Dear State Supt. Johnson, $200 Per Teacher? How About Fight For More Per Student? Much More.

News last week that DPI is allocating almost $5 million to early grade literacy seems most welcome.

As reported by Liz Bell of

The Department of Public Instruction is distributing a total of $4.8 million from funds allocated by the state in 2016 as part of its Read to Achieve initiative for “literacy support” in early grades. Johnson, in his time as superintendent, has emphasized the importance of reading proficiency and early literacy education (

Yes, this is good news. But it seems rather little when looking at the bigger picture. And it seems a little empty in the bigger conversation.

That money was part of funds originally provided in 2016, yet its allocation in 2018 is something that Johnson seems to want to get credit for.

In an op-ed on entitled “Doing more to help young students read across North Carolina,” Johnson totally accepts that credit.

He wrote:

In 2012, the General Assembly passed the Read to Achieve initiative, which provides funds – an additional $66 million in 2017-2018 alone – focused on early childhood literacy. Through this investment, schools obtained new reading tools and resources, and school districts now provide free summer camps for students who need extra literacy support. Unbelievably, though, not all the Read to Achieve funds meant to support our students and classrooms made it out of Raleigh.  

That is where my team in the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction came in. 

Dr. June Atkinson shed some light on this last December. It might be worth reading this report from NC Policy Watch – “Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending.”

Johnson never responded to that report.

So now, a program (Read to Achieve) that was originally started by Dr. June Atkinson’s administration but hamstrung by the GOP dominated NC General Assembly now gets “saved” by the very person who allowed for DPI’s budget to be cut by 20% without a fight because he is the NC General Assembly’s puppet?

On the surface – yes. And this is where the overall picture needs to be investigated.

Almost $5 million dollars seems like a lot, but in the scope of things it is a little dent. Take a look at this:


That %7.9 percent change in funding per student will not be dented by $4.8 million dollars. Johnson needs to fight for so much more.

So much more.

Do not get me wrong. This money that is going to each K-3 reading teacher will be used well if teachers are allowed to use it to their discretion.

But this “grant” is not for every teacher. Literacy is taught by all teachers across the entire curriculum. In reality, this is adding maybe at most $4-5 dollars extra to per pupil expenditure for K-3 students.

Johnson needs to fight for so much more.

So much more.

And he needs to do it without making it a public relations activity.

Oh. by the way of the ten states listed above, one just had a massive teachers’ strike. Two others are building their own movements to affect change.