Remember Longevity Pay? There’s a Bill Coming To Restore It.

In the long session of 2014, the NC General Assembly raised salaries for teachers in certain experience brackets that allowed them to say that an “average” salary for teachers was increased by over 7%. They called it a “historic raise.”

However, if you divided the amount of money used in these “historic” raises by the number of teachers who “received” them, it would probably amount to about $270 per teacher.

That historic raise was funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay.

Similar to an annual bonus, this is something that all state employees in North Carolina — except, now, for teachers — gain as a reward for continued service. The budget rolled that money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.


That’s like me stealing money out of your wallet and then presenting it to you as a gift. And remember that teachers are the only state employees who do not receive longevity pay.

Just teachers.

It’s almost like the North Carolina General Assembly doesn’t even want to have teachers be considered employees of the state.

This school year will be the fifth year that veteran teachers will not receive longevity pay. For the many veteran  teachers who never saw a raise within the past 6-7 years in actual dollars, the loss of longevity pay actually created a loss of net income for some years.

Consider the following table compiled by John deVille, NC public school activist and veteran teacher who has chronicled the various changes in educational policy for years. He tracked the recent teacher pay “increase” and used DATA-DRIVEN logic to show something rather interesting.


What deVille did was to compare salaries as proposed from the recent budget to the 2008-2009 budget that was in place right before the Great Recession hit, the same financial catastrophe that most every GOP stalwart seems to forget happened ten years ago. Adjusting the 2008-2009 salary schedule with an inflation index from the Bureau of Labor, the third column shows what those 2008-2009 salaries would be like now. Most steps see a shortfall. Add to that the loss of longevity pay that was used to help finance these “historic raises” and the amount of money lost by teachers over these past ten years becomes rather eye-opening.

Longevity pay does mean that much to veteran teachers. It also means a lot to the NCGA because they used its elimination to help wage a systematic war against veteran teachers.

In the last five years, new teachers entering the profession in North Carolina have seen the removal of graduate degree pay bumps and due-process rights. While the “average” salary increases have been most friendly to newer teachers (financed in part by removal of longevity), those pay “increases” do plateau at about Year 15 in a teacher’s career. Afterwards, nothing really happens. Teachers in that position may have to make career-ending decisions.

The removal of longevity might make those decisions easier to make on a personal level, but more difficult for the state to recover from.

But now there is a bill in the NCGA to restore longevity pay. From a recent report in The Robesonian:

LUMBERTON — A Robeson County lawmaker plans to introduce a bill in the General Assembly to restore longevity pay for teachers.

Under the legislation, teachers with a minimum of 10 years in the classroom would have a percentage of their annual salary added to their paycheck.

“Longevity pay is a great incentive to recruit and maintain the best teachers for our children,” said Rep. Charles Graham, a Democrat from Lumberton whose District 47 includes much of Robeson County.

He plans to introduce the bill this week, Graham said Tuesday.

The bonus pay was eliminated during the General Assembly’s 2013-14 session in order to fund an average 7 percent increase in teacher salaries. Teachers are the only state employees who do not currently receive longevity pay.

“The longevity pay, when it was taken away, the teachers were highly upset about that,” said Graham, a former educator.

The proposal, which would include support personnel, calls for payments, based on a teacher’s length of service, to be made annually and would reward veteran teachers for staying in the classroom longer, Graham said.

This would be a very good step in the right direction.

Job Opening at DPI: The First Deputy Superintendent of Innovation Lasted Only Seven Months

The following is a February 27, 2019  press release from NC Public Schools about the resignation of Dr. Eric Hall, the Deputy Superintendent of Innovation at DPI.

State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced today that Eric Hall will be leaving his post in March, returning to his home state of Florida to become chancellor for innovation at the Florida Department of Education. Eric has been deputy state superintendent of innovation in North Carolina since that position was created last year; previously, he served as the founding superintendent of North Carolina’s Innovative School District. Eric first came to North Carolina in 2013 to serve as president and CEO of Communities in Schools of North Carolina.

“We hate to see Eric go, but when you assemble a great team you can’t be surprised when good opportunities come knocking,” Johnson said. “Florida’s commissioner of education, Richard Corcoran, is focused on many of the same education innovations as we have been in North Carolina, so Eric will be a great asset and leader in this work. Rachel and I wish him and his family the best as they return to the Sunshine State.”

In Florida, Eric will report directly to Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran and will focus on implementation of top education priorities such as workforce and computer science education, expanding school choice, K-12 standards and more. A Florida native, Eric previously worked with AMIkids from 1997 to 2013, including as the group’s national director of educational services, supervising the accountability processes and academic programming for 56 school sites across nine states.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Hall has shown his dedication to student success and to using innovative strategies to spread that success in support of public schools,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “I thank Superintendent Johnson for his gracious support of Eric’s career and family and am happy to welcome Eric home to the Sunshine State.”

Dr. Eric Hall was the Deputy Superintendent of Innovation for seven months after a reorganization of DPI by Johnson in July of 2018.


His new duties were defined by Johnson in his press release last July as:

Eric’s group will house divisions including Charter Schools, the ISD, Career and Technical Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Accountability, and Federal Programs – all areas that will focus on generating, implementing, evaluating, and scaling successful strategies across the state to improve student outcomes.

Before that, Dr. Hall was the first superintendent of the Innovative School District. He was hired to do that in March of 2017.

Dr. Hall has been a superintendent of an ISD and Deputy Superintendent ofInnovation for DPI and will now be going back to Florida. All in the span of less than two calendar years.

And that ISD district currently only has one school with around 200 students which has been adversely affected by poverty.

But that kind of time commitment to public education should not be a surprise considering how long the state superintendent was in the classroom as a teacher.

The span of less than two calendar years.

DPI’s spokespeople and Mark Johnson can release as many statements as they want about the contributions of Dr. Hall to the public schools of North Carolina. But the fact that he has left after such a brief time during a turbulent time in DPI speaks volumes.

Especially when Johnson just got through with a vapid speech on Feb. 19th about how we should be retaining our “educators” and leaders for the long haul.



Debunking Phil Berger’s Claims About Public Education After Gov. Cooper’s “State of the State” Address

Sen. Phil Berger delivered a prepared rebuttal to Gov. Roy Cooper’s “State of the State” address in which the governor made public education and investments in teachers and schools the top priority.

What Berger tried to spin in response is the same drivel as his past exclamations.

  1. Berger talked about the “record-breaking” investments the GOP has made since 2010.

Well, that is true. We are spending more money on education as a whole. But why is our per pupil expenditure still lagging behind earlier years? Say in 2008, a school district had 1000 students in its school system and spent 10 million dollars in its budget to educate them. That’s a 10,000 per pupil expenditure. Now in 2018, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. That district is spending more total dollars now than in 2008 on education, but the per-pupil expenditure has gone down –  significantly to over 2300 dollars per student or 23 percent.

But when the average spent per pupil does not increase with the rise in the cost of resources and upkeep and neglects to put into consideration that the population of North Carolina has exploded in the last couple of decades, then that political “victory” becomes empty.

And we are supposed to spend a lot of money on our public schooling! It’s in our constitution.

In the past before the GOP’s current majority in the NC General Assembly began, the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED. Those percentages of spending are not a badge of honor that this General Assembly gets to wear; it was earned many decades ago. The fact that the percentage is getting lower actually is not a positive sign. It is a reflection that the NCGA’s level of commitment to public education is wavering.

2. “Teachers have received pay raises for five consecutive years, and those raises were at or near the top in the country for three or those years.”

That is the most recycled, spun statement used by West Jones Street concerning public education in the last five years. And it barely has validity. Why? Because this fastest growing teacher income designation is only true when it pertains to “average.” It does not mean “actual.”

Those raises Berger refers to were funded in part by eliminating teachers’ longevity pay. Like an annual bonus, all state employees receive it—except, now, for teachers—as a reward for continued service. Yet the budget he mentions simply rolled that longevity money into teachers’ salaries and labeled it as a raise.


Furthermore, why are NC teacher’s still 16% behind the national average in teacher pay?

And that overused “average” salary bit that Berger and Mark Johnson use often this past year? How can it be that the average pay in NC be over 50K when no one can really make much over 50K as a new teacher in his/her entire career unless they all become nationally certified (which takes a monetary investment by the teacher to start) according to the new salary schedule?


Easy. North Carolina is counting all of the veteran teachers’ current salaries in that figure. The very people whose salaries simply disgusted the former governor and the General Assembly to the point that they had to take measures to “lower” them are actually being used to tout this new wonderful “average.”

Furthermore, this average is counting on local supplements. This comes in the face of budgets that are allocating less money to each central office of each school system for administrative costs. Now each county has to raise more money to actually offset those costs and also allow for local supplements. And not all localities provide the same supplements.

3. “Championing” of school choice: Opportunity Grants and Charter School Cap Removal

It would be nice if lawmakers could refute or explain conclusions of the Duke University study released last year which was a rather damning report on the Opportunity Grants. Or maybe the recent NC State University study that concluded our voucher program suffers from lack of transparency.

And there is no empirical data to prove that charter schools perform better than traditional schools.  Most reports have talked about more segregation and lack of oversight of finances.

Makes one wonder why if after all of these wonderful actions have been taken for public schools so many teachers on May 16th came to Raleigh and marched.


There Are No “Silver Bullets” or “Magic Pills” in Changing Schools – It’s About School Culture

There are no “silver bullets” or “magic pills” when it comes to changing a school.

There is no one thing that can be done, no standard blueprint, no Harry Potter spell that can be executed that will make a struggling school turn its fortune around overnight.

Rather, transforming schools is a process – one that has to have the investment of all people involved: administrators, teachers, and students.

That process is rooted in school culture.

Culture – noun  cul·ture  \ ˈkəl-chər \ :t he set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization (

That definition suggests multiple variables: “attitudes,” “values,” “goals,” and “practices.” They are “shared,” clearly outlined, nurtured, practiced, modeled, and embraced.


Most schools have one principal and perhaps multiple assistant principals who can set a tone and attitude for the school. But the most effective school administrators are the ones who do not see teachers as an extension of authority or executors of mandates. The most effective school administrators view teachers as the very foundation of what makes a positive school culture.

Those same effective school administrators look to remove obstacles for teachers so that they can do what they do best: teach and help students.

In today’s data-driven world and over-reliance on bottom lines, it is easy to judge schools by a series of standardized, yet nebulous measurements such as ACT scores, EOCT proficiency rates, or even EVAAS projections. To say that those measures do not have any merit is not the point. They do, but to a smaller degree than other variables, ones fostered by school culture.

Positive school culture celebrates the process, not just a score on a test. It focuses on the actions taken to improve all measurable and immeasurable outcomes. It sees the student as a person, an individual, not as a test-taker. It values the roles of the teachers and honors the relationships that each teacher makes with the students. It includes student and parent involvement, the student section, the quality of the yearbook, the number of kids in extracurricluars, and the willingness of a community to support them.

Look at the number of teachers who come early and stay late, who attend events in the school that are not academic. Look at the students who come for tutoring and ask for help because they feel free to advocate for themselves.

Listen to the announcements and see what is celebrated. Look who wears apparel that reflects school spirit.

Look at teacher-turnover rates, student dropout rates, and workplace condition surveys.

When the only valued measure of a school becomes data points whose formulas are never fully revealed, then what happens is that blind faith in algorithms and conversions is greater than the trust in the human capital that is the life force of the school.

Find a principal who can fully explain the algorithms used by SAS to come up with EVAAS predictors. Find a county administrator or a state officer who can.

Find the ACT report that breaks down every strand and standard for each missed question and totally reveals how each student did on each question so complete that it can be used to help remediate.

Find a state or local benchmark test whose answers can be validated by any administrator or teacher having to use it.

Yet in many of those cases, those standardized ways of measuring students have become so much more the focus of many schools and administrators which in turn forces schools to look only at bottom lines and manufactured outcomes. That approach easily dismisses the human element.

Students are human.

Teachers are human.

Administrators are human.

And school culture is driven by students and teachers and nurtured by administrators. It is not measured by numbers, but by atmosphere, attitude, and shared visions. That takes time, effort, communication, and trust. It is something that starts from the inside and grows outward, not the other way round.

There is no “silver bullet” to make that happen.

There is no “magic pill” to swallow.

For schools to have a positive school culture there must be a strong faith in a process that creates a better outcome the more it is practiced. The more input that comes from those invested in the process, the more investment overall.

And when those who are in a school that wants to improve help to create an organic, dynamic culture that celebrates the student/teacher relationship and understands that all positive outcomes cannot be really quantified, then something that is actually magical does appear: a great school.

Besides, we do not need any more bullets in schools. We really do not.

About That “Civic Responsibility Class” in Public Schools Bill – HB 73

If only we could amend this bill and have current state lawmakers take the course and the standardized test that would come with it to measure their own civic responsibility.

Of course that standardized test score would go through a secret algorithm and then be translated to a data point to create an EVAAS score to subjectively quantify a value-added measure on how good of a person that lawmaker actually is.

At least that’s the way in works in schools now.



Will that geography component include an investigation of the gerrymandered districts drawn by current lawmakers to help ensure a lop-sided majority of one party over the other?


There is a section on “Respect for School Personnel.


“Demonstrating deeds” that would “treat” “school personnel with courtesy and proper deference?”

Sure. Maybe add these line items and it would go a long way to showing respect for the people that make public education possible:

  1. Get rid of the School Performance Grading System that measures achievement over growth
  2. Reduce the number of standardized tests.
  3. Restore graduate degree pay.
  4. Restore career-status and due-process rights.
  5. Increase per-pupil expenditures.
  6. Eliminate performance bonuses, merit pay, and other “incentives” for teachers and schools.
  7. Give the voucher system much more oversight since it is the least transparent in the nation.
  8. Fund and hire thousands more teacher assistants.
  9. Ensure schools have ample number of nurses, social workers and counselors.
  10. Restore longevity pay for teachers.
  11. Eliminate the ISD.
  12. Place a cap on charter schools.

Then there is a section on “Responsibility for School Safety.”


A lot of school safety issues could begin to be addressed if there were more mental health and wraparound services available to students through public schools, but it’s the “resolution of conflicts and disagreements through peaceful means” part that seems to be a little contradictory here.

So a body that refused to pass the budget last summer through conventional means that would have entailed debate and amendments (nuclear option) wants school kids to do differently?

A group of lawmakers who held multiple “special sessions” and met behind closed doors to force legislation without discourse wants school kids resolve conflict in an age-appropriate manner?

Maybe if the NCGA actually practiced what it is “offering” here, then there might be a morsel of validity in it.

Next is a section called “Service to others.


Visit most any school. Students are already doing service work. Maybe the General Assembly needs to look at itself in the mirror and actually see if it is doing the service of the people.

And to conclude, there is “Good citizenship.”


Maybe we could add some video/audio components to this part to help audio/visual learners like the video of the hearings surrounding the voter fraud of Mark Harris’s recent farce of an election?

Maybe for some of our kinetic learners, we could do multiple field trips to help low-income people go out and use their God-given right to vote?


Did You Know This About The Innovative School District?

In 2016, then Rep. Rob Bryan and the House Committee on Education, pushed through a bill that would establish an ASD (Achievement School District) in North Carolina allowing the control of some of the state’s low-performing schools to be outsourced to out-of-state entities.

That ASD was renamed the Innovative School District (ISD) in 2017 in an attempt to “relabel” it under a more favorable light.

After a rather contentious selection process that saw communities galvanize to keep their “under-preforming” schools from being put into the ISD, one school was then selected and marked to be taken over by an outside entity – Southside Ashpole Elementary School in Robeson County.

It is almost spring here in 2019 and the ISD still has only one school under its umbrella – Southside Ashpole.

There are approximately 200 students there.

But the bureaucratic oversight that the ISD currently has is rather expansive. Take a look at this page: ISD TEAM.


According to this profile, the ISD has the following filled positions:

  • Superintendent. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty who is rumored to be making more than some veteran superintendents of many rural counties.
  • Chief Operating Officer. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty.
  • Human Resources Manager. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty.
  • Operations Specialist. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty.
  • Finance Manager. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty.
  • Communications & External Affairs. For a one-school system that has been decimated with systemic poverty.

Makes one wonder how much money we as a state are spending on these salaries.

Oh, and don’t forget, that these people are not even in Robeson County to help oversee their one-school district.

How in the world is this innovative? Mr. Johnson?



Berger Wants to Loosen Rules on the Least Transparent Voucher System in the Country Because…

… there is money left to be spent.

When Duke University’s Children’s Law Center’s released its March 2017 report called SCHOOL VOUCHERS IN NORTH CAROLINA : THE FIRST THREE YEARS one of the most glaring aspects of the program was how many vouchers were being used at religiously affiliated schools.

Some of the observations of that study included:

  • Approximately 93% of the vouchers have been used to pay tuition at religious schools (p.3).
  • The North Carolina voucher program is well designed to promote parental choice, especially for parents who prefer religious education for their children (p.3).
  • Of the participating schools, less than 20% were secular schools; more than 80% were religious schools. This does not line up exactly with the percentages of vouchers used at religious schools versus secular schools (93% at religious schools), because several religious schools enrolled large numbers of students (p.8).

The entire report can be found here. 

That Duke report also revealed that the NC Opportunity Grants were by far the least transparent voucher plan in the nation.

Duke study

Then there was an NC State report last summer about the Opportunity Grants that voucher proponents instantly hailed as validation of vouchers when in actuality it did nothing more than show that NC’s system is designed to not be able to be measured when comparing voucher students with traditional public school students.


And now in 2019, many outlets have been reporting about how there is money left over from the voucher funds that is never used, yet the plans for the NC General Assembly to keep ramping up investments in the vouchers have not changed.

So what happens when a non transparent voucher system that sends most of its money to religiously affiliated schools that cannot be measured in such a way to even gauge its effectiveness and furthermore is not even using all of the money that it is funded with by the very NC General Assembly that protects it?

Call for more loosening of the rules.

From the Charlotte Observer today:

Although he acknowledged that there haven’t been enough eligible applicants to claim all the money budgeted, he said that’s not a reason to rein in spending. “I think it’s reason to maybe modify the rules,” he said.

The person who said the above quote is Phil Berger, who this week went to a religious school that takes voucher money to speak of how NC needs to loosen its regulations on vouchers.

Even Rep . Craig Horn talked of “modifications.”

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board voted in January to ask the state to stop expanding the voucher fund, and Rep. Craig Horn, a Union County Republican who chairs the House Education Appropriations Committee, told the Observer he supports “right-sizing” the Opportunity Scholarship Fund so money doesn’t go unspent.

Traditional public schools are not fully-funded. Buildings are falling apart. And NC “grades” schools by prioritizing proficiency over growth, but Berger and Horn want to make sure that money goes to religiously based schools that do not have to be measured in the same ways because there is money left on the table?




How About #NC2019? 30 Ways To Make NC the Best Place to Learn and Teach That Won’t Take 11 Years

Would Mark Johnson ever think of fighting for any of these?

  1. Restore longevity pay for teachers.
  2. Restore graduate degree pay for teachers.
  3. Restore career status and due-process for teachers.
  4. Fully fund schools and bring per-pupil expenditure to pre-recession levels adjusted for inflation.
  5. Stop merit pay schemes.
  6. Stop performance pay and bonuses.
  7. Get rid of the School Performance Grading system.
  8. Get rid of the Municipal Charter School Bill.
  9. Make the voucher system much more transparent.
  10. Place a cap back on charter schools.
  11. Give teachers more voice in educational policy.
  12. Get rid of the new principal pay program.
  13. Value growth over proficiency.
  14. Have a state superintendent not afraid to rally with pubic schools.
  15. Fully restore the Teaching Fellows Program.
  16. Stop relying on SAS and EVAAS to measure teacher effectiveness with secret algorithms.
  17. Restore the number of teacher assistants lost since 2008.
  18. Get rid of the ISD.
  19. Protect the specials in our schools and stop using class size chaos as a weapon.
  20. Actually start addressing poverty in our communities.
  21. Offer more wraparound services.
  22. Employ more nurses, counselors, and social services in our schools.
  23. Supply schools with more textbooks.
  24. Stop trying to use business models in educational reforms.
  25. Be more inclusive of special needs students in schools.
  26. Have much more regulation of ESA’s.
  27. Restore professional development funds on the state level.
  28. Reduce standardized testing by completely eliminating tests, not shortening them.
  29. Give teachers more planning time to collaborate.
  30. Let school districts have calendar flexibility.

Then we can talk about how erroneous talk about “average” teacher pay and make sure that veteran teachers are receiving pay increases as well.





Mark Johnson is “Urgently” Stuck in #NC2030. We Are In 2019. Can’t Wait Until 2020.

No, I was not invited to the “Dinner.” I was at a school function with some incredibly talented students trying to raise money for the Drama Department to keep the arts vibrant in our school.

But many people shared quotes and there was a live stream and, of course, Johnson likes to send emails. It keeps him from having to talk to teachers who are critical of his ineptitude.


The first aspect of the video I noticed was that there were a LOT OF EMPTY SEATS. Why could those seats not be filled with actual teachers? Johnson did call them the “most important components” in public education. It reminds one of what Johnson’s spokesperson, Drew Elliot, said in response to criticism of having not invited lots of teachers. He said that “half” the room would be “educators.” I would like to know how many were actual teachers. And I know of TOY’s who were not invited.

From WRAL:

Responding to criticism about the event being private, Elliot said 700 people will be there, as well as the news media.

“We can’t afford to rent out Panthers Stadium,” he said.

There were not 700 people there. That room would not have filled many press boxes at Panthers Stadium.

But it is the initiative of the #NC2030 – BEST PLACE TO LEARN / BEST PLACE TO TEACH that really is interesting here because the reason it cannot be #NC2020 is because of Johnson himself.

It’s 2019. Johnson was elected in late 2016. And in his first “speech” as state superintendent on January 6, 2017, he remarked,

“Complacency is the antithesis of urgency. So I ask that we not be complacent, and act with urgency in anything that we do.”

Urgency? Two years later and a lavish dinner to a private audience to announce initiatives for public schools that supposedly are to help fix maladies that ail North Carolina’s public school system?

In his first two years as state super, Johnson has literally fought for NOTHING. He has been on the sidelines as a lawsuit over how much puppetry can be done through his office played out, conducted small listening tours, given cursory surveys, and eaten doughnuts.

Let it not be forgotten that NC had at one time before the Great Recession one of the most progressive and successful state school systems in the Southeast if not the country. Then a wave of ALEC inspired initiatives to “reform” education started to be put into place by the current powers in the NC General Assembly and we end up here.

At a dinner.

To announce that it will take over ten years to get us back.

Johnson talked about the need to recruit and keep good teachers. Maybe that was a personal observation considering that he himself spent maybe two years combined training and actually teaching.

Johnson applauded that the average teacher salary was well over $50,000. It would be nice to hear him explain how that can be sustained with the current salary schedule and the fact that that average is bolstered by those teachers who are veterans and have graduate degree pay which is no longer available to newer teachers.

Johnson said that NC needs to strive to be more like Massachusetts. Did he mean more like a state that produces senators like Elizabeth Warren, is almost as “blue” as any state in the country, that spends way more money on public education, and was the blueprint for the Affordable Care Act?

Johnson said that four devices are all that were needed to “personalize” education in a classroom. The main part of “personalize” is “person.”

Not devices.

And when he announced the TEACH NC initiative he named those who had partnered in it:

  • DPI

If you consider what DPI’s structure has been changed into with the appointment of a bunch of charter school champions, you could say that he has privatized that very entity to a degree.

BESTNC is nothing more than a lobbying group with money who operates behind the scenes, does not engage teachers authentically, and was the architect of a horrible principal pay structure still under scrutiny today.

GATES? Nothing more need be said.

BELK & COASTAL? They don’t sound so “teacher” involved. They sound like money.

What Johnson announced with TEACH NC was another “business” driven reform for a public good.

The Wallace Foundation and the development of a Leadership Dashboard “to support their human capital strategies with real-time data?”

That sounds like EVAAS multiplied by school performance grades then multiplied by standardized tests scores then multiplied by other secret algorithms and then that entire sum raised to a large positive integer’s power.

In other words, teachers just became data points.

How is that for personal?

And there was no talk of how to combat the very things that impeded student achievement. No talk of poverty. No talk of the natural disasters that afflicted many school systems. No talk of expanding health care to students. No talk of how to change the fact that over %20 of our students live in poverty.

What happened last night was a yet another indication of the intentional disconnect that Johnson and his ilk have with what needs to be done with public education in NC.

So instead of focusing on #NC2030, I along with so many other uninvited teachers will keep “innovating” to keep doing the good work in 2019 knowing that in 2020, we can vote out Johnson.

That is if he is actually running again.





Three Possible “Major Announcements” at Mark Johnson’s Private Dinner for Innovation & Leadership

What follows is not gospel, but not necessarily speculation.

There are three currently viable possibilities of what might be announced on February 19th at Mark Johnson’s private dinner about public education.

Maybe they all get announced; maybe none get announced. Maybe in a moment of clarity, Mark Johnson announces something that is actually received well by public school advocates, but that would be an anomaly and certainly uncharacteristic.

But a private affair to make major announcements about public education does not seem on the outside something that benefits the public. It smells more like something that will benefit a few, private individuals.

1. The Koch Brothers New Initiative on Curriculum and Technology

“Officials with the powerful political network led by conservative billionaire Charles Koch said Monday that they are promoting a state-level education strategy that they hope educators and teachers unions will support.

The Koch network is launching a new group next month that will focus on 15 million kindergarten through 12th-grade students in five unnamed states, chairman Brian Hooks said.”

The Associated Press on January 28 released a report entitled “Koch group touts education push on curriculum, technology” which begins with the above excerpt.


For most public school advocates in this state, the mention of wealthy out-of-state “donors” who want to help “reform” public education through providing curriculum and school options for families does not bode well. As a state that serves as a laboratory of business-minded school reforms prescribed by ALEC, it would not be hard to see NC as one of the states that will be targeted.

Add to that, it is the Koch bothers’ network who is spearheading this “initiative.”

If you know anything about the American Legislative Exchange Council, then you know of its toxic hold on policies on many fronts that advance a free-market approach and education is a foundational issue for them.

The Koch brothers have been large donors to ALEC and Koch Enterprises has been on the ALEC corporate board for at least two decades. Any initiative ALEC has probably has the Kochs’ fingerprints all over them.

No, the AP report did not name North Carolina explicitly, but it is not a long stretch to see how easily North Carolina could be in line for such a “project” as NC has many connections with ALEC and with the Koch brothers personally.

Think Art Pope, who served as a national director for the Koch’s PAC groups.

Think Jason Saine, who in 2018 became the national chairman of ALEC.

2. A New Initiative Concerning Read to Achieve

There are rumors circulating from credible sources (which I will not name) that suggest more money being pumped into Read to Achieve initiatives.

A recent NC State Study showed how ineffective that initiative really was, but Phil Berger (and therefore Mark Johnson) will not let it go. Instead there may be a major announcement about funding more summer programs for students such as reading camps to help get students up to “proficiency.”

And that would entail hiring teachers for an extra month in the summer to conduct such camps. That’s right – some teachers might make an 11 month salary in this scenario. They would receive the training and professional development to make them better at literacy instruction – training and professional development that maybe was not available for the last so many years because the current powers in the NCGA cut professional development as a budget item in the last few state budgets.

While there is no verification of this, the people who helped start the Florida version of Read to Achieve and still champion it were in town recently talking about possible next steps with NC’s failed program.


ExcelinEd is the think tank founded by Jeb Bush right after his tenure as the governor of Florida.

Their donors (2018) include:



Gates. Walton. Pearson. Zuckerberg. Koch. Charter Schools USA.

And ExcelinEd was in NC talking about how to improve Read to Achieve, the initiative passed in 2012 has been a complete failure. From an October, 2018 Charlotte Observer report:

The General Assembly passed Read to Achieve legislation in 2012. It was modeled on literacy efforts in other states, including the “Just Read, Florida!” program created by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2001. The goal in North Carolina was to end “social promotion” by keeping students in third grade until they could read at grade level and providing extra support to help them get there.

But in the years that followed the percent of North Carolina third- and fourth-graders graders passing state reading exams stayed flat or declined. National reading exams showed equally discouraging results.

The scores for those 3rd grade reading tests are eye-popping.


3. Wallace Foundation Grant for NC State Developing a Principal Pipeline

Recently, NC State received a sizable grant from the Wallace Foundation.


And the following is from a September, 2018 Wallace Foundation blog post partly written by Dr, Anna Egalite, who happens to be an education researcher at NC State University.

It states,

With support from the Wallace Foundation’s $47 million initiative to improve the quality of principal preparation, NC State has been engaged in redesigning our program to train principals who are ready to meet the demands of a constantly changing job. We joined forces with local school leaders to identify the skills and attributes of effective school leaders. We then developed our program selection criteria, curricula, assessments, and internship to align with this framework. We’re now partnering with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and SAS to develop a leadership-development dashboard that tracks the career pathway and performance of our graduates, with a vision of scaling the system state-wide to include all North Carolina-based principal preparation programs and school districts.

The data don’t exist yet to answer the most pressing questions about the relationship between principal preparation and leadership effectiveness. It’s our hope that’s about to change.

DPI? SAS? And do not forget the surreptitious work of BEST NC in helping restructure the principal pay system in North Carolina that has not been well-received.

BEST NC will be a presence at the Dinner for Innovation & Leadership.

The Wallace Foundation will be as well. This is one of the invitations that was printed for the Feb. 19th event. That’s their logo on the right side.



4. Everybody in Attendance is Getting an iPad.

Wouldn’t be surprised.