Wake superintendent tight-lipped on plans

January 7, 2011 9:05:44 PM PST
Wake County's new school superintendent is staying tight-lipped on his plans for diversity and raising student achievement.On Friday, Tony Tata met with reporters during a press conference at school board headquarters, but avoided many of the questions.

Click here to watch the entire press conference

When asked if it's the school districts job to promote diversity Tata said, "I think it's the school systems responsibility to insure student achievement happens in every single school."

"I'm talking about diversity sir," ABC11 I-Team reporter Jon Camp said.

"I'm talking about achievement," Tata replied.

Then there was a question about his conservative punditry. He's made frequent appearances on Fox News and other outlets and his contract allows him to continue to make appearances.

During the presser, Tata was asked a number of times if he planned to continue to do that.

"Twenty-four/seven, 365 days a year, I'm focused on Wake County Schools ... the answer is I'm going to be focused on Wake County Public Schools 24/7, 365 days a year," Tata said.

He did seem to come down in favor of neighborhood schools, which has been a priority for the conservative controlled school board and a focus of intense criticism by equal rights groups.

"In the Washington DC Public School System, we have neighborhood schools," Tata said. "The philosophy is that every child should walk to elementary schools, which feed into high schools."

When the press conference ended, many said they weren't satisfied with what they heard.

Yevonne Brannon with Great Schools in Wake Coalition said she didn't get a good sense of who Tata is or what he'll bring to Wake Public Schools.

"I wish he would have gone into a little more detail about his visions and his philosophy, where he thought we were going and I do think the media asked some really good question," she said.

Despite concerns during the press conference, Tata has received pretty high marks just about everywhere he's gone in the last two days as a part of his tour of Wake County.

On Saturday, Tata plans to meet with School Board Member Keith Sutton and others to discuss suspension rates and other issues.

Meanwhile, the NAACP is also weighing in on Tata's plans for Wake County Schools.

Local clergy members joined NC NAACP President Rev. William Barber Friday at Martin Street Baptist Church in Raleigh to let Wake County School leaders know that their commitment to fight for student equality is stronger than ever.

"We are here today to say that we are watching you the school board and the superintendent ... not just listening to your words, but watching your actions," Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Rev. Nancy Petty said.

"What will you do as a superintendent to guarantee every child a high quality, constitutional, diverse well funded public education," Barber said.

A prayer vigil will be held on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Martin Street Baptist Church "to pray for the success of the new superintendent."

The NAACP also plans to send a letter to Tata next week inviting him to speak to hundreds of people at their winter session later this month.

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