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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Liberal groups criticizing Tony Tata over Walnut Creek Elementary overcrowding

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Here's more signs that life for Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata will be bumpier under the new Democratic school board majority.

In a post today on the liberal Schools Matter blog, Jim Horn points to Cash Michaels' article in The Carolinian about the crowding at Walnut Creek Elementary. Horn essentially calls for the new majority to get rid of Tata.

"We must wonder if the new sane school board majority will allow the incompetent and callous Tata to continue demolishing the reputation of Wake County Schools," Horn writes.

Rob Schofield also doesn't have nice things to say about Tata in a post Monday on the Progressive Pulse blog about the situation at Walnut Creek.

"Thank goodness the schools will soon be in the hands of a majority that has a clue," writes Schofield of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch. "Let’s hope they make clear to the General right away who’s running the show."

Members of the new majority have said they don't intend to fire Tata, although getting rid of him is something that at least some of their supporters wouldn't mind. Tata's supporters have also contended that the new majority could make life so difficult on him that he chooses to resign.

Back to Horn's post, where he also criticizes school board vice chairman John Tedesco. Horn runs with Michaels' argument that Walnut Creek was allowed to get so overcrowded to get rid of Southeast Raleigh children from East Garner Elementary.

"You see, Tedesco's constituents at East Garner Elementary were eager to dump its poor and brown students from its rolls," Horn writes. "East Garner, with a capacity of 849 students now has 577 mostly white children whose parents are happy to follow the lead of their ethnically-cleansing rep, Little John Tedesco."

It's clear that East Garner students were reassigned to Walnut Creek. But you wouldn't call East Garner "mostly white." This year, it's enrollment is  14 percent white. Black students account for 47 percent of the enrollment.

UPDATE

Click here to view the precis for the Walnut Creek capping vote, which includes eight schools the school board could choose from to send the overflow students to for the rest of the school year.

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Sad irony

Does anyone else find it ironic that 'liberal groups' are calling Mr. Tata incompetent because a school filled via the previous assignment process is overcrowded, yet NOT A PEEP about the obvious discrimination for certain minorities in having access to 8th grade algebra.

The quote from the story today says it all - 'That report showed that previous guidelines relied more on teacher judgment than on test scores, and resulted in more than half of qualified black and Hispanic middle-school students in Wake not being put in advanced math courses.'

Why is this not national news? Systemic discrimination in Wake County! This is Mr. Hill's and Mr. Burns' legacy. I hope the new policy does pass today. That way when the new board removes it, they can be on record as racists.

REVISIONIST HISTORY...

...Let's try this ONE...MORE...TIME!

Margiotta's school board majority decided to change what was originally planned for WC, and instead directed staff to follow the new Policy 6200 mandate of neighborhood schools in reassigning children to fill up WC. If they had stayed with the previous student diversity plan, the school would have had 65% F&R and a more diverse student body!

You can go to WRAL.com and take a look at Margiotta's commenst from Dec. 2010 regarding changing the reassignment per Policy 6200. Heck, you can find it here at the N&O...but STOP making up stuff just because your "heroes" screw this up, will ya?

The F&R is 67.2%--not much

The F&R is 67.2%--not much different from 65%. 

?

Alright then.  What was "originally planned for WC"?

FIRST...

...Tata himself put the F&R at 72% last Friday. Secondly, the original plan was for WC to be YR and diverse with 65 F&R.

Any other questions, like why did Tata and his staff screw this up?

Ok...

So, let's say the additional 2.2% additional F&R is attributable to the change in Polcy 6200. The change to the traditional calendar clearly lies on Sutton's shoulders -- can't pin that on the outgoing majority.  And, who's to say that it wouldn't be 65% if it were on a YR schedule?  Slightly different student population, right?

The campaign's over -- time to stop throwing stuff at the majority in hopes something will stick.

FIRST OF ALL...

...the clock is TICKING on your so-called "majority," which fizzles into history (thank God) on December 6th. So hug that Teddy Bear as long as you want, Sconcy.

Secondly, as long a it takes five votes to pass ANYTHING on the nine-member Wake School Board, unless you have footage of Sutton with a gun to the heads of four other board members, IT IS A BOARD DECISION!

Sutton put good reasons for making WC traditional on the table, and other board members, including Chris Malone agreed. They didn't have to. So if there's something YOU don't like about the decision...well CONGRATULATIONS, SCONCY, you get to blame four other school board members who must take responsibility for their vote as well.

So cut the crap! The issue isn't traditional or YR. The issue is WHY did Tata and staff wait so long until they "admittedly" ran out of space, before putting WC in the untenaable position of overcapacity it's in?

Try "pinning" THAT where it belongs, for a change, will ya?

So...

You're suggesting that the rest of the board should NOT have deferred to Sutton?  Interesting point.

As to what the "issue" is, I was answering a different point that you raised.  Now that you're changing the subject, I don't think WC's position is as bad as you're making it out to be.  Class sizes are still below district targets.  Yes, it's more full than we'd like, but schools all over the county have dealt with that for years.  It's a problem to be managed, but it's not the crisis that you or Cash Michaels are making it out to be.

And, just as nobody calls me 'Bobby,' nobody calls me 'Sconcy' either.  Using a dimunitive form of my name is no better than just outright arguing by insult.

BOBBY SCONCY...

....you have nerve after all the garbage you use to attack folks you don't like, to start warning people.

I'm "truly" frightened. Can dish it out, but can't take a spoonful of your own "suga!"

If you spent more time learning how to read and comprehend, instead of being so prickly like a little eight-year-old, you'd understand that I was suggesting no such thing. A majority of the board agreed with Sutton after he made his case, and voted accordingly. For you to now put the onus on just him is stupid.

I'm sorry Sconcy...I SAID STUPID!

That better, Bobby!

If you knew a drop about education, then you'd know that pouring 150 more kids into a school that had just opened, hadn't even gotten itself settled, and found itself distracted from day one with space problems created by a dumb-as-nails Central Office, is a problem. A BIG one. At least other, older schools, have some experience with overcrowding, and are able to still stay on mission while dealing with it.

WC is having to still hire, alter programs, and disrupt children who haven't even chosen what seat they'll sit in yet. The teacher they started with will not be the teacher they finish with. And these are at-risk kids who need more attention that not!

You just don't want this major scewup on the tab of those whose faces you like licking, Sconcy! You just want to nail liberals for anything or everything. But when you get nailed back...WAAAAA, don't call me Bobby!

Man, what a joke!

If you were going to take a

If you were going to take a rational look at overcrowding at Walnut Creek, it might help to understand the following points:

1. Students were reassigned to WC using nodes. Using all current knowledge about the number of students in each node, the number of students assigned to WC was exactly equal to the capacity of WC.

2. When the school opened, it's enrollment was right at 100% capacity.

3. Staff aparently overlooked two new apartment complexes opening in the WC's base assignment area. I have no idea why, but I was under the impression that WCPSS had made recent improvements in forecasting node-based growth using a model developed at NC State. These new homes are what has apparently caused the over enrollment at WC.

4. Many of the students assigned to WC came from YR schools, yet Sutton (supported by others) fought to have the school opened on a traditional calendar. This despite the understanding from the last bond issue that all new schools were to open on the YR calendar. Indeed, 47 students assigned to WC from East Garner, opted to stay on the YR calendar at East Garner.

5. Despite all the noise regarding WC, school capacities often fluctuate between 75% and 125% of capacity. In 2010-11, Lacy ES was at 132% of capacity; Cedar Fork ES was at 120%; Millbrook ES was at 118%; Douglass ES was at 116%; Farmington Woods ES, Forest Pine Drive ES, and Wiley ES were at 115%; Oak Grove ES was at 111%.  I haven't seen the report for this year, but considering the overall growth for 2011-12, I would not be surprised to see those numbers increase.

6. If you go back to a 2010, the Facilities committee produced a report, where they predicted a severe shortage of seats at the ES level for 2013, reported here: http://www.wral.com/news/education/story/7661966/. The committee predicted that 6 of 10 planning areas would be over capacity. Central Raleigh was predicted to be at 118% of capacity, Northwest Raleigh at 116%, and  North Raleigh at 113.4%.

7. A school at 120% of capacity will have 4 (sometimes 5) additional children per classroom. Despite CT's claim, there is no evidence to suggest that it is more difficult to run a new school at 120% of capacity than it is to run an existing school at 120% of capacity. Indeed, the fact that WC was initially designed to have smaller classrooms, had a fair amount of experienced teachers, and was provided with $1 million in additional funding, suggests that it should have been easier.

If you take all these facts together, what's "clear" is that people like Cash Michaels and ClearThinker are essentially hyping up a story in order to paint an unfair picture of the outgoing board majority and Superintendent Tata. Indeed, if they would have taken the time and given some "clear thought" to the issue, they would have realized that 1) the overcrowding at WC was caused by the failure to accurately project the number of students in the nodes assigned to WC (which is admittedly difficult, and something that the new assignment plan will render obsolete);  2) The only reason that WC was opened on the traditional calendar was because of the efforts of Keith Sutton, and the willingness of 4 other members to defer to the desires of the board member representing WC (even though many of WC's students were coming from the YR calendar);  and 3). While enrollment at 120% of capacity is certainly a concern, it is certainly not unprecendented in WCPSS (yet we never heard Cash and/or CT complain about the dozens of schools over the years that were as crowded or more crowded than WC).

This is just another silly and "clearly" misguided attempt to drive a wedge between the people of Wake County, and its efforts to build a school system that focuses on the achievement level of students, instead of the achievement levels of schools.

IF I WERE GOING TO TAKE A…

 

…rational look at anything, Jeffrey1, the last thing I’d do is count you among the rational. I’ve been following your self-absorbed posts here for some time, and notice how you consider yourself some kind of “white knight” against Rev. Barber or Michaels or Sutton or the Democrats.

Anything Republican, conservative, Tedesco or your now dead-and-buried school board Margiotta majority is sacrosanct. Such bias not only calls into question your judgment, but your sanity as well.

You really should try to love something other than your own poop for the holidays!

As for WC, some of the stuff you quoted was right, but most was dead wrong based on my research. But at the end of the day, you still can’t explain why Tata and his staff, since they were supposedly tracking capacity so closely, allowed things to get out of hand.

Remember, unlike Lacy or other schools, which became crowded over time, WC wasn’t even on the map until it opened this year. If it became overcrowded after a year, that would be understandable.

Darn school was overcrowded, based on the school system’s own précis, on Day Two with 795 students. And for three months after, that number rose unabated. Neither Tata nor his staff did anything other than try to fit as many kids as possible in that school. That’s deliberate, and he admitted as much, blaming “high demand.”

An educator with the requisite experience knows you don’t do that to a brand new school. For three months, the principal and staff there have been in constant readjustment, disrupting the flow of what they’re really supposed to be doing - giving their best to those kids who need more instruction than many.

You and other Margiotta/Tedesco sniffers (don’t worry, I won’t say where) are so busy trying to pawn this off on Sutton because you’re bleached with embarrassment that exactly what their critics said would happen at Margiotta’s prized high poverty school, did happen - you build it, you fill it, then forget about it.

Except that in this case, it was important to keep as many South East Raleigh black kids in South East Raleigh as possible. A YR school would have done the job perfectly. But because, following the urging of his constituents who voted four to 1 to keep him, Sutton decided to give South East Raleigh a new and needed traditional school option, you and others can’t explain this massive failure of management other than to blame Sutton.

Heck, if we’re going to blame individual board members for bad things, then you need to break out your Tedesco voodoo doll, because if he didn’t run his stupid mouth so much over the past two years, you’d still have a majority, now wouldn’t ya?

Now to some of your points -

1 - yes, assignment was by nodes, the board assigned 780 exactly to WC. That was dumb. Cash Michaels pointed that out in his article last week. So what, and look it up.

2 - When WC opened, enrollment was 763, 17 below capacity.

3 - To say that staff “apparently overlooked” new housing in the area is to admit that staff royally screwed up. But in addition, people were sending their kids to their aunts and grandparents homes to live, and showing up with affidavits claiming residency. When Tata and company peeped that game, they should have moved to cap immediately. They didn’t for two months.

4 - If parents who wanted YR found their child assigned to WC, then all they had to do was say “no” like those 47 you said did. Sutton listened to his constituents. End of story.

5 - You give a new school a chance to settle before you weigh it down with more than it’s ready for. The parents were promised smaller class sizes at the new school. PROMISE BROKEN! The teachers recruited to this new school were promised smaller class sizes and good working conditions. PROMISE BROKEN! Parents are now frustrated, and teachers are burned out BECAUSE little of what they were promised was kept. Never even got started. PROMISED programs have been delayed because of the capacity issue. At least at the other schools, they had a chance to establish themselves and plan for the worst. No such thing at WC, and those kids will suffer as a result!

6 - That 2010 facilities report is all the more reason why they should have monitored WC more closely and carefully. The only excuse Tata’s staff has is that they did this deliberately to keep as many of those kids in South East Raleigh as Margiotta and Tedesco wanted.

7 - I’m sorry, how many years in a classroom have you spent teaching? I've spent several. According the latest article online by Cash Michaels, Marvin Pittman, a former principal and NCDPI administrator, spells out exactly why the overcrowding is disastrous for kids. And Tata even agreed at his press conference last Friday, from what I read. In your response, please don’t give me your pee-in-poop “logic.” Give me real meat from people who do or did the job. What you think means bull!

If there was “hype” here, then why did Tata and the board, appropriately accompanied with the requisite egg on their faces, move belatedly but quickly to put the issue to bed? Heck, they let it go on this long. Why not let the next board deal with it?

There is no “hype” here. We knew when Margiotta’s board made WC into a high poverty school that this would happen, and we knew it would ultimately hurt children if something wasn’t done. I’m just glad we have people in South East Raleigh like Sutton, Pittman and yes even Michaels, who challenged Tata and the board to get off the stick and finally do the right thing.

Common sense was all that was required here. Regrettably, but not surprisingly, you and your ilk fail once again.

They tell me that Christmas comes on Dec. 25th. But this year, I’ll be pouring my egg nog on Dec. 6th.

And boy, will it taste GREAT!

Anything Republican,

Anything Republican, conservative, Tedesco or your now dead-and-buried school board Margiotta majority is sacrosanct. Such bias not only calls into question your judgment, but your sanity as well.

You could not be more wrong. More proof that you don't know me.

Remember, unlike Lacy or other schools, which became crowded over time, WC wasn’t even on the map until it opened this year. If it became overcrowded after a year, that would be understandable.

Inconsequential. See my original post.

An educator with the requisite experience knows you don’t do that to a brand new school.

Can find no evidence to suggest this. Please cite your reference.

You and other Margiotta/Tedesco sniffers (don’t worry, I won’t say where)

Second Grade Called. They want their class clown back.

what their critics said would happen at Margiotta’s prized high poverty school, did happen - you build it, you fill it, then forget about it.

Then who forgot about all the other schools that are higher in poverty, all populated btw, with previous administrations?

But because, following the urging of his constituents who voted four to 1 to keep him, Sutton decided to give South East Raleigh a new and needed traditional school option, you and others can’t explain this massive failure of management other than to blame Sutton.

And yet when Margiotta's constituents urged him not to convert so many Apex schools to YR back in 2007, and Margiotta subsequently passed on the request to fellow board members, he was ignored. Did you complain back then? I didn't think so. Because back then, you were saying "to hell with Apex, we need the seats." That is, if you were even paying attention to assignment issues back then, something I highly doubt. 

But if Sutton asks, so shall it be, and too hell with the bond referendum that required all new schools to be opened YR. That's talking out of both sides of your a$$.

To say that staff “apparently overlooked” new housing in the area is to admit that staff royally screwed up. But in addition, people were sending their kids to their aunts and grandparents homes to live, and showing up with affidavits claiming residency. When Tata and company peeped that game, they should have moved to cap immediately. They didn’t for two months.

No staff did not screw up. They were limited by a system put in place many years ago by the busing supporters. A system that has been plagued with problems for years. A system that makes it damn near impossible to forecast how many kids will go to a given school. A system that, year in and year out, results in some schools severely overcrowded while other are significantly under capacity.

And people gaming the saystem has been going on all over the county for years. That's what happens when you disenfranchise parents, and ship their kids all over the county.

Parents are now frustrated, and teachers are burned out BECAUSE little of what they were promised was kept. Never even got started.

I have not seen one single interview or parent indicating they are frustrated. And I have not heard of a single teachers being burned out because their class size is AVERAGE for the count. Have you? Sources?

That 2010 facilities report is all the more reason why they should have monitored WC more closely and carefully. The only excuse Tata’s staff has is that they did this deliberately to keep as many of those kids in South East Raleigh as Margiotta and Tedesco wanted.

You claim that Tata should have acted more swiftly. Do you have any evidence that suggests that WCPSS has ever acted more swiftly to cap an overcrowded school? It seems to me that Tata acted a mere 9 weeks after crowding ensued. Based on the history of how long it has taken previous administrations to react to overcrowded schools, I believe he acted rather quickly. Unless you have evidence to suggest otherwise, I'd say you're blowing smoke.

I’m sorry, how many years in a classroom have you spent teaching?

Five.

They tell me that Christmas comes on Dec. 25th. But this year, I’ll be pouring my egg nog on Dec. 6th.

More evidence that you don't know me. I could care less who is in office. I've fought for school assignment reform for over 10 years. That is ALL I care about. I want a better way to assign kids to schools. And it appears that will have a new school assignment policy in place for the 2012-2013 school year. And I'll be happy to drink some egg nog to that. Meanwhile, you go ahead and celebrate the letter 'D.'

Colbert approved

We look forward to your rants at the board meetings too, Susan.

Whew!

That was breathtaking!  :-)

?

Well, okay, if that's the approach you want to take. . . How's that clear thinking going for you?

...

How can you say "The issue isn't traditional or YR."? Capacity and overcrowding is the issue you are crowing about -- and Sutton voted against keeping it YR as staff originally recommended.

I do agree with Sutton that there are issues that many families face with a YR calendar but, if you're placing blame for the capacity issues, you have to include Sutton in that blame.

BULL....

...what the job of every board member is is to determine policy and direction. 

The job of management, no matter what the policy or direction, IS TO MANAGE.

Tata and his staff said this afternoon that they allowed WC to fill up EVERY week since school opened because they wer looking to utilize "every available space" at the school.

WHAT KIND OF MANAGEMENT DOES SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THAT...when you have other nearby schools that have empty classroom and plenty of seats?

That's NOT a Keith Sutton problem! That's a Tony Tata-Laura Evans-July Mizell problem...MANAGEMENT!

Famailes in SE Raleigh already had YR elementary choced. They needed a traditional calendar choice, told their school board rep, and he led the fight to do accordingly.

If I were you, Sideburns, I'd hurry your pretty skirt down to headquarters, and give Uncle Ron a great big hug, because after tonite, the only table he'll be sitting at will have a turkey on it!

I hope folks can tell the difference!

...

...what the job of every board member is is to determine policy and direction

And yet your first post complains about changing the assignment of Walnut Creek to adhere to the revised Policy 6200.

I'm sorry that Walnut Creek is so popular that it doesn't suit your argument anymore.

THE DESERT OF YOUR MIND...

...is far and wide...with nothing in sight!

The new Policy 6200, along with John Tedesco, and FORMER CHAIR and NAACP LOVER Ron Margiotta's insistence to pack as many SE Raleigh kids in WC as possible, and keep packing until somebody says something, is the reason WC is in the fix it's in.

Just pray that the fine staff over there can keep it together to give those children a fighting chance to succeed!

And as for the former Republican majority...the likes of which we won't see for another four years AT LEAST...FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST...THANK DEMOCRATS ALMIGHTY THAT WE'RE FREE AT LAST!

...

Well, if you're saying that the old node-based system was part of the reason for overcrowding because it restricted staff's ability to adjust appropriately, I agree. Fortunately, we now have a student assignment plan that will allow capacity to be controlled upfront rather than after. Although I have a feeling the incoming Board will be using reassignment to address some of the "problems".

NO, I'M SAYING..

...that the mismanagement of the old node system by Tata and pals led to the problem. The only valid way this could have happened is all 929 showed up in the first week, and no phones, emails or smoke signals existed between Principal Moore and Tata's office. Since they were way over capacity by the second day of enrollment, they should have had it capped by the 20th. They should have realized there was a developing problem, and stopped it sooner than later.

The only other possible answer is ...it was deliberate, and I wouldn 't put it past this bunch!

and hey BTW, principals' pay

and hey BTW, principals' pay is based on enrollment, just sayin'.

SO...

...were slavemasters!

thus, both would be to

thus, both would be to blame.  the principal should have pushed for the cap sooner, if that was a concern.

YOU DON'T KNOW...

...that Moore didn't. He certainly wasn't asking for more. But we do know that Tata and company kept sending them, don't we? So that means Moore had to take them, because he was told he had to.

Now ain't that peachy?

Staff sends them.  and if

Staff sends them.  and if you REALLY knew about the schools, you'd know that.  again, the principal should have spoke up sooner to the righ people IF there was a concern AT that school.

The F&R numbers always end

The F&R numbers always end up differing as the year goes on from the official 20 day numbers.  If WC's went up, who's to say that other schools haven't gone up as well?  I always use the 20 day numbers because then you have a comparison from the same day across all of the schools.

Do you have links to the original assignment info showing the projected demographics of WC? 

This is ridiculous

The Board and the superintendent made mistakes concerning Walnut Creek. They should do their best to fix them. Cash deserves credit for keeping the issue at the top of a long list of issues that demand attention, if not for the validity of every claim he makes. None of this makes the superintendent (or the Board) "incompetent" or "callous." As for "demolishing" the schools system's reputation, there is a fair argument to be made that Superintendent Tata preserved it during a time of considerable stress. This sort of lightweight, generic broadside needs to give way to serious consideration of difficult issues.

IT DOES...

...raise the question, the very serious question, of Tata's ability to manage his school choice plan. If he and his staff can't keep their finger on the pulse of growth at the only new school to have opened this year, then what are we to glean from how he would handle problems at all 165?

I can't help but think that part of this was deliberate. Margiotta and Tedesco were insistent that WC be YR, adamant in fact, because they wanted to take SE Raleigh elementary kids permanently out of circulation, and keep them home. I find it extremely difficult to believe that Tata, Laura Evans of Growth and Management, and the area supt. for WC, are so incompetent that they just "missed" or "ignored" calls from school board members and the community that capacity at WC was getting way out of hand. No one in their right mind allows a brand new school to grow 20 percent beyond capacity less than three months open, with no plan.

In my mind, this was deliberate. We'll find out more tonite when Tedesco and Malone move to make WC YR!

It should be interesting!

JT/RM deliberate moves, indeed

Remember what JT wanted - -  "Garner schools for Garner students", and that can be implemented better with more seats at Walnut Creek = year round, but they didn't get that.  It also can explain why the board chose to not implement any watch points with the school, such as a cap from the beginning, allowing the system to fill it up until the Cash Michaels and Marvin Pittmans of the county scream, THEN pay attention when its too late.  This board had no intention of smaller class sizes for this school.  This is now obvious. As for Evans, remember, staff does what it is told.

What should be interesting

are your answers when the investigations begin.

NOT SO SURE...

Left leaner that I am, I question this point of view.

But I don't have nearly enough information from either side to form an opinion.

I'd be interested in hearing from families affected by this, who've also had some dealings with Tony Tata.

SDR, Is this how we should

SDR,

Is this how we should act differently?  I promise you....this is the script for the next 3 years.

"We must wonder if the new sane school board majority will allow the incompetent and callous Tata to continue demolishing the reputation of Wake County Schools," Horn writes.

Tedesco's constituents at East Garner Elementary were eager to dump its poor and brown students from its rolls," Horn writes

Thanks for posting those

Thanks for posting those figures from E Garner so I didn't have to go look them up.   What a maroon is all I can say.

How things change

Does anyone remember when schools used to be "kids, parents, teachers"  now its "special interest groups"

Maybe they should dust off

Maybe they should dust off Burns and Delany. They intend to bring back every thing that didn't work, may as well bring back these 2 to show how things should be done.

"New majority to get rid of Tata"

Funny how that jumps right out of the text isn't it.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.
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