Local Politics

Wake assignment debate gets hearing at candidate forum

Posted October 15, 2012
Updated October 16, 2012

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— In a forum Monday night at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Raleigh, the two major party candidates for state superintendent sought to differentiate themselves based on experience.

The challenger, John Tedesco, painted himself as a fresh look at the long-standing goal of improving North Carolina's schools. He pointed to his opponent's two terms in office and long career in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as a disadvantage in a changing environment. 

"If you do what you always do, you get what you always get," Tedesco said.

Incumbent June Atkinson pulled no punches in answering his challenge. His experience on the Wake County Board of Education, she said, should not be a selling point for voters. 

"My opponent has a cloud of chaos around him," she said, referring to Tedesco's role in the back-and-forth battle over student assignment in the state's largest school district.

The long-standing Wake County policy of busing students so that schools maintain a socio-economically diverse population, ended by Tedesco and a Republican board majority that came to power in 2009, remains a factor as that district tries to figure out a replacement that satisfies parents, school leaders and legal challenges.

"I support kids going to school in their neighborhood," Tedesco said. John Tedesco Superintendent candidates differ in experience

"I find it important kids learn to work with people who do not look like them," Atkinson countered.

The pair agreed that control of schools should be largely managed locally, and that teachers deserve to be better paid. 

Tedesco argued that, as a Republican, he'd have better cooperation from the GOP-led state legislature and noted that Republican Pat McCrory leads in polls as next governor of North Carolina.

"They know I am honest and straight-forward," Atkinson said, claiming that partisanship would not inhibit her ability to work with other state leaders.

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  • superman Oct 17, 10:32 a.m.

    The last bond issue was for 1 billion dollars and now they need more money. Schools are now empty about 20% of the time. Make every school year round and they could save 200 million easy and simple. If the next bond issue is for 1 billion that is another 200 million they couldd save. That would amount to somewhere close to 400 million. Year round doesnt save on salaries, admin, utilies etc. but it certainly cuts down on the cost of buying land and building new schools. If you own rental property you certainly wouldnt rent it out to someone for 12 months and only expect 10 months rent. The school spends about 3 million every day so the school is big business. They need to start exercising financial responsibilty to the tax payers.

  • gabi Oct 17, 9:12 a.m.

    Please, dear God.... do NOT vote Tedesco into the state superintendent job. He got on the Wake Co. school board as a way of furthering his political career. He knows NOTHING about running a school system. Pleasepleaseplease do NOT put this man in a position to have ANY say over the state's educational policies. At all.

  • ConservativeVoter Oct 16, 4:30 p.m.

    "Student will have to be bused so just get over it and adjust. Dont make no difference what the plan is-no school should have empty seats. Your child attending school closest to your home depends on two important factors 1) the capacity of the school 2) the number of children in that age group in the area. In our small subdivision of about 30 homes every student has either graduated from HS or is attending HS. No students are in grades 1-8. How do you fill up empty seats in schools unless you bus? If you live in an area with a large number of kids in the same age group--someone is going to have to be bused. - superman"

    You're right, busing is needed.

    But we don't need busing of kids across town strictly for diversity purposes like we used to have.

    Wake County use to bus kids from Southeast Raleigh all over Wake County for strictly purposes of diversity.

  • ConservativeVoter Oct 16, 4:21 p.m.

    The school board in Wake County needs to learn that the only job of the schools is to educate the students.

    It is not the job of the schools to fix societies ills through social re-engineering programs including the failed socio-economic diversity (race) based busing program.

  • superman Oct 16, 4:12 p.m.

    Student will have to be bused so just get over it and adjust. Dont make no difference what the plan is-no school should have empty seats. Your child attending school closest to your home depends on two important factors 1) the capacity of the school 2) the number of children in that age group in the area. In our small subdivision of about 30 homes every student has either graduated from HS or is attending HS. No students are in grades 1-8. How do you fill up empty seats in schools unless you bus? If you live in an area with a large number of kids in the same age group--someone is going to have to be bused.

  • ConservativeVoter Oct 16, 4:04 p.m.

    Other than the election before last, the Wake County school board has been controlled by a group of partisan Democrats. WRAL never call them partisan Democrats because they supported the same liberal agenda that WRAL supported. When the Republicans ran against the Democrats election before last, WRAL labeled them Partisan Republicans and Tea Party members to scare people into not voting for them.

  • superman Oct 16, 3:35 p.m.

    Debbie and Johnny are a pair. Both of them are not qualified to run a 3rd class dog fight. We need a state auditor who is a CPA and a state supt. who can read and "rite" and keep his finances straight. Not sure who is behind them and providing the money but it sure aint donations from the public.

  • Blindman Oct 16, 3:29 p.m.

    Thank God we have all these racists. Without race we would have nothing to talk about. You pick the color because it exists on both sides. Get over yourselves.

  • Whosays Oct 16, 3:24 p.m.

    I think we need a whole new school board, Wake County School board sucks, its not just Tedesco.

  • sclarkguy Oct 16, 3:04 p.m.

    I grew up in Central FL back in the 80's; an area that knew a little something about population growth. I remember the same type thing - bussed to downtown tampa to go to middle school when there were easily a dozen schools closer. Thankfully, at least it was my whole neighborhood that got bussed like that. .so I was still with my neighbors. They ended that pretty quickly and started building new school where the new neighborhoods were going. Honestly.. it seemed to work, but I was a kid. One gripe I do have about all this bussing talk; is that it really sounds racist. Like, there's no such thing as poor white kids.. or wealthy minorities.

    I've talked with Plenty of teachers, and a pattern emerged: Regardless of race, kids that had parents at home, helping with homework, going to conferences, making sure the kids studied... well.. those kids are a pleasure to have.. again REGARDLESS of race.

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