Debra Goldman, the Wake County School Board Vice Chairwoman should be sent to detention for bringing more unwanted attention to a county school board that is already under fire both locally and nationally for its efforts to replace the diversity program with a neighborhood friendly school assignment program. According to an article in The News & Observer titled “Tata to look into transfer: Girl’s mother is on school board,” Debra Goldman secretly conducted a mid-year transfer of her daughter from Martin Middle School (a Wake magnet in West Raleigh) to Davis Drive Middle School. Davis Drive School is highly regarded, but it is not Goldman’s base assignment… however, that point is apparently irrelevant to Ms. Goldman. Not only that, but the school system took the extra step of re-routing the bus so that it stops directly in front of Goldman’s house on its way to and from Davis Drive Middle School.
Goldman’s daughter was secretly transferred in January 2011, with approval by the interim Superintendent Donna Hargens. At the time of the transfer, Ms. Goldman and interim Superintendent Hargens made no attempt to make a disclosure to the public. It was only after the media discovered the move and reported about it that Ms. Goldman acknowledged the move with a response. Goldman defended her actions, according to the newspaper article, by stating that she utilized a seldom used administrative policy to justify the transfer. That policy was never defined or explained in the article.
In an attempt to show integrity, she sent an e-mail to current Wake County School Superintendent Tony Tata, asking him to look into her transfer. This is hardly a move that can be construed to be ethical, as Goldman was integral in voting for Tata to be hired for the position he holds as superintendent. And from the sparse statements made by Mr. Tata so far, it is obvious that his findings will support the transfer. For example, he stated that Ms. Goldman’s daughter’s welfare was his chief concern. Specifically, Mr. Tata said, “I want to make sure that she is protected and in a place where she feels safe.” In other words, Mr. Tata is implying that for some reason or another Ms. Goldman’s daughter does not feel safe in Martin Middle School. Notice how he evades the real reason that Ms. Goldman is seeking the transfer… she wants her daughter enrolled in a school with the best educational reputation and program. If we are to believe that the daughter of a school board vice chairwoman has reason to feel unprotected and insecure at Martin Middle School, then how must the children of parents without ties to the County School Board feel when it comes to their safety and security at the school.
Mr. Tata then stated, “She deserves to be at a good school with great teachers.” In other words, Ms. Goldman’s daughter deserves to be at a good school with great teachers because her mother is the Vice Chairperson of the Wake County School Board. The other students at Martin Middle School don’t deserve to be at a good school with great teachers. And, Mr. Tata implied, with his remark, that Martin Middle School is not a good school and that its teachers are not great.
Now the people are supposed to be satisfied because Mr. Tata stated that he would look into the cases of the 15 students who have received administrative transfers, which are based on oral requests. How convenient that the reasons for their transfers are not in writing. The reason for that is so that there can be no accountability. The problem is not whether policies are followed. The problem lies within the policies themselves… policies which favor students with parents who have connections with the administration… policies that grant special treatment for those students, such as bus stops at their front door.
It is no wonder that the school system, like other agencies in the state are having budget problems. Policies that are in place, such as those governing administrative transfers, need to be abolished. All students should receive the same treatment and the same opportunities, the same quality of education and instructors, and the same sense of security.
In this particular instance, Superintendent Tony Tata needs to scrutinize the fairness of the schools policies, and not whether or not unfair school policies are followed.