Wake County Schools

Tedesco responds to concerns about King's legacy in Wake schools

Posted January 17, 2011
Updated January 19, 2011

— Wake County School Board member John Tedesco appeared on the Fox Business Network Monday to defend the board's controversial decision to abandon a long-standing student assignment policy that bussed students to achieve socio-economic diversity in schools.

Many opponents of the school board's decision spoke out against it Monday, calling it a civil rights issue. Monday was a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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.

He said ending diversity in schools is not the goal of a neighborhood schools model and that Wake County is "one of the most integrated and diverse communities in the country right now."

Student achievement, he said, has suffered under the busing program, and underprivileged students would be better served by attending schools closer to home.

"Having a mindset that simply reassigning kids is the answer to education has failed us," Tedesco said. "I think we need new paradigms." (Watch Tedesco on the Willis Report.)

Tedesco on Willis Report Tedesco responds to concerns about King's legacy in Wake schools

School board member Chris Malone echoed Tedesco's call for a renewed focus on student achievement, not diversity.

"We need to find a way to be a little more equitable, spread it around and not deny anybody good basic resources," he said.

Five of the nine seats on the school board will be up for grabs later this year. Four of those seats are currently held by pro-diversity board members. 

Earlier Monday, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker received a standing ovation after criticizing members of the Wake County Board of Education for not upholding the dream and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Speaking to community leaders at the 31st Annual Triangle Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, the mayor called four school board members “way off track” for moving ahead with a neighborhood schools assignment policy.

“This is a civil rights issue. We all have roles to play in this,” Meeker said. “Our community simply needs to stand up and get the board back on track.”

Meeker, like his wife, school board member Dr. Anne McLaurin, has long opposed the controversial and divisive measure that was narrowly adopted last year by the Republican-backed board majority.

Meeker slams school board members Meeker slams school board members

In speaking about King’s legacy and fight for racial equality, Gov. Bev Perdue alluded to the school assignment controversy, saying King’s work is not finished in Wake County and that “we need to keep on pushing.”

“I believe that everything that we have and hope to be is defined by education,” she said. “I believe that the only way to give a young girl or young boy a chance to be somebody is through a free public education that works for all of the people.”

Malone said Meeker and Perdue used the King holiday as rally cries for elections in the fall.


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  • me2you Jan 19, 2011

    He did a great job!!!

  • dhowell Jan 19, 2011

    OK. lets get politics and the liberal Hollywood crowd out of our hair and let the school board do what it needs to do.
    Think about how much money is being spent needlessly because of a few who want "diversity" at any cost.'

  • songsmithdan Jan 19, 2011

    "free public education" Now the governor just proved what the real problem is. She thinks public education is "FREE". The State of NC is virtually bankrupt and she can't grasp the concept.

    The wheels are coming off of the gravy train, government employees have been riding. The overseers of government coffers can't get a grasp on their addiction. Like addicts, they don't care! They just want to get a quick fix. To hell with tomorrow, to hell with any real future for the kids that depend on public education, to hell with any painful solutions, just give them a quick fix.

    The sad thing is, the hundreds of thousands saved on busing will still find them squandering the savings somewhere else.

    It's strange how private sector employees will take a pay deduction just to keep a job. But government workers? Nah, they have a Dr Drew's, rehab breakdown if you even hint at it.

    Entitlement greed is NC's greatest dilemma. Even popularity entitlement for Meeker's, Raleigh.

  • dlb800 Jan 19, 2011

    If you save money on busing, maybe a few teachers will keep their jobs? Or do you think the money for schools should be endless?

    If you are against this new change, then be my guest and pay the cost of busing kids all over the county.

  • chattycat Jan 19, 2011

    Not a racial or civil rights issue at all. This is about common sense, saving money, saving the environment, and keeping kids in the neighborborhoods where they live! I followed a school bus very early this am from one side of Cary, thru Apex and it appeared to be travelling out of Apex. Absolutely ludicrous! Waste waste waste of gas, time and resources.

  • bmg379 Jan 19, 2011

    when I went to Millbrook Middle school in 74-75 and east millbrook in 76 we hardly had a handfull of black students at the school

  • bmg379 Jan 19, 2011

    Show me what percentage of minority kids graduate and finish and pay for college,student loans and get a real job in the real world making over $10 an hour,I want to see those statistics

  • todd23 Jan 18, 2011

    Here is Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy, that "man be judged by the content of his charactor [rather] than the color of his skin." Shipping kids all over the county based on race is completely counter intuitive to that legacy. The board members are appropriately representing their constituents' wishes to have their children go to nearby schools. End of story.

    The end road of "socioeconomic diversity" actually hinders qualified students from acceptance into state colleges. Colleges gladly accept minority students whose school transcripts may not match up with those of qualified white students. In turn, they deny thousands of white applicants simply based on their skin color, because they're not a minority. Now THAT goes against MLK's legacy.

  • anne53ozzy Jan 18, 2011

    There has been and has continued to be a migration of people from other areas of the country to this area who may or may not understand the history and culture of this region. The availabilty of land for both business and residendtial development has given us a multicultural populace, in a sense. It is yet again, it seems, a group that wants to yield to protection rather than intergration of its core values, unless they are only those of opportunism of less costly places in which to relocate.

  • Garnerwolf1 Jan 18, 2011

    Here, this is from the WCPSS website. You can read between the lines to get the rest of the story:
    "The Wake County Public School System's long-standing tradition of excellence began as a result of a trend that affected many U.S. cities three decades ago. As Raleigh's urban area declined in the early 1970's, families migrated to the area's increasingly affluent suburbs resulting in the closing of several downtown schools. The community was divided, and leaders sought long-term solutions to educational and economic challenges that inhibited Wake County's progress."