What was John Tedesco trying to say?



John Tedesco
  • from WRAL online
  • John Tedesco
Paraphrasing Anatole France and John Tedesco, I believe Tedesco's point last night at the Wake Board of Education meeting was that by the majesty of the law as France famously explained it, rich and poor alike enjoy an equal right to sleep under bridges, steal bread, and attend schools in their respective communities.

Thus, Tedesco cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which declared "separate but equal" schools to be inherently unequal and unconstitutional, as justification for giving poor kids in low-income Southeast Raleigh neighborhoods and rich kids in Prestonwood or Brier Creer the same "equal right" to go to a neighborhood school. There must be no more "forced busing" of poor kids out to the rich kids' schools, Tedesco declared.

A woman got up later and denounced Tedesco's remarks as "Orwellian," as in George Orwell's novel "1984" — and indeed, if you can (mis)read the Brown case as justifying separate and unequal neighborhood schools, then you probably have fallen down Orwell's memory hole.

H/t to Rob Schofield at NC Policy Watch for transcribing Tedesco's little speech.

So what we’ve done in this county at some time now, is told many of our children and many of our families even if they live near a school, because their mom and dad doesn’t have enough money in their pocket, they’re not welcome to go to school with their friends and their neighbors. And I just don’t find that fair. I find that inherently unfair. That if a section of children should exceed that fifty per cent or fifty-one per cent or fifty-two percent, that we have to tell that two per cent ‘you got to get on a forced bus ride out of town cause you’re not welcome in your neighborhood.’”

You can also see and hear it on the WRAL website. Tedesco starts in at about 31:45. But if you have time, the entire segment — which is the debate leading to the final vote to eliminate diversity from Policy 6200, the student assignment policy — is worth seeing and pondering.

I'll have more to say about where the school board is these days soon.

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