The conservative voting bloc on Wake County's school board is fading fast.
Debra Goldman confirmed to the News and Observer today that she is moving to Wilkes County and has submitted her resignation to the Board of Education.
This could allow Democrats on the board to create a 7-2 majority, which would be more diversity-friendly and more likely to push for additional funding during budget season.
According to the N&O's report, Goldman appears to have been automatically removed from the board when she changed her voter registration to Wilkes County. If that's true she won't be able to vote at Tuesday's board meeting.
Here are the only details, directly from the N&O story, to emerge on Goldman's relocation:
On Friday, Goldman said she is in the process of moving to Ronda, in Wilkes County, where she appears on voter rolls and where she’ll be taking a job with a nonprofit organization. She declined to name the organization.
Goldman tells INDY Week she'll be holding a press conference Sunday at 1:00 pm at 19 W. Hargett St. Suite 512 in Raleigh.
Goldman has tried to brand herself as the board's watchdog, since Democrats regained the majority in 2011. She often asked seemingly endless strings of questions on particular subjects. INDY Week columnist Bob Geary wrote that her actions amounted to filibusters, rather than watchdogging.
Goldman was elected in 2009, when Republicans swept that year's school board elections.
The Wake County school system has officially conceded that it has to do a better job educating students with disabilities who receive long-term suspensions.
Here's a partial account from Keung Hui's WakeEd blog:
In this July complaint, Advocates for Children's Services and attorney Mark Trustin had charged that Wake was failing to provide an appropriate alternative education to five students who missed 10 or more days due to suspensions in the 2011-12 school year.
Under this settlement agreement announced today, Wake will provide this summer a free, six-week program offering 60 hours of individualized services in math, literacy, reading, and social skills, via “in-person, live, direct instruction by a highly-qualified general and special education staff." This is open to any students with disabilities who received lengthy suspension in 2011-12, not just the five in the complaint.
One of ACS’ clients will receive an additional 190 hours of one-on-one, compensatory education.
Wake has also been under scrutiny in the past for its abnormally large long-term suspension rates of all students. INDY Week wrote about the issue in 2010 and provided a graph which showed Wake with nearly ten times more long-term suspensions than any of the other five largest school systems in the state.
Jason Langberg, an attorney with ACS, has long argued that long-term suspensions contribute to Wake's school-to-prison pipeline.
During WRAL anchor David Crabtree’s interview of newly appointed Transportation Secretary Tony Tata earlier this week, Crabtree seemed star struck.
Crabtree scored an exclusive interview with the retired US Army general, who was fired as Wake County schools’ superintendent late last year. It was Tata’s first interview since the incident.
But, rather than questioning Tata over the possible reasons he might have been fired, Crabtree sympathized with Tata about the dismissal.
While Crabtree’s opinion lines up with popular sentiment, he failed to do his due diligence as a journalist by questioning Tata about such missteps as allegations that he ruled by intimidation, a bussing debacle, and an incident in which Tata publicly accused board members of ethics violations.
Crabtree did mention the bussing fiasco, which caused children to be late for school or not picked up at all, but he also let Tata off the hook.
“I know there was a problem at the beginning of school [with bussing]” says Crabtree. “Some people tried to tie that with your firing. To me, that doesn’t wash. The decision was made. When this board changed, let’s be honest, the decision was made.”
Crabtree went on to say that Tata had a target around his neck, ever since the board changed from Republican to Democratic control. However, Tata served nearly a year under the Democratic majority before his dismissal.
Democrats, indeed, did a very poor job explaining their reasons for firing Tata, which amplified the assumption that they intended to fire him all along. But by accepting that assumption, instead of questioning it, Crabtree reinforced public opinion that Tata was unjustly fired.
People in Wake County view Tata as a superintendent who raised student achievement (which is true, though the numbers are complicated) and listened to the concerns of the community.
However, people close to the inner working of Tata’s administration, including board chair Kevin Hill, charged that Tata led central office with an iron fist and regularly berated and intimidated his employees.
An INDY Week investigation, which included interviews with nine administrators who worked under Tata, found ample evidence to suggest the allegations were true.
Despite the fact Hill cited this as a reason for Tata’s dismissal, Crabtree failed to even bring up the topic with Tata. Instead, his interview amounted to a compliment of Tata’s leadership style.
“You told me that you didn’t walk into a classroom or even down the hallway, without students coming to your mind first thing and that’s what I heard from people in D.C. when I was there,” says Crabtree. “I’ve got to think you miss those students tremendously.”
“You could have done anything almost short of walking on water and when the majority changed it didn’t matter,” Crabtree later posited. “Is that a fair statement?”
It isn’t easy to ask difficult questions. My heart still beats out of my chest every time I ask a question that challenges a leader’s honesty or actions. But even when when we admire the people we interview, we have an obligation to challenge their actions and decisions.
Crabtree's exclusive interview presented an opportunity to ask Tata what he did well as superintendent and also to take him to task on the things he didn't. Instead, it was fanfare.