I haven’t said much in public about multi-million dollar ed-tech corporation Istation’s threats of legal action against me and two other North Carolina educators up to this point. But since the media has now published those threats I thought they deserved a response.
About a month ago it was brought to my attention that a significant change in the way we evaluate our children’s reading ability in North Carolina was flying very much under the radar. I began to research the matter and was dismayed by what I learned.
I learned that there were some crucial differences between the mClass assessment tool and the Istation assessment tool which had resulted in an evaluation committee overwhelmingly recommending that North Carolina’s schools continue using mClass.
I learned that our state superintendent had disregarded that committee’s input and awarded the contract to Istation anyway.
I learned that the superintendent and his representatives had claimed repeatedly that the committee had not recommended mClass.
I learned that documentation existed that would show those claims to be false.
I learned that the level of fear within the Department of Public Instruction is so high that it’s very difficult to get current–and even, in some cases, former–employees to talk about what goes on there. But it’s not impossible.
I believe that the people of North Carolina deserve government that is truthful and transparent. I believe the policies of our education system should be informed by the consensus of the people who are most knowledgeable about how they will affect our children. I believe that those children deserve best practices in their classrooms that will lead to the brightest future they can have.
With those goals in mind, I have put countless hours into researching this matter over the last month. I have spoken with dozens of people who are deeply invested in education and government in North Carolina and learned much about everything from dyslexia to procurement rules.
Along the way I have passed along a lot of information that I felt would be helpful to the public in understanding an issue that deeply impacts our children and therefore the future of all of our communities in North Carolina. Not one time have I stated anything that I did not believe to be absolutely true. And indeed, when the Department of Public Instruction finally gave in to massive pressure to comply with lawful public records requests and released a trove of records on July 12, those documents substantiated all the claims that had been made about the evaluation committee’s recommendations and revealed even more troubling details about the contract process.
On Monday, Istation’s North Carolina attorneys sent me the following cease and desist letter accusing me of making “demonstrably false, misleading, and defamatory public statements about Istation” based on what they refer to as “unverifiable speculation and unsubstantiated statements.” They informed me that Istation is considering its legal options against me at this time. It’s a curious PR strategy for a company that you’d think would be focused on winning over North Carolina teachers right now.
It’s unfortunate to see attempts like this to silence educators who simply want the truth and what’s best for our children.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out over the past few days in support. My attorney assures me that the truth is an absolute defense against charges of defamation. With that in mind, no matter what course of action Istation chooses, I know we are in great shape.