATION!! Women are not the weaker sex by any means, but when they demand special treatment in the work place, they act as though they cannot compete. Plain and simple. As a woman, it offends me, quite frankly. Women like the one in this article make us all look like freeloaders trying to take advantage of employers. We are not. I would not want to align myself with this woman in any way at all.

8:19PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

noted.

7:29PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

He seems to be going on the basis of judging the 'weaker sex' by some out of whack formula from God knows where. I have known women that were in the middle of an instruction session when their water broke and they finished the session before doing anything else.They were fully back on the job within a week. Farm women have been out picking crops, give birth in the fields and finish the picking with the newborn in tow. Don't even draw these generalities of being out for 6 weeks around me. I wonder how this egotistical ahole would come through child birth if he were on that end. Weaker sex my a**.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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