Take the Tony Tata Survey

Story and photo by Hal Goodtree.

Cary, NC – Monitoring social media, it’s easy to see that many parents and area residents were surprised by the ouster of Tony Tata as Superintendent of Wake County Public Schools. Surprised may be too mild a word. Take our Tony Tata Survey and tell us what you think.

Tony Tata Survey

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Please answer all questions. You can only take the survey once. We’ll publish the results next week.

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Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom and click on “Done.” You can also take the Tony Tata Survey on SurveyMonkey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7NF3TSR

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25 replies
  1. Brent
    Brent says:

    The survey designer should have made individual answers optional (why would you insist on knowing my age and gender?).

    • Hal Goodtree
      Hal Goodtree says:

      The survey is anonymous, Brent. No one will know your age, gender, etc. However, having this information makes the survey much more informative.

      • Ian Henshaw
        Ian Henshaw says:

        We both know someone who is certain that nothing is anonymous when you connect to the web… I agree that the data can be informative, but who keeps the keys to the data trove?

        • Hal Goodtree
          Hal Goodtree says:

          We collect neither email addresses nor IP numbers. That’s about as anonymous as it gets.

          I understand if people don’t want to play, but my goal was for the survey to be as meaningful as possible. To that end, I was particularly interested in party affiliation. Politics may have been a factor in Tata’s removal, but the survey shows broad consensus across party lines that the public perceives it as a bad move.

          • Brent
            Brent says:

            I appreciate that, Hal, but really…are you planning to report the number of Democratic women aged 50-54 who held some particular opinion?

            I recognize that collecting demographic information has become the norm, but once again, if you’re mostly interested in party affiliation, why do you insist on knowing my age and gender? And why couldn’t these questions be optional?

            How will this make the survey more informative?

            Just askin’.

          • Hal Goodtree
            Hal Goodtree says:

            I’ll keep your concern in mind next time we formulate a survey. Hey, the only way to know is to try it.

  2. Jim Webb
    Jim Webb says:

    I think the wake county school board handled the entire situation wrong. Tony Tata has done a very good job. He inherited a mess and has done an excellent job calming the waters. Sure, The bus fiasco needs attention. But you don’t fire anyone on one single incident unless it is criminal in nature. Performance needs to be judged on a longer term basis. They said it was not political but the vote sure carried party lines. They certainly did not take into consideration the consequences.

    My view is the wake county board is dysfunctional. They should all be fired and the governor and state school superintendant needs to invoke marshall law and take control until they get competent people in place. And soon. They are costing taxpayers money which we can’t afford and unfortunately the kids and teachers will suffer.

  3. Dean
    Dean says:

    I think it is time for Cary, Morrisville, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina to split off and make their own school system. Cary sends out more money in taxes than it gets back in. We don’t need to continue wasting time with circus going on with the WCPS. Hopefully, by the time my little one is old enough to go to school, I will have confidence in the public school system again.

    And if the NAACP tries to pull the stunt they did with the WCPS again, then heavier criminal charges should be brought against the whole organization.

    • Patty C
      Patty C says:

      Dean, I think it’s noteworthy that 90% of the population in Morrisville and Cary did not even exist in this area 25 years ago. If you go to New England (MA, NH) and see how each town has to have a school board that hires and support one or two high schools, the politics in small towns is not necessarily better.

      • Dean
        Dean says:

        Patty, I am very much aware of the population of Cary since 1981, when Cary only had 1 high school and YRAC trucks roamed the streets. I am also aware that the problems on the school board could as easily happen on smaller school boards.

        However, I believe that Western Wake could handle their own school system like before the merger in 1976. The purpose of the merger didn’t work, people still moved to places outside of Raleigh.

  4. Patty C
    Patty C says:

    In 2006 Nashua Public Schools in NH hired a Superintendent from Texas after a formal application and search committee process. In less than a year she was sent packing with a significant compensation package. In the end, they hired a retired insider at a higher salary than the acomplished professional from Texas.

    Simultaneously, due to teacher retirements and the lack of committment to new teachers, 80% of the math department in the school where I taught “turned over” within two years. I can not imagine the students benefitted from that.

    I do expect that the Wake Co. Interm Superintendent, Dr. Stephen Gainey would prove to be a good administrator. He was Principal of Leesville High School when I interviewed there in 2006.

    People need to take responsibility for their own education and that of their children. A school system can not provide optimal solutions for all people.

    • Dean
      Dean says:

      “People need to take responsibility for their own education and that of their children. A school system can not provide optimal solutions for all people.”

      I agree.

      Instead of working to fix the real issues happening in poor communities, the solution given is to bus them all around the county in hopes that they’ll sit next to enough kids willing to learn that they will also will themselves to learn. From my experience in the magnet programs, either you made it into the GT courses or you took a class where everything was aimed at the lowest common denominator without regards to how it affected the kids on the cusp.

  5. Dallas
    Dallas says:

    A reported comment by one of the board members caught my ear during an interview on the radio. “General Tata thinks that he can issue an order and we are suppose to jump.” I believe there is the beginning of the problem. As a retired Army officer and I’m sure with General Tata’s training we are of the same mind set. There can only be one person in charge, we of the military call that leadership. We are trained to follow the chain of command and carry out those orders. This is hard for a non-military mind to grasp, someone giving orders to another but, it seems to have worked over the years in the military some more successful than others. There will always be some who don’t like to take orders but there can only be “one” leader one person in charge. There may be ideas of how to carry out the order but they still must come up the chain to the person in charge for consideration and possible modification to the order. The current board did not want that route. I think his firing was a big mistake and the school system will suffer because of it.

  6. Lynanne
    Lynanne says:

    Patty and Dean,
    As a former school board member in a small school district in New Hampshire, YES politics does exist in all school system governance whether we like it or not, but in my experience the leaders of smaller school systems have a much better handle on what the challenges and successes of their system are. We got information from several sources — teachers, administrators, parents, children AND our superintendent — and I think made much better choices in the interests of the children in our schools.

    It’s impossible, to say the least, to lead a system the size of WCPSS without a completely hands-off approach, relying entirely on information from your administration. With all the issues facing WCPSS (from administrators stealing resources to the busing situation to increasing student success and funding a bloated system), there is no way for the school board to really be effective without complete trust in its paid staff. Until WCPSS can rebuild those relationships, our teachers, parents, and children are going to continue to be collateral damage. I unilaterally support the idea of a separate school system for western Wake County. If Chapel Hill could do it and end up with one of the best county school systems in the state, then so could we!

  7. Dee Watson
    Dee Watson says:

    Tata had a way of dealing with parents in an even handed fashion. Before he was here we sent our children to private school.
    We felt strongly that the school we were assigned to would not benefit our oldest child. We were interested in the magnet program, but after speaking with growth management we were told that we were in the lowest tier of the lottery system and had a very low chance of getting into our first choice. The previous year there were over 200 applications for 4 spots from the ninth tier. I was very surprised and said I did not understand why our chances we so low. I was told by the employee that “It is not in the interest of WCPPS to send your child to any school other than your base.” My response was “It is not in my child’s interest to attend our base.” So we chose private school.
    In our development about half of the elementary school children were either home schooled or went to private school. I get the distinct impression that some WCPSS board members are thrilled with this. We supply tax dollars, but do not have our children educated in return. So many children in Western Wake are treated widgets to balance a growth equation so as parents we pull them from the system. As long as we are part of the WCPSS it will be in the interest of the school system to either ship them all over the place or take our tax dollars and not educate them.
    Under the new assignment plan our child has benefited by attending a year round school that was one of our choices. Tata had made us feel like the needs of our children were being considered. Now he is gone, and where will our children go in the future?

    I think the firing of Tata makes it clear where the school board is going. If the people of Cary want to have any hope of good public schools that allow children to attend one elementary school, one middle school and one high school then we will have to leave WCPSS.

  8. steve
    steve says:

    I posted on the facebook page but thought I’d post here too. I find the politics of Wake County schools completely over the top. I too am a transplant from up North. I grew up in Upstate NY (far from NYC) and lived in Northern Virginia and Boston before settling here 3 yrs ago to raise a family.

    I don’t think anything like this happens up North. Sure there are politics everywhere, its human nature, but it feels so much worse here. Each party is singularly focused on screwing the other party and undoing everything that was done. Its not the republicans’ fault, its not the democrats’ fault, its everyone’s fault.

    Beyond the politics there are two underlying issues that create the mess we are in. First, as stated above, the school district is just too big. It needs to be split in two, at least.

    Second, most of the politics stems from money, or lack thereof. Taxes are insanely low here. Builders/Developers are asked to pull their weight. As a result, the system hasn’t kept up with growth in the county. Wake county needs more schools and more, better paid, teachers. And that costs money. Until folks come to grips with that concept there will be shell games and choice plans and busing and political bickering as the party du jour’s attempts fix the wrong problems fails and gets them replaced by another party who does it all over again.

    Imagine how screwed up things would be if we were in a part of the country that was really hit hard with the downturn.

    • WED
      WED says:

      Why is it we don’t have a shortage of houses,apartments,shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants to handle the growth? Maybe we need to get government out of the school system?

      • Steve
        Steve says:

        Because we don’t require builders/developers to contribute to building schools. Want to build a subdivision of half-million-dollar-homes? Build a school too. Of course there are going to be plenty of commercial development. I’m all for less government but the suggestion of eliminating public schools is a bit crazy.

    • WED
      WED says:

      Yes property taxes are low here, but coming from a relatively tax free NH before moving to NC I can tell you it’s about the same after you consider the amount of taxes that are collected through every other venue in NC. We’re probably paying even more in taxes in NC some years, but yes we do have a choice to not consume.

      • Hal Goodtree
        Hal Goodtree says:

        Please use your real name when commenting on CaryCitizen.
        It can just be your first name.
        We’re all on a first name basis here 🙂

      • Steve
        Steve says:

        New Hampshire, on average, spends double per student than Wake County does. I can’t imagine the tax burden is similar for that significant a gap to exist.

  9. Brooke Meyer
    Brooke Meyer says:

    The population of Wake County is about 900 thousand and has one school board. The population of Cuyahoga County, Ohio is about a third larger at 1.2 million and has 31 school boards, one for each incorporated municipality. Replicate that in Wake County and Raleigh turns into Cleveland.

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      Can you elaborate? I don’t know much about Cleveland but I would think completely different economic bases would make that impossible.

  10. joe
    joe says:

    What happened to the motto “Do it for the children”. When it is all politics. Nothing to do with the children.And in the grand scheme of things here. The children will be the real losers.All because of politics.

  11. Larry
    Larry says:

    I moved my family here in 1995 from Florida because I wanted my kids to grow up in a better community with a better school system than where we were. The community part has been true, but not the school system. My kids were assigned to middle school and high school 12 miles from where we lived even though there were brand new schools only 4 miles away. If we were to have them take the bus to school they would have had to be at the bus stop at 6:15am, and be on the bus for almost an hour. So we drove them to school so they could have a more reasonable sleep schedule. My kids became disinterested in school, and had to learn the value of education through the school of hard knocks. They will be OK, but their lives would be much better today if they had maintained an interest in school. I value education, I obtained a Master’s so I always preached to them the advantage of a good education. Their enthusiasm for school was simply diminished by the schools and teachers. I have been appalled by the political shenanigans of the school board over the past 4 years. I have also been appalled by the actions of the NAACP. I think it is ridiculous to spend more money on busing than educating and I think it is ridiculous to think that better education depends on busing. But most of all I think it is ridiculous to make a national spectacle of the county like what we have seen the last 4 years. As for me, I will retire soon, but I will not retire here. I will not spend any more tax dollars on this county’s school system.

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