James Barrett for NC Superintendent

Major education announcement?

So, first, we owe Mark Johnson thanks for his announcement tonight. Not for what it said, but what it didn’t: At least the most fevered speculation that Koch brothers were coming to town didn’t come to pass.

And if you just read the press release without knowing more about Johnson’s leadership, you might be fooled into thinking his “#NC2030 plan” showed some promise. It has some good words. They are strung together pretty well. PR, he can do.

But of course you do know about Johnson’s leadership, and so you know better than to believe that most of this will come to pass as presented. And, hello? I don’t know how patient you feel–but aiming for 2030 doesn’t exactly demonstrate any sense of urgency.

The part I believe will actually come to pass comes at the very end of the announcement–the DPI-BEST NC-Teach.org PR fest. PR is what Johnson understands, and this description shows the emptiness at the heart of most great PR: “a public-private teacher appreciation campaign to better align the image of the teaching profession with the fruitful, fulfilling career it is…”

I’m not really interested in commenting further on Johnson. I’m focused on a better future full of collaborative actions, not just words, in which I and great folks at DPI work hard day in and out to fully support our state’s teachers and thus our students. This #NC2020 campaign is about leadership that understands the details and plans for unintended consequences. It’s about student mental health and supporting their teachers in dealing with student trauma. It’s about advocating effectively for adequate funding, equitably distributed to meet student needs.  It’s about changing the culture of testing that limits the numbers of “winners” we’ll declare and instead provides actionable, understandable data to families and teachers on instruction and learning.  It’s about working with teachers and community partners to support strong students, strong schools, and strong communities.  Forget #NC2030. What we need is #NC2020–real change, real leadership in the next State Superintendent.

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