Mark Johnson claims that he wants to change the “status quo.”
But in reality he wants to protect the “status quo.”
In fact, he is the “status quo.”
The term “status quo” has become something of a nebulous term for public education and has evolved into a powerful logical fallacy used by reformers.
Consider the following from this afternoon’s News & Observer report from T. Keung Li and Lynn Bonner, two of the better education reporters here in the South.
“I am disappointed by the court’s ruling today,” Johnson said in a statement. “Chairman Cobey and Vice Chair (A.L.) Collins are vigorously defending the status quo for our education system at the expense of students, educators, and taxpayers” (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article173307171.html).
The above states that the “status quo” of public education in North Carolina is not acceptable and therefore must be changed. It was said by Mark Johnson, NC State Superintendent of Public Schools after a three judge panel ruled to keep a stay in the months long battle of control of the state’s public schools.
Li and Bonner continue,
The use of the “status quo” fallacy is not new, certainly for Mark Johnson (https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/01/27/dont-fall-for-the-status-quo-fallacy-concerning-public-education/).
And it is a crutch that has reached absurdity because in actuality, Mark Johnson might be the very poster child for the “status quo.”
What Johnson and other business model reformers consider the “status quo” in education is intrinsically linked to a final product, measured by standardized testing and other mercurial measurements. However, the real “status quo” is not really linked to that final product. It is more a reflection of the constant infusion of reform models that have altered the process by which public schools have been able to teach our children. The truth is that the existing state of public education is always being subjected to scrutiny, modification, alteration, and change from outside forces for political or profit-minded reasons.
What I would consider the “status quo” is the commitment to flux and change to the variables that measure student achievement and school success by people outside of the actual education process. And in that regard, I do agree that the status quo should change.
If anything, the terrain of public education has been in a state of constant flux for the past thirty years. With the “Nation at Risk” report to “No Child Left Behind” to the advent of high stakes testing to the innumerable business models infused into education to “Race to the Top” to Common Core to charter school movement to vouchers, the thought of even calling what we have had in North Carolina “status quo” is not just wrong –
It’s ignorant. And it is purposefully done.
And all of those causes in the change to the “status quo” were not necessarily brought by educators as much as by politicians and business leaders, Johnson included as he echoes and rubber stamps the very policies and initiatives championed by NC General Assembly GOP stalwarts. The very actions that have caused their version of the“status quo” are allowing politicians to blame public education for failing to hit targets that are constantly moving or in many cases invisible so that “leaders” and reformers can come and claim to save the day.
That’s how we get Mark Johnson, the most unqualified state superintendent propped up by a General Assembly that not only has gerrymandered districts and pushed unconstitutional laws, but has spent taxpayer money to help transfer power away from the State Board of Education to a puppet superintendent to privatize the public good of public education even more.
That’s how we get absolutely lame duck explanations about today’s ruling from Johnson including:
“I am confident I will eventually be able to lead the positive transformation for our schools that the people of North Carolina voted for over 10 months ago.”
It’s as if he conveniently forgot that the people elected him to be state superintendent based on the job description and powers of office attached to every other state superintendent before him.
It’s as if he forgot that what he claims he needs to lead the state’s school system has to include what powers were granted to him without the input of the people by a biased NCGA weeks AFTER he was elected.
It’s as if he forgets that in the months since he has assumed office he has done absolutely NOTHING to change what he claims to be the “status quo.” As a state, we have heard nothing about the innovations he said he would bring and the only “urgency” he has used is to keep going back to court with taxpayer money to gain the power to divert more taxpayer money to vouchers and unregulated charter schools.
It’s as if he forgets that he himself is the “status quo.”
If one were to simply look at all of the initiatives introduced into public education (both nationally and state-based) while considering changes in curriculum and requirements, that person would see an ever changing landscape.
A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Every Student Succeeds Act, Common Core, SAT, ACT, standardized tests, achievement gap, graduation rates, merit pay, charter schools, parent triggers, vouchers, value added-measurements, virtual schools, Teach For America, formal evaluations – there are so many variables, initiatives, and measurements that constantly change without consistency which all affect public schools and how the public perceives those schools.
When entities like the Gates Foundation, the Walton Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the American Federation of Children, the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), think tanks, and other PAC’s are constantly promoting reforms in public schools, the idea that there is a “status quo” becomes implausible. Those entities are all active in North Carolina and they see Mark Johnson as their man.
He will protect their “status quo.”
So if there is any “status quo” associated with the public schools, it’s that there are always outside forces acting on the public school system which seek to show that they are failing our kids.
And it has Johnson’s face attached to it.
That’s the “status quo” that should not be accepted.