Is the Wake County school system undergoing "militarization" under the tenure of Superintendent Tony Tata?
That's a charge leveled in this Dec. 16 article by Jason Langberg and Lewis Pitts from the liberal Advocates for Children's Services. The article points to Tata's military career, the requirement of Junior ROTC for the new single-sex leadership academies and Wake's recent involvement in cybersecurity competitions.
The authors start by calling the Occupy Wall Street movement an "education justice movement." The piece charges that public education has "undergone a corporate coup" with the "mega-buck mafia’s buyout of public education."
The piece moves on to talk about billionaire Eli Broad's investment in public education and how his "virus" has "infected" the Wake County school system through Tata's hiring.
Langberg and Pitts are harsh in their assessment of Tata, apparently not won over like some of his other critics have been by his tenure as superintendent.
The authors note that Tata's military career saw him "participating in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan." It adds he "authored tawdry, fictional military novels, served as a Fox News commentator, and was a blogger" who praised Sarah Palin.
They point to Tata's lack of education degrees and experience as an educator. Along the way, they criticize Michelle Rhee's tenure as chief of D.C. Schools where Tata was chief operating officer.
They escalate their criticism from the period he started as superintendent in Wake.
"Tata made his intentions clear when his first local public appearance was at the Wake County Taxpayers Association (a conservative organization funded by Bob Luddy)," according to the article. "Since then, he has taken things one corporatization/militarization step at a time. He helped replace Wake County’s nationally-renowned socio-economic diversity policy with a “choice” plan and gained approval for locating two single-sex 'leadership academies,' with mandatory J-ROTC, in Raleigh."
They note how Tata brought in another Broad Superintendents Academy graduate in Judy Peppler to be chief transformation officer.
They then focus on the school system's involvement in cybersecurity competitions.
"The competitions are brought to our children by the likes of the U.S. Air Force, AT&T, a big financial backer of the Tea Party, and companies that produce killing machines, such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon," according to the article.
The article was posted on the website of Parents Across America, which says one of the things it believes in is "we support creating diverse, inclusive schools and classrooms whenever possible." Under the category of "what doesn't work," the group lists privatization, high-stakes testing, school closings and ignoring poverty.