I keep peeking out my window for a glimpse of the airborne porcine wonder.
Because any day when I find myself agreeing with Paul Coble and John Tedesco is a day when pigs are flying, hell is freezing over and the end must be fast approaching.
This afternoon the Wake County Board of Education voted to remove Superintendent Tony Tata. I'll be the first to admit that I was skeptical (to put it politely) about him when he was hired. With only four months of education experience in the Washington, D.C., school system, the retired army general was one of those Outsiders Who Can Fix Public Education. As a former teacher, I generally bristle at the notion that someone with little or no education experience is somehow more qualified to run one of the nation's largest school districts.
But my sense of Superintendent Tata -- and what I believe the majority of the general public sees -- is a man who has (for the most part) kept a calm, professional face on what has been a ridiculously crazy school system. Since he was hired, he has followed the direction of the Board of Education, calmed some of the initial chaos with the old board, continued to work with the new board when they were elected (minus an embarrassing name-calling issue with a few members that showed poor judgement but for which he publicly apologized) and generally embraced the idea of innovation to move the district forward. I don't necessarily love Tony Tata, but I have no reason to hate him.
When the district was mired in a school bus disaster at the beginning of this year, Tata stood up, took responsibility and started working on a solution. He might not have made everyone happy, but I haven't seen grounds for immediate dismissal. I've heard rumors that he has bullied principals and undermined school board members, but none of that hearsay has been confirmed by any credible sources. (And if I learned one thing in journalism school, it's verify -- if your mother says she loves you, check it out.) I've heard just as many stories about parents commending him for his responsiveness.
The school board members who voted Tata out of a job today are the ones that I voted and campaigned for. I want to believe that they know things -- real, substantial, documented, horrible things -- that I don't know. I want to defend the district and the board and encourage people to believe that our school system is making decisions that benefit all students. I want to trust that all of this chaos is heading toward the right solution.
But from where I sit, it's really hard to imagine what's worth a $253,625 buy-out and yet another massive distraction from what the board should actually be talking about: teaching and learning.
Our kids deserve better. Our teachers and principals deserve better. Our community deserves better.
Instead of focusing on student achievement, teaching quality and what's going inside our county's classrooms, I'm thinking about who is going to fill the void. Who in the hell is out there with an ego big enough to want the job of Wake County Superintendent or an ego small enough to actually be able to handle it?