“When I took office as State Superintendent, I embarked on a statewide listening tour to hear directly from educators, parents, and community and business leaders. Now I am able to focus on priorities highlighted by teachers from Murphy to Manteo. I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns and working to support them” – Mark Johnson from “Ways to show our teachers appreciation” from EdNC.org on May 8th, 2018 (https://www.ednc.org/2018/05/08/ways-to-show-our-teachers-appreciation/).
When Johnson penned this op-ed he made reference to his “NC Education & Innovation Tour.” One stop was in my home district in Forsyth County last year.
The part of that quote which states, “I believe appreciating teachers means listening to their concerns” seemed very relevant to yesterday’s rally and march in Raleigh for teachers and public education.
Why? Because it seems that if Johnson really was interested in “listening” to teachers, then yesterday might have been the best opportunity to really engage with nearly 20,000 of them.
Think of it as a stop on the NC Education & Innovation Tour that Johnson refused to attend, even though teachers from Manteo to Murphy actually came to him. In this case, Johnson’s actions to not join those he supposedly supports speak so much louder than his words.
And Johnson makes the distinction between action and words. He said so himself in that op-ed on EdNC.org.
“At the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, we are working hard to show our appreciation with actions, not just words and fanfare.“
The fact that Johnson did not make one attempt to come and “listen” to those teachers, parents, advocates, and students who came to Raleigh speaks volumes. He did say earlier lack week that he would not attend the rally.
“I absolutely support teachers, but I do not plan to attend a protest on a school day.”
He may call it a “protest.” That’s fine. Many people there called it advocating. In fact, most everybody there called it necessary.
It also was a chance to “listen,” which unlike “hearing” is an active endeavor.
And actions mean more than words.
Johnson said so himself.