Today we teachers and educational staff received this from Mark Johnson:
Specifically it says,
When I visit schools around North Carolina, I talk to teachers, hear your concerns, and bring your ideas back to the capital seeking results. These visits and discussions most recently resulted in legislation introduced just this week that would give you direct control of $400 to spend on classroom supplies as you, the teachers, see fit. Also, I am working with the General Assembly to increase the total funding for classroom supplies that goes to your districts.
I encourage discussions about different ideas and opinions. Your voice is crucial. I want you to know why I cannot agree with one group’s proposal to encourage schools to close on May 1.
Many of you have dealt firsthand with the consequences of the severe weather this year and the resulting school closings due to hurricanes, flooding, and bad winter weather. More than 1 million students missed at least one day of school due to Florence alone – and more than 160,000 students missed 10 or more days because of that same storm.
Weather hit us hard this year, and I do not want to encourage any more students missing any more school days. It’s not good for students’ academic and nutritional needs, or for our bus drivers and some other non-certified staff, who may miss scheduled work hours and, as a result, pay.
As you consider the different ways you can influence your state government, I ask that as an alternative to Wednesday, May 1, you consider taking action on a day when schools are not in session.
Consider scheduling meetings with your representatives during spring break. I plan to be in Raleigh for most of the days during the upcoming spring breaks in order to meet with you and legislators. As meetings are scheduled, we will be working with legislators to join you. There is also the opportunity to organize a march in Raleigh one day in June right after the traditional school year ends.
As always, when you are in Raleigh, regardless of the date, the DPI building will be available to you if you need it for water, restrooms, or shelter from the weather.
Thank you for everything you do for your students and your service to our state. North Carolina is fortunate to have each and every one of you.
If anything ever validated our marching on May 1st, this letter does it.
It’s ironic that Johnson spends the first couple of sentences talking about how he talks to teachers and relays their needs to those in power in Raleigh and then boasts of how friendly his idea of giving teachers a ClassWallet account to spend on supplies. Not many teachers have stepped forward to say that this was a great idea in the way that it would be implemented. It says a lot when there were no teachers there to make that press conference with him.
Johnson also says that he is “working with the General Assembly to increase the total funding for classroom supplies that goes to your districts.” If Johnson released his budget requests to teachers as he gave to the NCGA, then he could possibly prove that. In fact, he could publish it.
Johnson encourages “discussions about different ideas and opinions?” Is that why he stayed in Raleigh to meet with us last year? Is that why he engages teacher groups like NCAE? Actually, he did not and does not.
He then spends a paragraph talking about what happened with the hurricane and the effects on school systems. He is worried they will miss school, but did he fight to give them the opportunity to extend the school year beyond the original end date so that they could finish a whole school year after the storms. Did he fight to have their tests moved to a later date to allow them to be amply prepared?
And did Johnson not read that one of the issues we are marching for is to raise the very pay for those whom he claims would be hurt by a missed day (that could be made up)? Funny that many of the people who will be in Raleigh marching for schools and students are the ones that Johnson believes he is befriending. He wants them to make sure that they work that day d for the same low pay; we want them to be able to work every day for higher pay.
“As you consider the different ways you can influence your state government?” Maybe Johnson is already thinking about 2020, but in that brief statement, he proved the power of last year’s march. For teachers to extend the classroom to the capital city and fight for schools and students in ways that are not in the common core, but in the common good right now is the most influential way to affect government concerning public education besides voting.
Johnson said that he would be willing to meet with us if we just came during our spring breaks. But it’s hard to feel welcomed when Johnson’s own Director of Communications “communicates” trolling sentiments such as this to the NC 2017 Teacher of the Year because she did not agree with Johnson’s latest proposal:
(He deleted it after a couple of helpful comments were sent his way).
And it was nice of him to offer the taxpayers a chance to get some water, use the bathroom, and seek shelter. Maybe fighting for the school construction bond last year would have set in motion the possibility for all schools to have those amenities in right abundance. Maybe fighting to combat the effects of poverty that afflicts over 20% of our public school students would help them have cleaner water and better shelter in their own homes.
Johnson ends all of his missives with the same trope: “Thank you for everything you do for your students and your service to our state. North Carolina is fortunate to have each and every one of you.” Passively redundant.
It’s funny that after two-plus years as the state superintendent, Mark Johnson believes that he can quell what he sees as a disruption when in actuality what is happening really is a day of schooling: a field trip to Raleigh to exercise the very principles learned in a freshman civics class.
It’s like extending the classroom beyond the four walls of a building and making it really “personalized” for all public school stakeholders.