Sutton’s ouster as school board chairman a stab to the back

Published December 6, 2013

By Cash Michaels

by Cash Michaels, The Carolinian, published in News and Observer, December 6, 2013.

Cash Michaels, editor and chief reporter for The Carolinian in Raleigh, offers up a blog post with his analysis of the ouster of Keith Sutton as chairman of the Wake County Board of Education. Interesting reading, to say the least.

An excerpt:

Members of the African-American community sat in shock and silence, not believing that the Democratic school board they had once worked so hard to elect in 2011, had just stabbed one of their best, brightest, and arguably most effective young leaders in the back right in front of them.

They would have been further shocked to know, according to sources, that some of the school board members even worried, amongst themselves, that black audience members would angrily react to what had just happened.

That did not happen.

Now ex-Chairman Keith Sutton, in a stated moment of defiant personal privilege, called on his strength as a Christian, and a black man, to proudly declare that as much as the board majority would like to rhetorically say otherwise, he had nothing to be ashamed of in his leadership.

“I hope I have served you and the community well, and made you proud,” Sutton stoically said, adding for those saddened by what they just saw, “Trust in God.”

The entire room – even the seven board colleagues who would not tell the public why they had just dumped perhaps the best school board chairman Wake County has ever had - stood and applauded.

Christine Kushner then took Sutton’s chairman seat, and read from a prepared statement…. calling for board unity.


December 6, 2013 at 9:56 am
Norm Kelly says:

Just seeing the by-line for this editorial, my first thought was that it had to have been printed in the Noise & Disturber. What do I expect to find in this editorial? I'm skeptical from the beginning. I remember that Sutton took control of the Board, and the first thing he led the DemocRATS to do was spend gobs of money they don't have to terminate the contract of the sitting superintendent, spend gobs of money on a search committee to find a replacement, then, as I recall, pay the new guy more than the last guy. So the leadership of Sutton started out with a typical liberal/Demoncrat approach - spend money you don't have to solve a problem that does not exist or that will eventually solve itself without any interference.

So are people upset that Sutton was replaced because he's a black man? Are people upset because he's a young, rising star? Should people NOT make decisions about leadership positions because they fear black people will riot or revolt? Is that really one of the first thoughts that flashes through the minds of those open-minded, color-blind, out-to-help-minorities-and-underprivileged liberals? And do black people really riot like this, at the drop of a hat? Are the DemocRAT Board members, and possibly members of the N&D editorial board, really concerned, thinking, that blacks are first violent and thoughtful only as an after-thought? I'm trying not to read too much into this editorial. I was under the impression, though, from most stories that run in the liberal media, including the N&D, that it was conservative and Republicans that thought so lowly of black people. Seems I was wrong all along.

Is it possible that Sutton was replaced by the majority, who happen to be DEMOCRATS just like Sutton, believed his leadership was just too divisive? Did the majority, who happen to be DEMOCRATS, replace a black man (god forbid!!!) because they didn't think like the N&D editorial board that he is a good, effective leader? Could the majority, who happen to be DEMOCRATS, believe that this move would actually put them in a better position to maintain control after the next election because the Board is actually responsible to the entire county and not just to black voters. After all, when photo id is required, the majority of blacks, we are told, will not be able to vote because they don't know how to get a photo ID or can't afford a photo id. So wouldn't this mean the majority, who happen to be Democrats, know that alienating their base by removing a black man would work to their detriment?

All in all, what appears to have happened is that the majority, who happen to be Demoncrats, decided that Sutton was not the best leader for now. It's just such a shame that the N&D, and it appears others, take issue with this decision because Sutton is a BLACK MAN FIRST, and a Board member and Demoncrat second. It appears the color-blind N&D editorial board, and others, believe his color should have been taken into account first, and the decision to keep him as chair simply because he's black. Wow. Wouldn't it be nice if the people who claimed to be color-blind actually were color-blind. I wouldn't know how to react to those people. I'd probably welcome them to the conservative/Republican/Libertarian side of the aisle. I won't hold my breath waiting for the color-blind liberals to actually start acting & thinking in color-blind terms. When I see a black person, my first thought has nothing to do with the color of their skin. Maybe, if I want to be a good liberal, I need to start looking at skin color first, then bother deciding if I want to get to know the person inside the skin. I don't think this is a good step, but maybe liberals wouldn't hate me so much if I looked at people the same way they do.

December 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm
Vicky Hutter says:

If the ousted Chairman of the Wake County School Board was endorsing the potentially damaging policy favored by the current Superintendent of Wake County Schools then he needed to be replaced. The School Superintendent needs to be removed from office and any of his staff involved in attempting to implement the "no failing grades" in the public schools should also be removed.

The answer to the problem of school dropouts of minority children is NOT awarding passing grades to every child regardless of effort or performance. All that policy would achieve would be to make diplomas from the high schools in Wake County meaningless for the graduate to further his or her education.

Social promotion does not work and certainly does not increase the individual's self-esteem. Much more efficacious and effective strategies to decrease school drop-outs is for parents to be interested in and supportive of education and who expect their child to apply himself to the best of his ability. Parents must value education and support teachers.

Contrary to the misinformation from the current Superintendent of Wake County Schools claiming the proposed policy would help Wake County students, programs which had extremely high expectations and confidence that the student could learn and master the material have demonstrated beyond a doubt that children live up to the expectations others have of them---expect nothing of someone or think the person cannot learn and you will make it happen.

The School Board has a fiduciary responsibility to all Wake County students and their parents to prevent misguided and damaging policies from being implemented.

They hire, evaluate and fire school superintendents; they elect the chair of the school board--bravo if they are carrying out their responsibilities to the children, parents and taxpayers of Wake County.