Civitas Flash Poll: Wake Parents Disapprove of Tata Firing

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Sept. 27, 2012
CONTACT: Bob Luebke (919) 834-2099

RALEIGH – A Civitas Flash Poll indicates Wake County parents and residents overwhelmingly oppose the firing of Tony Tata as Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) Superintendent and have no confidence in the Wake County School Board. They also approved of the job Tata was doing as School Superintendent.

The Civitas Flash Poll of 400 registered voters with a margin of error of plus-minus 5 percent was taken Sept. 26, 2012.

Fifty-nine percent of voters disapproved of firing Tata; 28 percent approved. Voters with children in the WCPSS system disapproved by a 2-to-1 margin, 63 percent to 31 percent.

When informed that the school board would pay Tata more than a quarter-million dollars in severance pay, the disapproval rating rose to 62 percent, with 27 percent approving. Parents disapproved even more strongly — 65 percent to 27 percent.

Fifty percent of voters had a favorable view of Tata, while only 20 percent had an unfavorable view. Among parents, 55 percent had a favorable view, and 22 percent had an unfavorable view.

Asked their opinion of how he had been doing as superintendent, 51 percent approved, and 26 percent disapproved. The split among parents was 55 percent approval, 28 percent disapproval.

In the survey, 56 percent of voters disapproved of the job being done by the Wake County Board of Education, while 28 percent approved of the school board’s performance. Parents disapproved of the board’s performance 62 percent to 26 percent.

The survey also asked voters whether, when it comes to funding and spending, did they have more trust in the Wake County Board of Education or the Wake County Commissioners. Forty-two percent preferred the commissioners, compared to 29 percent for the school board, with parents preferring the commissioners 41 to 29 percent

The Civitas Flash Poll also asked respondents if school assignments should be primarily based on parent choice, or if they should be based on other factors, including academic performance and diversity at a particular school. Voters were closely split, with 43 percent saying school assignments should be based mostly on parental choice, and 44 percent saying it should be other factors. Among parents, 48 percent wanted parent choice to be the most important factor, and 44 percent put other factors higher.

Text of questions (Because of rounding, percentages may not total 100):

Is your opinion of Wake County Public School Superintendent Tony Tata … favorable? Unfavorable? Neutral? Or, do you have no opinion one way or the other?

Favorable        50 percent
Unfavorable    20 percent

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Tony Tata has done as Superintendent?

Approve         51%
Disapprove     26%

Do you approve or disapprove of the job being done by the Wake County Public School Board?

Approve         28%
Disapproved   56%
Not Sure          16%

The Wake County Public School Board has fired Public School Superintendent Tony Tata. Do you approve, or disapprove, of the decision to fire Tony Tata?

Approved       28%
Disapproved   59%
Not sure                      13%

As part of the firing, the school board will pay Tony Tata over a quarter million dollars in salary and other costs. Knowing this, do you approve, or disapprove, of the decision to fire Tony Tata?

Approve         27%
Disapprove     62%
Not Sure          13%

When it comes to making important decisions concerning funding and spending, who do you have more confidence in, the school board? Or the Wake County Commissioners?

School Board   29%
Commissioners           42%

How should Wake County students be assigned to public schools? Based primarily on parent choice? Or based on other factors, including assigning students based on the academic performance and diversity of a particular school?

Parent Choice  43%
Other Factors  44%
Not Sure          14%

Click here for crosstabs.

Information on future polls will be available at the Civitas Poll Presentations in October.

About the Poll: This poll was conducted by telephone in the voice of a professional announcer. Respondent households were selected at random, using Random Digit Dialed (RDD) sample provided by Survey Sampling, of Fairfield CT. All respondents heard the questions asked identically. The pollster’s report includes the geography that was surveyed, the date(s) interviews were conducted, the number of respondents who answered each question and the theoretical margin of sampling error for each question. Where necessary, respondents were weighted using the most recent US Census estimates for age, gender, ethnic origin and region, to align the sample to the population. Research methodology, questionnaire design and fieldwork for this survey were completed by SurveyUSA of Clifton, NJ.

For more information on Civitas polling, see

More information on the Civitas Institute is available at, or contact Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.

About Jim Tynen

Communications director at Civitas.
This article was posted in Press Releases by Jim Tynen on September 27, 2012 at 5:14 PM.

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Comments on this article

  • 1

    David Prickett
    David Prickett Sep 28, 2012 at 8:50

    I have a concern with the following poll question; I don’t believe it gets at the essential real-world issue:

    “How should Wake County students be assigned to public schools? Based primarily on parent choice? Or based on other factors, including assigning students based on the academic performance and diversity of a particular school?”

    My concern is that the question does not address the fact that there are very real and significant ramifications that come with parents relinquishing their opportunity to choose. Most significantly is that there is still a choice to be made by someone, so parents need to consider who that someone is? Does that someone’s value system align with theirs? What sacrifices and burdens are associated with the implementation of an assignment system that embodies the values of this surrogate decision maker? What are the benefits, if any?

    Currently, of course, we know who the decisions makers are regarding the assignment plan and what their value system is. That should elicit some thoughtful consideration. As time goes by, others will be elected to the board; will these new board members then realign student assignments with a different value system? That certainly seems possible considering recent history. Considering that, perhaps the desire by some to have their child(ren) assigned by factors other than choice would diminish. With choice, even with the limitations associated with capacity and the location of schools, it empowers parents and provides them the opportunity to make decisions that they believe are in the best interest of their child(ren).

    On the surface valuing diversity as a factor in assignments may seem innocuous or even admirable, but as we’ve experience it in practice individual students and families are often very negatively impacted with burdens associated with long bus rides, regular reassignments to different schools, mandatory year-round assignments, and no choice.

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