A Decade Of Dismantling Public Education In North Carolina – Twenty-Three Egregious Attacks By The NCGA From 2010-2019

When the GOP won control of both houses in the North Carolina General Assembly in the elections of 2010, it was the first time that the Republicans had that sort of power since 1896. Add to that the election of Pat McCrory as governor in 2012, and the GOP has been able to run through multiple pieces of legislation that have literally changed a once progressive state into one of regression. From the Voter ID law to HB2 to fast tracking fracking to neglecting coal ash pools, the powers that-now-be have furthered an agenda that has simply been exclusionary, discriminatory, and narrow-minded.

And nowhere is that more evident than the treatment of public education.

Make no mistake. The GOP-led General Assembly has been using a deliberate playbook that other states have seen implemented in various ways. Look at Ohio and New Orleans and their for-profit charter school implementation. Look at New York State and the Opt-Out Movement against standardized testing.  Look at Florida and its Jeb Bush school grading system. In fact, look anywhere in the country and you will see a variety of “reform” movements that are not really meant to “reform” public schools, but rather re-form public schools in an image of a profit making enterprise that excludes the very students, teachers, and communities that rely on the public schools to help as the Rev. William Barber would say “create the public.”

North Carolina’s situation may be no different than what other states are experiencing, but how our politicians have proceeded in their attempt to dismantle public education is worth exploring.

Specifically, the last nine-year period in North Carolina has been a calculated attempt at undermining public schools with over twenty different actions that have been deliberately crafted and executed along three different fronts: actions against teachers, actions against public schools, and actions to deceive the public.

Actions Against Teachers

1. Teacher Pay – With all of the talk that the current NCGA has used in claiming that teacher pay has gone up over the last several years at historic rates, NC TEACHERS ARE STILL OVER 15% BEHIND THE NATIONAL AVERAGE. And remember that “average” does not mean “actual.”

teacherpay2019

2. Removal of due-process rights – One of the first items that the GOP controlled General Assembly attempted to pass was the removal of due-process right for all teachers. Thanks to NCAE, the courts decided that it would be a breach of contract for veteran teachers who had already obtained career-status. But that did not cover newer teachers who will not have the chance to gain career status and receive due process rights. What gets lost in the conversation with the public is that due-process rights are a protective measure for students and schools. Teachers need to know that they can speak up against harsh conditions or bad policies without repercussions. Teachers who are not protected by due-process will not be as willing to speak out because of fear.

3. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed – Because advanced degree pay is abolished, many potential teachers will never enter the field because that is the only way to receive a sizable salary increase to help raise a family or afford to stay in the profession. It also cripples graduate programs in the state university system because obtaining a graduate degree for new teachers would place not only more debt on teachers, but there is no monetary reward to actually getting it.

4. The Top 25% to receive bonus – One measure that was eventually taken off the table was that each district was to choose 25% of its teachers to be eligible to receive a bonus if they were willing to give up their career status which is commonly known as tenure. Simply put, it was hush money to keep veteran teachers from speaking out when schools and students needed it. To remove “tenure” is to remove the ability for a teacher to fight wrongful termination. In a Right-To-Work state, due process rights are the only protection against wrongful termination when teachers advocate for schools, like the teacher who is writing this very piece.

5. Push for Merit Pay and Bonus Pay – The bottom line is that merit pay destroys collaboration and promotes competition. That is antithetical to the premise of public education. Not only does it force teachers to work against each other, it fosters an atmosphere of exclusivity and disrespect. What could be more detrimental to our students? Those legislators who push for merit pay and bonus pay do not see effective public schools as collaborative communities, but as buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.

6. Removal of Longevity Pay – 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.

7. Health Insurance and Benefits – Simply put, health benefits are requiring more out-of-pocket expenditures, higher deductibles, and fewer benefits. Legislation has also taken away retirement health benefits for those who enter the profession now.

And remember this?

8. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE) – Seen as a union and therefore must be destroyed, the North Carolina Association of Educators has been incredibly instrumental in bringing unconstitutional legislation to light and carrying out legal battles to help public schools. In the last few years, the automatic deduction of paychecks to pay dues to NCAE was disallowed by the General Assembly, creating a logistical hurdle for people and the NCAE to properly transfer funds for membership.

9. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests – Like other states, we have too many. In my years as a North Carolina teacher (1997-1999, 2005-2015), I have endured the Standard Course of Study, the NC ABC’s, AYP’s, and Common Core. Each initiative has been replaced by a supposedly better curricular path that allegedly makes all previous curriculum standards inferior and obsolete. And with each of these initiatives comes new tests that are graded differently than previous ones and are “converted” into data points to rank student achievement and teacher effectiveness. Such a revolving door makes the ability to measure data historically absolutely ridiculous.

Actions Against Schools

10. Reorganization and a Weakening of the Department of Public Instruction – It all started with HB17 that was “passed” in a special session of the North Carolina General Assembly after the 2016 elections and before the new terms began. That bill gave the office of the state superintendent more power over the public school system than any previous state superintendent had and removed part of the checks and balances that the state board of education provided. After a reorganization of DPI and a layoff of many positions, two of the five most important positions that directly report to Mark Johnson have ties to a charter school chain whose owner makes plenty of direct political contributions to people in the NCGA who prop up Johnson.

Below is what it was prior to the new reorganization.

chart1

This is what it looks like now.

orgchart

11. Less Money Spent per Pupil – The argument the GOP-led General Assembly has made repeatedly is that they are spending more on public education now than ever before. And they are correct. We do spend more total money now than before the recession hit. But that is a simplified and spun claim because North Carolina has had a tremendous population increase and the need to educate more students. Let me use an analogy. 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 2015, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. According to Raleigh’s claims, 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.

12. Remove Caps on Class Sizes – There is a suggested formula in allotting teachers to schools based on the number of students per class, but that cap was removed. House Bill 112 allowed the state to remove class size requirements while still allowing monies from the state to be allocated based on the suggested formula. Some districts have taken to move away from the 6/7 period day to block scheduling. Take my own district for example, the Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools. When I started ten years ago, I taught five classes with a cap of 30 students. With the block system in place, I now teach six classes in a school year with no cap. The math is simple: more students per teacher.

13. Amorphous Terms – North Carolina uses a lot of amorphous terms like “student test scores”, “student achievement”, and “graduation rates”, all of which are among the most nebulous terms in public education today.

When speaking of “test scores”, we need to agree about which test scores we are referring to and if they have relevance to the actual curriculum. Since the early 2000’s we have endured No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top initiatives that have flooded our public schools with mandatory testing that never really precisely showed how “students achieved.” It almost boggles the mind to see how much instructional time is lost just administering local tests to see how students may perform on state tests that may be declared invalid with new education initiatives. Even as I write, most states are debating on how they may or may not leave behind the Common Core Standards and replace them with their own. Know what that means? Yep. More tests.

“Graduation rate” might be one of the most constantly redefined terms in public schools. Does it mean how many students graduate in four years? Five years? At least finish a GED program or a diploma in a community college? Actually, it depends on whom you ask and when you ask. But with the NC State Board of Education’s decision to go to a ten-point grading scale in all high schools instead of the seven-point scale used in many districts, the odds of students passing courses dramatically increased because the bar to pass was set lower.

14. Jeb Bush School Grading System – This letter grading system used by the state literally shows how poverty in our state affects student achievement. What the state proved with this grading system is that it is ignoring the very students who need the most help — not just in the classroom, but with basic needs such as early childhood programs and health-care accessibility. These performance grades also show that schools with smaller class sizes and more individualized instruction are more successful, a fact that lawmakers willfully ignore when it comes to funding our schools to avoid overcrowding.

16 states

NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade. NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.

And North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.

graph

15. Cutting Teacher Assistants – Sen. Tom Apodaca said when a piece of legislation was introduced, “We always believe that having a classroom teacher in a classroom is the most important thing we can do. Reducing class sizes, we feel, will give us better results for the students.” The irony in this statement is glaring. Fewer teacher assistants for early grades especially limit what can be accomplished when teachers are facing more cuts in resources and more students in each classroom. In fact, NC has lost nearly 7500 teacher assistant jobs in the last ten years.

16. Read to Achieve – Since it’s inception as a copy of a failed Jeb Bush initiative, Read to Acheive has not worked. In fact, it has had the opposite effect.

rta1

Oh, and that whole iStation debacle? It pertains to Red to Achieve.

17. Educational Savings Accounts – Like many other endeavors in the reform minded views of lawmakers, the NC ESA is highly unregulated. It is crafted much like Arizona’s program and that one has been highly abused because it is not regulated. Instances of using funds for non-educational purchases were not uncommon.

Also, if you look at the requirements, using the ESA “releases the school district from all obligations to educate the student.” That can be interpreted in a few different ways, but ultimately it absolves the school system from being responsible for the services it would have already provided if the ESA was not used. An IEP would cover it, if that IEP was constructed so.

ESA2

Furthermore, it would seem like taking money away from other students in a state where per-pupil expenditure still rates in the bottom rungs in the country.

Actions To Deceive The Public

18. Opportunity Grants – Opportunity Grant legislation is like the trophy in the case for the GOP establishment in Raleigh. It is a symbol of “their” commitment to school choice for low-income families. But that claim is nothing but a red-herring. Simply put, it is a voucher system that actually leaves low-income families without many choices because most private schools which have good track records have too-high tuition rates and do not bus students. Furthermore, the number of private schools receiving monies from the Opportunity Grants who identify themselves as religiously affiliated is well over 80 percent according to the NC State Educational Assistance Authority. Those religious schools are not tested the way public schools are and do not have the oversight that public schools have. Furthermore, it allows tax dollars to go to entities that already receive monetary benefits because they are tax free churches.

From Public School First NC.org:

In the 2017-18 school year, 7001 students attended 405 private schools at a cost of $20.3 million. The largest cohort of Opportunity Scholarship recipients attended a single religious school in Fayetteville, with those 201 students making up more than half of its student population. The largest dollar amount, $451,442, went to Liberty Christian Academy in Richlands, NC where 122 of the 145 students are voucher recipients. The 2018-2019 Budget Adjustments bill increased funding for the Opportunity Scholarship program from $45 to $55 million.

voucheroverfunded2

19. Charter Schools – Charter school growth in North Carolina has been aided by the fact that many of the legislators who have created a favorable environment for charter benefit somehow, someway from them. Many charters abuse the lack of oversight and financial cloudiness and simply do not benefit students. Especially in rural areas, uncontrolled charter school growth has been detrimental to local public schools. When small school districts lose numbers of students to charter schools, they also lose the ability to petition for adequate funds in the system that NC uses to finance schools ; the financial impact can be overwhelming.

Last January, Kris Nordstrom published an article that openly showed this data.

The cap was removed beginning in 2012-2013.

And there is substantial evidence that charter schools are more segregated than traditional public schools.

The Excel spreadsheet in the previous post linked to above is a list of every charter school that exists now in this state that had a school performance grade attached to it for the 2018-2019 school year. It is cross-referenced to the last full school report card it has on record from the 2017-2018 school year.

According to that data table in that post which includes 173 charter schools,

  • 81 of them had a student population that was at least 65% white.
  • 40 of them had a student population that was at least 80%  white.
  • 100 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as white.
  • 31 of them had a student population that was at least 65%  black.
  • 17 of them had a student population that was at least 80% black.
  • 43 of them had at least 50% of the students classified as black.

To put in perspective, that means:

  • Over 110 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 65% one race/ethnic group.
  • 150 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 50% one race/ethnic group.
  • Over 50 of the 173 charter schools had a student population that was at least 80% one race/ethnic group.
  • 132 of the 173 schools listed had a 2017-2018 student population that was lower than  40% Economically Disadvantaged.

20. Virtual Charter Schools – There are two virtual charter academies in NC. Both are run by for-profit entities based out of state. While this approach may work for some students who need such avenues, the withdrawal rates of students in privately-run virtual schools in NC are staggering according to the Department of Public Instruction. Both also have rated poorly every year of their existence, but were renewed by the state for another four years and championed by Mark Johnson.

Here are their grades and growth by subset groups.

reforms3reforms2

reforms1

NC Virtual Academy:

1 – F
6 – D’s
2- C’s
5 – Not Met’s
1- Met

NC Cyber Academy:

4 – F’s
4 – D’s
1- B
6 – Not Met’s
0- Met

21. Innovative School Districts – Teach For America Alumnus Rep. Rob Bryan crafted a piece of legislation that was rammed through the General Assembly which will create ASD’s in NC. Most egregious is that it was crafted secretly. Rather than having a public debate about how to best help our “failing” schools with our own proven resources, Rep. Bryan chose to surreptitiously strategize and plan a takeover of schools. ASD’s have not worked in Tennessee. With a name change to ISD, this initiative has been a failure – it still has only one school to be exact.

Here is the most recent growth rates and grades for subsets for that ISD school.

reforms4

Southside Ashpole Elementary:

  • 4 – F’s
  • Everything else is an “I” which stands for “Insufficient Data.”
  • 1 – Not Met’s
  • 2 – Met

The current ISD here in NC has been in existence for over three years. It has not worked.

At all.

22. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges – At last report, teaching candidate percentages in undergraduate programs in the UNC system has fallen by over 30% in the last five years. This is just an indication of the damage done to secure a future generation of teachers here in North Carolina.

23. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program – Once regarded as a model to recruit the best and brightest to become teachers and stay in North Carolina was abolished because of “cost”. Yes, it was reintistited, but as a shadow of its former self.

Overall, this has been North Carolina’s playbook. And those in power in Raleigh have used it effectively. However, there are some outcomes that do bode well for public school advocates for now and the future.

Teachers are beginning to “stay and fight” rather than find other employment.

NCAE has been able to win many decisions in the court system.

North Carolina is in the middle of a huge election cycle and teachers as well as public school advocates will surely vote.

Veteran teachers who still have due-process rights are using them to advocate for schools.

One can only hope that the game changes so that a playbook for returning our public schools back to the public will be implemented.

You Can Believe The Privatizing Professional Politician About Public Education Or A Veteran Public School Teacher & Parent

With 2020 just around the corner and primaries just over two months away, the need for a candidate to try and control the narrative on hot-button issues is important.

Even if that candidate is not really telling you the whole story.

It happened last week in the Winston-Salem Journal on December 21st (on the 20th if you look online) compliments of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Among the ten times that he used the word “choice” and the other three times he used “choose,” Forest forgot that he actually “chose” to not really tell you the entire truth.

He told you his electioneering narrative. Forest stated,

“If you get all your information about North Carolina education from op-eds or social media, you would think that my goal is to destroy public education. In fact, that is exactly what was published in a recent guest column in this newspaper.

These outlandish claims are only a distraction and meant to push their pro-system agenda.”

That guest column? Mine from December 14th. It was written in response to Forest’s letter to teachers earlier in December.

lt dan letter1

If Forest wants to try to discredit a teacher who has taught in this state longer than Forest had been in office and is a parent of two students in public schools when Forest himself is not, then he can try.

But what he really did was add more unfounded claims to an educational platform that still does not fully support pubic schools.

“To get a few things on the record, I have always believed:

  • We shouldn’t place a cap on how much our best teachers can earn.
  • Teachers should be rewarded for earning Master’s degrees in their subject area.
  • Most policy decisions, like class size, should be decided at the local level.
  • Every school should have a great principal.
  • Students should take fewer standardized tests.
  • Every school should have trade professionals teaching practical skills.
  • The money should always follow the student to the school and be block granted directly to the principal, not the bureaucracy.”

 

Yet, while Forest has been in office and a member of the State Board of Education, not only have salary step increases been almost eliminated for veteran teachers, NC has a salary schedule that literally caps a teacher’s salary at below $55K a year. Add to that no more longevity pay or advanced degree salary boosts which have been eliminated since he has been in office.

Did Forest ever fight to have graduate degree pay reinstated? No. But he makes an electioneering claim that he supports it for some.

Did Forest ever stand up against the class-size mandate issued by the state that was so glaringly unfunded? No. He has been complaining about how much the state “funds” schools.

He wants a great principal in each school? Who doesn’t? But for years while Forest was in office, NC ranked last in the country in principal pay and the current principal pay plan is built on bonuses and test scores. But when has bonus pay ever worked in public education? It hasn’t.

Forest wants to reduce testing? But has he advocated for changing the school performance grading system that still weighs achievement on standardized tests much more than growth? No.

Not many trade professionals are going to classrooms with the noncompetitive salaries for teachers in this state.

And money should follow the student? In a state that still has a per-pupil expenditure less than 2008’s rate when adjusted for inflation?

Forest claimed that my op-ed was nothing more than “outlandish claims” meant to be  “only a distraction” in order to “push a pro-system agenda.” Yet, not one time did he ever debunk one of my claims. Not one time did he ever disprove what I asserted in my op-ed.

What he did prove was that he read what a veteran teacher had to say about what is really happening in our public schools and it portrayed a much different reality than the picture Forest is trying to paint for voters.

And his vision for public education in North Carolina is totally aligned with someone who knows absolutely nothing about public education.

forestdevos

 

Negative $31243: Career Change in Pay Received – The North Carolina General Assembly Does Not Want to Have Veteran Teachers

Any experienced, veteran teacher here in North Carolina knows the differences in the salary schedules that have guided pay for the last ten years.

Sometimes one graph can put things into sharp perspective.

Derek Scott has been following trends in public education and possesses that gift of explaining concepts that many politicians hope to keep vague (for spinning purposes) in ways that make startling sense. His wife is a school board member in the state’s largest school system and many of us public school advocates really respect his work. In fact, he has been translating numbers and trends in public education for years.

And he does it well.

Last spring, he posted the following in response to a post on this blog about changes in teacher pay over the last ten years in North Carolina. It’s worth visiting again.

scott2

Hard to be an experienced teacher and not see the clarity in what he is saying.

Here is a closer look at that chart:

scott1

Remember we no longer as  teachers receive longevity pay and inflation affects any profession.

Simply put, this NCGA does not want to have veteran teachers in our schools.

Again, Why Do We Have Exams After The Winter Break? Change The Calendar!

There seems to be something amiss when your high school’s football team plays a home game before students even attend their first class. Why? Because we start school too late in North Carolina.

As it stands right now, a special provision in the budget bill in the 2012 legislative session (Senate Bill 187, Session Law 2012-145) amended the law on school calendars to require:

“1. Start date no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 and end date no later than the Friday closest to June 11 (unless a weather related calendar waiver has been approved, year-round school, charter school or cooperative innovative high school.) If waiver is approved the start date can be no earlier than the Monday closest to August 19.”

The same bill also designates a certain number of workdays and annual leave, and holidays that must be observed.

schoolcalendar

This is not a good standard to have. North Carolina should allow schools to start early enough to end the first semester before the ubiquitous winter break.

With such an emphasis on test scores and “student achievement” as measured by those same scores, it would make sense to allow the first semester to actually end with exams taken before the winter break. As it stands now, most students in traditional public schools in the state do not take exams for block classes until after the winter break, a time period which generally lasts two weeks.

Some may argue that that is only a two week hiatus, but actually it is longer than that, and it creates an intellectual and mental lapse that affects student scores and ultimately how schools are measured.

Students tend to get excited for the winter break as many look forward to Christmas and other holidays. Commercially speaking, most students are bombarded with other stimuli. Yet, when school reconvenes for the first semester exams, the state and county systems have to create a testing window so that all required stipulations are followed.

Ironically, a whole new year starts on the calendar, but students and teachers are still stuck in the fall semester. Tax forms and W-2’s are being put together because the tax cycle ended. Students are still working on second quarter grades.

With end-of-course tests, state tests, and teacher made exams plus required makeup sessions built in, many public schools are forced to have at least seven (often more) days of testing to accommodate the laws. Add in that a day or two that students need to reacquaint themselves with school. They are coming off a break and thrown straight into a frenzy of testing and have minimal contact with teachers who need review time for exams. Also, consider the holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s observed birthday and students are a little more scattered than usual.

On a block schedule (A/B day), this means that for over four weeks of time (holidays and exam schedule combined), a teacher may see his or her students for maybe the equivalent of three class periods. For true block classes that usually have those state exams used to rate schools, that means teachers see their students for maybe five class periods during that same frame.

In a regular four week A/B schedule time period, a teacher usually engages a class for at least 10 class periods. A true block class, at least 20.

This schedule affects the test scores of my students.

So what should happen? Well, schools should start earlier in August to allow for the exam period for the first semester to end before the winter break. Rumor has it that the tourism industry in North Carolina lobbied very hard for schools to start after the “summer” vacation season. That seems profit driven and North Carolina needs to do a lot more than change school calendars to help with its image for tourists.

If you ever teach in high schools, you will see that students actually go on “summer” mode starting in May, when the weather changes and spring sports come to an end. Spring fever is a real thing in schools. When the weather warms, the students become more prone to want to be elsewhere than a classroom.

It seems that changing the calendar for the school year to allow students to finish at the end of May and start toward the first of August gives them a better chance to perform well on the very tests that the very people who dictate school calendars measure those very same students by.

It’s logical. Colleges and universities already do it. Why can’t North Carolina high schools do it?

Besides, it just seems weird to have football games before you even crack a book for class.

The Top Educational Issues From 2019 That Need Our Attention in 2020

Like every other year, 2019 has been a rather contentious, perplexing, and frustrating year for public school advocates. There is simply a lot working against us.

However, that only means that we keep fighting for public schools. As the new year arrives, it might be worthwhile to review the top public education issues that surround North Carolina’s public school system that bridge 2019 to 2020.

And they are not listed in any particular order as all of them have an incredible amount of gravity.

1. Leandro Report by WestEd

It’s 301 pages.

It has 65 data exhibits in the actual report.

It has 52 data exhibits in the appendices.

And it has 12 basic findings listed below.

  • Finding #1: Funding in North Carolina has declined over the last decade.
  • Finding #2: The current distribution of education funding is inequitable.
  • Finding #3: Specific student populations need higher levels of funding.
  • Finding #4: Greater concentrations of higher-needs students increases funding needs.
  • Finding #5: Regional variations in costs impact funding needs.
  • Finding #6: The scale of district operations impacts costs.
  • Finding #7: Local funding and the Classroom Teacher allotments create additional funding inequities.
  • Finding #8: New constraints on local flexibility hinder district ability to align resources with student needs.
  • Finding #9: Restrictions on Classroom Teacher allotments reduce flexibility and funding levels.
  • Finding #10: Frequent changes in funding regulations hamper budget planning.
  • Finding #11: The state budget timeline and adjustments create instability.
  • Finding #12: There is inadequate funding to meet student needs.

leandro

As the Leandro Report by WestEd was released, it was no doubt that those who have been at the helm of budgetary control in North Carolina would try and deflect the report’s findings.

Sen Phil Berger’s spokesperson Pat Ryan offered the senator’s thoughts and those thoughts show an absolute denial of culpability.

“Money doesn’t buy outcomes,” Pat Ryan, a spokesman for Republican Senate leader Phil Berger, said in a statement Tuesday.

Makes one wonder if that very thought is communicated concerning campaign financing by Sen. Berger because, well, you know, money doesn’t buy outcomes.

2. Class Wallet & iStation

When Mark Johnson announced that he wanted to use ClassWallet last spring to “allow” teachers to “control” their supply purchases and give a private company the power and money to track those purchases without local LEA oversight, he was met with great resistance from teachers and educational leaders.

He deserved it.

When Mark Johnson announced that he signed a contract with iStation to replace mClass right at the end of the year against the recommendations of a DPI-formed committee, it sent shock waves around the state and the brush-back from that was intense – just read Justin Parmenter’s great work on that on his blog Note From the Chalkboard.

He deserved that as well.

It’s worth noting that both ClassWallet and iStation hired the same lobbyist in NC to procure those contracts from DPI. His name is Doug Miskew from the Public Sector Group in Raleigh.

PSG1

A simple search on the official Secretary of State of NC website that registers all official lobbyists  for one Doug Miskew reveals:

PSG2

The groups and interests he officially represents includes:

PSG3

The battle between using iStation and Amplify’s mClass is still raging. In the first two weeks of January of 2020, another hearing will commence to see if Mark Johnson’s enabling of the iStation contract will be allowed.

3. Exhibit C

Speaking of iStation:

Many of you have seen the released letter by DPI to Amplify concerning their appeal of the iStation contract. In it, Mark Johnson lays out the argument that the second RFP that had voted to go with Amplify was canceled because of a confidentiality breach.

He offer this text message that was supposedly given to him and DPI by a whistleblower as evidence.

It is known as “Exhibit C.”

exhibitc.PNG

It’s hard to read – so here is the text:

Well, just got off another marathon call with _______. 1 hour 45 minutes all about
RFP what a mess!

————————————————————————————————————————————

Geez! What is going on?

————————————————————————————————————————————

MJ came into their voting meeting to basically (without coming directly out and
specifying) tell them how to vote! However the vote did not go his way so it will be
interesting to see how he gets his way on this.

————————————————————————————————————————————

OMG! I know they were shocked!

————————————————————————————————————————————

Yep, she said they walked out of the building and several people said what just
happened?

————————————————————————————————————————————

Someone, _______ should’ve recorded it on her phone!

————————————————————————————————————————————

She thought about it but her phone was lying on the table in front of everyone.

————————————————————————————————————————————

Oh yeah that would be tough…who else on the team was in the room? Have they named a replacement for _______?

————————————————————————————————————————————

_______ She and _______ and _______and _______ and _______ voted for children. _______
and one of Mark’s staff voted for helping teachers. She said she about helping
teachers and never once mentioned children and saving teachers’ time.

————————————————————————————————————————————

Ass

The sad thing is, he may win his next race because he will talk about how he helped
teachers!

————————————————————————————————————————————

Well that’s why he is pushing this. Children can’t VOTE so we appease lazy ass
teachers!

————————————————————————————————————————————

Exactly!

As much as Mark Johnson has pointed to this text thread evidence for his case, it actually raises more questions about timing and previous intent on the part of the state super.

And that “lazy ass teacher” quote just came up again this week in a tweet.

lazyass

4. Budget Impasse

Just look at the video below.

 

That was back in November. Over 160 days and millions of dollars wasted to keep the NCGA in “session” and no budget was ever passed. And according to Sen. Phil Berger, it is all about teachers.

bergerteacherpay1bergerteacherpay2bergerteacherpay3

5. iPads

So last year Mark Johnson bought 24,000 iPads with Read to Achieve money that was just laying around.

From WRAL.com August of 2018:

Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced the plan Tuesday morning, holding up an iPad for the media, the governor and other members of North Carolina’s Council of State. Johnson’s office put the statewide pricetag for the devices at about $6 million. It didn’t immediately have a per-unit price to quote.

The money will come from some $15 million in unused money the Department of Public Instruction has from previous budget years. Just why this money has been sitting unused is a matter of some dispute.

But many of them sat in a warehouse for about a year and Johnson still purchased some more. From WRAL this past August:

More than 3,200 iPads are sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them have been there for a year – but North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson says the devices will be delivered to districts this school year. He plans to announce details next week about what schools will be receiving them.

Johnson bought 24,000 iPads for North Carolina’s K-3 teachers last year, but schools returned about 2,400 of them, or 10%, because they preferred other devices, such as Google Chromebooks. Last month, Johnson bought 800 more iPads using money from his superintendent’s budget, bringing the total in the warehouse to 3,200.

So after receiving criticism that there were some iPads collecting dust, Johnson then made sure to get them out to schools. He said that the hurricane season had caused delays the previous school year.

Again from WRAL:

More than 3,200 iPads are sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them have been there for a year – but North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson says the devices will be delivered to districts this school year. He plans to announce details next week about what schools will be receiving them.

Apparently those details were not very detailed.

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200 iPads went to Okracoke Island which was devastated by Hurricane Dorian just days before. But didn’t Johnson say that hurricanes kept iPads from being distributed when he was approached about the 3,200 in the warehouse in August?

But on Sept. 30th, Johnson’s spokesperson made sure to let everyone know that all of the iPads had been distributed.

WRAL.com reported on Sept. 30th that the remaining iPads in a central warehouse had been distributed by Mark Johnson’s office after repeated inquiries by news organizations and public school advocates.

RALEIGH, N.C. — More than 3,200 iPads sitting in a state warehouse – 2,400 of them for the past year – have all been delivered to school districts across the state, a spokesman for North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson said.

Johnson faced criticism this summer after Charlotte teacher and education blogger Justin Parmenter wrote that thousands of iPads the superintendent bought were “collecting dust at the North Carolina Textbook Warehouse in Raleigh.”

Johnson’s spokesman, Graham Wilson, told WRAL News by email Friday afternoon that “[a]ll of the iPads have now been distributed.”

Then this happened.

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The teachers were told that they simply could “reach out” to ask for iPads – the ones that were already said to have been distributed.

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6. State Health Plan

Remember this from last April?

“Did You Know?

During 2017, the state spent $3.3 billion on medical and pharmacy benefits. At the same time, costs have increased 5 to 10 percent while funding for the Plan only saw a 4 percent increase. In addition, the state has a $34 billion unfunded liability for retiree health care. This liability is a result of promises that were made for lifetime benefits but no money was ever put aside to pay for that benefit.

What Can You Do?

You can help sustain this benefit by taking control of your medical costs.”

Many teachers and other state employees received those words from Dale Folwell, CPA who is also the State Treasurer for North Carolina. He sent that letter with new ID cards  for the state health plan that is contracted through Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

And simply put, his letter was rather insulting.

It was hard not to think that in a missive meant to outline benefits to a person whom “North Carolina values,” one was also being told that he/she literally cost too much, was promised too much, and that it was that teacher’s job to not be as much of a burden on the state.

And that paragraph under the “Did You Know?” heading actually shows a bit of a contradiction in how the state seems to treat the teaching profession: as prices for services and products go up in most every segment of the economy, the willingness to invest in those very things seems to not be the same.

What if the words associated with benefits were replaced with words associated with public education?

7. Vilification of NCAE

Last November, Sen. Ralph Hise went out of his way to release a statement trying to frame NCAE as an organization that does not actually have a large membership and the best interests of the teaching profession in mind. Lt. Dan Forest made it a part of his now infamous letter to teachers he sent this month.

Hise (and Forest) claimed that NCAE only represented a little over 5% of teachers in North Carolina.

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Of course Hise’s press release has a quote from Hise:

“The NCAE, which represents just 5% of teachers, is fighting tooth and nail to keep the other 95% of teachers from getting a pay raise.”

What Hise was referring to was a report from the State Auditor’s office (Beth Wood) about membership in organizations that allow for automatic deductions for membership dues.

It has this data table:

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Hise is a statistician by trade. He should know numbers and he is deliberately misleading in his statement about NCAE’s membership. The very report he “quotes” tells us that. Look again.

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Only one group on that list has a membership that fully pays through payroll deductions. In fact, at least two of the groups have memberships that are ten times the amount of people who use payroll deduction. Any statistician would know better than to misrepresent the numbers in a statement (unless he did it for political purposes).

There are two other teacher advocacy groups on that list whose memberships are mostly represented by people who do not use payroll deduction. PENC has 4.59 times the total number of members as their payroll deduction members. The NCCTA has 16.39 times the total number of members.

If NCAE followed those trends (and it does), it could might have a membership of at least 24,744.

That’s a pretty big number. What would that look like? Something like this:

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If it had the same ratio as NCCTA, then that number would be around 88,000.

Wow! Probably not that much, but….

And other republicans have been using the same talking erroneous talking point. Rep. Rick Horner repeated the claim on his Facebook account that it went unnoticed.

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8. Budget Surpluses

Last August Phil Berger and Tim Moore hinted that they might may push through legislation that would divide up the state’s “surplus” from this past year and “send” it back to North Carolinians in the form of individual $125 checks in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

The fact that there is such a huge surplus in this state’s budget while yet another round of large corporate tax cuts took hold this year is not really a sign of fiscal responsibility. It’s more of a sign of lack of investment in our state’s infrastructure, especially the public school system. Kris Nordstrom in his post “A modest proposal: Use the state surplus to help meet school construction needs” made a strong case built on actual figures that this surplus should go to meeting school construction needs.

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One in five students in the state’s public schools lives at or below the poverty line. We had hurricanes decimate many of our eastern municipalities last year. This state has refused to expand Medicaid when so much evidence points to its benefits without barely any cost to our state.

This teacher would have gladly asked that my portion of the surplus that I helped to create be put back into the state’s public schools wherever it is needed most.

9. May 1st

Almost every county and school system showed it’s support for the All Out on May 1st this past spring.

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34 school districts. 10 charter schools.

There were thousands who marched. And so many more who lent support from their home districts.

To think that everyone who put in a personal leave day for May 1st was able to make it to Raleigh for the actual march is erroneous. The WSFCS school system brought a couple of chartered buses and many people came with their own transportation. Over 1300 put in for a personal leave day from the WSFCS system, many of whom knew that they could not actually physically be there for a variety of valid reasons.

That’s 1300 people in one school district who made it possible for many to go to Raleigh and those who did not make it to Raleigh were still marching and rallying on their own.

The May 1st teacher march and rally was more than an actual demonstration of unity in a closed area that saw a sea of red flow through the streets of Raleigh. It was the sum of all of those who supported the very causes of why we marched. In WSFCS, that included all of the parents, community members, students, and public school advocates who in one way or the other helped to show the NCGA that its priorities should change in respect to public education and serving the needs of our students.

1300 school employees put in a personal day. So many more in the system supported All Out for May 1st.

And that’s just for one of the 115 LEA’s in the state. To think of the actual number of school employees around the state who put in a personal day in support of May 1st and add that to all of the people who were in active support of All Out for May 1st, then you would have a truer count of how many marched and rallied not just in Raleigh, but in the state.

No image could show that count.

But a voting booth can. Last year’s May 16th march showed that, and 2020 has a lot more at stake on a national level.

May 1st was another step. Continued activism, advocacy, and energy does not need a special date or specific place to be displayed. It needs a focus and that focus has the face of our students on it. That means every day in every place we do what we can to strengthen their public schools and make sure they are fully funded.

10. The Really Bad Letter to Teachers From Dan Forest

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On December 6th teachers across the state received in their school email accounts a letter from Lt. Gov. Dan Forest concerning his “record” on public education. It was a “response” to Gov. Cooper’s recent letter about education spending and teacher pay.

In his missive, Forest bragged a lot about what he has done for public schools as the lieutenant governor when in actuality he has acted against them. Simply put, Forest is hoping that teachers will forget what this current NCGA he is aligning himself with has actually done to public education since 2011. That includes the removal of due process rights and graduate degree pay increases for new teachers, a greater reliance on standardized tests, the elimination of class size caps, instituting a punitive school grading system, fostering unregulated charter school growth and vouchers to religious schools, as well as the creation of an ineffective Innovation School District.

Add to that at least a 30% reduction in teacher candidates in our state’s education programs.

Every claim from pay freezes to Medicaid expansion to teacher salaries to per-pupil expenditures to NCAE membership numbers was a simple spun view of issues that require much more explanation.

Reading Forest’s letter is like listening to a man running for an office against a group of teachers rather than the incumbent.  And if Forest considers the actions of a group of five thousand people enough to send a letter like this to tens of thousands of public servants, then imagine what a group of over twenty thousand would make him do.

11. Mark Johnson’s Fight Against “The Deep State”

In November, 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.

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A man who is barely 36 years of age who has been a teacher, went to law school, lawyer, school board member, and state superintendent who told us he happens to still be a lawyer, is telling us about the “deep state.”

I wonder if Mark Johnson would be willing to define the term “deep state.” If one is a lawyer as Johnson says he is, then he should look for concrete evidence. The rules of discovery compel him to do so.

Google the term and you get this:

a body of people, typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy

deep state

“Typically influential members of government agencies?”

So, who could that be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This North Carolina Teacher’s Letter to Santa

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Dear Santa,

With gerrymandered districts and continued emphasis on using public taxpayer money to finance unproven reform efforts that do more to privatize and divide our student bodies, I thought it might be worth adding a few items to my holiday wish list.

Sure, I want efforts to clean our environment and hold entities accountable for any damage they have done to water sources or quality of living. I want Medicaid expansion, and I want the state to do more in lowering the fact that 1 in 5 students in our public schools lives at or below the poverty level.

But this letter specifically is about our public schools.

I would like for the North Carolina General Assembly to stop holding public school students hostage while keeping the budget that should have been ironed out months ago at a continued impasse.

I would like for the state of North Carolina to put more emphasis on growth in student achievement than actual scores of standardized tests. I myself still do not know why we give so many standardized tests when there really are no “standardized” students.

I would like the NCGA to not again threaten schools with the class size mandate that might force many schools to get rid of “specials” just because the NCGA fails to finance an expensive mandate to lower class sizes.

I would like the General Assembly to stop looking at quick ways to build a “contracted” teacher pool like it has with SB599 or TeachNC so that education will not be more of a facilitated exchange of information rather than honoring the art and craft of what teaching really is.

I would like the NCGA to value its veteran teachers more and restore graduate degree pay bumps and due-process rights for new teachers so that they will be more likely to become veteran teachers.

I would like for the money spent per pupil in NC to at least equal the amount adjusted for inflation of what the state spent before the Great Recession.

I would like for there to be a cap on how many charter schools there are in the state and mandate that charter schools be under the umbrella of local school systems as they were originally intended to be.

I would like for the School Performance Grading System to be eliminated and have the state simply acknowledge that poverty affects student achievement and we do not need some nebulous system to report that. And then do something to better combat poverty.

I would like for the Opportunity Grants to not receive any more funding. The system in place in this state is by far the least transparent of any in the country, and there has been no proof whatsoever that outcomes for students who receive these grants do better academically on a wide scale.

I would like for the state to stop funding for-profit virtual charter schools. They have shown no success. That also goes for the Innovative School District. There is no basis that any form of that reform plan has been successful.

And lastly, I would like for this state to have a state superintendent who actually advocates strongly for public schools instead of unproven reform efforts that seem to profit a select few rather than the state as a whole.

Thanks for considering, Santa.

“Pro-Life” Means Taking Care Of Those Who Are Already Born

Since we are in the heart of the holiday season, I tend to think of this part of Dickens’s classic holiday novella.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”
“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

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The above passage from A Christmas Carol also comes to mind any time I hear elected officials talk about the role of government and the role of individuals in a nation that professes to be Christian in its founding and in its morals.

Below are two statements made directly by elected officials or posted on their official websites concerning morals and values. I am most interested in their use of the term “pro-life.”

“I believe strongly in the sanctity of life, and I have had the privilege of seeing many pro-life bills passed during my time in office. I am committed to standing up for the most vulnerable among us.” – Dan Forest, Lt. Gov. of NC

“A pro-life and pro-traditional marriage Senator who believes in religious freedom, Senator Berger has fought to protect the unborn and the rights of magistrates and government officials who choose to opt out of gay marriages or other ceremonies because of religious objections.” – philberger.org

It is easy to confine the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to the arena of unborn children. But the issue of abortion is not really the subject of this post.

Why? Abortion is too big of an issue to tackle in a personal essay and I am certainly not convinced that declaring yourself “pro-choice” automatically means that you condone abortion in any situation. Life throws too many qualifications into its equations to make all choices an “either/or” choice.

However, I do get rather irritated when the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are used in such a polarizing fashion, especially for political gain. And when I see the above statements by prominent politicians, I do not necessarily sense a “pro-life” message as much as I sense an “anti-abortion” message.

Because “pro-life” means so much more than that.

Why are we not protecting the lives of those who are already born? I feel that being “pro-life” is not a matter reserved for the issue of abortion and the unborn, but should include those who are living and need help.

Hubert Humphrey once said in 1977, “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

If you are “pro-life” then it would make sense that you would look to the welfare of those who cannot necessarily defend themselves without help like the “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Is it not ironic that many who ran on a strict “pro-life” platform seem to be in favor of privatizing or redefining the very services that help sustain the lives of those whom they claim to champion.

Think of Medicaid that my own son has been on the waiting list for because he will need its services earlier than most people. It may jeopardize his chances of getting the help he needs when he gets older. Within the state of North Carolina, not expanding Medicaid affects many “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Nationally speaking, think of the Affordable Care Act that insures many who would not be eligible if such a plan was not in place. While it is anything from perfect, it has insured many people who were never insured before. And have the parties in charge of the government offered anything else except “free-market?”

Think of all of the rural hospitals that have closed (or are on the verge of closing) in this state while we are experiencing this great budget “surplus.”

Think of all the corporate tax cuts that have been extended these past few years that have dried up sources of state revenue.

Think of the use of tax payer money to fund vouchers and charter schools that are actually privatizing public schools all in the name of “choice” when there should be a push to fully fund all public schools and provide for their resources because public education is a public service and not a private entity.

Dan Forest once said in reference to the HB2 (Bathroom Bill)  debacle, “We value our women too much to put a price tag on their heads.

But hasn’t some of the “choices” that have been made by those in power been made because there was some sort of price tag on it?

It seems that many of the politicians who claim to be hardline “pro-lifers” are helping to privatize the very institutions that are giving “life” to many individuals. And they are doing it in the name of free-markets, where people are supposed to be able to choose what they want hoping that the “market” controls prices and quality.

How ironic that many politicians who proclaim to be “pro-life” become “pro-choice” when it pertains to those who are already born.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would call himself “pro-life” and allow for big banks (look at what Wells Fargo did a couple of years ago) and pharmaceutical companies (think of the EpiPen price hike) to literally control prices and the market without a fight.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would have been willing to allow public money to fund private entities without input from the public itself.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would not confront politicians and call them out for their hypocrisy in not defending or helping take care of those who needed aid.

The Jesus I know called out the Sadducees and the Pharisees for their self-righteous ways.

The Jesus I know did not canvas for votes. He came to help all of us no matter race, gender, or physical ailment.

The Jesus I know preached and practiced the Golden Rule in the very places where many who profess to help would never set foot.

Growing up Southern Baptist in a region of the country known as the Bible Belt, I was constantly (still am) confronted with the question, “When you meet your Maker after you die, how will you answer for your actions?”

Yet the more I think of it, there might be another more important question that will require an answer from me and from all of us, especially those who have the power to positively affect the lives of people. That question is “What will you say when you meet your Maker and you are asked to answer for your lack of action?”

Back to Dickens. When Scrooge asked Marley’s ghost, who practiced an incredible amount of selfishness in life, about his afterlife, he was treated to a very terse lesson in what it meant to be “pro-life.”

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

When you become an elected official, then your business is humankind. That’s being “pro-life.”

Dear Mark Johnson: I Just Found That “Deep State” – Go Get ‘ Em!

Mark Johnson is officially running for LT. Governor of North Carolina. He is going to fight the “Deep State.” From NC Policy Watch:

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So what is the “Deep State?”

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“Influential members of government” involved in the “manipulation or control of policy?” Or maybe the manipulation of how the public views government policy like public education?

Does he mean the very forces that so drastically affect traditional public schools with closed-door policies and alter the reporting protocols that control how the public ends up viewing the effectiveness of traditional public schools?

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It is interesting that Johnson mentions fighting the Deep State but never really identifies the very people who seem to be controlling such a secretive agency. And since Johnson is the state’s highest education official, the fight that he has been supposedly fighting against these dark forces are against people who seem to not only be crafting educational policy, but also trying to control the narrative that the public hears.

And when one keeps that profile in mind, it is easy to identify whom Mark Johnson is supposedly “fighting.” Here are some clues:

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The above are actual released statements and letters by people who not only are controlling educational policy but are controlling how the public views public education.

Looks like we just found the “Deep State.” And as Johnson said, it’s “real.”

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One of them is actually from Mark Johnson himself.

But he wouldn’t know. He’s too busy being controlled by the others to see the truth.

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One Of The Best Gifts We Give Our Students And Should Ask Others To Give As Well

It should not take a festive holiday season for people to realize that prioritizing the needs of others is of utmost importance.

That’s absolutely one of the most wonderful things about working with teachers and other public school professionals in our public schools: they constantly prioritize the needs of students.

And those needs are not just academic.

What we do as public school educators is advocate for our students. We advocate to create opportunities for students to succeed and achieve. We advocate for more resources. We advocate for better physical facilities. We advocate for mental and physical health for our students. We advocate to constantly remind our lawmakers to prioritize public schools as the foundation of a strong republic. We advocate because many of the students and families we serve and love cannot do it for themselves. We advocate by going to the polls and voting.

And this teacher wants to ask others in public education to keep giving that gift for our students. Advocate for them.

Teach others who may not be in our public schools what our students need from those who can make opportunities happen. Teach them how schools operate and that when public schools are hindered in their abilities to help our students, it’s not just those students who are affected – communities suffer as well.

Help educate others by showing them that when public schools are portrayed by lawmakers as failing our students, they tell only part of the story because measuring what schools really do for students is beyond a simple set of spun variables that are designed to stigmatize rather than tell the truth.

North Carolina has 100 counties and 117 distinct LEA’s. The public school system is the largest single employer in over 50 of those counties. In many of the remaining counties, the public school system is at least the second largest employer. There is hardly a family in this state who does not have an educational professional in its fold or is close to a family that boasts of a teacher or public school employee.

Those avenues for advocating are many and using them might be one of the greatest gifts we can ever give our public schools and its students.

It doesn’t cost one cent.

And we all get something incredibly valuable – stronger public schools.

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Craig Horn And Catherine Truitt Are Running For State Superintendent. They Need To Explain Some Things.

The graphics below chart actual data during the time that Craig Horn has been a member of the North Carolina General Assembly. They also are linked to policies and mandates created while Gov. Pat McCrory was governor. Catherine Truitt was McCrory’s Senior Advisor on Education for part of his term.

It would be interesting to hear how each would explain how these data points and exhibits are actually a part of the “improvement” and reforming of public education in North Carolina.

graphFrom the recent Public School Forum of North Carolina’s report on top ten issues in NC education.

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View image on Twitter

Source: Kris Nordstrom

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