For a public official, how one is perceived by the public for whom he serves is of vital importance. Carefully crafted press releases and talking points are crucial in at least giving the appearance of integrity.
For instance, take this tweet about the Teacher Working Conditions Survey from June 11th from Mark Johnson:
If it took that survey for him to make that conclusion, then Johnson already has a disconnect with reality and is trying to make it not appear to be so. Also interesting that he uses the word “theme,” because there certainly is a running theme to the tenure of Mark Johnson.
Then on June 12th, he wrote a message in the Wilson Times to recent grads telling them to seize their opportunities now and not wait.
“Make the most out of every moment. Every bit of time that passes is time you won’t get back. As soon as you read these words, they will be in the past.”
“And, don’t be afraid to pursue the challenges that make life worth living” (http://www.wilsontimes.com/stories/advice-life-lessons-for-the-class-of-2018,129000).
He even began the op-ed addressing them directly “and their loved ones who will hopefully cut this out of the paper or share it on Facebook for them to read.”
Then there is a reality that does not “appear” until the shine of the appearance wears off – like what was reported today.
What Kelly Hinchcliffe, WRAL’s education reporter, published today was not only a piece of journalistic integrity – it was a testament of the power of the free press. Exercising the right to access public records, Hinchcliffe examined over 100 pages of emails and texts from Mark Johnson during the time leading up to the historic teacher protest on May 16th.
The report opens,
As thousands of North Carolina teachers prepared to rally at the state Capitol and lobby lawmakers for more education funding last month, the state superintendent of public schools was busy making plans of his own.
In the weeks leading up to the rally, State Superintendent Mark Johnson sought advice from three public relations advisers about how to explain to the public why he didn’t support the rally and wouldn’t be attending. He worked to highlight ways he has supported teachers and pondered where he should spend the day on May 16 as thousands of educators descended on downtown Raleigh.
When reporters questioned him about the impending rally, Johnson stuck to his talking points, he assured his advisers, but said he expected there would be “protesters” against him because of his stance (https://www.wral.com/emails-texts-reveal-nc-superintendent-s-internal-discussions-about-teacher-rally/17606382/?version=amp&__twitter_impression=true).
What Billy Ball in NC Policy Watch highlighted from WRAL in his report that gave Hinchcliffe’s piece much deserved recognition is just part of why Hinchcliffe’s report needs reading.
That’s not a person taking his own advice and trying to remove obstacles for teachers so they can be most productive. That’s a man trying to make excuses and running away from confrontation.
For a man who just told tens of thousands of high school graduates in a letter (that he advertised as worth “cutting out” and sharing) to confront challenges and who also just tweeted his unwavering support of teachers and what they said in an actual live “teacher working condition survey,” Johnson does not practice what he preaches.
What a hard-working journalist like Kelley Hinchcliffe did was show that appearance and reality are often two different things.