|North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction|
|Date of birth||January 20, 1975|
|Profession||President, NC Center for Education Reform|
John Thomas Tedesco (born January 20, 1975) was a Republican candidate for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction in the 2012 elections. He currently serves on the Wake County School Board, which oversees the Wake County Public School System. With 147,000 students enrolled in 165 schools as of the 2010-11 academic year, it is the largest public school district in North Carolina and the 16th largest district in the United States. He served as the boards' vice chair in 2011, and currently serves as chairman of the economically disadvantaged students task force. Tedesco presently serves as president and CEO of the North Carolina Center for Education Reform, which bills itself as a "catalyst for a powerful transformation of K-12 public education." He is a member of the North Carolina Republican Party, and has emerged as a prominent figure within the Tea Party movement.
Tedesco's policies on the Wake County School Board have sparked state and national debates on the consideration of socio-economic diversity when assigning students to schools, which have drawn both national praise and criticism alike. The state and national chapters of the NAACP have routinely criticized Tedesco and the Wake County School Board's recent decisions.
Tedesco was born in New York City, but moved with his family to Pittsburgh at age 5. The oldest of six children, Tedesco has acknowledged that he never had a stable home during his childhood and was considered a "free lunch" child. With his mom a drug addict, Tedesco says he lived in 32 places, including shelters and public housing in New York City and Pittsburgh, before he turned 18. The family lived off food stamps and welfare.
After graduating from high school in 1993, Tedesco worked multiple jobs to save enough money to attend Thiel College in Pennsylvania. To save money during the summer, he says he'd sleep in his car. He received a degree in Political Science in 1998. Among his adversities was surviving an accident that sent his car down a cliff. He said he dragged himself up the embankment to get help. He was in rehabilitation for a year.
He went on to work at Pace University in New York before being appointed city manager of Highlands, New Jersey in 2000. During Tedesco's tenure as manager, he frequently sparred with the influential Communication Workers of America Local 1036 labor union in New Jersey. Highlands, New Jersey is also notable for playing an instrumental role in assisting with the aftermath of 9/11. Tedesco ran the day-to-day operations of Highlands when it became a central point for thousands of evacuees fleeing Lower Manhattan by ferry after the terrorist attacks. The town also served as a central point for supplies and personnel traveling into ground zero.
Following his tenure in Highlands, Tedesco took on the role of director of development for Ocean's Harbor House in Tom's River, New Jersey, which provides a safe haven annually for 8,000 homeless and abused young people along the Jersey Shore. He helped his family relocate to Wake County, North Carolina in 2004 after his mother died. Tedesco says, he regularly visited the area to attend school meetings for his two sisters, who are both deaf, and his youngest brother, who has learning disabilities. Tedesco decided to move to Wake County himself three years later to take a job with the national non-profit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
On January 1, 2012 Tedesco married Jennifer Janise Tedesco following a lengthy courtship.
- B.S. Political Science Public Administration, Thiel College, Greenville, PA
Wake County School Board (2009 - Present)
Tedesco began his political career in Garner, North Carolina in 2009 when he was elected to the Wake County School Board. Tedesco placed first on the October Ballot, ousting long-time incumbent Horace Tart. He then went on to win the runoff election in November beating school teacher Cathy Truitt. During his runoff campaign, Tedesco won the endorsement of popular Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
Early into Tedesco's term on the school board, multiple critics of his policies emerged. Notable Duke University historian and author Timothy Tyson attacked John Tedesco at a large NAACP rally in downtown Raleigh. Tyson argued that Tedesco's move toward neighborhood schools in Wake County can be traced to efforts to resist school integration. He repeatedly belittled Tedesco in his comments. The NAACP equated Tedesco and the Wake School Board majority to the Mafia, noting that they are not natives of North Carolina. Supporters of the board majority took it to be a slur on Tedesco, and Chairman Ron Margiotta's Italian American heritage.
On April 15th, 2010 Tedesco keynoted a large Tea Party rally in downtown Raleigh. The tax-day protest, organized by Triangle Conservatives Unite, featured a panel of speakers that also included multiple candidates for congress and state offices. The Capitol Police estimated about 1,000 people gathered on the lawn of the North Carolina State Capitol building.
Tedesco ran for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012. He faced Richard Alexander, Mark Crawford, Ray Martin and David Scholl in the Republican primary on May 8. Since no candidate won more than 40 percent the top two vote-getters, Alexander and Tedesco, went head-to-head in a runoff election on July 17, which Tedesco won. He lost to incumbent June Atkinson, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election on November 6, 2012.
|North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction General Election, 2012|
|Democratic||June Atkinson Incumbent||54.2%||2,336,441|
|Election Results via NC State Board of Elections.|
|North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican Primary, 2012|
|Election Results via The North Carolina Board of Elections.|
The official North Carolina State Board of Elections voting guide listed the following endorsements:
- Representative Paul "Skip" Slam — NCGA
- Kaye McGarry, (2 Term Member) CMS BOE
- Ron Margiotte (2 Term Member ) WCPSS BOE
- Paul Daniels (current member) Guilford BOE
- A. L. "Buddy" Collins (current member) W5E55 BOE (Board of Education)
- Don Hayes, Chairman New Hanover BOE
- Lisa Baldwin, Buncombe BOE
Tedesco lost the election to the position of North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2012. During that election cycle, Tedesco raised a total of $87,362.
|North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction 2012 election - Campaign Contributions|
|Top contributors to John Tedesco's campaign in 2012|
|North Carolina Republican Party||$10,400|
|Robert L. Luddy||$10,000|
|Amanda Joy Pope||$2,000|
|James A. Pope||$2,000|
|Total Raised in 2012||$87,362|
|Source:Follow the Money|
- North Carolina down ballot state executive elections, 2012
- North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Official campaign website
- John Tedesco on Facebook
- John Tedesco on Twitter
- John Tedesco on YouTube
- Tedesco's answers to Indy Week's candidate questionnaire
- Campaign contributions: 2012
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Wake County now has more students than Philadelphia schools," November 29, 2011
- Educate NC.org
- NBC17.com, "John Tedesco named vice chair of Wake County School Board," June 21, 2011
- News & Observer, "Tedesco speaks at Tea Party Rally," April 15, 2010
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Tax Day Tea Party speech," April 26, 2011
- WRAL.com, "Schools debate points spotlight on Wake," July 22, 2012
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Tedesco responds to NAACP attacks on him," June 23, 2012
- News & Observer, "Upbringing drives Wake's point man on school zoning," August 22, 2010
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Tedesco juggling marriage and student assignment,"December 23, 2011
- Wake County Board of Elections, "Official results: October 6, 2009," accessed June 5, 2012
- ABC local.go.com, "Sheriff, mayor endorse Tedesco," October 29, 2009
- Coastal News 14, "Truitt shows support for Tedesco after District 2 runoff," November 3, 2009
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Tim Tyson mocks John Tedesco, Art Pope and Bob Luddy," June 22, 2010
- News & Observer WakeEd blog, "Margiotta's Italian American heritage," August 19, 2010
- The Daily Reflector, "GOP NC schools chief: Tedesco, Alexander advance," May 9, 2012
- News & Observer, "Forest, Tedesco win as voters set November ballot," July 17, 2012
- North Carolina State Board of Elections, "2012 General Election Voter Guide," accessed September 25, 2012