NoMoreCommonCore.Org: When Mark Johnson Forgets What Happened in 2017

Mark Johnson is running to be Lt. Gov. so that he can sit on the very state board of education that he literally fought against for almost two years in court over a power struggle.

His platform? No more Common Core.

And he finally has a website for his campaign – less than three weeks from the primary that may end his tenure in Raleigh.

Here it is:

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Or is it this?

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Wait, he already had this one for his campaign:

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By making Common Core the focus of his two week campaign to become Lt. Gov., it makes one wonder why all of a sudden he is visiting an issue that he has had over three years to attack or did he forget 2017?

The official guideposts that determine what English and language arts skills students should acquire as they move through the grades are poised to change next year as the state moves away from the controversial Common Core standards.

That’s from an N&O report on April 4th, 2017 by Lynn Bonner.

Common Core already has been dealt with a lot in NC. In fact,

On Wednesday, DPI staff described the journey toward creating the proposed standards that started more than 18 months ago and involved soliciting comments from teachers, parents and others, and local district reviews. The changes incorporate recommendations from the Academic Standards Review Commission, the group the legislature created. In the rewrite, 284 of 463 standards were revised, with 125 of the standards undergoing major changes.

The rewrite addresses developmental appropriateness, improves clarity and flow from grade to grade, and emphasizes planning and revision in writing, said Julie Joslin, English/language arts section chief at DPI.

That “started more than 18 months ago and involved soliciting comments from teachers, parents and others, and local district reviews” is the part that’s funny to me.

If Johnson was going to use Common Core as his platform to run a two-week campaign for a primary with a website (s) that has maybe two layers, then maybe he should have had a better lesson plan.

 

 

 

 

WSFCS, Recruit & Retain Great Teachers And Pass The Sales Tax Referendum

Within the last ten years, the number of teacher candidates in this state’s education schools have decreased by approximately one-third, the North Carolina Teacher Fellows was dismantled and then brought back as a shadow of its former self, graduate degree pay bumps were removed for new hires in 2014, and longevity pay for teachers was taken away making educators the only state employees to not receive it.

Most all of the 117 LEA’s in this state that comprise our state’s public school system have experienced vacancies. In fact, just two weeks ago over 40 county instructional coaches in WSFCS were removed from their jobs and placed in schools that had teacher vacancies. Professional development and support were then instantly removed from the schools.  And this is happening in what officials are calling an economic boom. To say that local supplements is important in recruiting teachers and keeping them is an understatement. That’s why the sales tax referendum is important – you need to keep teachers not only in the profession, but also in our local schools.

Not too long ago WSFCS ranked in the top five in the state for local supplements. We are now in the high twenties. Every other school system that is at least our size has a higher supplement. One of those systems borders our county.

Having a great school that services our students is also one of the reasons many families come here to live. Any residential realtor can tell you that one of the first questions that a potential buyer might ask of a home is “what are the schools like in the area?” Schools simply are a foundation of a community.

Teachers are worth investing in. Schools are worth honoring. When you have great teachers in a great school, you have something that is the envy of so many other communities.

And it can’t be taken for granted. Thank you for listening.Sales 7

“I’m Also A Lawyer” – Then Our State Superintendent Should “Honestly Demean” Himself

Last August Mark Johnson wanted you to know that he’s a lawyer in an email that has probably the best first line ever from a high ranking official in the past few years

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Look at all of the different “excuses” as to why State Superintendent Mark Johnson has not fully come clean about a unilateral decision to sign a contract with iStation or buying iPads or ClassWallet or set up a new website that directed people away from DPI’s official site or why he all of a sudden he sent text messages to hundreds of thousands of people in an “campaign” stunt.

Then remember that Mark Johnson is by trade a lawyer: an attorney with an active license who practiced (and will probably try to continue) in North Carolina and took an oath,  specifically this one:

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The last statement in that oath states that the person taking it will “swear that I will truly and honestly demean myself in the practice of an Attorney, according to the best of my knowledge and ability, so help me God.”

In this context, the word “demean” means “to conduct oneself or behave” in a certain way. Here it pertains to being honest and following the law. In fact, it means that an attorney must be a role model in lawful conduct and practice honesty.

Mark Johnson is a lawyer here in North Carolina who took an oath.

It’s time for him to come clean.

 

What Bloomberg Said About Teachers and Class Size

It might be worth watching this video.

In this speech, Bloomberg said,

“If I had the ability, which nobody does really, to just design the system and say, ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do, you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them, and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers, and double class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.”

Might want to ask a teacher about this idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter To Graham Wilson, Mark Johnson’s Spokesperson, Concerning His Pathetic Words About A Teacher

Hi Mr. Wilson.

We’ve met. In 2016, I wrote a post about what the state of North Carolina had done to the public school system over the last few years and Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post published it as part of The Answer Sheet education blog. You were the spokesperson for then Governor Pat McCrory at that time. You contacted Strauss and demanded that the post be taken down because of what you thought was erroneous information.

It stayed posted because I could verify everything. In fact, it’s still there. There was no erroneous information.

Later that summer when the HB2 debacle was staining our state’s reputation, you did what you did best and put words to McCrory’s thoughts that were heard in the ears of the rest of North Carolina blaming others for your boss’s lack of understanding.

“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.”

McCrory then became the first incumbent governor in the state’s history to lose a reelection bid – in the same year that NC went for Donald Trump.

It seems that you have that consistency in attacking others for making stands to protect people on behalf of disconnected “public servants.” In the few days before leaving office, McCrory called for a special session that was supposed to be about hurricane relief and HB2 repeal. What happened was HB17.

McCrory’s office through your “mouth” issued this statement just hours before signing HB17.

“Governor McCrory has always publicly advocated a repeal of the overreaching Charlotte ordinance. But those efforts were always blocked by Jennifer Roberts, Roy Cooper and other Democratic activists,” said McCrory spokesman Graham Wilson. “This sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics and winning the governor’s race at the expense of Charlotte and our entire state. As promised, Governor McCrory will call a special session.”

It was that session that gave unprecedented power to the new state superintendent, Mark Johnson, the official for whom you work for now. He hired you in 2017. I even had a post about that. From Dec. 5th, 2017:

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The money used to hire you came from a special “slush fund” given to the enabled Johnson.

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That salary you were drawing there was over 20,000 higher than the misrepresented “average” teacher pay and in your time working for Johnson, you’ve seemed to attack many a teacher, especially if that teacher questioned what your aloof boss has done.

And he has done a lot – iPads, iStation contract, skipping chances to meet with teachers during rallies, doughnut eating, and now this latest red-herring: seemingly eliminating the already eliminated common core standards in NC to help garner votes for a weak bid at Lt. Gov.

Yet, something you said today carried just enough weight to call you out.

From today’s N&O:

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 you and your boss have been teachers combined. And he’s not lying. He’s exposing painful truths about your boss’s dealings. He’s fighting for the state’s public schools.

And all you do is attack his integrity with your lack of it.

But I would not have expected more from a person who works for the most enabled man in Raleigh. I would not have expected more from a man who serves as the mouthpiece for a puppet of an official. I would not have expected more from a man who has the habit of working for one-term politicians whose records while in office will be talked about for years to come as the standard of failure.

I would not have expected more from a man whose job is to shield someone who is more concerned with personal gain than fighting for public school students.

Because you have a track record that is consistently pathetic.

Justin Parmenter needs no defending from me. His search for the truth and his drive to help others will never be diminished by your words or actions. His reputation as a public school advocate is unmatched in this state as far as I am concerned and his dedication to his profession is awe-inspiring. I am proud to call him my friend.

But you not only tried to demean my colleague; you went after a teacher. Teachers work together. They collaborate openly and pull resources to help students inside and outside of the classrooms. They fight for a social good even when the very government that is supposed to support public schools fails to do so.

Mark Johnson has been no advocate for teachers. Nor has he been an advocate for public schools. He has been an advocate for glossy flyers and self-promotion and special interest and privatizing public education.

You chose to be his mouthpiece. You chose to be part of the problem. You chose to be an obstacle.

Hopefully, you will not be able to do that for much longer as I hope Mark Johnson’s 2020 election bid looks a lot your election bid in 2016.

And that bit about “Elitist Insiders?” You might want to look in the mirror.

 

Financing An Academic Theocracy With Public Money – North Carolina’s Voucher System

An “Opportunity Grant” in North Carolina is worth up to $4200 a year to cover (or help cover) tuition at a non-public participating school.

According to the Private School Review, there are 35 private schools in North Carolina for which an Opportunity Grant could cover the entire tuition ($4200 or less).

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All 35 are religiously affiliated schools. 22 of them take Opportunity Grants.

Currently we are on pace to give almost a billion dollars to vouchers within the next ten years.

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For a system that is considered the least transparent in the entire country.

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Here is some more food for thought.

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From page 8 of the Public School Forum of NC’s report Top Ten Education Issues of 2018:

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And Dan Forest wants all students in North Carolina to have these.

 

Here’s A Way To Recruit & Retain Great Teachers In NC – Restore Graduate Degree Pay

The GOP-led NC legislature’s 2013 decision to end graduate degree pay bumps for new teachers entering the teaching profession was not only misguided, but another wave in the assault on public education that continues here in the Old North State.

And the very person who has influenced more policy on public education since 2013, Sen. Phil Berger, continues to shout that graduate degrees for teachers do not have a positive effect in the classroom. In his most recent interview with WFMY, Berger stated,

“Having an advanced degree does not make you a better teacher. We took the money we would have spent on masters pay and plugged it in to teacher raises.”

I confess there exist studies that have shown that advanced degrees do not correlate with higher test scores and/or higher graduation rates. One only has to follow the work of John Hood to glimpse that. His vociferous opposition to paying for advanced degrees is consistent, especially for someone who has never taught or experienced the absolute never-ending flux that educational reforms in NC have placed on schools and teachers.

But in reality, it is rather hard to measure today’s data with historical data when so many variables in measuring schools have been changed so many times in so many ways – usually by non-teachers like Phil Berger.

Since 1990, we as a nation have transitioned from Clinton to Bush to Obama to Trump (and DeVos); we have survived No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. As a state, we have gone from the Standard Course of Study all the way to Common Core (and its supposed amorphous successor). And we have used several versions of EOCT’s, EOG’s, SAT’s, ACT’s, AP’s, ABC’s, and AYP’s.

The point is that we have employed so many different barometers of learning utilizing various units of measurements that to actually compare current data on student achievement to historical data becomes almost futile. Even the SAT has changed multiple times since I took it in high school.

However, there is one constant in our classrooms that has provided the glue and mortar for public schools since 1990 and well before that: experienced teachers.

If the Phil Berger thinks that abolishing the graduate degree pay increases for teachers is a good policy, then he needs to convince North Carolinians that our state does not need veteran teachers who are seasoned with experience. Teachers who seek graduate degrees in education (and/or National Certification) are themselves making a commitment to pursue careers in public education. When the state refused to give pay bumps for graduate degrees to new hires, then the state ensured that North Carolina will not have as many veteran, experienced teachers in our schools in the near future. Those teachers will not be able to afford to stay in the profession. Yet, we as a state cannot afford to lose them.

Some teachers do not wish to earn graduate degrees simply because of time constraints and financial barriers. Some do not need graduate degrees to feel validated as master teachers, but the choice to further one’s education to advance in a chosen occupation should always remain and be rewarded. And if a teacher believes that it is beneficial to earn an advanced degree, then it can only help the teacher’s performance. Besides, it is an investment made by teachers who wish to remain in the educational field, especially when future veteran teachers here in NC will never make more than $52K a year under current salary schedules.

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And there is actually plenty of research that suggests that graduate degrees do matter.

Timothy Drake from NC State said in the Summary Report of his publication entitled “Examining the Relationship Between Masters Degree Attainment and Student Math and Reading Achievement,”

“…the results in math and English-Language Arts suggest that teachers earning a Masters degree in math or those earning one designated as “In-Area” have higher average student performance in math across both model specifications.

In an article from EdNC.org, Kevin Bastian of UNC’s Education Policy Initiative at Carolina stated,

Recent research from the Education Policy Initiative at Carolina (EPIC) shows that middle and high school mathematics teachers with a graduate degree in mathematics (i.e. an in-area graduate degree) are more effective than peers with an undergraduate degree only. Likewise, in several subject-areas, teachers with a graduate degree in their area of teaching are more effective than they were before earning that degree. These positive results are modest in size but fit with a broader body of research showing benefits to teachers who acquire knowledge and skills in their area of teaching.

Given a primary focus on student achievement, we know less about whether graduate degrees impact other important outcomes. Work in North Carolina — by Helen Ladd and Lucy Sorensen — indicates that middle school students are absent less often when taught by a teacher with a graduate degree. Our own work at EPIC shows that teachers with a graduate degree earn higher evaluation ratings than their peers with an undergraduate degree only. These evaluation results are particularly strong for teachers with an in-area graduate degree.

And teachers who pursue graduate degrees to gain more insight into what they can do in the classroom tend to stay in the classroom if that graduate degree would be rewarded in their salary. Teachers who stay become veteran teachers who gain more and more experience that only enhances school culture and student performance in ways that can never be truly measured.

In a report published in Education Week in March, 2015 entitled “New Studies Find That, for Teachers, Experience Really Does Matter”, Stephen Sawchuck recounted findings by Brown University scholars saying:

 The notion that teachers improve over their first three or so years in the classroom and plateau thereafter is deeply ingrained in K-12 policy discussions, coming up in debate after debate about pay, professional development, and teacher seniority, among other topics.

 But findings from a handful of recently released studies are raising questions about that proposition. In fact, they suggest the average teacher’s ability to boost student achievement increases for at least the first decade of his or her career—and likely longer.

 Moreover, teachers’ deepening experience appears to translate into other student benefits as well. One of the new studies, for example, links years on the job to declining rates of student absenteeism.

 Although the studies raise numerous questions for follow-up, the researchers say it may be time to retire the received—and somewhat counterintuitive—wisdom that teachers can’t or don’t improve much after their first few years on the job.

 “For some reason, you hear this all the time, from all sorts of people, Bill Gates on down,” said John P. Papay, an assistant professor of education and economics at Brown University, in Providence, R.I. He is the co-author of one of two new studies on the topic. “But teacher quality is not something that’s fixed. It does develop, and if you’re making a decision about a teacher’s career, you should be looking at that dynamic.”

This reiterates that we need experienced, veteran teachers – many of whom believe that advanced degrees or even national certification are ways to improve their performance in the classrooms. That is not to say that all teachers who have advanced degrees are better than those who do not. I work with many teachers in my school who have earned just a bachelor’s degree and are master teachers who possess traits I wish to emulate.

What many who work on West Jones Street in Raleigh do not mention is that while beginning teachers have seen a big increase in pay, those with more experience have not. That is one major reason we are seeing fewer and fewer teaching candidates in undergraduate education schools here in North Carolina. It is not inviting monetarily to be a teacher for an entire career.

And we need career teachers.

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. Furthermore, the amount of money it would take to repay the cost of a master’s degree would still take a teacher many years to make on a teacher’s salary, and in most cases that tuition is being paid to public colleges and universities. In essence, many teachers are reinvesting in the very public education system that they serve.

Ironically, not many of those who agree with eliminating graduate degree pay increases argue against that veracity of National Board Certification, which also leads to a pay increase. North Carolina still leads the nation in NBCT’s (National Board Certified Teachers). National certification is defined by a portfolio process which many schools of education emulate in their graduate programs. Additionally, national certification is recognized across the country and its process of validating teacher credentials has rarely been questioned.

But what really seems to be the most incongruous aspect of the argument against graduate degree pay increases is that it totally contradicts the message we send to students in a college and career ready curriculum. If we want students to be life-long learners and contribute to our communities, then where else to better witness that than with our teachers who want to get better at what they do. When students witness a teacher actually going to school (or knowing he/she went back to school), then the impact can be incredible because it means that teachers still “walk the walk” when it comes to furthering an education.

Besides, most all students know that public school teachers do not get into the profession to get rich.

So We Can “Opt Out?” Interesting.

This is just a personal opinion, but it must simply suck to be the spokesperson for State Superintendent Mark Johnson and have to “explain” some of the electioneering antics he has used to “promote” himself.

Johnson makes a personal webpage to steer people away from the official DPI site and Graham Wilson has to explain it.

Buy a bunch of iPads without going through proper protocols and Graham Wilson has to explain it.

Procure a “contract” with iStation through surreptitious means and Graham Wilson has to explain it.

Eat some doughnuts and Graham Wilson has to explain why that was good for teachers.

And now this:

From NC Policy Watch today:

State Superintendent Mark Johnson’s Common Core survey is getting panned on social media.

Critics contend the survey is politically  motivated and the questions too simplistic.

Educators are also complaining about receiving email and text messages with the link to the five-question survey.

It was politically motivated. Johnson is running for LT. Gov., and if he was actually serious about making a run for the job, he has done an absolute crappy job of campaigning and fundraising which might explain why he resorted to such blatant questionable ways to “reach” an electorate.

In fact in the last six months of 2019 (when he was playing with the idea of running for LT. Gov.), his campaign raised a little over 14,000 dollars. Five of the thirteen contributions were from family. Four came out of state.

Now that doesn’t negate that Johnson already had money in the coffers from earlier, but the last campaign finance report and lack of an actual “campaign” does seem rather odd if seeking the LT. Gov.’s office is a serious quest.

Concerning the incident yesterday about the text messages to teachers in the middle of the school day, it was not even odd that Graham Wilson respond with a horribly safe answer.

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We can OPT OUT. Wow! That’s like someone coming into my house uninvited and then telling me that I could always tell them to leave after the fact.

But Wilson is partially right. We can OPT OUT. In a preventative manner.

Knock Johnson out of the race in the primary.

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Yes. Facts Do Matter When Talking About North Carolina’s Charter Schools.

Another disingenuous “explanation” of the overall success of charter schools here in North Carolina appeared on EdNC.org this week.

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And it invoked Mark Twain.

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This one was penned by Lindalyn Kakadelis, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition for Charter Schools. In an effort to “rebut” the criticism of the latest Charter School Advisory Board’s decision to not include demographic data on charter school student bodies, Kakadelis rehashed a few of the same debunked talking points that have appeared of late by Rhonda Dillingham and Sen. Deanna Ballard.

Dillingham, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, defended North Carolina’s charter schools from criticism concerning perpetuating segregation back in September of 2019 on EdNC.org. In it she claimed,

“On top of that, charters in our state are serving virtually the same percentage of black and white students as district schools (and only a slightly lower percentage of Hispanic students).”

As well as,

“Today, as I look at the excellent work charter schools are doing in our state, I can confidently say that they have become active mobilizers in the ongoing fight for diversity and cultural competency in education. Indeed, cultivating schools that are diverse and capable of serving all students regardless of their race is central to the core missions of charter schools in North Carolina. And many public charter schools, recognizing that students from underserved backgrounds were not receiving the quality of education they deserve, have gone a step further, implementing plans to diversify their student bodies.”

Dillingham’s argument about how “diverse” NC’s charter schools was somewhat baseless.

It would be nice if Ms. Dillingham would define what “diversity” is in her own words because in looking at the populations of the charter schools’ student bodies from the last recorded NC State Report Card tables, NC’s charter schools are not really showing as much diversity as she may want people to believe.

The Excel spreadsheet linked here (Charters With Race Makeup From 2018 SRC)  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.

Those school report cards have the breakdown of each charter school’s student body by race and economic disadvantage.

According to the Excel spreadsheet’s data 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.

And remember that there is a strong correlation on the state level between school performance grades and levels of poverty in schools. Charters show just as much evidence as traditional schools.

  • Of the 20 schools that received an “A” on the 2018-2019 School Performance Grade scale, 18 of them were at least 57% white the year before.
  • Of the 59 schools that received a “B” on the 2018-2019 School Performance Grade scale, 48 of them were at least 60% white the year before.
  • Of the 11 schools that received an “F” on the 2018-2019 School Performance Grade scale, only one had a population of at least 50% white.
  • Of the 31 schools that received a “D” on the 2018-2019 School Performance Grade scale, only 5 were majority white.

That doesn’t really back up Dillingham’s claims.

The next month, Sen. Deanna Ballard stated in a Center Point article  many of the same claims that Dillingham did.

Ballard said the racism claims are the critics “last hope for killing school choice,” but she thinks it is a shot in the dark. 

Enrollment numbers in North Carolina paint a different picture from the “white flight” that Mangrum described, according to Ballard.

About 20 percent of school-aged children do not attend traditional public schools, according to state numbers. The charter schools have a higher percentage of African-American students than public schools do. 

The Center Square confirmed that 26.1 percent of charter school students in North Carolina are African-American, and African-American students make up 25.1 percent of the public school population.

Sen. Ballard represents parts of five counties in northwestern NC: Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, and Wilkes. Those counties house three of the over 170 charter schools in the state. Those charter schools are Bridges Academy in Wilkes County, Milennium Charter Academy in Surry County, and Two Rivers Community School in Watauga County.

Maybe it would be a good idea to see how the student makeup of each of these charter schools compares to nearby public schools. In this post, the site SchoolDigger.com was used. Each charter school in Ballard’s district was entered into the same search fields.

Here is what was found.

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Millenium Charter: 15.7 free and reduced lunch. Take a look at the table above of the nearest high schools – particularly Mount Airy High School which is the closest one.

Compare the percentages of student makeup.

Here’s Two Bridges compared to other close elementary schools. Again, take a look at the percentages of Free/Discounted Lunch Recipients and race makeups.

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Here’s Bridges Academy.

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Of the three above, two are starkly different in student makeup than other nearby schools. Only Bridges Academy seems to have the same student makeup as nearby schools. But would that have anything to do with the lack of diversity in Wilkes County?

But two of three school in her district portray a vastly different image than the one she proffers in her words within the Center Point article.

Actually, those two schools prove her words wrong.

Kakadelis went one step further. Not only did she make the same claims about the demographics of North Carolina’s charter schools – she said they performed better. But she does not show a real investigation of the data.

In her op-ed Kakadelis states,

Charter schools make efforts to reflect the population of the local system in which they are located. However, it is essential to remember that charter schools are public schools of choice with no enrollment boundary. In fact, families often cross county lines to attend these public schools of choice.

This leads to another factor of reporting complexity when comparing charters to a specific county school system: Charter schools may draw students from multiple counties and thus may not have student enrollments that are reflective, exclusively, of the county system in which these schools are located.

Interesting that she states that charter schools may draw students from multiple counties. It reminded me of Kris Nordstrom’s work from 2016, “Charter schools already receive more than their fair share of local funding” for the NC Justice Center. In it he explained how “per student local funding provided to charter schools is based on the per student local funding from where the students in that charter school live.” If a charter school draws students from multiple counties, then multiple counties will have less money to fund their traditional schools depending on the number of students who go to the charter schools.

Furthermore, right after that she talks about how charter schools have a harder time giving transportation to students. Money for transportation is a whole other matter in budgeting, but in this context, it seems that she is saying that charter schools mostly have students who can only provide their own transportation. Students whose families cannot make that investment can not easily go to the charter school.

And our school performance grades have already shown that schools with higher levels of poverty have lower SPGs.

Then Kakadelis offers this:

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She seems to equate achievement with growth, when growth is a better indicator of how well schools do with the students they teach. From Kris Nordstrom:

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In fact, here is a better indication of charters versus traditional schools when looking at growth (also from Nordstrom).

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So Mark Twain is rather applicable here.

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The problem is that Kakadelis chooses not to look at all of the facts.

 

“To Seem, Rather Than to Be” – The Motto of the State Superintendent

For years the official state motto for North Carolina has been “Esse quam videri” which is Latin for “To be, rather than to seem.” 

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This motto (along with “In God We Trust”) was part of a 2018 bill that would have had all public schools in North Carolina display such words for all to see. The “In God We Trust” issue is for another argument, but if we were to have had “Esse quam videri” prominently displayed in all schools, it would be nice if it really depicted what those in North Carolina’s political system actually abided by, especially the state superintendent who is more than eager to exert full control over our public school system.

If the words of our state motto are measured against the actions that Mark Johnson and others in Raleigh have taken to hurt public education, then it seems that the more appropriate motto to attach to them would be “To seem, rather than to be.”

In other words, “Say the right things, but don’t back them up with appropriate actions.”

Johnson mentions the “American Dream” often. It was part of his campaign. In an op-ed for EdNC.org in September of 2016 he stated,

“We are blessed beyond measure to be citizens of the United States, the only nation ever to have a dream named after it. No matter who you are, your background, your neighborhood, or your race; you should be able to go to school, work hard, and reach your American Dream.”

Yet, has there ever been a time when Johnson has come out and defended the “Dreamers” in our schools from actions on immigration? Has Johnson ever come out against policies that keep over 20% of public school students from escaping poverty? In calling public education a great tool for success, did Johnson back that up with lobbying hard for more funding and more personnel for public schools?

No. The words are there. The actions never have been.

Johnson also tells educators how “important” they are and that NC is “fortunate” to have them. Automatically many think of the May 16th, 2018 march and rally in which almost a fifth of the state’s teaching force came directly to Raleigh. Were they so important that Johnson actually met with them? They came again in May of 2019. Did Johnson meet with them?

No. Just words. No actions.

However, this type of communication is consistent with Johnson’s approach. Face-to-face interaction with teachers and public school officials is not a strong suit for the state superintendent. Actual dialogue with the very people he supposedly leads is his very kryptonite which is totally antithetical to how teachers should be.

And Johnson loves to talk about his teaching “career.”

The typical Johnson way of interacting with public schools has been indirect and hands-off with the hope of not having to accept any responsibility for reality but having enablers craft words and carry out actions on his behalf. Look at the iStation contract decision. Look at the Class Wallet decision.

Maybe ask those 40+ DPI veterans who were forced to leave due to budget cuts in 2018 that Johnson never fought against and were given notices by HR people and never came face to face with the very person whose experience in education is dwarfed by every individual affected many times over.

And many of those former DPI employees were helping low-income school systems to accomplish great growth, leading students out of poverty. Now it seems that Johnson wants to put them in front of computer screens.

To seem, rather than to be.