If Mark Johnson Wants to be “Data-Driven,” Then He Might Want to Look at the Data

“While it is unfortunate that it took more than a year and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to resolve this matter, the positive news is that we will be able to utilize the data-driven analysis to reorganize DPI to help the agency focus on its core mission of supporting educators, students and parents across North Carolina.” – Mark Johnson (6/8) on the Supreme Court decision in case with SBOE.

The idea of using data to drive policy is not a new occurrence. But it is sometimes hard to quantify the qualitative aspects of public education.  Some officials like to look at proficiency levels and scores. Teachers tend to look at growth. One is a snapshot. The other is a look at the terrain traveled.

But if Mark Johnson is now going to use some data-driven analysis, there is some irrefutable data that provides a very clear picture of what can be done to help public education here in North Carolina.

1. Poverty Influences How Well Students Perform in a State Where Over 1 in 5 Public School Students Lives in Poverty


That is from the 2015–16 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools Executive Summary, NC DPI.

In Sept. of 2016, Mark Johnson said, “The transformation of our public education system will open true pathways out of poverty” (https://www.ednc.org/2016/09/07/our-american-dream/).

Maybe attacking poverty at its root sources could do so much to help education. The data tends to show that.

2. Average is Not Actual When It Comes To Teacher Pay

Johnson and the people he allies himself to in the GOP super majority take a lot of time talking about how “average” teacher pay has risen.

Here’s a data point.

  • In 2017 the average teacher pay in North Carolina was %16 behind the national average. In 2018 the average teacher pay in NC was STILL %16 behind the national average.

Consider the following table compiled by John deVille, NC public school activist and teacher veteran who has chronicled the various changes in educational policy for years. He tracked the recent teacher pay “increase” and used DATA-DRIVEN logic to show something rather interesting.


What deVille did was to compare salaries as proposed from the recent budget to the 2008-2009 budget that was in place right before the Great Recession hit, the same financial catastrophe that most every GOP stalwart seems to forget happened ten years ago. Adjusting the 2008-2009 salary schedule with an inflation index from the Bureau of Labor, the third column shows what those 2008-2009 salaries would be like now. Most steps see a shortfall. Add to that the loss of longevity pay that was used to help finance these “historic raises” and the amount of money lost by teachers over these past ten years becomes rather eye-opening.

Also notice that the biggest shortfalls happen to veteran teachers. That not only affects take home pay, but also retirement because the average of the last four years helps to project pension.

Look at the charts below from the recent Teacher Working Conditions Survey released by Johnson’s office this past week.

years employed

Take notice of the number of veteran teachers in the state. Compare that to the number of teachers in the state who have less than ten years experience. There’s a trend going on in teaching here in NC. More teachers are leaving the classroom at earlier times in their career. The number of veteran teachers in the state will drop as years go by.

Even Mark Johnson left the classroom after two years. That’s a data point.

3. Public Education is the Top Employer in Most Counties

North Carolina has 100 counties (with 115 LEA’s), each with a public school system. According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools systems are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in almost 70. That means teachers represent a base for most communities, the public school system.  And teachers are strong in numbers.


If people went to the polls in November and had public education as a top priority and had unspun information helping to inform decisions on whom to elect, then there could be significant change occurring quickly.

4. When Lawmakers Say They Are Spending More on Education, It Doesn’t Mean That Per-Pupil Expenditures Have Risen

Here’s a recent Facebook post from Senator Joyce Kraweic.

kraweic facebook post

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 2018, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. 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.

What many in Raleigh like Kraweic want to pat themselves on the backs about is that we as a state are spending more on education than ever before. And that’s true. Just listen for the many examples to come from legislators looking to get reelected this year to the NC General Assembly yet passing a budget through a nuclear option to avoid having to answer questions about the facts.

But when the average spent per pupil does not increase with the rise in the cost of resources and upkeep and neglects to put into consideration that the population of North Carolina has exploded in the last couple of decades, then that political “victory” becomes empty.

5. Lots of Teachers Already Know These Data Points


Hallelujah, and Pass the Lard! – Sen Joyce Krawiec’s Uneducated Assertion on the Class Size Mandate

“If brains were lard, you couldn’t grease a small skillet.”

– Sen. Joyce Krawiec, Jan. 20, 2017 in reference to the people participating in the Women’s March.


Not Sen. Krawiec’s best moment.

One would think that since the senator equated lard with brains and the fact that much lard was actually sent to her directly in response, she would have kept some on hand “to grease a pan” and look at the actual facts of the very budget she helped to craft and pass in North Carolina before making baseless claims.

In this particular instance, it is about public education and the class size mandate, a law that will very much hurt the very county she represents, Forsyth County.

The Winston-Salem / Forsyth County school system has over 50,000 students and over 80 schools. The class size mandate will severely alter the county budget because it is unfunded and ill-conceived.

Kris Nordstrom, policy analyst and budget guru who worked in the NCGA much longer than Krawiec has been a lawmaker has more than proven that it is an unfunded mandate. Yet, Krawiec in a rather “lardless” way trumpets the purposefully false assertion that the state has put forth the money.

She said in an email that was printed by NC Policy Watch,

“So what’s the big deal with the Senate?  Why all this confusion?  The General Assembly believes reducing class size in K-3 will increase positive outcomes for our young people.  We have dedicated approximately $70 million of your tax dollars annually for this goal.  Any good steward of other people’s money should be expected to ask, ‘How it was spent?’
How many K-3 teachers should $70 million buy?   The average state cost of a classroom teacher, including benefits, is about $63,000, (salary x 1.26).  That works out to approximately 1,100 new K-3 teachers for our children.  Simple enough.
What does DPI report in their Highlights of the NC Public School Budget? (Summary attached)  Before additional funding began in 2013 there were 26,158 allotted K-3 teachers.  This year 2017-18 DPI reports funding 26,671.5 positions.  A net change of 513.5 new K-3 teachers and this includes any funded through growth in ADM (Average Dailey Membership).   Our children are missing about 600 K-3 teachers for which you payed.   That is a problem” (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/01/15/rest-assured-senator-know-teachers/#sthash.pDj5KOyd.V4v8LvKl.dpbs).

So Nordstrom does what he does best – show the truth in the numbers. Check out his recent post in response in to Krawiec’s assertion.

Nordstrom ends with his post with this:

It is inexcusable that General Assembly members continue to get the basic facts of this class-size issue so incredibly wrong. General Assembly members have access to the impressive analytical skills of the Fiscal Research Division staff, who are there to help General Assembly members understand the basic facts of often complex policy issues. It displays incredible hubris for members to send out error-filled emails or make inaccurate statements to the press without first checking with staff to make sure they have their facts straight.

Maybe it’s just a lack of lard.

Real Men Don’t Use Billboards To Tell Any Woman What They Should Do

Coming home from an afternoon trip to Greensboro, NC to visit the Nature Center, we encountered the following billboard on I-40 between Kernersville and Winston-Salem.


That’s right. It says “Real men provide Real women appreciate it.”

Of course, it made news. Even a news channel in Chicago reported on it.

When I first saw it, I thought it was a misprint, but alas, it was not. And I was driving a car with my wife in the front passenger seat and my teenage daughter in the back seat.

The smart ass within me wanted to ask out loud, “Provide what?”

  • Money?
  • Stability?
  • Diamonds?
  • Flowers?
  • Lessons in grammar because that was a blatant run-on sentence that does not even incorporate a period to end the independent clause that really does not allow women to be independent but dependent upon a man to do the “providing?”

And how should women show their appreciation? And that’s when I realized that whoever put this sign up on a busy interstate lived in an archaic, patriarchal version of unreality that I know my wife does not subscribe to and I would never want my daughter to think was appropriate.

Literally a month ago, hundreds of thousands of people marched in Washington D.C. for the Women’s  March to bring awareness to gender issues, many of which came to light with Donald Trump’s rise to power. The fact that the number of people who marched far outweighed the number of people at Trump’s inauguration spoke volumes about how many people in our country view gender-bias as another form of prejudice.

Then there was that embarrassing tweet from Sen. Joyce Kraweic concerning grease, brains, and lard that occurred right after the march ended.

But the single women who raised me taught me that what real men should provide is respect for women and that real men did not seek appreciation for just being men.

In a country that still does not equally pay women for equal work, a billboard like the one above simply reinforces the very negative constructs that hold our country back.

In a country whose laws do not adequately protect women from sexual abuse and that allows submissive stereotypes to define how younger people view women and young girls, a billboard like the one above simply does nothing but advertise ignorance.

Bill Whiteheart, whose company owns the billboard and leases its space, has been asked who sponsored the sign, but he declines to identify the people behind the message. He says that they can express free speech.

He’s absolutely right. And I am using free speech to say that its a bad use of speech (and grammar).

America affords us the right to do a lot of things.

One of those rights is the right to be wrong.



Praise The Lard and Pass The Retribution – An Amazon.com Wish List for Sen. Joyce Krawiec

“Praise the lard and pass the retribution
Need a little bit more
Cause this pan needs greasin’
I don’t know where I’ll be ordering’
But it’s arrivin’ on a mail wagon.”

– Apologies to the Dixie Chicks for the small rewrite of “Sin Wagon”

If you remember the now famous tweet from State Sen. Joyce Krawiec, you know that lard has become a hot commodity in North Carolina.


So much so that it was reported in the Winston-Salem Journal‘s website this evening that,

“By Thursday morning, at least 10 boxes of lard had been sent to the Krawiec’s office in Raleigh, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. Many more packages could arrive today thanks to overnight delivery, according to posts on social media” (http://www.journalnow.com/news/local/kernersville-republican-who-insulted-marchers-receives-buckets-of-lard-in/article_426ac698-0541-5a33-9432-a168b36733b7.html).

I would say that such a gesture is priceless, but it’s actually not. Because later in the article it makes reference to a purchase by an individual on Amazon for lard to be sent to the senator.

Several Amazon users commented on different lard products that they had purchased for the senator, including a 64 ounce container of Armour Lard that sells for $16.

One user, ZimZimZimmer, wrote: “I just sent four pounds to (Krawiec’s) Senate Office in Raleigh and couldn’t be more delighted with my purchase! Highly recommend!!!!”


Sixteen bucks to make a statement? That’s a deal.

And yes, the reviews for lard on Amazon are really well stated unlike Krawiec’s original tweet.


Another review for another lard product:




But I still can’t really get past the greasy, non-stick apology and explanation that Sen. Krawiec offered in response to the deserved and quite swift reaction to her now-famous twitter.


She also tweeted, ““I apologize. I apologize. I was only talking to those who acted inappropriately. Forgive me, please. Twitter lesson learned.”

Buit who was acting inappropriately according to Krawiec?

Then I found this.

A blog post written by Krawiec on her MouthoftheSouth blog (www.mouthofhesouth.wordpress.com) entitled “FEMINISTS FOR WOMEN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE. WHO SAYS?

It’s eye-opening and revealing. Here it is. From 2009. Over seven years ago.


You should read it. I have put a copy of her posting at the end of this post, but here are some of the highlights.

  • “Women were told they were used and abused if they “chose” to stay home and answer the highest calling a woman can have, to be a mother and teach and nurture.  This group has even equated motherhood to slavery. “
  • “These organizations, such as National Organization of Women (Now), have been reduced to hypocrisy in the highest sense.”
  • ” These women believe that everything in the workplace is sexual harassment.  That is, unless you are a powerful man who tows the feminist’s line.”
  • The mind is so open, perhaps the brains have tumbled out.”
  •  These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.”
  • These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.”
  • Although, there is a lot of data out there to support the notion that women, very often, “choose”professions that are less demanding and therefore, the pay scale is usually lower.”
  • Most of the mainstream media aren’t really interested in what real women have to say.  They usually feature the radical feminist organizations that have a political and social agenda that fits the media ideology.”
  • Most of us women have been busy taking care of our families, working in our communities and sometimes in our businesses, making the world go round, while these feminists have pretended to make a difference.  They’ve made a difference all right, and it ain’t a pretty sight.”

You can read below in the entire posting what she says about being “pro-choice” and abortion.

And she is entitled to say whatever she wants, but as a public official she puts herself willingly under a microscope, and this has exposed her as someone who seems out of touch with what happened last Saturday as millions of women on all seven continents (yes, Antarctica as well) peacefully demonstrated on women’s roles in society.

More feminists showed up in DC for the march than did people go to the inauguration for Donald Trump, whom Krawiec endorsed even after his famous locker room recording.

It’s simple hypocrisy by a woman who pretends to be a public servant.

And the gifts of lard are appropriate because not only can lard grease a skillet, it can be used as fuel, used to lubricate pieces of machinery, cooking, baking, and even for soap – to wash away the stain of pretense.

And it can also serve as a medicinal balm that can be applied to burned areas that have been scorched by bad tweets and double-standards.

Seems like the senator could use a lot of that lard.

And amazon.com has it for a decent price.



Or send the senator a Dixie Chicks album. This one is my favorite.



“Soon my husband and I will celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary.  There was a time when that was expected.  You married your true love and lived happily ever after.  Well, you lived together ever after anyway, whether happily or not.  Now, I realize that my husband and I are exceptions to the rule.  We’re special.  He sure is, anyway.

 Today it is too commonplace that families no longer stay together.  The divorce rate is way too high.  I’m not sure if anyone knows what it is. We can all agree, however, just from our personal knowledge, that the figure is way too high.

When I asked my husband why our marriage had lasted, he said, “what, are you crazy?  Why would you ever get rid of someone like me?”  He has a point.

Feminist ideology, which has strayed so far from its original goals, can share some blame for the decline in the traditional American family.  Women were told they were used and abused if they “chose” to stay home and answer the highest calling a woman can have, to be a mother and teach and nurture.  This group has even equated motherhood to slavery.  These feminists are in favor of any form of support, charity, welfare, etc., except a father in the home taking care of the family. Women were told, “do your own thing,” and men were told, “you aren’t responsible, it’s a woman’s choice” (in all matters).

This ideology teaches that the most important goal in life, is personal fulfillment and happiness.  When people are more concerned with their own self-gratification than the family as a unit, the results are inevitable.  Everyone Loses.  A family thrives when the individual units put the family unit as a whole in the priority position and work to make it survive.  Everyone Wins.

 The so-called women’s movement was founded to address some serious issues. It has now strayed so far off base, it has become irrelevant.  These organizations, such as National Organization of Women (Now), have been reduced to hypocrisy in the highest sense.  Their leaders do not speak for most women, yet those are the main voices we hear in the mainstream media stage show.

 These women believe that everything in the workplace is sexual harassment.  That is, unless you are a powerful man who tows the feminist’s line.  For example, say President of the United States who receives sexual favors from a lowly intern. On this issue, I once heard the NOW President speak of keeping an open mind. Perhaps, therein lies the problem. The mind is so open, perhaps the brains have tumbled out.

 These liberal women’s groups paint women as being unable to make a decision for themselves on anything except abortion.  The only reason we could possible make less money than a man is because men are discriminating against us. 

It never occurs to them that it just could be the “choices” we make. Although, there is a lot of data out there to support the notion that women, very often, “choose”professions that are less demanding and therefore, the pay scale is usually lower. It shouldn’t matter to anyone, what jobs women tend to seek, as long as it is her “choice”.

 Why, I wonder, are these women always touted out to speak for women?  I believe they represent only a small minority of women and “women’s issues” are the same issues that are important to all members of the family.  Surprise! Feminists, most women put their family first and want what is best for the unit as a whole.

 I belong to several women’s organizations that has a membership to make the NOW gang look like an afternoon tea party. Strangely enough, with many alternate media organizations now available, these leaders in these groups are finally being asked for opinions on the issues of the day concerning women. Most of the mainstream media aren’t really interested in what real women have to say.  They usually feature the radical feminist organizations that have a political and social agenda that fits the media ideology.

 Leftist women’s groups have preached the virtues of “pro choice” when it comes to abortion.  But when women make decisions regarding their choice of professions to pursue, it just couldn’t possibly be “choice” keeping them on the lower rung of the corporate ladder.

Nor could we little women, who are so suppressed, be allowed to “choose” the schools that those little ones we “choose” to birth and nurture should attend. But that’s for another day and another column.

Most of us women have been busy taking care of our families, working in our communities and sometimes in our businesses, making the world go round, while these feminists have pretended to make a difference.  They’ve made a difference all right, and it ain’t a pretty sight.”


I Will Not Write Joyce Krawiec About Her Tweet Concerning The Women’s March, But I Will…

I am not going to write Sen. Joyce Krawiec a letter concerning her statement in a recent tweet that belittled the women who marched in the Women’s March this past Saturday which looked something like this:


I am not going remark to her that using Twitter allows for your comments to be seen by everybody and that tweets can get people in a little bit of trouble.



I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that on her Twitter description she identifies herself as someone who defends the constitution and attaches herself to #Christian #Conservative #Constitution hashtags.


I am not going to tell the state senator that in her tweet she actually was attacking the constitutional rights of those women who were participating, specifically the First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

I am not going to remind Joyce Krawiec that not a single woman or individual in any of the marches associated with the Women’s Day March was arrested and that they all had the right to congregate.


I am not going to remind the state senator that freedom of speech means that one can use vulgarity. Considering that she endorsed a man to become president who frequently used it and has exhibited lewd behavior, she seems to be selectively judging others even though the Bible teaches her not to do so.

“I think he’s going to make America great again. I believe that he will do what he says he will do” – Se. Kraweic on Trump, July 24th, 2016 for Fox8.

“Grab them by the pussy” – Donald Trump 2005.

I will not remind the senator that protesting as a group of civic minded people is about as grassroots as it gets in America.

“Joyce Krawiec is a small business owner, grassroots activist, and life long Republican. As a believer in the grassroots, Joyce has dedicated her time and efforts to holding government accountable to the people of North Carolina” – from http://www.joyceforsenate.com/.

I will not remind Joyce Krawiec that she of all people does not get to decide what the right reasons are for people to congregate.


And will not tell her that her excuse for what she tweeted is because she is new to twitter is utter bullshit considering when she joined Twitter and how many tweets she has already sent out from her personal account.


Nor will I tell her that her tweet literally went against that credo of restoring freedom and liberty.

And that I have a hard time remembering how to spell her name.

I will simply tweet it and send her one of those pink hats.


With her name knitted on it.

Spelled incorrectly.


SB 873 – Shame on Apodaca and Kraweic – The Farce of the Access to Affordable College Education Act

Note: Be sure to view a note by John de Ville, public school advocate and Hope Street Fellow from Macon County, following this op-ed. He highlights that Western Carolina University has strong reservations and provides a link to their statement on SB 873 – The Affordable College Education Act. Thanks to John.

Sen. Joyce Kraweic is now offering red herrings from the North Carolina General Assembly’s political menu, and it serves as a reminder that there are many in our General Assembly who are simply intent on hurting public education.

John Hinton’s feature story in the May 29th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal, “Bill to lower WSSU tuition draws fire”, outlines the Access to Affordable College Education Act which was introduced by Sen. Tom Apodaca and co-sponsored by our local state senator.

The bill “would require Winston-Salem State University, Fayetteville State University, Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University, to lower tuition beginning in the 2018 fall semester to $500 for state residents and $2,500 for out-of-state residents.” That would cut current tuition by %69 for in-state students, almost %61 for out-of-state students.

In what is being hailed by Apodaca and Kraweic as a means to make education more affordable for students, this bill would spell certain bankruptcy for these schools which include flagship HBCU’s and the largest public college campus west of Asheville. It is a pure and simple attack on the public university system in our state.

While Apodaca could not be reached for explanation, Sen. Krawiec gave enough political spin to reveal the absence of foresight evident in this bill and a lack of being educated on how this legislation would devalue what these schools offer students.

When asked about the impetus for this bill, Krawiec stated, “The cost of education in North Carolina has skyrocketed over the past 10 years, rising by 72 percent.”

It would make more sense for the senator to find out why tuition has “skyrocketed” and attack those causes, one of which is the state’s unwillingness to extend more funds to the entire UNC system to help defray costs for our state’s students by slowing tuition hikes.

Or better yet, stop putting more of the state’s tax burden on the very people who send their students to these public universities. Extending Medicaid might ease financial burdens for many; fully funding k-12 public schools would give all public school students a better chance to succeed in post-secondary studies; slowing down the siphoning of money to unregulated charter schools and unproven vouchers would save money that could be reinvested in public systems.

However, more of the actual intention of this bill appears in Kraweic’s last quote in the report. She says, ““We must find a way to increase student population and provide a quality education,” she said. “The buildings still have to be maintained and professors compensated even when classrooms are nearly empty. The legislature has committed to compensate any shortfall in funding due to reduced tuition.”

When Sen. Kraweic states that the legislature is “committed” to repay any budget shortfalls to the universities because of tuition revenue loss, she does not mention that Apodaca has already admitted that the bill “wouldn’t commit future legislators to continue that funding to the UNC system” after the first year. So, how would that really benefit these affected colleges and universities?

It wouldn’t. It would simply drive down their appeal to students because if the university cannot recoup revenue losses, then the ability to attract a viable faculty, keep the best resources on hand for students, offer financial packages through scholarships, and ultimately get alumni donations will all diminish.

More egregious is that this bill targets schools with a history of educating minorities, one of which is literally next to Kraweic’s district, Winston-Salem State University. Her own bill would hurt the very community that she serves, the very people she is supposed to represent.

Most ironic is that Sen. Kraweic is a real-estate broker by trade. She should know better than anyone that the price of a piece of property is intrinsically tied to its value. That is not to say that if one simply raises the price on something that the value automatically goes up. The market will even that out.

However, if one all of a sudden lowers the price on a piece of property by over %60, then there is a perception that what is offered is not as valuable. What would happen to the senator’s property value if the house next to hers sold for one-third of its value? Would the state come in and repay that financial setback? It wouldn’t.

Comparably, if schools like Winston-Salem State offer an education for a fraction of the cost to supply it, like any business, it would go bankrupt.

And the senator should know that.


From John de Ville:

The faculty of Western Carolina University says, in a blinding flash of strenuous diplomacy, that they understand perfectly well the NC Senate’s goal to crash them into the mountain and convert the venerable institution into a community college:

“Part III. Reduced tuition at certain institutions.

This is certainly the most attention-getting provision of the bill; it is both the most immediately attractive feature, and simultaneously the most problematic. A tuition rate of $500 per semester, if offered equally to students across the state, and, if matched with an identical investment back into the affected campuses, would be a great benefit for the people of the state. It would reflect the ideals represented in our state Constitution, and would clearly support a commitment to accessible, affordable, extraordinary higher education for North Carolina citizens.

Unfortunately, the current version of the bill only mandates the $500 tuition fee for five universities, does not offer a rationale behind selecting those universities, and provides no promise or even hint of current or future funding to make up for the catastrophic cut in these five universities’ budgets. We appreciate the verbal commitment by the bill’s sponsor to include an appropriate offset in the upcoming Senate budget (as reported in the News and Observer). However, having the $500 tuition cap in one bill, and the offset funding in a single biennium budget, creates a very precarious funding scenario for future years—when the overall cost of the plan is likely to increase many-fold. In order to make sure these universities are able to continue to provide a quality educational product to their students, the method of funding this plan should be included in the same bill as the plan itself.”