Last week NC Superintendent Mark Johnson ruffled a lot of feathers when he sent 540,000 text messages and 800,000 email messages to public school families and employees to communicate his supposed disdain for Common Core state standards.
Johnson’s message was sent to potential voters just as the primary began for Lieutenant Governor, a position he is seeking. It’s part of his strategy to distinguish himself from the crowded Republican field by playing an anti-establishment maverick with a track record of shaking things up.
In the email, and also in the introduction to the survey itself, Johnson claimed that revisions to North Carolina standards were passed in 2017 by the State Board of Education despite his objections that the new standards were too similar to Common Core:
But is the claim that Johnson went toe to toe with the State Board of Education about Common Core in 2017 actually true?
Fortunately–or unfortunately, for Mark Johnson–detailed records are kept on the State Board’s website and can easily be reviewed to see exactly what conversations took place at each meeting.
Discussions and a vote on English Language Arts standards revisions occurred at the April 2017 State Board meeting. Superintendent Mark Johnson was present, and he did speak during the portion of the meeting dealing with standards revision. He said he’d like more third parties to have an opportunity to weigh on the standards and seemed unaware that DPI already had a process in place to engage the community and collect input. According to the minutes, the phrase Common Core was not used and Johnson did not express any direct opposition to the revised standards. The board voted to approve the new standards.
At the May 2017 meeting, K-8 math standards revisions appeared on the agenda. During this portion of the meeting, Deputy State Superintendent Maria Pitre-Martin told the board that Mark Johnson had directed her team to seek external reviews of standards from six states which represented a mix of Common Core and non-Common Core states. Johnson was present for the meeting, but the minutes show he did not participate in the discussion about revising standards.
Superintendent Johnson was present for the June 2017 meeting of the State Board, and the agenda included discussion and a vote on revised K-8 math standards, which passed. According to the minutes, Johnson was again silent during the discussion about standards revision.
The record clearly reflects that Johnson’s claims of having objected to the State Board’s approval of standards revisions in 2017 are 100% Pants on Fire.
Johnson is also using robocalls to drive potential voters to a website called nomorecommoncore.org, ostensibly to sign an anti-Common Core petition. There’s a donate to Mark Johnson’s campaign for Lieutenant Governor button and visitors are asked to provide an email address, but no petition is visible.
The domain was registered this month, just like Johnson’s anti-Common Core sentiment.
Mark Johnson’s sudden vocal opposition to Common Core standards is nothing more than a disingenuous campaign stunt intended to trick uninformed voters into thinking he’s something that he isn’t.
Don’t fall for it.