Thank You State Superintendent! “Talent Pipeline” Restored! Amazon Says So.


No. It should be, “Congratulations! We did it!”

One week ago, State Superintendent Mark Johnson wrote an op-ed in which made the argument that North Carolina lost out on its bid to “secure” the new Toyota-Mazda mega-plant that would have brought four thousand jobs to the state because of the performance of our school system. He opened,

“That we did not secure the new Toyota-Mazda facility and those 4,000 jobs was bad news. North Carolina put forth a strong, bipartisan effort to woo the company, and I commend the governor and our legislative leadership for their work. Despite offering over $1.5 billion in incentives, four times that of our competition, Toyota said no. It was a big blow to our state” (

He said it was because of the “talent pipeline” in NC and that if we could strengthen our schools then we would have landed the plant.

  • Forget that NC was one of two finalists. TWO.
  • Forget that NC is not as well equipped as AL as far as being a viable supply chain but it still was one of two finalists. TWO.
  • Forget the irony that an $1.5 billion incentives package for the mega-plant would go a long way into helping fully fund public schools in the state that are responsible for the “talent pipeline.”

While the argument that Johnson made tried to walk a fine line between correlation and causation, what he explicitly suggested (I know; it’s wordplay) was that we lost out to Alabama because their schools do a better job. It should be noted that Alabama invests more of what it has revenue-wise in public schools than North Carolina ( But forget that too.

Yet, what a difference a week makes!

In those seven short, snow-filled days, North Carolina has rallied, raised itself from the ashes of defeat, and regained its stature as a leader in the “talent pipeline.”

Amazon is planning on building another North American headquarters. That equates to about $5 billion dollars and 50,000 high paying jobs. And it released its list of finalists today.

And North Carolina made it!


But the eye-opening aspect about this list is that Alabama is not on it. In that one-short week, we passed Alabama in the “talent pipeline.” At least that’s the conclusion Johnson’s reasoning would lead to. Alabama beat us to the Toyota-Mazda plant because of its talent pipeline. They should have been on this list, should they not?

Again, what a difference a week makes!

Johnson’s call-to-arms changed the landscape during an exam week for many school system across the state where standardized tests are being administered in underfunded classrooms.

Somewhere in Alabama, the state superintendent is probably putting together some op-ed blaming the reason that Alabama did not make the finalist list for Amazon’s HQ2 on their rapidly declining “talent pipeline.”

It shows you the power of the pen (or the keyboard). One missive from a reactionary state superintendent did this. Consider Johnson’s willingness to be a keynote speaker at a school choice convention but remaining silent on issues like the class size mandate, the principal pay fiasco, charter school scandals, SB599, attrition levels in schools, DACA repeal, CHIP repeal, SB4, HB17, and refusing to answer simple questions like those presented at state school board meetings –  to name a few.

That op-ed also mentioned Johnson’s affinity for his Toyota truck. He said,

I can probably drive my Toyota pickup for another 18 years, but I’d love to get a new one made in North Carolina long before then.

But now we have a chance for Johnson to actually order parts for that Toyota truck from a company that is headquartered in his new hometown – Raleigh! That’s because you can order Toyota parts through Amazon!

amazon toyota

Now, that’s a pipeline.