Give me a chance, Tata pleads

Staff WriterMarch 4, 2011 

— Wake schools Superintendent Tony Tata urged critics Thursday to give him a chance as he tries to develop a new student assignment plan that he hopes will avoid creating high concentrations of low-performing students.

Tata, who was hired by the Republican school board majority in December, has encountered skepticism from some in the community over his time as a political pundit. Parents are watching to see how he'll implement a new assignment plan now that the school board has eliminated socioeconomic diversity as an underlying goal.

"I am the representative of all children," Tata told more than 125 people at Martin Street Baptist Church. "You should judge me based on my actions here and not anything before that, other than the fact that I was in the U.S. Army for 28 years."

Tata was invited to speak by NC HEAT, a youth group that supports the old diversity policy.

Tata said a task force of school administrators will meet today to begin work on a long-term assignment plan. He said he hopes to have something for the public to view within six weeks.

The task force will look at a proposal from business leaders to use student achievement in an assignment plan that would let families choose from a list of schools. The goal is to avoid creating schools with too many academically struggling students.

"It's clear that for me the student assignment plan really has to address avoiding high concentrations of low-performing students," Tata said.

Tata got respect for taking questions. "I'm going to give you a chance, because we all should," Superior Court Judge Abe Jones said. or 919-829-4534

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