It would seem that the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children is questioning the diversity of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, which employs Wake County school board member John Tedesco.
In a CCCAAC press release on Wednesday, a summary of e-mail messages was produced between Tedesco and CCCAAC member Hank Graden. Much of the discussion is about Tedesco's views on diversity and his role as vice president of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Here's the press release, minus the e-mail addresses I stripped out:
FROM: Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children
RE: Conversations Between Mr. Tedesco, WCPSS and Mr.Hank Graden, CCCAAC
Please review email communications between Mr. Hank Graden, CCCAAC member, and Mr. John Tedesco, WCPSS BOE.
If additional information is needed please contact (Graden's e-mail address).
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:05 AM
From: "Hank Graden" To: email@example.com. See summary of my e-mails with John Tedesco.
Summary of e-mails between Hank Graden and John Tedesco (1/13/2010)
Prepared by Hank Graden
So with all of this new information about you, why are you so aligned with the others on the Board who were on the Board (Margiotta) and the newly elected Board members who are not as informed and “open” as you say you are? There seems that you could align with the 4 existing School Board members who seem to be more similar to how you describe yourself and be independent of the other 4. HG
Again your assumption is flawed. You assume that the other 4 that I align closely with (as you put it) do not value diversity as well. These (all 8) are good decent people who are committed to the best means possible to educate every single child. I do currently see the existing process and policy flawed as flawed for the long term success of EVERY child (it currently helps some - and well), but too many of our children (especially in our underserved communities) are being hidden away at these so-called "healthy schools" that look good on paper because of the performance numbers of the whole. Go inside and look at the sub groups and then the student by student data and we fail many kids who need us the most.
We failed to close the achievement gap. We fail to establish equity in education, We fail to be able to deliver the appropriate curriculum stretch by classroom to challenge our brightest and raise our vulnerable. We fail to slow down the school to prison pipeline. We fail to offer all low income children children the rigor they deserve and need to succeed because we set low expectations and need to be sure the schools scores look good - so we can tell every one that there are no unhealthy schools in Wake County . Sure that will help make us look attractive to more outside groups. BUT What good is that if we continue to elevate our crime rates, drop-out rates, and actually worsen the all too real achievement gap. We can and must do things differently. Too many kids are being lost.
The 4 I aligned with (again your words) have shown that they are not so blindly sold on our "sacred cow" and "golden goose" that they can not consider a different path. They are actually willing to think outside the old paradigms - They are willing to do what needs to be done to re-tool our system so it works for EVERY STUDENT not just schools and the System. As I am getting to know my new colleagues some of them are showing me interest in addressing these issues as well.
Board of Education
Wake County Public School System
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
- Jackie Robinson
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 1:19 PM
Let me help you out here sir in your false assumptions. I am pro-diversity in every aspect of life.
I have had many more lucrative job offers in less diverse settings and turned them down to work with the team I am with now. I chose to live in a very diverse community. I attend a diverse church at Victory Fellowship in Garner if you wish to vet that for is racial makeup as well. I have worked with diverse populations for a long time. I have had diverse relations in my personal life. I have grown up in communities that make SouthEast Raleigh look like Chapel Hill . I am a God Father to African American kids. And many of my views on the current educational policies of this community have been shaped by my colleagues, and the numerous other distinguished non-profits in Wake County who have informed me that they feel the current practices do not help children. Further that view was shaped by individuals in the African American community in SouthEast Raleigh who have spoken to me privately.
We are arguing over a Student Assignment Policy that is falsely noted as the "Diversity Policy". We can call it the "Sunshine and Bubble gum policy" for all I care (sarcasm intended), but if it fails to meet the goals of high quality education for every single child in Wake County, effective delivery of that education to all children, and opportunity to close the achievement gap and establish real equity in education, and effective use of our resources - then the policy is in need of major adjustments. Why are you not fighting for the real issues?
The real issues are in the spotlight everyday. Yesterday the N&O and the WRAL video below spotlight that Wake Schools sets performance biases against economically disadvantaged students and places them out of upper level course work to boost scores at the expense of the students ability to graduate and succeed in college. All to sell the idea of healthy schools at the expense of children left behind.
This mornings article by African American Staff writer, Barry Saunders, notes that the Diversity policy is not the answer, but rather teacher standards and quality.
Why are those concerned with diversity not caring about these concerns?
Maybe they should concern themselves with the fact that while we focused so much on seating policies we lost focus and ended up with sliding graduation rates for the whole county, a broader achievement gap than before and a 54% graduation rate for economically disadvantaged kids. Maybe they should speak loudly against this.
So with all do respect Mr. Graden maybe you need to know me better and what I am passionate about and who and what has shaped me before you make false assumptions.
Board of Education
Wake County Public School System
Date: 01/12/2010 12:28PM
I have looked at the website for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Executives and staff. Quite an impressive group of diverse individuals who one would assume would be pro-diversity in most every part of life, including public schools. One would also assume that you might be a “lone voice” at the organization where you work and your approach to changing the current methods of strengthening Wake County Schools by using economic information to balance schools.
It looks like most of the current leaders and staff at BBBS are well prepared to serve a minority population that the agency serves, but do you fit in there? The website does not provide any information about the Board and their position on diversity. HG
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010 1:47 PM
In regards to your request for information on my organization I submit the following. I am copying our Vice President of Partnerships, Mr. Barron Damon, your member Hank Graden, and my colleagues on the BOE in case you wish to vet their organizations as well. I am including my previous email to you below as additional information for them.
Your question/state noted to "prove that I work with diverse children" signifying disbelief or a witch hunt for some reason. This would also be another reason for me copying all BOE members from here on out pertaining to communication with you or your organization (should any attempt be made to misrepresent).
As to whether or not the children we at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) serve are diverse. This would depend on your measure of diverse. If it is to mirror the community population the answer would be no, since in 2008 (2009 numbers will be in at the end of this month) 96% of our children were children of poverty as established by the federal standards, and 84% of those were African Americans and 8% Hispanic (and growing). This information is audited annually by the National AIM database system of BBBS of America (recognized as THE National Standard in Youth Mentoring for At-Risk Youth), the US Department of Health and Human Services (ACYF in particular), Wake Co. Health and Human Services, and various local governments who provide funding and review of service delivery. We are also subject to provide this information to our numerous private funding partners for their review, groups like The Duke Endowment.
As for partner organization in the service delivery we currently have 42 formal partners (our Partnership Director can share more details) but they represent various cross sectors of the community including AME churches, The "Big 3" in African American Fraternities, HSBCUs, ALOT (Legacy of Tradition for African American Men) and numerous others. The partners in service delivery also include the NC Dept of Corrections, various public housing agencies and more.
As for pictures, I would be glad to send you numerous ones of our agency or me specifically working with hundreds of children in the AA community.
Below is a link to our senior (Diverse) management team. Mr. Damons bio and credentials are there as well and I am sure he would welcome your questions. http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.dfIMKYOAJsG/b.3929513/k.9F6F/Executive_Team.htm
I hope this addresses your serious concerns. Now let's talk about things like closing the achievement gap.
Date: Monday, January 4, 2010, 11:15 PM
If you are concerned with our organization or wish to know more, you can simply ask me directly. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation's premiere youth mentoring organization for over 100 years working with a quarter million at-risk children annually. We are made up of regional affiliates around America . I work directly for our Triangle affiliate. But I also serve on our State Association Board developing resources and programs for all NC affiliates such as the Mentoring Children of Prisoners (MCP) program I spent the last two years developing - and just received the largest Federal Award in the country for a MCP. In addition, I am one of 4 Chief Development Officers in the nation to serve on our National Development Committee.
Locally, we have hundreds of children who are on our waiting lists as we attempt to recruit mentors for them. As we add 1,100 children annually to the local program we need all the mentors we can get - particularly in the AA community.
If you or your friends want to get involved with a young persons life directly and make a real difference below is a link to our volunteer application form - please forward. If you wish to make a donation to aid in the background checks, supportive services, mentor trainings, or youth activities, you can do that online as well. We have an upcoming Bowl 4 Kids Sake Event on Feb 27th and encourage you to put together a team of 5. If you simply want to know more about me, the organization, our management styles, program results,or direct info on the demographic breakdown of children served - just ask me directly next time.
Wake County School Board District 2
Date: Thursday, January 7, 2010, 6:48 PM
On behalf of the CCCAAC and Hank
So Mr. Tedesco, your website literature shows a lot of African American kids/adults on it.
Tell us about what organizations your organization has with formal written contracts; how many minorities and low-wealth kids are you actually working with vs white low-wealth kids and other white kids; prove that you serve minorities? HG
On Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 12:58 PM, Hank Graden wrote:
I agree that Mr. Tedesco does not give any information about how diverse the group of kids are who are getting mentors.