On November 15, Lynn Bonner of the News & Observer wrote an expose on the newly elected state superintendent Mark Johnson entitled “Next NC superintendent’s Teach for America work was foundation for education views” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article114941948.html).
Below is a list of quotes and other items attributed to that “interview.”
- Republican Mark Johnson comes to the job of the state’s education chief promising to shake off the status quo.
- Johnson is a lawyer for a technology firm in Winston-Salem who has been on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board for about two years… Democrat June Atkinson, who has been the state’s education chief for 11 years and worked at DPI for about 28 years before she won the statewide office.
- Two years as a Teach for America corps member at West Charlotte High School helped shaped Johnson’s views on public education, convincing him that problems need “hands-on solutions.”
- He taught earth science to ninth-graders in a school where many students lived in poverty and struggled with classwork. Some students didn’t know whether they would eat at night. He knew one student lived in a motel.
- In Johnson’s classes, he had students older than the typical freshmen; they had been held back.
- “Through my experiences, I realized that opportunity is not available to every student in this country, and it needs to be.”
- He also became convinced that “more of the same” won’t improve public education in the state, he said.
- Later, Johnson concluded through his work on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board that local districts need more support from DPI for their ideas,
- The state requires too much testing.
- Johnson is proud of the work the Forsyth district has done to jump-start one of the state’s lowest-performing schools, Cook Elementary, giving it some of the flexibility afforded charter schools in hiring, pay and setting the school calendar.
- After two years teaching, Johnson attended law school at UNC-Chapel Hill.
And in the 210 days that he has been in office (the length of a contract that North Carolina teachers have on a yearly basis – the equivalent of a school year for teachers) it is interesting to see what has been done.
- The status quo has been actually reinforced.
- Mark Johnson has shown that two years into an unfinished term in office does not lay a good foundation for being the head of DPI.
- He has been anything but “hands-on.”
- He has not fought for helping do something about the poverty level in many places when he could be a more vocal advocate for poorer students.
- Every teacher on the high school level has taught students who are older than the traditional student of that grade.
- He offered any plan to help offer “opportunity” to every student.
- He is rubber-stamping “more of the same” by being a stooge for the GOP powers in the General Assembly.
- He never spoke against the fact the DPI’s budget has been cut by 20% in the next two-year budget and he talked of DPI’s role in supporting local districts.
- NC still has not done anything with testing. In fact, they still mean as much if not more in state performance grades.
- He is in favor of ASD’s and charter schools when he seemed to praise school-led initiatives to help turnaround schools.
- He still has only taught two years in a classroom.