Choice of new superintendent sparking reaction

December 24, 2010 4:18:37 PM PST
The choice of former Brigadier General Anthony Tata as the new superintendent for Wake County Schools has generated a lot of controversy.Tata has some educational experience, but it appears much of what some praise him for is what others take issue with.

Tata is a career military man --a Brigadier General in the Army. He's appeared as a military analyst on Fox News and other networks.

His educational experience includes some organizational work in the military and for the past year and a half he's been Chief Operating Officer for the Washington DC Public School System.

Supporters say Tata is exactly what the18th largest school district in the country needs.

"We found a star in Gen. Tata," Wake County Board Chair Ron Margiotta said.

"This county is going to be honored to have a leader of this caliber coming to Wake County," School Board Member John Tedesco said.

But many disagree.

"They said, 'Well, we're bringing in an ex-general,' and I said, 'Well, that's not what really matters,'" NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber said. "The issue is where is the general going to lead us."

Barber is an outspoken opponent of the school board and worries Tata, who's been a vocal critic of President Barack Obama, will insert politics into the job.

"You should not, when you're trying to build a school system, bring in a partisan political operative who's on the record being very divisive," Barber said.

Yevonne Brannon with the Great Schools in Wake Coalition agrees with Barber.

"I think it would be a disaster if he brings politics into the office," she said.

But Brannon's says her big concern is how Tata will get along with a very assertive school board.

"The references we've seen on him say he's decisive, a quick decision maker, problem oriented," Brannon said. "Now, I think a person like that would have little patience for a board that wanted to micro manage his decisions."

For now it's all speculation, but that will change on January 31 when the 28-year Army veteran becomes the next superintendent of the Wake County Public School System.

In a letter to the school board, Tata said he has the "experience, heart, resources, and vision to help Wake County Public School System accelerate its drive to become a world-class education system."

ABC11 Eyewitness News reached out to Tata by e-mail Friday. He said he's on vacation and wouldn't do a phone interview, but said he would sit down with ABC11 after the first of the year.

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