School Board Chair Ron Margiotta and Member John Tedesco campaigned on a laudable goal: to strengthen neighborhood schools and minimize busing. Time spent on a bus is time lost. Money spent on buses is money that could have been spent elsewhere – or (gasp) even refunded to the taxpayers. In some instances, children in Wake County are bused extreme distances. Some of the school nodes smack of gerrymandering. There are magnet, traditional, and year-round schools. All of this makes school choice (to the extent there is a choice) a difficult task.
Further undermining the confidence in the current system, which attempts to achieve socioeconomic diversity, is the recent revelation that the School System cannot determine how many students have actually been bused to achieve this goal.
It is understandable that Margiotta and Tedesco wanted to change this system. However, the current School Board has not functioned in a business-like manner. The only thing dependable about the current School Board has been its ability to provoke arguments and stir controversy.
Margiotta and Tedesco have pursued their goals in an abrasive and confrontational way. Their opponents have not been above resorting to ad hominem attacks. Rather than debate, we have name-calling (“animals” – Board Chair Margiotta, “mafia” – Reverend Barber) and provincial (Mayor Meeker (“they’re not from the area”). Cooler heads cannot prevail where there are no cool heads to be found.
As a result, Wake County has gone from an imperfect but generally well-respected school system to one that is nationally known as an ideological battleground. Through all of this, any sign that the School Board is actually working to ensure that children in Wake County actually receive a solid education has been lost in the din of the school assignment debate.
In order to give Mr. Margiotta and Tedesco the opportunity to highlight their positive achievements and to clearly state their points of view, I am posting Margiotta’s Board Chair Speech and his Explanation of Views and Goals.