Republican members of the Wake County school board are calling the GOP sweep of the commissioners races a referendum showing support for pushing ahead with community schools.
As noted in today's article, GOP school board members say that people did respond to the calls from Democrats to turn it into a referendum on the school board's student assignment policy changes. The result, board members say, is a message that they've got the community's support for their actions.
“The people are saying, ‘Leave the school board alone; let them do what they were elected to do on student assignment,’” said school board member Chris Malone. “People want the school board to succeed and do their business.”
School board chairman Ron Margiotta was even more emphatic on that point. He said it should embolden all five Republican board members, including Debra Goldman, to move forward on community schools.
Margiotta said he wants the Oct. 5 directive halting work on the zone plan to be amended.
Margiotta said he's also going to push for something more than just making a few more node adjustments next year or only looking at the reassignments scheduled for next year. He said he wants to start using the new Policy 6200 to eliminate what he thinks are the most flawed examples of the use of diversity in student assignment.
Democrats tried to downplay the meaning of Tuesday's election results on the school board.
“I certainly don’t see it as a referendum on the community wanting neighborhood schools or more reassignments,” said school board member Keith Sutton.
Democrats are trying to attribute the GOP sweep of the four board of commissioner seats to the national Republican wave as opposed to support for the school board's policies.
"It’s a reflection of the national mood as it’s playing out at the county level," said Mack Paul, chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party. "Voters who are motivated by school situation were out, but they were too small a segment of the voter population.
Paul argued that the real test of public sentiment will come in next year's school board elections.
Margiotta isn't buying that argument at all. He said Democrats and other supporters of the diversity policy can't walk away from their repeated efforts to turn this year's election into a referendum on the school board. He singled out the leadership of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, state NAACP, Wake Education Partnership, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Capitol Broadcasting and The News & Observer.
"Local issues dominate local elections,” Margiotta said. “The number one local issue has been the schools. That’s what the other side kept pounding on. This was a direct referendum on the school board.”
School board member John Tedesco also pointed to the election results in Wake showing how well Democrats did on Congressional and General Assembly races. He said that wouldn't have been the case if there was such as large local GOP wave as Democrats insist.