Candidate and school board chairman Ron Margiotta held firm to his opposition to the use of achievement schools as he touched on student assignment and other matters today.
In an interview today with conservative WPTF talk show host Bill LuMaye, Margiotta said parents all across the county, including those in Southeast Raleigh, have indicated they want neighborhood schools. He pointed to how parents on the online test drive overwhelmingly chose their closest school.
"Parents want to be close to home and as far as I'm concerned every school in this county should be a high-achieving school," Margiotta said. "And I think that's what our goal should be: to make every school high achieving, not just ones in the suburbs. or not just our magnet schools within the cities, wherever they may be.
That's the direction we should be taking, concentrating on making every school a high achieving school and we can do it and we're going to. It's unacceptable to say that we're going to move these children to an achievement school. Why shouldn't every school be an achievement school?"
Margiotta's remarks came after LuMaye accused Superintendent Tony Tata of speaking for Southeast Raleigh parents by suggesting they should be allowed to go to achievement schools in the suburbs.
"What about the schools where they live?" LuMaye asked Margiotta. "Aren't they high performing? Shouldn't they be high performing? Do families in Southeast Raleigh want to travel to the other side of the county? Don't they too want neighborhood schools?
Not discussed was the impact on the magnet school program if the achievement schools were dropped and all the Southeast Raleigh families went to their closest school.
The interview opened with LuMaye asking Margiotta about David Holdzkom losing his position of assistant superintendent of evaluation and research. Margiotta said he couldn't discuss it because it's a personnel matter.
That topic transformed into a discussion of the school board majority's efforts to increase Algebra I placement in eighth grade. As the data presented Thursday shows, there have been gains in placement among all groups, particularly among low-income and minority students.
"Since the 2009 elections, the school board has been very committed to improving the lot of the lower income students," Margiotta said. "Quite frankly they accuse us of some of the things that they are so guilty of, of discriminating against students because of their income level."
Margiotta said he believes the lower income students weren't placed in the past because of the mistaken belief that the children couldn't succeed.
"It's sad about how many children were lost along the way," Margiotta said.
Margiotta stressed how test scores have been stable even with the increase in enrollment.
Moving to the budget, Margiotta took a shot at Gov. Bev Perdue and former Commissioner Stan Norwalk, whom he called "the prophets of doom." Despite the dire warnings from Perdue about the consequences of overriding her budget, Margiotta pointed to how Wake is expanding foreign language in middle school, expanding the STEM program and adding 300 more teachers.
"That's remarkable," LuMaye responded. "I'm tired of the sky is falling people."
The school board will have budget challenges next year when it can no longer use the $28 million in left-over federal stimulus money to pay for teachers.