Editorial

Tit for tat over Tata

October 2, 2012 

This was a move that the Democratic-aligned Wake County school board could have seen coming.

The board put itself at the mercy of Paul Coble, chairman of the county commissioners, and Coble’s GOP colleagues with its firing last week of Superintendent Tony Tata, who’d been selected by the school board’s previous Republican majority.

It took no heavy-duty crystal ball to see that the commissioners would use their leverage over school finances to make the school folks squirm. Hence Coble’s pronouncement to the effect that planning for new school construction will be sidetracked until the board can resolve the big issue left hanging as Tata departs.

That issue is the plan by which students are assigned to different schools. The board is revising the choice-based plan that took effect this year under Tata’s guidance. Republican school board members, fans of Tata, would have let the choice plan play out.

Coble’s Sept. 28 letter to school board chairman Kevin Hill, postponing further talks on a construction bond issue until the board settles on its assignment policy, makes the fair point that decisions about new schools are intertwined with decisions about how students will be allocated among schools. He also reasonably asked the board to reaffirm its support for a career and technical high school and a male students’ “leadership academy,” both favored by Tata, before the county takes the plunge.

The school board could have figured that by canning Tata, it would elicit pushback from the commissioners, who must OK the amount and timing of a bond referendum. And the fast-growing school system will need a round of new construction sooner rather than later.

But Coble could have been more respectful of the school board’s prerogatives, both to choose a superintendent and to set assignment policy. In scoring politically, he forgoes the kind of cooperation that’s needed to keep new school buildings in the pipeline. Nobody pays the price for that except young people.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service