On a N.C. School Board, Civilians Outrank the Generals

Monday, March 12, 2012

When Wake schools superintendent Tony Tata was hired, I thought to myself, "It won't work."

Although I didn't deal often with generals during my tour in uniform, there were enough ego-inflated second lieutenants around to instill in me a lingering prejudice against commissioned officers. I worried that someone used to giving orders for 28 years and having them carried out without question might have problems dealing with our free-thinking, duly elected school board.

So when Tata recently clashed with two board members, accusing them of ethics violations, I thought, "See? Once a general, always a general." But, to my surprise, Tata has generally done a decent job that has included grappling with a politically divisive board during much of his tenure. Designing and selling a massive and complex new student assignment plan itself is no small challenge.

The superintendent needs to keep this in mind.

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