It does seem at times that Wake County school board member John Tedesco's life has a Horatio Alger feel.
As noted in today's article, Tedesco grew up in poverty and was constantly on the move as he dealt with the consequences of having a drug-addicted mother. Now he's a prominent school board member in one of the nation's largest school systems and a vice president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.
"My life has been a crazy ride," Tedesco said. "God has a plan for me."
Tedesco's life is under scrutiny from critics, even more so than other members of the new board majority.
More than a few e-mail messages have come in questioning details in Tedesco's past as critics look for things to use against him.
Critics have focused on how Tedesco was fired from his job as borough administrator in Highlands, N.J. in 2002. Tedesco said it was a case of small-town politics. Even John Urbanski, a town councilman who pushed for his firing, says it was for political reasons and not for job performance.
People have also questioned details such as how Tedesco has said he has a bachelor's degree in public administration. It's actually s a degree in political science with what Tedesco says is a concentration in public administration.
But by and large, Tedesco's background checks out.
"These things really happened," said Helen Jones, a childhood friend who's known Tedesco for nearly 30 years. "They're all true."
Tedesco has got interesting stories to tell, such as what it was like to be the administrator of Highlands during the time of 9/11. The town became an evacuation point for people fleeing Lower Manhattan and a transfer point for supplies and personnel going into Ground Zero.
Tedesco talks about walking people looking for lost family members to the ferry parking lot in Highlands. If the vehicle was still there, the person wasn't coming back.
Tedesco did survive a near-fatal car crash as an adult, survive a tenement fire as a child and sleep in his car in the summer during college to save money.
Tedesco believes his life experiences offer a unique perspective into helping low-income students. But supporters of the diversity policy disagree.
"What's important to me is that the policies he advocates and pursues are not in the best interests of the public schools," said Tim Tyson, a Duke University historian who led the Tedesco must go chant at last month's HK on J rally. "His personal life is not the issue."