John Tedesco is a passionate advocate for teachers. In 2009, before John's elected leadership in Wake County, the school system experienced the first round of recessionary cuts in the amount of $22 million. At that time district leaders cut 900 teachers. John said no more. In 2010 & 2011 Wake experienced nearly an additional $100 million in lost revenue. Wake Democrat Commissioner, Stan Norwalk, challenged Tedesco to claim the schools would cut thousands of teacher jobs as was occurring across the state. Tedesco said NO. Through hard work, with surgical precision, Tedesco and team protected all teachers and even added teachers without asking Commissioners or taxpayers for additional resources.
John Tedesco is the skilled administrator and leader who knows how to save thousands of teachers their jobs in these tight times and actually has. It is that bold leadership, experienced in dealing with hundreds of millions of dollars in public resources, that our education system needs today. John is also a strong political leader with the respect of our legislators and who is on the same page as Pat McCrory on the improvements in education that our state needs. He will not be marginalized in his role, and he will ensure North Carolina's teachers and schools are positioned for success.
Recently, the State Board of Education highlighted that one out of eight teachers are now leaving the field in NC. The most frequent complaint we hear about is the constant and increased burden added from the Raleigh bureaucracy. Teachers are being asked to do more with less, conform to ever changing standards, pushed into high stakes testing, and filling out more forms and reports for Raleigh than actually teaching. It is taking a toll on our educators. A recent letter from one of our NC teachers has made national news as she outright quits and details why in a cry for change. John Tedesco understands how our current leadership at DPI has failed our teachers and will work to empower them. John will get the bureaucrats out of the classrooms so our teachers can do what they do best - teach.
When it comes to making positive reforms to our education system some issues surrounding our teachers can pull us apart. On one hand, teachers are a national treasure. As individuals they are invaluable; so many of them are dedicated professionals who bring out the best in our children. On the other hand, teachers’ unions/associations have protected failed policies and practices placing roadblocks to positive change. We have to be able to separate this in the debate to improve public education. Teachers have to be at the table and a part of the conversation.
We need to end “last-in, first-out” policies (seniority based layoffs that favor tenured teachers over more effective teachers). Many young and very effective teachers are pushed out each year across North Carolina because of policies like these. Nothing demoralizes a good teacher more than having to work tirelessly next to a bad teacher, and a year in front of an ineffective teacher can leave students behind for life.
Our teachers need to be supported and empowered. Too often our state education leaders make decisions with great impact to teachers but little input. We are constantly seeing standards, systems, and practices change; effectively moving the goal-line without the appropriate professional development and support our teachers need. In addition, we see the bureaucracy at the federal and state level strangle a teacher’s ability to actually teach. Our systems push teachers into a “teach to the test” culture, while asking them to be everything to everyone and bogging them down in processes and paperwork.
Further, we need to build on opportunities for our teachers. We need to expand opportunities for career teachers to grow as Mentor Teachers and Master Teachers. While we understand that most teachers enter the profession to serve, we should be willing to serve those who excel in their performance with merit-based pay opportunities. In any other profession respect for hard work and results earns more than an attaboy; it comes with increased pay and opportunities. Our teachers deserve no less.