What Do You Get When You Cross a Lame Duck With A Professional Candidate? Our State Superintendent

Today Mark Johnson ended months of open secrecy by announcing his candidacy for Lt. Gov. of North Carolina using Trumpian buzzwords like “deep state,” Media Elite,”and “Establishment Insiders.”

But it doesn’t change the fact that we still have a lame duck in the office of state superintendent for the next year.


(Quotes are from the N&O)

“North Carolina deserves a leader who will fight to make all government more accountable, more efficient, and more transparent.” 

Makes one think of the iStation contract and the purchase of those iPads.

“I’ve seen first-hand how bad state government can be. I’ve already been in the trenches fighting the deep state in state bureaucracy.”

Great, now he is talking about the “deep state” when his party controlled the governor’s mansion, had a supermajority in the NCGA for years, and actually had a State Board of Education when he was running for state super in 2016.

And the words” fight” and “Mark Johnson” have never collided in the same truthful sentence.

“…what’s best for the working families of North Carolina, not the Media Elites or Establishment Insiders.”

Which media elites? And aren’t the “Establishment Insiders” the very people who propped him up (HB17)?

Johnson referenced those fights in his campaign announcement, saying he’s had to fight against “Establishment Republicans and Democrats on the NC Board of Education” who’ve opposed his efforts to transform the state Department of Public Instruction.

Johnson didn’t fight. His handlers did. With taxpayer money. And it’s funny that Johnson calls others “Establishment” when at age 36 he is running for office the third time and each time was for a different office.

“NC DPI was a broken system focused more on protecting the Establishment’s status quo standards, tools, and strategies. They were content to stand in place rather than move forward.”

Actually DPI was not a broken system. It was simply handcuffed by the NCGA – you know, the “Establishment” that MJ wants you to think he’s fighting against but is really being a puppet for.

“North Carolina should be a 21st century leader, but we can’t do it with the relics of a 20th century bureaucracy. I want to take the fight to the next level. If you want more of the same, vote for someone else. If you want to continue the fight for change, vote Mark Johnson for Lieutenant Governor.”

Have you seen DPI’s new organizational flowchart?



And those changes that Johnson seems to talked glowingly about? Here they are.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 more emphasis on the ACT.
  3. 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 rooted in NC.
  4. 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.
  5. 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…
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8.  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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Johnson bought 6 million dollars worth of iPads for some teachers. They never requested them. And the money came from where?
  12. Johnson supported both the extensions and renewed investment of two failed initiatives: Read to Achieve and the NC Virtual Charter Schools.
  13. Johnson championed the Innovative School District which to date has one school. One. And will now have its third superintendent. And the second principal. And a failing school performance grade.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Johnson hosted Jeb Bush in the summer of 2018. Jeb Bush is a leading privatization champion of the public school systemics in the nation.
  17. Johnson said he would eat doughnuts and run a mile or two for us. Doughnuts.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Johnson has championed Read to Achieve. It is a failed initiative – not because of the vendors, but because of its design and implementation.
  21. Johnson unilaterally decided to sign a contract with iStation. And he still hasn’t come clean about all of that.

The man who spent less than two calendar years as a teacher and who never finished his term as a school board member is now ramping up a campaign for the second highest office in the state while not having even finished his term as a state superintendent.

He’s a professional “candidate” who claims to fight against the “Establishment.”

He is still a lame duck of an educational leader.

And I can’t wait to hear what DPI employees say about him when he is gone.