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The  action or practice of choosing and taking only the most beneficial or  profitable items, opportunities, etc., from what is available.‘it is an exaggeration based on the cherry-picking of facts’‘accusations of cherry-picking have appeared on all sides of the policy spectrum.

We are used to hearing about the NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson, being out of touch with reality. For example, his comment that "$35,000 is 'good money' for many young teachers." Perhaps he is out of touch with the reality of teachers because of his limited experiences. He taught with Teach for America and only for two years. Actually, according to a Department of Public Instruction insider last year, the team Johnson chose and called "his team" only had a combined total of 4 years of teaching experience.  Maybe this is where the cherry-picking started. Johnson "hand-picked 'his team' to come on board in key leadership positions." So the team in charge of decisions for public schools knows little about public schools.

Johnson is notorious for picking and choosing data also. Read here from Justin Parmenter about the North Carolina School Finances data dashboard and how Johnson cherry-picked the numbers to show the average teacher salary compared to the median salary of non-teachers.

I guess we should not be surprised that the cherry-picking continues. About a month ago, shortly after Johnson announced that he signed a contract with Istation for a new reading diagnostic tool for K-3, concerned citizens started making public record requests about the procurement. On Friday, some of those record requests were finally honored. A 166 page document was released. This document shows that a team of experts recommended Amplify's mClass (ranked 1st overall) over IStation (ranked 2nd). Read more here and here. This RFP was canceled and another team was organized to make recommendations. The new team recommended IStation and the RFP was finalized. It makes you wonder if Mark Johnson is making a career out of cherry-picking. Maybe this time he didn't like the results of the evaluation so he disregarded the recommendation and convened another team. Who knows? And did Johnson and his team cherry-pick which documents to send. He says they are not all being released now.

As a side note, it sounds like Istation could be recommending a little cherry-picking of their own. Last week, during a webinar, an Istation employee suggested that teachers can reassess students who are "happy clickers." (Let's overlook for a moment that if a teacher is closely monitoring a student that he or she is not working with other students as recommended by DPI.) Instead of making sure we have a valid and reliable instrument, teachers can just reassess. So does a teacher reassess and reassess and reassess if the child continues to click through? Do we get to repeat the process until we get the answers we want too?

This has reached far beyond getting out of hand. Year rounds schools began last week, and teachers are preparing to start practicing with Istation. This process needs to be halted NOW. Teachers and students should not be using a reading diagnostic tool that was procured under these circumstances. We need a year delay in the implementation of Istation with continued work with mClass until a full investigation has been completed.

Email these people to express your concerns:

(NC Superintendent Mark Johnson, State Board of Education Chair Eric Davis, Senator Phil Berger, Representative Tim Moore)

In addition, contact your state legislators here, your local superintendent here (directory by last name), and your local school boards here. Also, don’t forget to contact your local school principal to express concerns.

Additional emails can be sent to the NC Department of Information Technology (DIT) because they help oversee procurement.

Address email to

If cherry-picking is about choosing what is "most beneficial," then I do NOT pick Mark Johnson to continue as our state superintendent. I'm looking forward to 2020 when we get to make a better choice.

Tags: (Education, Istation, State Superintendent)

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