Made of Hubris and Political Ambition- Mark Johnson’s New Website

This week State Superintendent Mark Johnson launched a new website totally devoted to him alone as someone filling the seat for the state’s top public school official:


Interestingly, there already is an established website for the Department of Public Instruction: Notice that one is “.org.” The other is “.com.” And that raises a series of questions and some obvious implications.

Why does the state superintendent need his own website? Well, probably so he can control the content of it and make himself look greater than he is. In that regard, this could easily be taken as an initial campaign move for branding himself as a potential candidate for office in 2020 (LT. Gov.?). Just look at what is highlighted: his quote about the American Dream, favorable and carefully selected press releases, and nicely manicured pictures.


There is even a place to request a “letter” or an “award.”


Is this an official website for a state official or a personal website for Johnson? Well it is a “.com.” Look below:


The third search result says, “The official website of North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson.” And it does have this at the bottom which makes it look like it is supposed to be a part of DPI:


In fact, the superintendent’s new website is actually being “advertised” on the original website.


johnson8It’s as if he is using the opportunity of a major storm to guide people to his website to have them use that as the default website to get info on what is happening in public education.

What does a website like this implicitly communicate? First, Johnson’s relationship with the state board (who grilled him on this at the last meeting) is really not that good which might be the worst kept secret of the last 20 months. Secondly, he does not wish to associate himself with DPI as he is the only person focused on in this website. No other division in DPI is highlighted here. Another insight offered might be that this is an attempt at further degrading those in DPI with simple disassociation: the best things DPI does he can put his stamp on and put on this new website, and the worst that he does can stay on the other DPI website.

And another insight is that Johnson is not a good speller –  “recieve.”


Were taxpayer funds used to make this website? That is to be determined, but if DPI’s brand is on the website and time was taken out of the last board meeting to comment on it, then it has become part of the official record and the need for an audit here would be important.

But probably the most telling part of the super’s new “personal” website is this:


Put in your name, phone number, and email address and you become part of a list – a list many candidates for office would use to push out campaign material. Remember, this is a “.com” website – for commercial use.

And with all of those new iPads in this state, maybe Johnson saw an opportunity to push more of his spin on new screens.