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NC SPIN on the firing of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata

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The firing of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata got some air time at the end of the latest edition of NC SPIN that aired over the weekend.

On the show, pundits from the left and right agreed that it was not a politically good decision for the Democratic school board majority to have fired Tata at this time. Panelists also talked about whether the next permanent superintended should be a lifelong educator.

Tom Campbell, the show host, opened the segment by saying that following Wake County schools has been like "watching a yo-yo." Campbell asked John Hood, president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, what he thought of Tata's firing, which he said "was ugly" and "many say it wasn't handled well."

Hood answered that he agreed with Campbell's characterization. Hood said that the new majority, like the former Republican board majority, "have each done inelegant things and have not really tried to work together effectively yet."

"This was not in the interest of the Democratic majority," Hood said. "They made a tactical mistake. It wasn't just I like Tony Tata or I dislike Tony Tata. Even if much of what they said was true, it was a bad idea to do this. It didn't advance their goals, it inhibited their goals. It alienated Democrats in the Capital City."

Campbell asked Democratic political consultant Brad Crone and Republican political consultant Doug Raymond for their assessments.

"It was a brain spasm from the Democratic board at a very inopportune time," Crone said. "And clearly you could see politics in the global perspective wasn't part of the equation because if they had done it, they would have waited until after the election in November or December to fire the guy.

The one other thing that they failed to do is to lay out a case to the public on why this guy needs to go. I think Tata came in in a very volatile situation and calmed the seas. Now I don't agree with him 100 percent, but I think that he came in and had a calming effect. I think he was very competent, and for them to fire him and not explain to the public why you're firing him, you've got a problem."

Campbell asked Raymond if voters will take it out on Democrats in the next school board election. Raymond said voters might do so next year. But Democrats are guaranteed of maintaining their majority as only the four seats now held by Republicans will be on the ballot in 2013.

"To me what Wake County did is they forgot this was a political issue and they acted like a school board," Raymond said. "You see this in smaller counties from time to time, but this is a high-profile event and they acted like a school board. What my concern is is longer reaching is that other counties might be less likely to think outside the box and go outside the educational establishment to hire somebody because of the reaction to it."

But Campbell asked don't people want to get partisanship out of school boards.

"That genie is out of the bottle, especially in places like Wake County and Charlotte where there is built in political establishment and political consultants, with all due respect to the folks sitting here," said Chris Fitzsimon, director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch.

Fitzsimon also said that while Tata's firing will be a "contentious issue" in next year's campaign, it won't help the Republicans retake the majority in 2013.

"I do think Brad made a point there," Fitzsimon added. "I don't think was a political decision either because this doesn't help them politically. So they must really believe that somebody else should be leading the school system.

I think the fiasco at the opening day of Wake County when there weren't enough buses to get kids to school and a plan that Gen. Tata was championing and the Democrats didn't go along with in the first place was a huge part of this. I think the way interpersonally they got along. I also agree they could have done a much better job along the way if he wasn't doing the things, and remember that Gen. Tata, or Superintendent Tata, works for the board."

Campbell said Fitzsimon was showing his bias by calling him "Gen. Tata."

"No, he works for the board," Fitzsimon answered. "That's what he is now. He's no longer superintendent. He works for the board. If the board tells him to do something (and) he doesn't do it, that's grounds for separation."

Campbell asked Crone how he thought the superintendent search would be handled.

"I think they will do a nationwide search and go outside," Crone answered. "I think the interim superintendent will be a good fit for right now, but I really do think they need to look beyond to try to find somebody who can perhaps bridge the gap between the two partisan sides."

Campbell asked Hood what his criteria would be looking for a new superintendent.

"They need somebody who is open to innovation, but is a politically skilled person who will not pick a fight or be perceived as being in one faction or the other," Hood answered. "I'm not sure that this is accomplishable, and I do not think they should limit themselves to the establishment

There's absolutely no reason to do that. You have chief academic officers who can be educators that make those decisions. Much of what the superintendent is doing is infrastructural and logistical."

Campbell asked if they thought that the interim would serve until "the real superintendent" is hired. Raymond said yes and added he agreed with Hood.

"I think they had taken a bold step to go outside the box and now I think they'll go back with an establishment..." Raymond said.

"They'll retreat and go safe," Campbell interrupted Raymond as time ran out.


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Once again.......

the military is hated by so many in the WCPSS (and other connected enities to the system) that it may as well be called what it is.....prejudice.  Over the years I have posted.....many times......that I was run off because of my military service and the fact that I went to my principal to complain of hateful language going in within ear shot of the kids and other teachers during the second Gulf War......such things as He's a f--ing idiot and He's f---ing studid in reference to Bush.  Whatever one might think of that entire situation this was uncalled for, unprofessional and created a hostile work environment.  The principal at Holly Ridge Middle School in 2003 (and the female assistant principal who are still there) made it known, LOUD and clear their feelings for the presdiential administration at that time as well as their thoughts on the "idoits" who supported that adminsitration.  These very same people ifnored me when I had finally had enough and said something to that principal and days later I found myself suspended....with pay......while I was investigated for alleged comments I had made......accusations made by teachers (I guess, since I was never allowed to face my accusers) who told me to my face they had NO LOVE for the military.  Hey, JT.....the clock is ticking!!!!!!!!!

it is true

particularly with GSIW, their hatred for the military is huge and honestly, irrational..

I don't understand this at all. I am a democrat, I did not love Bush and did not think he was an effective leader (and my guess is you feel the same as Obama), but that has nothing to do with the men and women who serve this country. They should be respected and recognized for what they do for us, not demonized as part of a political battle.


During the '11 board campaign, I happened to overhear Susan Evans in Whole Foods (on Wade) speaking quite negatively about Tata's military service.  It's one thing to say that it doesn't help run a school district (a position which I believe is bogus, but is at least rational); it's quite another to assert that it actually HURTS somebody's ability to lead a school district.  

Unforutnately, that's a pretty typical view on the hard-left.  [Distinguishing from more moderate Democrats, most of whom respect the military.]

why am I not surprised?

How fitting.

Legal question

Legal question Bob....

Given Hill's and other BOE members public comments regarding military service and military leadership training (which they clearly do not understand and/or are totally ignorant of), have they potentially "crossed the line" such that if someone with a military background were to apply for the Sup job, could they make a reasonable case that their application would not be treated fairly?

what's fair?

Did you feel the same way when the '09 board made it clear that anyone with an education background need not apply?

How about some quotes?I

How about some quotes?

I certainly don't recall them saying they were going to exclude people with educational experience. They may have been looking for someone with experience in other areas but not excluding someone just because they have a specific experience.

I don't have a problem if the current BOE says they are looking for someone with an educational background (although I disagree with that). The problem comes when they make it clear they are going to exclude someone who may have been an officer in the military. An former officer may very well also have an educational background too and are equally qualified based on the inclusion criteria they have set. The only reason they would exclude them is because of their military background.

So... the 09 BOE may have stated they wanted someone with experience outside of education but that does exclude someone with education experience, just those who haven't done anything else! That's a BIG difference.


Veterans are very much protected at the state level for prioriting hiring, reduction in force/rehiring and inclusion of certain benefits.  What I would really be worried about for WCPSS is the certain BOE members that continually talk in public medium about his character which could come across as slanderous to Gen. Ret. Tata.  He had a valid contract and he did fulfill that contract, but the BOE continues to keep discussing this in a very slanted manner, that is what can get them sued.


Dunno....  The US has a strong policy in favor of hiring veterans, but I don't think that they're a legally protected class like divisions based on race, sex or religion.

They could probably make a reasonable case, but on the surface, I' suspect it's not illegal.  Like in many situations, stupid is usually its own punishment.

So openly excluding people

So openly excluding people with a background in the military for a position in the government would not be illegal?  I find that hard to believe.


Like I said, I don't know.  In general, governments need to draw lines all the time between different groups of people.  As long as there's some rational reason, those lines are generally upheld by courts unless they're based on things like race, sex or religion.  In this case, you wouldn't see the district say "ex-military need not apply"; you'd just see some hard-to-prove bias coming from Evans.  They could, for example, say "we want somebody who has a career in education" and that would eliminate most military candidates.  

Personally, I think that criteria is misguided -- the district needs reform, and you don't get that by picking an insider.  But, I can't argue that the criteria is illegal.

I hear you and don't

I hear you and don't disagree, generally.

I'm just thinking back to Hill's specific statements about Tata's "military style leadership"....which were quickly followed by, paraphrasing now, "we need someone with an educational background".  It's hard for me to know exactly what Hill meant by "military style leadership" as I don't think good leadership in the military is any different than good leadership in a classroom, a company, a football field, or in WCPSS.  Based his statement, however, it seem clear that Hill believes their is something "different" about "military style leadership".  Therefore, I don't think it's a far leap to believe Hill has a bias against hiring someone with a background in the military, even one with an educational background too, as he believe's their is some type of "military style leadership" he's trying to avoid.


you missed the Independent article about "Tata's style." I know..that pinko commie rag...yet the N&O hasn't commented on it...interesting. The other shoe dropping? Truman firing MacArthur??? The Truth finally  revealed?

That's what Hill meant. He was in a far better position to judge him than any of you and me. Contrary I'm certain to what you think, but then I'm pretty certain you're suporting a team that has given no details about how they plan to balance the budget or do anything else. Their motto "trust me!"

I don't know anything about

I don't know anything about Weistein but Holdzkom absolutely should have been scared for his job. It took months and months for him to give the ED task force the data they asked for regarding math placement. After that, I wouldn't have had any trust in him either. He opposed reform at every turn. He was toxic to the system and I am not sad to see him gone from his position.

That's what Tata's firing is really about--reform.  Hill is against many (most?) of the reforms that Tata supported and did all he could behind the scenes to stop them.

As for culture of fear--that was present under Burns as well. I've met many teachers, principals, and other staff over the years who disagreed with some of the diversity assignments because they thought it was not good for the low income kids getting moved. But they were afraid to speak out for fear of retribution.

It's Hill's judgement we

It's Hill's judgement we don't trust and there's plenty of reason not to trust the man in general either.

I've heard plenty of details from the team I'm supporting...I think your trouble is you just don't understand them. As to the Obama team, we already know they can't balance a budget or tell the truth to the American people about much if anything. They sure know how to blame everyone else. Perhaps that's were Hill's getting his cues from.


R & R are used car salesmen and will say anything to anyone to close the deal. I had close ties to MA when Mitt was running the show. Under his watch mfg jobs declined 15%, unemployment declined but only because people fled the state, many coming here.  MA was 47th in job growth nearly the worst in the country and was one of 4 states not to recover the jobs lost during the 2000/2001 down turn.  Romney rasied taxes on the middle class while cutting taxes for the 278 wealthiest individuals, left a $1B budget deficit upon exiting office.  The only bipartisan legislation passed was Romneycare and only because the Feds kicked in $400m to fund it and the funding is still in place.  Romney also likes to take credit for the Salt Lake Olympics.  He underscores the $1.5b of government funding, more than all other Olympics put together. The LA Olympics had no taxpayer funding.  

With regards to performance since Jan 2009. We were losing 700,000 jobs a month and growing. The start budget deficit left by Bush started at $1.2T and rocking towards $2.0T.  No one can imagine just how bad it was.  So to hold the President accountable to $800b stimulus will get unemployment to 6% is unreasonable as no one got it. What people like you conveniently forget is most of the stimulus went to states to prevent further job losses in education, police and other services.   As the conservatives pointed out - can't raise taxes in a recession, so taxes off the table.   Closer to home, what was it $200m or so funding from the Feds to keep teachers and the school system afloat.  Was that wasted stimulus ?  

One other point, compared to the rest of the world the US is doing well.  If Europe and Asia were going gang busters and the US was mired in high unemployment then it is different assessment. 

The only thing R&R are offering is a repackaged Bush economic plan that did not work.  

Ok, briefly bc I'm watching

Ok, briefly bc I'm watching SC vs LSU.

First, Mass had been in Dem control forever and was dominated by Dems in the legislature when Romney was Gov. Not sure we can blame Mass problems on Mitt. Lets also not forget that the Olympics were in big trouble before Mitt came on the scene, if fact, that's the entire reason they called him in!

Don't you think this whole "Obama took over in at the worst financial crisis ever" excuse is getting a little old? Not only is it not true but its just plain old now and past time for Obama to put his big boy pants on. Contrary to Romney's tenure in Mass, Obama had the entire government under his command for 2 full years. He sent a huge amount of the stimulus to his buddies including 90B to a worthless green energy industry. He also spent the rest of that time destroying our healthcare system and that's about it. The economy is now no better than when he took over and possibly heading into worse shape. The Middle East is on fire and his administration in deep in the worst cover up since Watergate. In fact, the Libia deal is probably worse than WG bc 4 people died.


Not sure we can blame Mass problems on Mitt - so you mean like these last two years where the Republicans controlled the house and fillibustered everything in the Senate so that nothing gets done.  So why doesn't Obama get the same kind of pass you are giving Mitt ?  The fact is Mass has a history of Republican Governorships that accompished a great deal,  Mitt was not one of them.  With regards to the Olympics, they called him in because he had the reputation as a turnaround artist. All he did was ask for a bailout.  Furthermore and tragically the SLC Olympics benefited from 9/11.

Stimulus - still did not answer the question. Was the $200m the Feds sent to Wake County to support the school system wasted money.  As far as wasted money - the investment in emerging technologies is not always a 100% success rate. As a researcher you know that.  You should also know that it was the Federal government working with private businesses that developed the fracking techniques we have today. This process took close to 25 years to develop.  With regards to green energy -fact check the $90b, what Romney said was completely false. A local example  over 15,000 jobs and 3.7 Trillion in revenue from North Carolina alone and the segement is one of the fastest growing.  Back in the Bush days when gas hit $4,20 per gallon there were few energy efficient choices for consumers.  Today my family fleet consists of high mpg vehicles and I am effectively paying less than $1 / gallon.  Romney's plan is to drill.  The only problem is that 75% of the permits granted last year went unused.  So Obama could have issued all the permits in the world and it would not have made a bit of difference. 

With regards to the healthcare system - so I guess you are in favor or returning to the old ways of: denying coverage due to preexisting conditions, after years of paying premiums insurance companies dropping coverage or making healthcare unaffordable by jacking up premiums due to claims,  against people having the choice of affordable insurance through an exchange.  The US healtcare system is broken, it is not competitive on a global basis (why is an MRI $200 in France but $1,000 in the US, why are millions of US citizens seeking healthcare outside of the US, why are insurance companies contracting with providors in Mexico, India, and Europe)

The economy is no better now than in January 2009 !  It is a joke right ?  

With regards to the Middle East - no different than any other president.  When asked what Mitt would do differently, Ryan was silent particularly when pressed on the Republicans vote to cut State Department security funding.  Mitt offers no alternative solutions to Libya, Iran or other parts of the Middle East.  The whole Middle East escalation can be traced back to the unnecessary invasion of Iraq. 

Oh my, my…what a

Oh my, my…what a bunch of “malarkey”!

I’ll try and take these one by one but I may miss a few due to time.  FYI-I didn’t “answer all of your points before bc I was trying to enjoy a game without being distracted by your non-sense.  Not to mention, we’ve debated these topics before and you still appear resistant to learning anything new.

…so you mean like these last two years where the Republicans controlled the house and fillibustered everything in the Senate so that nothing gets done.

So, using that logic, I guess we can blame the entire economic crash of 2008 on the Dems because they had control of BOTH the House and the Senate starting in 2006 and did quite a nice job of blocking Bush’s attempts at reforms and cutting spending leading right up to 2008.

As for Mitt….I’ll just let him speak for himself tomorrow night while he’s dismantling Obama….AGAIN.

Stimulus - still did not answer the question. Was the $200m the Feds sent to Wake County to support the school system wasted money.  

Yes it was.  The state(s) could have and should have used the opportunity to cut the massive waste they spend on a number of things across the board.  Instead, the stimulus money “bailed” them out and they didn’t have to make any difficult decisions.  That only kick the can down the road a little further….on the backs of our children mind you!

and the segement is one of the fastest growing

Any “segment” that gets a nice “boost” of money from our government (tax payers) is going to “grow fast” especially when other segments don’t get the same “investment”.  Your “family fleet” is heavily subsidized by tax payers so you can thank all of us for you $1/gallon.  You’re welcome.

The only problem is that 75% of the permits granted last year went unused.  

Tracking “permits” is only part of the equation.  We’re these areas that were actually places worth drilling in today or are they areas were new technology may allow drilling in the distant future?  Perhaps the permits were areas that are tied up in court battles against the environmental wacko nuts out there?  That’s how they block a lot of this activity, just tie them up in court.  The EPA also works very hard to tie them up, not long ago I posted a nice article about how the EPA has used trivial BS to block Shell’s development of some “permitted” areas in Alaska.  They blocked them for a decade and Shell finally just gave up trying!

the investment in emerging technologies is not always a 100% success rate. As a researcher you know that.  


As a research who has worked in both government and industry, I know that government and government funded research is a HUGE waste.  There is very little accountability and virtually no incentive to conduct research that actually leads to something beneficial.  Not to mention, it’s a gigantic good ‘ol boys network of friends reviewing and recommending funding for friends.  The Obama Administration’s handling of the “green energy” jobs money was a perfect example.  They gave all the money and special treatment to the people that bundled huge money for their campaign.  It’s a giant boondoggle!  The money that funds my research and my job comes from private investors who believe we will produce something worthwhile that people will want to buy.  The accountability to produce something is HUGE because if we don’t, the money goes away and so does our jobs!

With regards to the healthcare system - so I guess you are in favor or returning to the old ways of: denying coverage due to preexisting conditions,

No…I think there are some private market strategies we could have used, plus some government intervention to tweak the system around preexisting conditions.  We certainly didn’t have to destroy the best healthcare system in the world over that.

The US healtcare system is broken, it is not competitive on a global basis (why is an MRI $200 in France but $1,000 in the US, why are millions of US citizens seeking healthcare outside of the US, why are insurance companies contracting with providors in Mexico, India, and Europe)

This argument from you has been debunked several times before here so I’m going to be brief.

Let’s just discuss the $200 MRI (it’s a good example anyway).  The MRI in France is only $200 because the government of France sets a limit on the price.  Therefore, in France, there are far fewer of the newer generation MRI machines that can detect things like very small tumors, etc early….so you can treat them and live!   Because there are less of these machines less people have their tumors detected early or people have to undergo exploratory surgery when they may not have had to undergo such a risk and inconvenience. 

The economy is no better now than in January 2009 !  It is a joke right ?  

No…it is not a joke.  The real unemployment rate is around 14%, about exactly where it was at its worse in 2009. The stock market has gone up, but so has the price of commodities such as gold.  If fact, the price of gold has actually risen at a faster pace than the stock market.  Therefore, if you normalize the stock market to the price of gold (a good indicator of real inflation), the value of the stock market has actually declined!   It’s no wonder that the stock market has increased with respect to the US $ because we have printed so many of these in the past 4 years there are worth far less than they were in 2008!  The only difference now is that we have 6 Trillion more in debt to pay off and we’re set to go off a cliff if interest rates ever rise, and they will.

 “when pressed on the Republicans vote to cut State Department security funding”

Well….that was fact checked and the Republicans actually had agreed to increase funding by 118% already and they only objected to increasing it more than that considering there was a  lot of evidence that more funding wasn’t needed.  That “Republican’s cut” line is complete false anyway because there was NO cut!  That’s just “Washington Speak”.  The Republicans just reduced the amount of funding INCREASE the administration was requesting!  There was still about a $2B increase in the budget!  Given the way this President spends money, I think it’s fair to say every budget he request should be reduced!  In fact, the amount of money the Republicans reduced from the budget was less than half the money Obama WASTED on Solyndra alone!  I think the point was made very clear when Ryan pointed out that the consulate in Paris was far better protected than the one in Libya!


Considering Hill's hippie followers, it's not surprising he is anti-military. Just another tick on Hill's list of personal reasons for firing Tata.

Wonder if he's anti-Christ too?

My guess rhymes with guess.

Truthfully, I find the way

Truthfully, I find the way in which Hill disparaged the military offensive (and I'm pretty hard to offend) and embarrassing.  He essentially said that the "military leadership style" is to bully and order people around and nothing could be further from the truth.  Let's forget Tata for the moment because none of us were behind the scenes and know exactly what went on behind closed doors (albeit I believe Hill is lying about it).  Hill didn't blame Tata, specifically, he blamed "military style leadership" which is a whole different ball game.  If Tata displayed "military style leadership" which is the same thing as "good leadership" then that should have been viewed by Hill and Co. as a plus, not a negative.  Because Hill put "military style leadership" in a negative light, personally, I think he owes every current and former military officer an apology.


someone needs to tell all these people trying to recruit you that you spend 2 hours during the working day blogging...oh I guess I should apologize for that "leap."

Well, they know I spend at

Well, they know I spend at least 10-12 hrs per day working so they're not worried about how I spend the rest of my time.

Wow, that is interesting.

Wow, that is interesting.

yes, it is

I have to believe that this has been illegal on multiple levels. Even the governor is praying for them right now.

"Twitch" Fitzsimon shows his true self

every chance he gets doesn't he.  He's as partisan as they get.

I do agree with their underlying tone, this school board is just like the boards of old and will be for a long time to come.  Any chance parents had of getting a foot back in the door to have any say in their child's education is gone.

We are back in the Head-Millberg-Clark-Gill Socialist Hate era once again and will be for years to come.  Except this time we have some real parent haters in control and they will screw the rest of us every chance they get.

You elected 'em, so bend over and take your medicine Wake County.

It is highly inappropriate

It is highly inappropriate to make derogatory comments about a person's neurgological disorder. Do not do so again or the comment will be deleted.

Not sure what you are talking about

but delete if you feel you need to.

Calling someone who has a

Calling someone who has a neurological disorder "twitch."

Didn't know that was the case

Thanks for always being in the know.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.