NC Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson has not been working in the best interest of public schools. We need a new state superintendent. The election for the office is in Fall 2020 which may seem so far away, but the primaries are less than five months away.

First let me explain why we need a new state superintendent. Then I'll introduce you to six candidates who are running to take Mark Johnson's position.

Wow, where to begin, in the interest of time I'll link to some previous posts. You can choose to read as much as you would like for background knowledge. First, Mark Johnson has a history of not including teachers in decisions regarding education. Read here about how teachers were uninvited to a dinner where a big public education announcement was made. Read more here about the invite only event and follow references to Johnson's lack of public school support. Read here about how he planned to reduce testing but instead pushed his agenda on personalized learning. He did not stand with teachers when they stated their demands for strong schools, strong students, and strong communities for two years in a row. (Read more here and here).

Finally, as he continued to push personalized learning, he signed a contract for a new K-3 reading diagnostic instrument against expert opinions. (Read here about his plan which would increase screen time by allowing technology to determine a child's reading ability instead of a teacher. Also, read here about his lack of transparency with Istation, Class Wallet (another partnership with a tech company), and his devotion to charter schools. Read here about how Mark Johnson is among the privatizers that are trying to weaken public schools without holding charters to the same standards. Read about how he insulted teachers by saying that "$35,000 is 'good money' for many young teachers" and how he cherry picked data to be shared and records to be released. Read here about the stay issued by DIT on the Istation contract and these emails that Mark Johnson keeps sending teachers and parents (I actually got 3 in less than a week). The emails seem like campaigning opportunities as are the high glossy flyers that he has been sending out to schools for the past year. Finally, read here about how Mark Johnson chose not to uphold the stay and entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Istation to continue training, etc.

In news from this past week, Sup. Johnson was questioned by the Board of Education about how he was distributing ipads. His response was that teachers could just email him to request them. This led to a discussion about equitable distribution. Johnson has been questioned about ipads since last year when he

bought 24,000 iPads for North Carolina's K-3 teachers with money from the state's Read to Achieve fund. He faced criticism after 2,400 of the devices sat in a state warehouse for a year,  which he blamed on delays due to Hurricane Florence. Last week,  Johnson's spokesman told WRAL News that all of the iPads have been  distributed, but he has not provided details about which schools  received them.

This summer, he supposedly bought 800 more ipads. This comes after he was questioned last year for spending $15 million on unused money on the ipads. So he spent all that money on ipads when teachers have been beginning for other resources for two years. Then he let ipads sit unused for a year then bought more. Now he's just giving them to whoever asks for them. (insert eye roll)

Needless to say, I am not fond of Superintendent Johnson's actions related to NC public schools. As previously stated, it is time for new "leadership."

That brings me to the 2020 candidates for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction. Saturday, six candidates met for their first forum. All six candidates are Democratic. Currently, there are no Republican candidates and Mark Johnson has not yet announced that he will run in 2020.

Read more from the News and Observer and the candidates' websites on their stance on issues:

The six Democratic candidates are Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member James Barrett, former state Department of Public Instruction division director Amy Jablonski, education consultant Constance Lav Johnson, N.C. State assistant dean Michael Maher, UNC Greensboro professor Jen Mangrum and Wake County school board member Keith Sutton.

You can also read more here from the candidate forum as Alex Granados, a researcher/legislative reporter tweeted throughout the event.

Tags: (Education, State Superintendent, NCPol)

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