Making DPI the “Department of Giving The Charter School Industry More Power in NC” – Concerning Mark Johnson’s Latest Hire

Today, State Supt. Mark Johnson named his new Chief of Staff.

Joseph Miamone was the headmaster of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a charter school in Rutherford County. He is also a member of the Charter School Advisory Board which reviews applications for charter schools in the state and makes recommendations to the state board as to which applications should be accepted.

The irony here is that a person who is obviously loyally tied to the charter school industry has become a rather big cog in the Department of Public Instruction in North Carolina which oversees all PUBLIC SCHOOLS in the state.

This hire is yet another move to cater to private industries to receive monies from NC taxpayers as Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy is a charter school affiliated with TEAM CFA.

tjca

That affiliation is shown right at the top left of the homepage. Click on it and you get:

CFA

That outfit operates over 10 charter schools in North Carolina.

Team CFA is based in Oregon. John Bryan, the founder of the Team CFA, has been donating money left and right to specific politicians and PAC’s here in North Carolina to extend the charter industry including Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (through a PAC). He spear-headed an attempt to win the contract of the ISD school in Robeson that was recently opened with Dr. Eric Hall as the original superintendent. He would report straight to Mark Johnson under provisions of HB4. (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article177836091.html).

Actually, Hall reports directly to Johnson as the Deputy Superintendent of “Innovation” and that ISD that now has a foothold in NC was heavily involved with TEAM CFA.

Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County is the only school in the Innovative School District. Over a long period of time only one school was chosen and that is now run by a for-profit charter school company – Achievement for All Children.

Per Lynn Bonner and T. Keung Hui of the News & Observer last October:

A company tied to a wealthy Libertarian donor who helped pass a state law allowing takeover of low-performing North Carolina schools is trying to win approval to operate those schools.

Achievement For All Children was among the groups who applied for state approval to run struggling schools that will be chosen for the Innovative School District. Achievement For All Children is heavily connected to Oregon resident John Bryan, who is a generous contributor to political campaigns and school-choice causes in North Carolina.

The company was formed in February and registered by Tony Helton, the chief executive officer of TeamCFA, a charter network that Bryan founded. The board of directors for Achievement for All Children includes former Rep. Rob Bryan, a Republican from Mecklenburg County who introduced the bill creating the new district, and Darrell Allison, who heads the pro-school choice group Parents For Educational Freedom in North Carolina (http://amp.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article178169451.html) .

Now TEAM CFA seems to have more of a foothold in DPI thanks to Mark Johnson.

Those political contributions to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is advertising his own run at the governor’s mansion, and the rumor that Johnson is preparing a run at Lt. Gov. at the behest of Forest, seem to point to some rather seedy underpinnings.

And it’s no secret that Forest loves “him some” charter schools.

Maimone’s appointment also bring to light a rather ill-conceived comment he made this past school year about school lunches in public schools. From T. Keung Hui this past March 5th:

A charter school advocate who helps North Carolina pick which new charter schools should be approved is charging that traditional public schools are serving subsidized meals to students who don’t need them – such as children of doctors and lawyers.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are exempt from some of the rules that traditional public schools must follow, such as those requiring participation in the federal school lunch program. Joe Maimone, a member of the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Board, argued Monday that the school lunch program results in the number of economically disadvantaged students being under-reported in charter schools and over-reported in traditional public schools.

School districts typically rely on families to self-report their income for their children to qualify for free and reduced meals. Some audits have found evidence of fraud.

“There is no doubt that school systems across this entire country are milking the federal government for free and reduced lunch, serving 100 percent of populations of doctors’ kids and lawyers’ kids that shouldn’t be getting it,” said Maimone, who is also headmaster of Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, a charter school in Rutherford County.

“So I’m frustrated every time I hear a charter school criticized for having low EDS (economically disadvantaged students) because they choose to pick a healthier alternative for their lunch programs for kids.”

The latest state charter school report found that 30.6 percent of charter students were considered economically disadvantaged in the 2016-17 school year compared to 50.4 percent in traditional public schools.

That’s comparable to the gap shown in data from the federal Title I program which showed 33 percent of students enrolled in charters in 2016-2017 were low-income, compared to 53 percent in traditional public schools.

Mark Johnson better make sure that Maimone pays for all of his lunches while at DPI. And now that he is “working” for the school systems that might be “milking” the federal government, he now gets to be part of the government.

But if Maimone really to stop the “system from milking the government,” then he can start with Johnson himself.

Maybe that purchase of iPads could be first?

 

 

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