John Tedesco

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John Tedesco
John Tedesco.jpg
Candidate for
North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction
Bachelor'sThiel College
Date of birthJanuary 20, 1975
ProfessionPresident, NC Center for Education Reform
Campaign website
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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.[1] 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[2], which bills itself as a "catalyst for a powerful transformation of K-12 public education."[3] He is a member of the North Carolina Republican Party, and has emerged as a prominent figure within the Tea Party movement.[4][5]

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.[6] The state and national chapters of the NAACP have routinely criticized Tedesco and the Wake County School Board's recent decisions.[7]


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.[8] 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.[8]

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.[9]


  • B.S. Political Science Public Administration, Thiel College, Greenville, PA

Political career

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.[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

On April 15th, 2010 Tedesco keynoted a large Tea Party rally in downtown Raleigh.[4] 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.



See also: North Carolina down ballot state executive elections, 2012

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,[15] which Tedesco won.[16] 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
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJune Atkinson Incumbent 54.2% 2,336,441
     Republican John Tedesco 45.8% 1,971,049
Total Votes 4,307,490
Election Results via NC State Board of Elections.

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngJohn Tedesco 28.3% 195,352
Green check mark transparent.pngRichard Alexander 24.3% 167,354
Mark Crawford 21.8% 150,404
Ray Martin 13.2% 90,889
David Scholl 12.4% 85,145
Total Votes 689,144
Election Results via The North Carolina Board of Elections.


The official North Carolina State Board of Elections voting guide listed the following endorsements:[17]

  • 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

Campaign donors


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.

See also

External links

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