NC Superintendent Mark Johnson uses Department of Public Instruction press release to campaign for Lieutenant Governor

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NC Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson continued his unethical practice of using state resources for personal political gain today, issuing an official Department of Public Instruction press release to trumpet support for his sudden anti-Common Core campaign.

Johnson began speaking out against Common Core just this month, the same month that early voting began in the primary for Lieutenant Governor–a position the superintendent is seeking.

Last week dozens of official complaints were filed with the North Carolina State Ethics Commissions by educators and citizens who objected to Johnson using cell phone numbers and email addresses he’d pulled from the Power School database to distribute an anti-Common Core survey which seemed clearly timed to coincide with his political campaign.

DPI spokesman Graham Wilson defended the action as simply an effort to “listen to actual teachers and parents instead of Elitist Insiders,” using a phrase that has surfaced in Johnson’s recent campaign lingo alongside such gems as “Establishment” and “Deep State.”

In today’s DPI press release, Johnson bragged that 78% of respondents indicated “they want NC to remove Common Core from its state standards”:

DPI-Common-Core-press-release-2-20-20

If Johnson were really just interested in finding out what teachers and parents want, he might need to work on his survey methodology. Using phrases like “confusing math [and] course content that is not developmentally appropriate for young students” and literally offering your opinion in the sentence immediately preceding the one where you ask for input leads to response bias, whereby participants simply tell you what you want to hear.

Of course, that’s exactly what Johnson was looking for in this case.

Any possibility that Mark Johnson’s sudden anti-Common Core crusade is just the work of a highly dedicated state superintendent evaporated a few days ago when he initiated this robocall for his political campaign:

The call directs listeners to sign an anti-Common Core petition at nomorecommoncore.org, a site which includes a donate to Mark Johnson’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor button and a place to provide your email address, but no visible petition. 

The site was established on February 2, 2020, which was apparently also when Johnson’s personal outrage about the Common Core was established. 

Despite Johnson’s claim that he objected to 2017 state standards revisions on the grounds that new standards were too close to Common Core, a meticulous review of State Board of Education meeting minutes from that period revealed the superintendent voiced no public objections whatsoever.

This latest use of state resources for obvious campaign purposes is just one more reminder why Mark Johnson should not be in public office.  

If you’d like to make your objection to Superintendent Johnson’s unethical actions official, you can find a tutorial about how to file an ethics complaint below:

How to file an ethics complaint if you believe a North Carolina elected official is campaigning using state resources

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