Wake County Schools

Tata says he's ready for Wake schools

Posted January 5, 2011

— As part of his 28 years of service in the United States Army, former Brigadier Gen. Anthony Tata led soldiers in combat missions and operations across the world, including Afghanistan and Kosovo.

Tata, set to take over Jan. 31 as the eighth superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, now faces a new mission: increasing student achievement, decreasing the student achievement gap and equipping young people to be better prepared in a competitive global economy.

“It’s no longer good enough for our students to be at one level (of education) while the rest of the world is increasing to other levels,” Tata said Wednesday in Washington, D.C., where he has served for 19 months as chief operating officer for District of Columbia Public Schools. “Our students in Wake County have to compete with all those other students because those students are coming over here and taking jobs. It’s really all about having a world-class education system.”

But he faces an uphill battle.

His appointment comes at a time when North Carolina’s largest school system is facing numerous challenges, including high student enrollment and $100 million in school budget cuts that could mean teacher layoffs.

The Wake County school board that hired him also faces a public challenge to their vote for a controversial student assignment proposal that opponents say will violate the civil rights of economically disadvantaged students.

Compounding those issues are concerns from the public, educators and some school board members that Tata might not be the right person to lead the school system because of his lack of experience in the education sector.

One on one with Anthony Tata First TV interview with Anthony Tata

“I understand there’s some anxiety,” he said. “I’m a non-traditional pick, but what they have to understand is (that) all of my life, I have been taking care of these 17-, 18-, 19-year-old enlistees – young men and women – that have come from mostly public schools around this country. I’ve spent a career dedicated to caring for, coaching, teaching and mentoring young men and women across the country in a multitude of assignments.”

Tata says what's best for students and teachers will be the first and foremost factor in every decision he will make. He says he plans to listen to both parent and teacher concerns before making decisions that affect them.

He’s already received dozens of e-mails from parents and teachers. “My big comment is that they will not find anyone who will be more compassionate, more caring more focused on leading Wake County and trying to clear the smoke away so we can focus like a laser on student achievement,” Tata said.

Still, there’s the looming budget concerns and teacher layoffs. No cost-cutting measures, he says, can be ruled out. “When you keep the student first and foremost – what’s best for the students – and backward plan for that, I think you come up with good decisions,” he said.

With more than three weeks to go before he officially starts, Tata will begin on Thursday a three-day tour in Wake County, where he plans to meet with school board members, members of the community, including the Wake County Taxpayers Association, and visit Baucom Elementary School in Apex and Lacy Elementary and Millbrook High schools in Raleigh. He'll also hold a news conference late Friday afternoon. (Watch it live on WRAL.com.)

“It’s all about the students and the parents and the employees of Wake County public schools for to me, and if we just stay focused on student achievement and clear away the rest of the noise, everything is going to be OK.”


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • whistler411 Jan 6, 2011

    If he has half a brain of his own and half a spine, he won't last long with this board anyway. Of course, he doesn't have a background in education to pull from.... He said in the interview to put good people around him and he would be successful. I guess that's his excuse for not needing an educational background - he will be surrounded by people who do. I fear he is nothing more than a 250k a year "yes-man", and that's all the board wanted anyway.

  • 5Rs Jan 6, 2011

    "right wing attempt to destroy the once excellent Wake Co. public school system" - geosol

    Sorry, that position was already taken by the left wing. While the original academic Magnet Program worked extremely well, in the last decade with a focus on divisity the schools and the students have suffered, as seen in the end of year resugood historical perspectives the students are left with.lts and the lack of

  • blackdog Jan 6, 2011

    Tata is not competent for this job. He has NO qualification for the position professionally. This entire charade is a GOP production. Directed by Art Pope, for his future education buisness, the Wake County School Company Inc. Financed by the Wake County taxpayers. And then...the entire state.

  • 5Rs Jan 6, 2011

    Finally Wake County has a Superintendent who doesn't bow to the false gods of diversity, unions and elite liberalism. Now maybe the school system can focus on - gasp - education of all students to the best of their ability.

    Oh, except we have those who would inhibit the focus on education to forward their own agendas by throwing every roadblock they can to prevent the school system from being successful.

  • Peace Love and Cold Meds Jan 6, 2011

    First thing he needs to do is come in and clean house. All of those who worshiped the feet of the former regieme, Del, the former board that repeatedly lied to the public and covered up their sinful agendas, Delaney, all of them, GONE. Then he can tackle how many teachers will be fired to cut 100 million dollars from the budget. That alone should keep him busy for a while.

  • Alex25 Jan 5, 2011

    Hope you all enjoy your declining property values resulting from the right wing attempt to destroy the once excellent Wake Co. public school system and turning it into a Faux News plug. Right wing sound bites don't sell too many houses.----------------------------------->> Complete Non-Seguiter. Housing collapse - from Fanie Mae/Fredie Mack/HUD socializing away the risky loans of buyers who way over-bought and over-extended themselves and their wallets.

  • carolinagirl75 Jan 5, 2011

    I'm one of those entrenched teachers, Alex, and I'm very open to giving Mr. Tata the benefit of the doubt. Don't think you can lump all of us teachers--who are neither needed nor wanted--together. I do have concerns about his lack of experience in the classroom, much like some voters have concerns about presidential candidates who have no military experience. How can Mr. Tata lead effectively if he doesn't know what its like to teach? How can a president send troops into battle having never answered the call into battle? I do have concerns, but I am willing to see how he does. Of course, a reasoned approach such as this has no place on a comment board.

  • Alex25 Jan 5, 2011

    Those who whine and complain and make excuses and accept failure are the entrenched teachers and admin. You are not needed - or wanted.

  • geosol Jan 5, 2011

    Hope you all enjoy your declining property values resulting from the right wing attempt to destroy the once excellent Wake Co. public school system and turning it into a Faux News plug. Right wing sound bites don't sell too many houses.

  • Alex25 Jan 5, 2011

    Run it more like a business - and hold folks (teachers, admin, parents - And kids) accountable. Can't do education like this..? Of course you can. Americans spend more $$$/per pupil than any other country - and our results are TERRIBLE. WAKE UP.