Caring and thoughtful people have been skeptical of Wake County schools superintendent Anthony Tata ever since the Tea Partying former military man with extremely limited education experience was installed a little over a year ago by the re-segregationist school board majority that had been wielding a wrecking ball on the school system. Many of these people, however, bit their tongues over the past 13 months in an effort to be open-minded and supportive of attempts to build bridges and find common ground.
Now, however, it’s quite clear that such efforts were futile and that Tata is little more than a puppet voice for the same forces that owned and manipulated the former “gang of five” — that is, the far right, Art Pope-Bob Luddy-Paul Stam school privatization crowd that’s been doing everything in its power to undermine free and diverse public schools.
The final confirmation of Tata’s true colors can be seen in his recent dishonest and politically-calculated assault on school board members Christine Kushner and Susan Evans for their past association with the heroic citizens group Great School in Wake. In a “through-the-looking-glass” smear of the kind that one of Tata’s political heroes Sarah Palin specializes in, the Lil’ General is claiming that Kushner and Evans are somehow out of bounds for at times raising questions similar to ones raised by the Great Schools in Wake folks and for accepting awards from the group. He even claims that these actions somehow raise ethical questions on the grounds that they amount to kowtowing to “special interest groups.”
It’s hard to know where to begin in responding to such an outrageous set of lies.
First of all, for Fox News Tony – a man who made one of his first orders of business upon assuming office to meet with the ultra-right, anti-government Wake County Taxpayers Association to accuse anyone of improper association with a special interest group is a bit like Newt Gingrich attacking someone for being a philanderer.
Seriously, General, is this really a road you want to go down? Because if it is, know that you’re embarking upon a slippery slope. Consider the following:
1. Your buddy and fellow Tea Partier, John Tedesco – the guy who hired you – is the PAID executive director of a right-wing education advocacy group funded by the same right-wing crowd that helped get him elected and that is now bankrolling his run for State Superintendent. Tedesco also spoke at Tea Party rally while in office.
2. In 2010, one of your other buddies and patrons, former chair Ron Margiotta cavorted with the North Wake Republican Club while serving as board chair. Margiotta also served as a board member of a private school controlled by a right-wing patron (a school that has billed itself as in competition with the public schools) at the same time that he served on the Wake County board.
3. Two other members of the gang of five that hired you, Chris Malone and Debra Goldman are actively seeking the Republican nominations for, respectively, state representative and state auditor. Who do you think they are appealing to for campaign contributions?
4, Just before you were hired, Malone, Tedesco and Margiotta attended a “school board training” organized and conducted by the extremists at the Pope-Civitas Institute.
5. As superintendent, you have actively courted the support and input of numeorus private interest groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, various Realtor groups as well as nonprofit advocates like the Wake Education Partnership and Communities in Schools. Why doesn’t this raise ethical questions?
And the list goes on.
Now, you want to attack Kushner and Evans for being former members of a shoestring, non-partisan group made up almost of exclusively of concerned moms and claim that they are somehow undermining you by having the temerity to raise a few questions about your unproven and potentially destructive and costly reassignment plan?!
This is hypocrisy and obliviousness to the truth of the highest order. It would be downright funny if it weren’t so sad and serious and if Tata weren’t so powerful.
(As an aside, the assertion that Kushner and Evans’ acceptance of an award from GSIW is akin to legislators on a Banking Committee receiving awards from the banking industry is preposterous. GSIW is a citizens group motivated by commitment to the welfare of children. It is nothing like a bank or other private for-profit interest. The comment is also remarkably ignorant: such awards are conferred by banks and other similar (and genuine) special interests on elected officials practically every day of the week.)
The bottom line: Absent some kind of sincere apology, Tata has irreparably compromised his ability to lead the Wake County schools in an honest and productive way.