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Art Pope the "architect" of the new school board?

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Did conservative businessman and former state legislator Art Pope play a bigger role in electing the new Wake County school board majority than has been previously known?

As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, Pope gets a lot of credit for the election results in an Oct. 7 e-mail message sent from Wake County GOP fundraising chairman Marc Scruggs to school board member Ron Margiotta.

“I am fairly pleased with the elections yesterday — especially with the school board,” Scruggs writes in an e-mail message obtained following a public records request. “Art Pope’s plan (that) the GOP implemented worked very well — and THANK YOU for your help and service.”

Scruggs goes on to say that Pope will be the "architect" in what would turn out to be John Tedesco's successful runoff election.

Pope and Scruggs couldn't be reached for the article. Margiotta, now the board chairman, said he barely remembered the e-mail message.

Critics of the new board have argued that there are people pulling the strings of the new board majority. Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of the liberal N.C. Policy Watch, said in a column last week that "it’s not hard to see the influence of Art Pope and the groups he funds on the new board’s operations."

The year-end campaign finance reports could shed some additional light on the issue after they're filed.

Here's the text of the e-mail message from Scruggs to Margiotta that I'll post as a PDF later:

Subject: Run-off

Hello Ron:
I am fairly pleased with the elections yesterday — especially with the school board. Art Pope’s plan the GOP implemented worked very well — and THANK YOU for your help and service.

We are going to try to raise some money to help Tedesco win his run-off for the school board and the other Wake County Candidatessic in Cary, Fuquay and Garner.

We don’t have a solid game plan yet, but Art will be the architect. I am not soliciting $$$, but merely asking for permission to use your name on a fundraiser invitation as a host/co-host — however it is designed. I intend to include all other GOP Honorees and elected officials as well.

Be glad to share with you before we send anything. I understand if you feel some conflict. Again, thanks for your help and service!!!

Marc Scruggs
Wake GOP Finance Chair


Click here to view Scruggs' e-mail message. 


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I take Offense

Keung, quotes in Tommy's article that were missing from me were:
I never met Art Pope - Never received a dollar from him. And wasnt even sure if and how he may be related to Claude Pope.

I had organized a group of dedicated volunteers who believed in me to take on lead roles in our campaign. I hired NO Consultants (like my two lead opponents), and served personally as Campaign Manager. While I did not (and will not) shy away from my Republican values, our team was mixed of Democrats and Republicans and Independents. WE worked our tail off!!! After being outspent 2-1 in the Oct. race by both my two lead opponents - I beat them both by more than 2-1 (so I doubt I would of needed to do anything different for the Nov. race to secure 37 more votes).

Quoted to me from the camps of my opponent - "The X factor was John Tedesco's work ethic - he was everywhere morning, noon, and night for months and months. The guy didnt sleep." I went against the grain of what others suggested on numerous occassions. I even attended the CCCAC and RWCA forums, and talked with fellow bloggers here, and gave out my personal number to 20,000 to field Q&A.

I controlled my message, stayed true to myself (no flip-flopping), designed my own pieces, coordinated my leadership teams and their assigned roles. No disrespect to Mr. Pope, but I doubt any of them know Art Pope any more than I do. The hard work of these people, and my own sweat and tears, and hundreds of truly dedicated volunteers, united with the values of our community to say loudly that they wanted change.

I thank God's grace and ALL these wonderful people because their shear will secured DOUBLE voter turnout and for me nearly 77% of that vote. This was more than any of previous District 2 winners and any of the 2009 winners in any district. This was more votes (thus more of a mandate) than any of the people who were elected before to implement these crazy practices and policies that we are about to change.

Again I thank all of our campaign leadership team and volunteers for making our campaign such a success. It was you and NO one else.

John Tedesco

Student Achievement

The new board touts that they are focused on "Student Achievement" on not on "Diversity", hence the need to end the "diversity policy."

Based on the data I see from NC School Report Cards, most of the Wake Co. schools that are high poverty are below the Wake Co. and State Average in EVERY Category including black, white, non free-reduced lunch, free reduced lunch, etc. 

It is obvious most of these high poverty schools are failing miserably and the new board is proposing to improve student achievement by creating more of these high poverty schools. 

How do you defend this when there is a mountain of data about PUBLIC SCHOOLS that says that high poverty schools are bad for student achievement?  And, please don't throw up the KIPP schools that are careful to hide the fact that they have a dropout rate of 60% or higher. 

You can't say that the return to neighborhood schools is about student achievement when all of the data shows that in high poverty neighborhoods it is a guarantee of failure. 

It's not about student achievement.  It's about a campaign promise.  The new board needs to have the guts to tell the truth.    


Hopefully you will continue to respond and answer questions from all voters.  I know myself and other neighbors have contacted you AFTER the election with no response.

Very Accessible

First off I am likely one of the more accessible community leaders.  Mr. Hui and others can likely tell you that as well. Several on here have asked to meet with me and have. Some to tell me I am wrong and some to say I am right, but all were heard. Actually, I wouldnt mind the chance to talk to two others (user1234 and Bob_Sconce who have both said thought provoking things at times that I would like to hear more about).  

My apologies if I had not had a chance to reply to an email from you or your friends specificallly. In my first 19 days in office I have had hundreds and hundreds of emails, letters at home, and phone calls. Seeing how this is essentially a volunteer position without support staff, and that I have to maintian my day job aiding local at-risk youth, I have not responded to everyone just yet. I do reply to just as many opposing view points as supporters. I have multiple email accounts, facebook, twitter, Linked-in, and am doing my best to keep up with all of it. I try to respond to the more unique, time sensitive, or direct emails first. But I do get to most of them.

I do open myself up to all views and share coffee or phone calls with those of opposing views regularly. Those at the Diversity forum the other day were surprised I took questions and stayed in the parking lot till hours later fielding more.  If you would like to reach me the best way is to call my cell. I have posted it here before and will do so again.  Here you and the whole world go - 919-701- 9253. It is not uncommon for me to have meetings from 7am till 9/10 pm - so bare with me. If I am in a meeting please leave a message with your number (please say it twice) and your name, and I will call you back ASAP. Sometimes in 10 minutes but almost always within 48hrs.  This is the best way for anyone to get me and sometimes emails do sit for a while.


John Tedesco


It's only been three weeks

It's only been three weeks in office, but Tedesco is among the more accessible school board members I've dealt with over the past 10 years.

This might help give perspective about how much people are trying to contact board members. Ron Margiotta had 1,800 e-mails on his school board account from October through Dec. 3. A lot of them were from magnet parents. It's safe to say the board members have gotten a lot more mesages in the past three weeks.

Maybe it's time

for a diversity intervention for you and your 12 friends!

I honestly am not trying to

I honestly am not trying to be s smarta##, but what would be the point of responding to you? Mr. Tedesco has very effectively articulated the change he seeks, I very seriously doubt anything you have to say is going to alter his committment to that change.

Yes u are

You always are woodstock along with G88 and a few others.  You have no interest in bringing anything constructive to the table.

It would be nice for him to acknowledge the receipt of a 1/2 dozen that have a different viewpoint.  Of course Ron never responds to differing opinion e-mails either.


Do you have an interest in

Do you have an interest in bringing constructive insight to the table? If so, what is your timeframe for beginning that effort?


The same as your timeframe...


The guy has to be flooded with incoming mail.  I don't expect him to respond to every piece -- that's hardly the best use of his time.  Are you even in his district?  I'd expect Sen. Hagan to respond to me long before I'd expect Sen. Byrd to.

Unlike members of Congress, school board members do not have staff members to respond to all of their mail.


Everyone told me to e-mail during the campaign and ask him his views.  So I did it after...I should expect less of a response.

What does it matter if he is in my district?  I thought everyone wanted people who represented our whole county.

Well put

Thank you for providing this information.

"I went against the grain of what others suggested on numerous occassions."

Keep doing what you believe is right.

"Virtue is not left to stand-alone. He who practices it will have neighbors" - Confucius

So how does it feel

to be mere pawns in the great "southern segregation game." Ironic that the "party of Lincoln or should I say Helms" manipulated a few carpetbaggers' neighborhood campaigns for their own larger purposes. You can deny it all you want, but as I said previously.... you newcomers (less than 20 years in Wake County) just don't get it....
I could be wrong, but I doubt the historic powers (economic,social, and political) are going to allow a few 1000 voters to change the course of history in Wake County without a major fight. THE WAR HAS BEGUN..

I think it should be no

I think it should be no surprise that the recent election resonated with groups like Aryan Nation (of STOP THE HATE - SEGREGATE!) who also believe in sending everyone back to their own neighborhoods.

You and the ex_Yank are

You and the ex_Yank are truely offensive and stupid little men, lacking even the self control to hide the depth of your foolishness from others. Wow!


Well Woodstock, now you finally have someone to relate to...

Hmm, is that really what you

Hmm, is that really what you want to say? LOL


L'u1-x presents us with a very slightly-more mature version of the third grader's retort; "oh, yea? Well... you're a booger-head snot-face!"

Boy, that's truth to power.


user12345, you win the prize no one wants to win:


What, are you on their

What, are you on their mailing list?

War? With whom, the Queen of England?

Lyndon La Rouche was adamant (may still be — you might know?) that the Queen of England (last seen boarding a train, really) was directing an international drug smuggling syndicate and that the Oklahoma bombing was the first strike by the U.K. against the U.S.A.

By U1-x's standards, this is legit, as most adults laugh at the idea. I freely invite u1-x to have fun with that ball of wax.

So, yea, I don't just get it; I don't get crazy talk. Meanwhile, while you call for war, I call on our democratic-republic system of processes for rule.

What is it that you think people don't get?

Do tell me what it is that I don't get because what I do finally get after 15+ years here is that:

Classism and the bigotry of low-expectations are rampant here and academic achievement for ALL students is not the priority among status quo supporters because deep down they do not believe certain demographic groups can achieve at the same level as others.

I only figured that out though in the last two years after I started paying attention to what was really going on here at the local level.

OK here's what you don't get

Let's say we go back to "neighborhood schools (NS)."

Up to this point all "you people" talk about are lofty educational philosophies/ideals, i.e. ED aren't being helped by the present system (low grad rates, etc.) so the alternative...NS... is better.

Let's talk REALITY.... WHO is going to teach in these schools? Successful schools are successful because they have successful teachers whether in affluent or poor neighborhoods....... 

Do you expect "highly qualified" black/Hispanics to help "their people" by going into teaching and volunteering to go to these schools. School can't find them now because corporations hire them to diversify THEIR business work forces....  

You think whites will flock downtown for a $5,000-$10,000 bonus...FORGET IT..it isn't worth the stress from kids and parents who will say "you are not one of us" and when you must deal with so many issues focused in one school....

Maybe YOU will go to Carolina and participate in the TEACH program so you can teach thru the lateral entry program...yeah right.......

You're going to put more $$$ into these schools so that will attract people...maybe 1st year teachers who need a job.....veterans know the game.....$20,000 may draw them there for a year or so.

So you "draft" teachers and admin to go there...the turnover rate will be so high you will accomplish little. 

So you start KIPP schools, charter schools etc. attract students...you will get the students and parents who "care"...the VAST majority of parents are apathetic...so while you may siphon off that "focused" group......you are now left with everyone else who bounce off each other and have no real "role models" in school....

Your simple solutions may help you and your children, which is the whole point of your movement, but educators who have struggled with this problem for decades know it's not the answer. Oh, of 7-8,000 teachers you can find some who support neighborhood schools, but most people in the system know it isn't that easy..

Have you ever considered

Have you ever considered not stereotyping and assuming the worst in people? 

The next time I attend diversity training when they start talking about not stereotyping and prejudging others, I'll tell them they have it all wrong because according to supporters of the WCPSS "diversity" policy, everyone fits into a stereotype and it is all about "your people" and "their people." Personally, I expect people of all races to help others of all races.

I could not teach in WCPSS because dealing with a system so engrained in low-expectations for certain students would put me over the edge. You sound like some of the educators described by the teacher who wrote There Are No Short Cuts.

Lofty philosophies - Sorry, I can't help myself because those were the philosophies used in my high poverty schools, which were not charter schools and they certainly didn't siphon. Those philosophies have a lot to do with why I am no longer low-income.

Why are the VAST majority of parents apathetic here?

Let's talk reality and no real "role models" - is reality expecting that a bouncing student will stop bouncing just because he sees another student not bounce and will through some magical osmosis process change his ways? Talk about "simple solutions" that are not the answer.

Simple solutions - so you consider bussing students for SE balancing a complex solution? That must be why the achievement gap in WCPSS is the biggest in the state - because we've solved issues with our complex bussing solution.

Help me and my children - obviously you know nothing about me or my children. We are already in our neighborhood school and love it. As we LIVE in a diverse area, we are considered "needed" at our school, so likely wouldn't be going anywhere anyway. The only thing I would personally have to gain is if our diverse non-magnet schools were to be treated more equitably with magnets. That's not what motivated to get involved though as I only realized the inequities after getting involved.

I'm involved in this because I was a low-income student, so I get that it isn't easy. I attended an innovative high poverty school. I don't accept we can't reach higher because it is hard work. You can blame that on those lofty philosophies under which I was taught. Also, I don't view people by stereotypes like you do. 


Have you ever considered not stereotyping and assuming the worst in people? 

 He cannot.  I am convinced that without that structure, he would be lost.  Seriously.


It's better because (1) we can expect the children to do at least as well, (2) it's not as expensive in time or money, (3) it doesn't burn political capital that the board could spend on something that actually does work.

Returning poor students to their neighborhood schools, by itself, won't improve their scores.  But, it won't HURT their scores either.  And, it will allow other programs to be focused on them.

You seem especially adept at setting up strawmen and then tearing them down.  Have you ever considered a career in politics?


putting them in "ns" with less effective teachers won't hurt them???

Show me a public school system in this country with over 60-70,00 students (with WCPSS's mix) that has an effective "neighborhood school" system and I might be convinced to run for the board (just kidding).

Please define "other programs..."

Right here in NC, Guilford

Right here in NC, Guilford County schools (69,000 students and neighborhood schools) outperform Wake County in many key areas. For instance, the graduation rate for low-income students in Wake is 54%, in Guilford County it is 72%.


I don't know what "NS" is.  I do know that Charlotte has something closer to neighborhood schools than Wake County does and its poor students tend to do better on state tests than poor students in Wake County schools.   That sounds more effective to me.

I'm not holding Charlotte up as a model, but you asked for examples, and they're one.



putting them in "ns" with less effective teachers won't hurt them??? 

That assumes that the teachers will be less effective than the current situation wherein certain schools are already economically and racially segregated.

read my preivous email

you go to neighborhood schools...enough teachers will bail out/transfer to compromise quality...not necessarily in one year, but over time.....which is how education measures improvement.

School systems are like aircrafts carriers..you change too quickly and things crash....bad and good

WCPSS has some fabulous

WCPSS has some fabulous principals in high ED schools and good teachers like to teach for them. I could name a few but I feel like we shouldn't name names in here. Two elementary principals come to mind immediately. People bail out schools because of low expectations and principals that provide bad leadership--not because the kids are poor.

I agree and I think in some

I agree and I think in some cases they are being underutilized.  One principal I know who has a strong interest in working with low income populations (and has high expectations for them) is at a school that started out at 41% when s/he got there and is now in the mid to high 20s because the low income kids have gotten assigned out.   I know a 20+ year Title 1 teacher who has moved several times just to follow 'her' kids around as they've gotten reassigned.  WCPSS needs to keep these principals, teachers & staff WITH these kids and their families


Jenman, realize that what you speak of doesn't exist according to people like user12345.  No one, parents, schools, teachers, want low income kids so you have to force those kids upon them.  Also, according to supportwcpss it works better when a teacher doesn't specialize in high needs kids and just has a smaller percentage of them mixed in with the rest of the population.  Any benefit that could be gained from these specialized skills or the desire you speak of is completely imaginary.

You know what..

Richard, I think I appreciate woodstock and G88 who are just straight up a$$holes instead of you who go about it in a subtle way with the same result.

Again, you create words where they don't exist.  I never said teachers shouldn't specialize in high needs kids. 

But this incessant spinning of words you do isn't worth responding to anymore. 

So an "a$$hole" is anyone

So an "a$$hole" is anyone who points out the flaws in your agruments and surpasses you in intellect. Got it.



You? Intellect?  You never actually post any content so how can anyone judge yea or nay on the intellect front...

Post something that actually has content and not just some derogatory comment about someone and we might read it.

 Hope you and your brother G88 take a day off from insulting others.

Boy, you really don't pay

Boy, you really don't pay attention, do you?


Gee whiz

I thought he11 had frozen over when it came to G88 and you'd wished him a Merry Christmas.

Oh well, back in the ring y'all go to take another swing.

Didn't say what?

Let's see what you did say:

I don't think people have a good understanding of what it takes to
support these students.  By reducing the number of high resource
students you hopefully allow teachers to spread the effort out.

So you said spread the effort out.  How is spreading effort out any different than not specializing?

It is always nice to be told I am wordsmithing or spinning by you because I know then that I am actually showing you and the rest of the world what utter nonsense you try and pass off as reasoned opinions.


Let me try simplifying for you.  It a difference between a class full of high rish kids with a TON of specialized resources (and cost), or spread out with specialized resources spread out across classes.

It sounds you believe we should group like students together and place appropriate resources with them.  So we have the really smart class, the somewhat smart class, the middle ground, the below average smart people, and the way behind group.  Interesting concept...

What it sounds like to me

It sounds you believe we should group like students together and place
appropriate resources with them.  So we have the really smart class,
the somewhat smart class, the middle ground, the below average smart
people, and the way behind group.  Interesting concept... 

 It sounds like to me that you believe that teaching is an easy profession that doesn't face a myriad of challenges that require specialized trainging and skills to overcome.  Interesting concept...

My belief is that needs in isolation get overlooked.  One ESL child per grade will never get the resources needed.  When those needs represent a large enough percentage of the population (a value I freely admit I don't have) then resources, strategies and expertise can be developed to address them. 

It a difference between a class full of high rish kids with a TON of
specialized resources (and cost), or spread out with specialized
resources spread out across classes. 

The idea that somehow the kids benefit from being denied the resources they need just because there aren't as many of them in one place is totally illogical.  The ESL child still needs special resources whether he is one child in a thousand or one child in ten.

"WCPSS has some fabulous

"WCPSS has some fabulous principals in high ED schools and good teachers like to teach for them"

It should not be hard to find ... just sort the school from most poor to most rich and at their passing rate ... I am guessing “fabulous” means 4o% or less pass since you need to be in a low F&R school to get better performance …..  “fabulous” is the near 70% passing rate at Green Hope and Panther Creek    

School F&R %EDPass %FR
Green Hope High L 69% 5%
Panther Creek High  L 68% 7%
Cedar Fork Elementary L 65% 11%
Salem Middle L 64% 5%
Apex High L 60% 8%
Wake Forest-Rolesville High L 57% 16%
Leesville Road High L 56% 15%
Morrisville Elementary L 56% 14%
Davis Drive Elementary L 53% 15%
Dillard Drive Elementary H 52% 39%
Knightdale High H 51% 34%
Garner High  H 49% 36%
Lockhart Elementary H 46% 45%
North Ridge Elementary H 44% 35%
Turner Creek Elementary L 44% 12%
Lufkin Road Middle L 43% 9%
Olive Chapel Elementary L 42% 9%
Kingswood Elementary  H 41% 40%
Vandora Springs Elementary H 40% 47%
Lead Mine Elementary H 40% 44%

What year?

What year is your data from? DDES had 70% pass last year and % of tests taken that were in the ED category was 41%. Leadmine had 65% ED pass last year (with ED tests representing 45% of total). Cedar Fork still had 65% pass rate. Remember that there was a % increase in scores (don't remember exact amount) attributable to the retake rule, but certainly it was much smaller than the total increases at DDES and Lead Mine.

Also while EOG results are one clue, they are only one clue. You actually can't just go by EOG results for one year in all cases due to the instability in the underlying student population at some schools and uncertainty as to how long the principal has been at a school and what condition that school was in when they arrived. 

Oh I want to know if our

Oh I want to know if our principal is one of the people that comes to your mind first!!!!  :) SHE IS SO AMAZING!!!!!!



"WCPSS has some fabulous principals in high ED schools and good teachers like to teach for them."

Agree and I think sometimes they even follow them around. I wonder if either of your two are in the ones that come to my mind.

"People bail out of schools because of low expectations and principals that provide bad leadership..."

Makes sense to me. I've found in my career that high performers tend to gravitate together. High and low performers are often like oil and water and tend to separate. I don't see why education would work any differently.

It's already happened

You wouldn't believe the number of good teachers I heard about that left (or changed their mind about applying to) Wake County when the massive forcing of YR school attendance began. 


Then why was the job fair for teachers 2 years ago (before the collapse) attended by an overwhelming number of people looking for teaching jobs???


Do you really believe this?

 you go to neighborhood schools...enough teachers will bail out/transfer to compromise quality

 Do you really believe that this isn't going on already but the drumbeat of "no bad schools in Wake County" has managed for the most part to drown it out?

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.