This may not be a popular stance among all educators, but I don’t necessarily want to build bridges in this state with those who are making the very divides that separate us.
Yes, public education can be the ultimate bridge that spans socio-economic divides, that links the rural to the urban, that allows for social gains, yet the parties who are in the construction of those bridges must be in complete synchronicity as far as goals and intentions are concerned.
But after watching lawmakers like Tim Moore and Phil Berger hold this state hostage through unethical measures to pass budgets, hold special sessions, and pass legislation that continuously weaken our public schools it has become apparent to this teacher that these are people with whom you build bridges.
Mark Johnson is one of those people.
And after the stunt he pulled this past week with a public relations snafu trying to frame State Board of Education member as someone he is not, the fact that Johnson is a man who will not hold office next year is even more appealing.
And now he wants to save face.
EdNC.org ran a news piece yesterday about Johnson’s letter. Apparently, it received a lot of attention.
So much that EdNC changed it and made an explanation as to why.
Two emails received: one from Johnson and one from DPI’s communications guy, Graham Wilson.
EdNC.org did not publish the entirety of those emails, just a couple of lines.
They should have published them in full. It may help answer the multitude of questions that adding the “explanation” surely has given rise to.
Please remember that Johnson actually made a press release out of his initial email. HE WANTED TO MAKE IT ALL PUBLIC. It would have been nice if he was willing to post his entire “explanation” for all to see.
Here are the parts that EdNC.org published:
Go ahead. Read Johnson’s letter again. Think of the timing. Think of his publicizing it.
Think of his constantly avoiding having “discussions” with others over the last 3+ years whether that be the state school board or teacher advocacy groups.
Think of his invitation-only announcement session in February of 2019 that excluded teachers and educators.
Think of his never “rallying” with teachers during those iconic marches in 2018 and 2019.
Think of the shadowy way he conducted business and reorganized DPI.
And think of some of the polarizing public statements he has made in the recent past (some to the very board that Ford serves on).
If Johnson wanted a response from Ford, he should have gone straight to Ford. He made the state his audience. It became a public conversation.
And he got it thrown back into his face by the court of public opinion.
Much like his bid for the office of Lt. Governor.
In a way, if the letter was to encourage response. It did get a lot of responses.
Graham is not to be forgotten in this affair either. As the spokesperson for then governor Pat McCrory, Graham offered this “conversation starter” in defense of HB2, that onerous “bathroom bill.”
“Instead of providing reasonable accommodations for some students facing unique circumstances,” the school district “made a radical change to their shower, locker room and restroom policy for all students.
“This curiously-timed announcement that changes the basic expectations of privacy for students comes just after school let out and defies transparency, especially for parents,” Wilson said in a statement. “The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System should have waited for the courts to make a decision instead of purposely breaking state law.”
That quote was so out of line with what actually happened, it became probably one of the leading reasons that Pat McCrory was the first incumbent governor not to win a reelection bid in NC history.
And Trump carried the state in the same election.
When Justin Parmenter started raising legitimate questions about Johnson’s contract with iStation and began to reveal details that would make anyone question the ethics of the contract, Graham Wilson was quick to “start a conversation.”
For the record, Justin Parmenter is not simply a “blogger.” He’s a teacher. In fact, he’s been a teacher about ten times longer than Graham and his boss have been teachers combined. And Wilson tried to go after him.
He didn’t do it very well.
Maybe he was just trying to start a “productive conversation.”
EdNC.org ended its “explanation” with this:
Later in the school year? It better be quick. Johnson and Wilson are out of office in January and by November 4th, there will be no more candidates for superintendent as the election will be done.
Johnson willing to be in a conversation with a bunch of teachers? That might be a first.
And why is there no public invitation to James Ford?
I know as a teacher I would not be invited. I don’t want to build bridges with Mark Johnson or any of his cronies. I want them away from public education.
James Ford already builds bridges. Strong bridges. For people who really need them.
Isn’t that the person Johnson wanted to “talk” with in the first place?