I nearly choked on my coffee when I read the June 17 N&O article about Wake County’s magnet schools and saw Superintendent Tony Tata’s quote: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
If we ignore the larger reality that North Carolina’s per pupil spending is embarrassingly low compared to the rest of the country, a situation of self-created scarcity that leads to bitter in-fighting over inadequate resources, and take Tata’s comment on its face, it is offensive. I have lost track of how many new theme schools and academies Tata has initiated in his brief tenure. Most of them have seemed half-baked and hurriedly placed. The per pupil costs at these schools are comparable to the magnets. Yet only the magnets are held up for criticism, as if they had ungratefully squandered a government hand-out.
Tata’s persistent strategy of holding magnets to a higher standard, when almost all schools in Wake County struggle with an achievement gap, suggests his commitment to the magnet program is insincere. The magnet schools I know best are workhorses of support for their students, sending home 40 backpacks of food per week for hungry families and working overtime to help students pass all-important tests.