Capitol Broadcasting CEO Jim Goodmon lambasted the Wake County school board majority in his 16-minute speech at Saturday's Great Schools in Wake Coalition forum.
As noted in today's article, Goodmon accused the board of engaging in poor governing practices and being ideologically focused. He chastised the board for several of the decision that have been made, including eliminating the diversity policy.
Along the way, Goodmon got repeated applause and laughter from the crowd of around 200 people. He also found time to repeatedly plug WRAL, which his company owns.
"I’m not going to talk about assignment policy," Goodmon said shortly after starting his speech. "I’m going to talk about the achievement gap. The achievement gap I’m going to talk about is the governance of the Wake County school board."
He questioned how the board, namely the majority, former majority, or whatever you want to call them, has acted since December.
"This is not a game," he said. "This is not where you get people with political agendas or ideological agendas. That’s not what we’re doing here. We’ve got a really big important business that we’re supposed to be working on. My view is that the wheels are coming off the bus because of the poor governance practices of the Wake County school board."
Goodmon quickly added that before he blasts everyone he wanted to say that he appreciates those who run for political office. He also said it doesn't matter to him how long someone has lived here.
Going back to his speech, he called the way the board moved to change the student assignment policy at the first meeting an example of poor governance.
"Almost before their seats were warm, they changed a very significant policy," Goodmon said. "If you’re a responsible board, a responsible manager, you don’t do that. You don’t do that before you have a feasibility study done.”
"Why would a responsible board change a policy that they had no idea what they wanted to do," Goodmon said. "They only said what they wouldn’t do. Therein lies the reason why you’ve got 17,000 employees wondering what in the hell is going on in the front office. They (staff) don’t know what they’re (board) going to do. By the way, they (board) don’t know what they’re going to do.”
Goodmon said that since Wake is in the lower quartile of costs and the upper quartile of performance that the first thing he’d say if he was board chairman to other board members would be not to screw things up.
Digressing off his talk, he added that nobody thinks Wake is perfect. He said he's upset about the performance of low-income students.
"Nobody thinks this is a perfect system," he said. "We’ve got a lot of assignment issues to work on. We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. We don’t need to take the wheels off the bus."
Goodmon said they shouldn't take the wheels off now because Wake is dealing with financial issues and growth issues. At a time when funding is an issue, he questioned why Wake would leave the N.C. School Boards Association when that group's job is to lobby the state for money for schools.
“I don’t think these funding problems are just next year," he said. "I think we're five to seven years to glide out of this. The funding for the system will go down, way down. What the school system needs to be working on is how to deal with that."
Goodmon then jumped to the issue of board-staff relations, mentioning the N.C. SPIN show in which John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, said the board should consider staff as the enemy. He said that's how the board feels.
"The superintendent has to go," Goodmon said of the board's attitude about staff. "He’s the enemy. He doesn’t agree with us. This notion that we’ve got to get all these people out of the school system and we’ll get some business people to run it and everything will be peaches."
He criticized the idea of allowing non-educators to be superintendent. Later on in the talk, he also criticized not making the names of finalists public. He said there should be community input in the finalists.
(As you may notice, Goodmon would suddenly switch topics and stop and start them.)
Goodmon moved on to asking the crowd if they thought they could get a bond issue passed now, adding "come on." He said he's embarrassed at all those trailers at "dear old Broughton" and that "we haven’t seen the worse yet if we don’t get another bond passed."
Goodmon next incorrectly said he heard that at-large elections were part of the school board's legislative agenda. He said that they should look at that because "having districts has gotten us into a little trouble."
Goodmon moved on to the issue of relations between the school board and county commissioners, saying they need to work together.
"I don’t think the county commissioners like the school board," he said. "Do you? Come on."
He added that "I think the school bard has made some pretty lousy land purchases." He didn't elaborate if he was talking about the Rolesville High land purchase or the disputed deals made by the old board.
Goodmon later criticized the board for reducing the number of regular meetings and monthly public comment sessions.
Sliding back on the board-staff issue, he said "this fight between the board and the staff is going to get us in a lot of trouble."
Goodmon then brought up political and ideological charges against the board.
"This political single issue ideological focus can throw us off track completely because of the way they’re running the school board," he said. "We should demand a more professional and businesslike governance of the school system."
Goodmon wrapped things up by thanking Great Schools in Wake and taking a shot at school board member John Tedesco.
Goodmon mentioned an interview in which he said Tedesco accused him of being old, out out touch and living inside the Beltline.
"That’s the only thing I’ve agreed with about John Tedesco," Goodmon said to closing laughs.
WRAL steered clear of Goodmon's speech in its coverage of the forum on Saturday's newscasts.