The consistently wrong and inconsistent Gang of Five

The consistently wrong and inconsistent Gang of Five

- in Fitzsimon File

You have to give the members of the Gang of Five who control the Wake County Board of Education credit for one thing.

They are consistent—consistently misleading, consistently ideological, consistently willing to ignore the wishes of parents they are suppose to represent, even consistently happy to break campaign promises they made to conduct an open and transparent process.

Their consistency is staggering. And so is their willingness to say things that directly contradict each other, even if the contradictions come consecutively.

All that consistency was on full display at Tuesday's board meeting, most notably in the discussion of a resolution to commit to efforts of voluntary desegregation as part of an application for $12 million in federal grant funding for magnet schools.

If there is one thing the Gang of Five doesn't like to talk about, it is desegregation. The four Gang of Fivers elected last fall based their campaigns on ending Wake County's nationally recognized diversity policy and recently voted to stop using student economic status in school assignments , pledging to replace it with a still nebulous rich zone, poor zone scheme cooked up by Gang of Fiver and Tea Partier John Tedesco.

Tedesco and his colleagues bristle at being called resegregationists, though they readily admit their plans would create more high poverty schools with high percentages of African-American students. In other words, resegregated schools.

Board member Carolyn Morrison offered an amendment to the resolution that said the schools would make every effort to avoid minority group isolation in schools. For some reason that was too much for the Gang of Five who all voted against the resolution. Maybe they wanted only a half-hearted effort, or more likely, no effort at all.

Gang of Fiver Deborah Prickett said after the vote that she didn't want to be put in the box of resegregating the schools," and said that not's what she was trying to do.

Sorry, Ms. Prickett. You are in that resegregationist box and nobody put you there. You leaped in all by yourself and being consistently misleading about it doesn't change anything.

Gang of Fiver Debra Goldman also said after the vote against the amendment that she wanted it to be clear that she would be for anything to strengthen the magnet schools.

Well not anything. She supported the election of Gang of Fiver Ron Margiotta as Board Chair even though Margiotta tried last year to abolish the magnet program that Goldman professes to love.

She also supports Tedesco's rich zone, poor zone scheme which will significantly change the magnet program. And the magnet program is the foundation of the diversity assignment plan that Goldman voted to end. That's all true, whether she wants it to be clear or not.

Goldman pushed the hypocrisy envelope even further by complaining she hadn't seen Morrison's proposed amendment before the meeting. This from a member of the Gang of Five that came to the first meeting after the election with a collection of resolutions and significant policy changes that no one but the Gang of Five had seen. They didn't even bother to provide copies for the rest of the board, much less the public.

The Board also voted Tuesday night to adopt a budget that makes $20 million in cuts, fires 60 employees and abolishes 57 vacant jobs. The board adopted the budget over the objections of Anne McLaurin, who in recent weeks has emerged as the outspoken conscience of the board.

McLaurin pointed out that board members had spent far too little time going over the budget that will affect the education of 140,000 students and reminded the members of the Gang of Five of their vote to waste $15 million by abandoning a site already selected for a new high school.

That would be the Gang of Five who also campaigned as fiscal conservatives. Better to fire teachers and expand classes than reconsider a foolish decision about where to build a new high school.

The board met Tuesday after the Raleigh City Council passed a resolution opposing the resegregation of the Wake County Schools. That prompted Tedesco to say the council was "continuing to back a system that promoted institutional racism."

This just a few days after Tedesco was a featured speaker a Tea Party rally, hardly an oasis of racial diversity and understanding. Then there's Tedesco's own plan that he admits would resegregate the schools.

You have to hand to him and his fellow Gang of Fivers.

They set the gold standard for being consistently inconsistent. Too bad so many students will suffer as a result.

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.