“Today is Jan. 5, 2017. There will never be another Jan. 5, 2017 ever again. No matter how we use this day, if we make the most of it, if we waste it, it’s gone. Every day we don’t take bold actions for our students is a day we lose. Every day we don’t take bold actions for our teachers, is a day they lose.” – Mark Johnson
On that day a tad over two and one-half years ago, Mark Johnson spoke of “urgency.” He spoke of “change.”
And remember that the time he has been in Raleigh is longer then his actual time in a classroom as an educator. It is longer than his time as a local school board member.
On this very day, Mark Johnson is closer to the end of his first (and hopefully only) term than he is to the beginning of it and it might be worth maybe looking at a list of those “bold actions he has taken for our teachers.”
Actually there are none. But there is a long list of actions (or lack of) that have more than represented his time in the state superintendent’s office.
- Johnson said that he conducted a “listening tour” around the state to gather ideas and to help craft innovations in classroom teaching. He said at one time that he would present those findings when that tour was over in the first summer. But North Carolinians have not really heard anything except some glittering generalities.
- Johnson said that he would decrease the amount of standardized testing that NC would subject students. But the current bill in the NCGA does not alter school performance grades and seems to place a lot of emphasis on the ACT.
- Johnson celebrated the “revamped” NC School Report Card website and further entrenched our state into a relationship with SAS and its secret algorithms. Furthermore, he made sure that a system that actually shows how poverty affects school achievement is more entrenched in NC.
- Johnson celebrated the launching of NC School Financial transparency website and again further entrenched our state into a relationship with SAS. And that’s ironic because Johnson has been rather “nontransparent” with how he has spent money and financed contracts.
- Johnson called for an audit of the Department of Public Education. And that million dollar audit to find wasteful spending actually showed that DPI was underfunded. So…
- Johnson did a reorganization of DPI and replaced high ranking officials with loyalists from the charter industry and made them only answer to him and not the State Board of Education.
- Johnson’s reorganization came after he won an empty lawsuit against the state board over having more powers over the DPI budget. That lawsuit lasted until the second summer of his term.
- Johnson seemed rather complicit with the legislature cutting the budget for DPI while he was actually taking taxpayer money to fight the state school board over the power grab that the NCGA did in a special session that gave him control over elements of the school system that the voting public did not actually elect him to have.
- Johnson rallied for school choice advocates and never rallied with public school teachers. In fact, on May 16th, 2018 he left town. On May 1st, 2019, he never met with teachers.
- Johnson had such an acrimonious relationship with the state board that three of them resigned their posts before the expiration of their terms so a governor from the other political party could appoint members to oppose the agenda of the people enabling Johnson.
- Johnson bought 6 million dollars worth of iPads for some teachers. They never requested them. And the money came from where?
- Johnson supported both the extensions and renewed investment of two failed initiatives: Read to Achieve and the NC Virtual Charter Schools.
- Johnson championed the Innovative School District which to date has one school. One. And will now have its third superintendent. And the second principal.
- Johnson has set up a personal website to act like a website for information about his job and initiative, but really looks more like a campaign website. And he used a hurricane as the reason for doing it.
- Johnson has used questionnaires and surveys to literally gather information that was already known. In fact, just this past week, he told us that teachers and parents do not like all of this testing.
- Johnson hosted Jeb Bush in the summer of 2018. Jeb Bush is a leading privatization champion of the public school systemics in the nation.
- Johnson said he would eat doughnuts and run a mile or two for us. Doughnuts.
- Johnson held a private dinner to make announcements about public education in February of 2018. He launched his #NC2030 initiative. Not really been talked about since.
- Johnson used a for-profit company to “allow” teachers to get “supplies” for the new school year. Class Wallet – this will hurt local districts because now things can not be bought in bulk and have to be purchased through more laborious channels.
- Johnson has championed Read to Achieve. It is a failed initiative – not because of the vendors, but because of its design and implementation.
- Johnson unilaterally decided to sign a contract with iStation. And he still hasn’t come clean about all of that.