The 24-month tenure of Mark Johnson has been rather eventful. And most of the actions or lack of action that have taken place under his “leadership” have been overwhelmingly deleterious. Consider:
- House Bill 17.
- Promotion of “school choice.”
- Audit of DPI.
- Reduction of funding for DPI
- Reorg of DPI
- Fighting with State Board of Education.
- Spending more time with privatizers than with public schools.
- Shady spending for iPads
- Using a personal website to “conduct” the state’s business
- Refusing to meet with teachers on May 16
- Hiring a bunch of “yes” people and laying off of DPI veterans.
- Not fighting for more per-pupil expenditure.
- Empty questionnaires and glossy video messages.
That’s just a short list.
But there is one thing that Mark Johnson has done for public schools and public school advocates: he’s uniting us.
Consider what has happened to the state board of education this past summer: three people resigned their posts before their appointed terms ended. They were all of the same political party as Johnson. They intentionally did it to make sure that Gov. Cooper could appoint people on the board to help keep Johnson in check and offer a better balance of power.
Consider May 16th.
Consider what happened in the midterms elections.
- Super majorities were broken. Simply put, the governor now has veto power. Any bill that seems to favor a privatization effort like vouchers, or the ISD, or charter school funding must now be done in a more democratic fashion instead of behind closed doors.
- Budget process now has to be open. It is hard to pass a budget in committee without a super majority- a budget with education as the top spending priority.
- Many municipalities and local LEA’s had school board shake-ups. With new leadership that are more teacher-friendly and willing to stand up to Mark Johnson and others in Raleigh, this might be a very encouraging thing.
- Many privatizers and “non” public school advocates lost in races or had very close races. Nelson Dollar lost. He was the chief writer of the budget. Bill Brawley got a huge wake-up call after the HB 514 affair. Jeff Tarte lost handily after the stunt he pulled with DonorsChoose.org being used to fund affluent schools in his district.
- Look at the numbers of people who voted. It was a midterm election and over %50 of registered voters came out in a time where public education was a hot button item on many platforms. Teachers got voters out to the polls.
- Young people came out. Imagine what kind of force they could be in 2020 when state level positions are up for elections.
And now there are more teachers galvanizing for the next election cycle in 2020.
Yes, Mark Johnson is bringing teachers and public school advocates together.