Why the Hell Is Mark Johnson Hiring More Public Relations Personnel?

Over fifteen months into office, State Superintendent Mark Johnson is hiring more people loyal to him while in the midst of a lawsuit over the constitutionality of a power grab that happened the month before he took an oath to advocate for public schools.

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson has created two new positions in his office to provide extra help with public relations and public records requests.

They mark the fourth and fifth positions Johnson has created from a $700,000 fund of taxpayer money lawmakers granted him last year. The money allows Johnson to add up to 10 full-time positions and hire staff without approval of the State Board of Education, a key provision lawmakers gave him as he battles the state board in court over control of the public school system (http://www.wral.com/nc-superintendent-creates-two-new-jobs-to-help-with-public-relations-public-records/17482124/).

To be specific those two jobs are:

  • Community relations specialist, paying $50,000, to manage public records requests and help with media inquiries and other communications.
  • Deputy community outreach coordinator, a part-time position paying $36,173, to help “develop key messages” the superintendent wants to get out to the public, as well as community outreach and media relations duties.

Help with media inquiries, community outreach, media relations, and other communications?

That makes absolutely no sense when one looks at the current organization of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Below is the chart published last September (http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/organization/orgchart/orgchart.pdf).


That’s a fairly big chart for an organization that already reports to the state superintendent.

Look closely and you see that there is already a whole division that does the job of what Johnson is hiring for.

It’s called the COMMUNICATIONS Department.


What makes this more interesting is that Johnson has already hired people to help with this “communications” thing (from the WRAL report cited earlier).


Graham Wilson has been operating as a sort of spokesperson for Johnson for a few months already.

Why would Johnson keep hiring people to do the job of others who are already in the position to do the prescribed task?

That’s not rhetorical. It seems odd that someone can make the salary that a new teacher might obtain after two decades on the job just so that Johnson does not have to speak for himself.

It also seems unfair that someone could have a part-time job to “speak” for Johnson and that person make more than a new teacher with a doctoral degree teaching in a low-income school.

Over a year in the job and a “listening” tour under his belt and an unfulfilled promise to bring to the table a host of new innovations because we are in a “state of urgency” and the state superintendent needs to find more people to communicate what he may be trying to say?

Can I as a teacher have someone to “help ‘develop key messages'” that I might want to get across to students and parents, as well as “community outreach” with the surrounding community?

Don’t think so.

Mark Johnson ran on a platform of having been an educator. Educators have to be good at communicating and developing key messages themselves. And those messages are direct.

But the timing of this seems odd. And the purpose of it seems more self-serving as the fund from which Johnson will pay said people comes from the NC General Assembly that controls and enables him.

Would be nice if Johnson stated the reason for such hiring. It would remove all the doubt of whether this is just another part of a plan to get ready to run for another office in 2020.