It is easy to discern why Smithfield-Selma High School principal Michael Taylor snubbed Neuse Charter School, which wanted nothing more than to send its seniors to a college fair at SSS.
In general, educators in traditional public schools dislike their charter school cousins because they’re special in the eyes of the state, exempt from many of the rules that burden traditional schools.
It’s possible too that Mr. Taylor dislikes Neuse Charter because that school has lured some high-performing students who would otherwise be performing well – and reflecting well – at SSS.
But if Mr. Taylor thinks the public cheered his snub of Neuse Charter, he is blind to popular sentiment. The fact that Neuse Charter has a waiting list for admission suggests the school enjoys the public’s support, not its disdain. If Mr. Taylor needs proof of his miscalculation, he need only read the letter elsewhere on this page that describes his action as petty. That letter, by the way, is from Durwood Stephenson, a highly-regarded Smithfield businessman and a former member of the N.C. Board of Transportation.
According to Johnston Superintendent of Schools Ed Croom, Mr. Taylor was within his discretion to say no to Neuse Charter. Dr. Croom’s abdication of leadership on this matter is perhaps a topic for another day. What’s important to note is that if Mr. Taylor resents Neuse Charter for luring away top students, his problem is with SSS, not Neuse Charter. Which is to say Mr. Taylor needs to assess why students and their parents prefer Neuse Charter over SSS and then work to make SSS just as attractive.
The irony is that SSS is doing just that, launching the county’s first International Baccalaureate program. Mr. Taylor’s treatment of Neuse Charter needlessly takes attention away from Smithfield-Selma’s improvement effort.
The good news is SSS is now saying Neuse Charter students can attend the school’s college fair; they’ll just come in shifts. But that doesn’t absolve Mr. Taylor of his original snub. He should have been willing to accommodate Neuse Charter in the first place, because all that should matter is what’s best for students.