Confusing Being Complicit With Fighting For Public Schools And Advocating For Students

This week Mark Johnson, the first term state superintendent, declared his candidacy for Lt. Governor for NC with the hope of becoming an extension of Dan Forest’s quest to further privatize the public school system.

Below is the transcript of the press release given by Johnson about his announcement. The word “fight” is highlighted in red each instance it is used.

“Four years ago, I declared my candidacy for statewide office because I recognized that change was needed. Establishment folks were quick to tell me that I should wait my turn or that I couldn’t win because I wasn’t old enough. But waiting was not an option because I recognized what North Carolina parents and educators already knew, more of the same wasn’t working for public education in North Carolina!

The more I campaigned on a message of change, the more pushback I encountered from the political system. Media Elites and Establishment Insiders, Republican and Democrat alike, were scared of the prospect of someone in office who would not just go along to get along. I ignored the naysayers and focused on the concerns working families shared with me about their children’s education. And together on Election Night, we proved the Establishmentarians wrong, and they were terrified.

Before I was even sworn into office, Establishment Republicans and Democrats on the NC Board of Education sued me at taxpayer expense in a desperate attempt to fight change. They spent education funding on lawyers in courtrooms instead of teachers in classrooms so they could protect Common Core and other status quo strategies that haven’t worked.

My team and I fought, we won, and we went to work transforming the state education agency. We’ve worked for and secured raises for teachers, reductions in testing, and new tools and strategies that help each student learn at their own pace instead of getting left behind.

But this positive change has been a fight every step of the way. When we found $15 million that Democrats were keeping for the state bureaucracy instead of sending to teachers, we even got criticized for getting that money to the teachers it was intended for! North Carolinians need to know that the Political System in Raleigh fights first and foremost for Bureaucratic Fiefdoms. That has to stop.

North Carolina deserves a leader who will fight to make all government more accountable, more efficient, and more transparent. That’s why today I am declaring my candidacy for Lt. Governor of North Carolina. 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.

To be clear, the vast majority of DPI employees are hard working professionals who seek to do their job to the best of their ability. They care about what’s best for public education in North Carolina. But they could not pursue what was best because the Establishment at the top only wanted more of the same.

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.

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.

This campaign will be about what’s best for the working families of North Carolina, not the Media Elites or Establishment Insiders.”

The word “fight” (and it’s other forms) appears eight times as does enough charged buzzwords to make one think that Johnson is trying to become another version of Sarah Palin and “going rogue.”

But the way he uses “fight” in no way represents what Johnson has done in office.

Consider this – a corporate attorney who taught for two school years through a program that historically does not place many long term teachers into the public schools and who did not complete a full term as a school board member was elected in the most contentious election year in recent memory  on a “red wave” to become state superintendent.

After he was elected and before he took office, he was granted more power as a state superintendent by a gerrymandered legislature in a special session that was thought to be called to repeal HB2. He has spent more than half his entire term “embroiled” in a legal battle with the state board of education that was controlled by the same political party and literally was (still is) a non-public figure while budgets expand vouchers, keep charter schools from being regulated, stagnate per pupil expenditures for traditional public schools, and cut the budgets for the very department he is supposed to run.

All on the taxpayers’ dime.

And he says he is a fighter?

No, he is complicit.

If it was so important for the state superintendent to have new power over the public school system that was originally in the hands of the state board of education, then should not have each preceding state superintendent been given the same power?

Apparently not. Why not? Because each preceding state superintendent was much more qualified to be such than Johnson is. Each preceding state superintendent would have fought against the measures that have been enabled, enacted, and empowered by the current NCGA because that would have been in the best interests of the traditional public school system.

Have you ever seen Mark Johnson rally for traditional public schools? Have you ever seen him actually go to a large group of teachers and hold himself accountable? Has he ever gone in front of a group of superintendents and held himself accountable?


Because he’s complicit.

The state of North Carolina needs an educational leader to lead the public school system – a person not afraid to confront the likes of Phil Berger and instruct him that he has been abusing the system. We need someone who will fight for the public schools and place principles before personalities.

Not someone who is complicit.

Like Mark Johnson.

Except for maybe doughnuts.