"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 21, 2011

Will a Koch Brothers Handout Save John Tedesco's House?

It's been quite a week for Little John.  On MLK Day, the same day Raleigh's mayor and North Carolina's governor were attending a Martin Luther King Prayer breakfast and calling out Tedesco and the Gang of Five as "way off track," Tedesco was appearing on Fox Business Network, where he defended the re-segregation school policy as good business
. . . Tedesco told Gerri Willis of the Willis Report that the decision is primarily a "money-saving issue."

"We spend $72 million a year on a fleet of 925 buses for transportation... We spend a lot of time getting 5 and 6-year-old kids on bus stops at 5:30, 6:30 in the morning on one side of the county to commute an hour to the other side of the county with 10 kids on a bus here and 10 kids on a bus there, so it's somewhat inefficient," Tedesco told the Willis Report.
Tedesco did not tell Gerri, nor did she ask, how many Wake County children were bused more than five miles from their homes during the days of socioeconomic integration.  Or who was bused.  From the NYTimes in 2005:
Of the county's 139 elementary, middle and high schools, all but 22 are within the 40 percent guideline, according to the district's data. Some are onlya few percentage points above the guideline, while others are significantly higher.

The overwhelming majority of the 120,000 children in the district go either to a local school or a school of their choice, officials said. Slightly more than 85 percent of students attend a school within five miles of home and another 12 percent or so voluntarily attend magnet or year-round schools.  

Although the figures can be calculated many ways, Mr. McNeal says about 2.5 percent - or about 3,000 children - are assigned to schools for economic balance or to accommodate the district's growth by filling new schools or easing overcrowding in existing ones.

Most of those bused for economic diversity tend to be low-income, he said. 

Then Tuesday, Tedesco and the Gang of 5 (or is it now 4?) were mock-rified by Stephen Colbert's withering satire during "The Word" segment.  Tedesco responded with the following statement, which sounds like something from the Koch-funded John Locke Foundation think tank (think John Birch Society without hoods):
"While it was skewed and certainly out of context I thought it was hilarious and ultimately I think we need to laugh sometimes. In this heated climate we've recently heard calls to move beyond the rhetoric and I think when we laugh together we can begin to talk together," said Tedesco.
Too bad Tedesco doesn't think we can go to school together. 

But then, Tedesco's world is quite integrated enough without the noisy and nasty poor causing trouble for white children trying to get an education.  No doubt Tedesco's new superintendent (and Fox News commentator), General Tata, would agree.

And then on Wednesday, the Progressive Pulse reported that Tedesco's home in Garner, NC is about to foreclosed:
In court filings, Tedesco’s Garner home on Rock Fish Lane had foreclosure proceedings started against it on Jan. 4, according to public court documents found in the Wake County Courthouse. A May 4th hearing is scheduled at the Wake County Clerk of Courts office, with a foreclosure sale date on the courthouse steps taking place later in the month, on May 25.
Apparently, when Tedesco stepped forward to become a full-time mouthpiece of the Koch Brothers' resegregation initiative, he expected something more than the $11,000 he collects from being a school board member.  And so he gave up his day job with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, hoping perhaps that his media attention would bring cash as well as stardom.

And then yesterday, Wake County Republican Chair, Susan Bryant, went on the record blaming liberals for Tedesco losing his job and his subsequent financial meltdown:
The Wake County chapter of the Republican Party is asking for financial help for school board member John Tedesco. 

In an email sent out Thursday, Wake County Republican chair Susan Bryat says Tedesco had to leave his job at Big Brothers and Big Sisters after he was elected because "liberals threatened to cut off funding for the organization unless he was fired."

"As a result, he fell behind in his mortgage payments and now faces foreclosure," said Bryat.

She also calls out WRAL-TV for "compound[ing] the tragedy by accusing him of fiscal mismanagement."

Tedesco is one of the members of the school board majority that voted to do away with Wake County's socioeconomic diversity policy in favor of sending students to schools closer to their homes.

Tedesco's school board job only pays about $11,000 a year.

"He lost his job because he was doing what we elected him to do. Why not show him your support by sending him a birthday card and gift to let him know how much we appreciate his sacrifice, and help him when he needs it the most," said Bryat.
Here is what happened last April when he quit his job:
Tedesco worked as chief development officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters for a little more than three years. Although he earlier acknowledged that opponents of his school-board policies had contacted his employer and threatened to withhold donations, Tedesco said Friday that those threats were politically motivated and those who made them had not donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters in the past.
Since the election and his ascension in the public eye, Tedesco said, no one had pulled donations from the organization.
And now, today, Little John emerges magnanimous, urging those millions of donations to be given to Big Brothers Big Sisters:
It looks like Wake County school board member John Tedesco will be avoiding any potential ethics concerns by turning down gifts being solicited in his name by the Wake County Republican Party.

As noted in today's article, Tedesco said he didn't know in advance that Wake GOP Chairwoman Susan Bryant would send out the request Thursday. Tedesco said people should instead send gifts and donations to his former employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.

“While I appreciate their generous offer, I can’t accept it,” Tedesco said. “I know there are many other people having difficulties right now.”

But Tedesco said he'll definitely like to hear about any potential job offers he can explore.

Legally, there would have been nothing stopping him from taking any gifts.
Any potential jobs out there??  Could there be a future John at News Corp. after the next school board election?  How about the guy who gets coffee for Joel Klein?  Until then, stay tuned.

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