Supporters of the old diversity policy are ramping up the message of "wait 'til next year" in the aftermath of last week's GOP election victory on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
As noted in Thursday's American Independent article by Ned Barnett, diversity policy supporters say last week's election results shouldn't be seen as a referendum supporting community schools. Instead, they're pointing to the 2011 Wake County school board elections as the true test of public sentiment.
“I don’t think the voters went to the polls and voted the way they did because of what was going on with the school board,” said Karen Rindge, executive director of WakeUP Wake County, the parent group of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition. “But I think we’re going to see a change next year. That’s when we’re really going to see if the public agrees with this board of education.”
A similar refrain came from campaign strategist Perry Woods, who worked for Democratic commissioner candidates Jack Nichols and Steve Rao. Woods said the real referendums would be the next school bond issue and next year's school board elections.
“The real mandate of the election was people are concerned about the economy,” Woods said. “It’s ridiculous for them to claim a mandate. The results show we’re pretty much a 50-50 county and there is no way in the world they are going to pass a school bond.”
Patty Williams, program director of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, also predicted that the next bond won't pass unless the board addresses concerns that the new assignment plan will lead to school resegregation.
Williams said a lack of voter education may have been what led to last week's election results for commissioner.
“One one hand, it was a referendum on the schools. On the other hand, I don’t know how much voter education necessarily worked,” Williams said.
School board member Kevin Hill also disputes the notion that the election results were a mandate for community schools, a message being uttered by school board members Ron Margiotta, Chris Malone and John Tedesco.
“I don’t know that it’s a mandate to proceed with community schools," Hill said. "I think it was people coming out to vote their dissatisfaction with how things are going in this country.”
Hill said he and other members of the minority will work with Debra Goldman to develop an assignment plan that won’t allow for high poverty, low performing schools.
Hill said he expects Margiotta will face a tough challenge for re-election next year. Margiotta ran unopposed in 2007.
“I don’t think [Margiotta] is going to run unopposed,” Hill said. “The days of any board member running unopposed are over. [The majority members] left the barn door open for politics to come come in.”
In today's article in the American Independent, newly elected Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews is calling last week's election results a mandate for neighborhood schools.