No false misunderstanding at all

No false misunderstanding at all

- in Fitzsimon File

The news that Wake County Schools will have to cut another $20 million from its budget next year understandably dominated much of the coverage of Tuesday's meeting of the Wake County Board of Education. The cuts come on top of $20 million in reductions that were already planned and are likely to mean significant teacher layoffs and larger classes for many students.

School lunch prices are increasing and school starting times are likely to change to allow the transportation department to serve more students without buying more buses.

None of that seems to bother the members of the new Gang of Five majority on the board enough to force them to reconsider their decision to waste $15 million by abandoning the site for a new high school against the recommendation of a nonpartisan committee of experts.

Nothing seems to bother the new majority enough to slow down their rush to remake the schools, even breaking their campaign promises or ignoring the Wake County parents they claim to care so much about.

This is an ideological crusade in which the true believers seem willing to say almost anything to misrepresent their true intentions or the effect of their disastrous decisions. That has never been clearer than during the debate at Tuesday's meeting about a resolution that would be part of an application for a federal magnet schools grant.

The Gang of Five's resolution says the school system is "committed to provide diverse settings for education that promote an understanding and appreciation of cultural differences." That's an odd claim for a board majority that recently voted to end the Wake Schools' nationally recognized diversity plan.

Board member Anne McLaurin correctly called the resolution less than honest and nothing but wordsmithing to get grant money, pointing to the Gang of Five's vote last month against an amendment saying that the new assignment scheme would not lead to segregated schools.

That prompted lead Gang of Fiver John Tedesco to claim that there is a "false understanding" among the public that supporters of his yet to be unveiled community zone plan don't want diversity.

That "understanding" might come from the fact that Tedesco and his fellow rich zone, poor zone schemers have repeatedly voted against ensuring diversity in Wake County Schools. It might come from Tedesco's outrage over editorial spots on WRAL-TV that say diversity is important. And it might come from Tedesco's own admission that his assignment scheme would create more high-poverty, segregated schools in Wake County.

The new majority also found the time Tuesday to approve several changes in the current assignment plan, including sending some children of well-connected political donors back to Lacy Elementary and moving some students from Garner High to Southeast Raleigh with no notice or public hearing.

Isn't what the members of the new majority campaigned against?

Several things are now clear after five months of the Gang of Five's ideological reign. They are resegregating the schools while denying it, wasting money in a budget crisis while refusing to admit it, and ignoring the 94.5 percent of parents satisfied with their school while claiming to be working for them.

There can be no "false understanding" about any of that. It is all too painfully clear.

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.