In case you missed it this morning, be sure to check out Education Reporter Billy Ball’s fascinating story over on the main Policy Watch site (“Mark Johnson accused of misleading the public regarding literacy program spending”). The story highlights the latest bit of maddening behavior from the state’s perpetually befuddled Superintendent of Public Instruction, Mark Johnson.
As Ball reports, people in the know (like former superintendent June Atkinson and DPI’s former longtime finance chief Philip Price) are setting the record straight with respect to some of Johnson’s most recent bogus claims about state education spending. In particular, as both Atkinson and Price point out, Johnson is just plain wrong in one of his recent attempts to blast Atkinson’s administration for “disturbing spending practices.”
Indeed (and here’s the real kicker), the subject of Johnson’s unfounded griping — that DPI had supposedly screwed up distributing $15 million is “Read to Achieve” funds — was actually the handiwork (at least in part) of his (Johnson’s) current senior budget advisor, Chloe Gossage.
As Ball explains, Johnson has attacked his predecessors for failing to spend the Read to Achieve funds, but the fact of the matter is that one of the reasons for the decision not to expend all the money was a directive from then-Governor McCrory’s Office of State Budget and Management. This is from Ball’s story:
“Johnson’s own chief budget advisor, Chloe Gossage, played a part in that fracas. When officials with the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) intervened in October 2015, Gossage—the former policy director for ex-Gov. Pat McCrory—was the OSBM’s chief operating officer.
And an October 2015 email obtained by Policy Watch appears to indicate that Gossage was in consultation with OSBM’s assistant state budget officer for education, Adam Brueggemann, on DPI’s Read to Achieve budget wrangling.
But, despite Gossage’s involvement, Johnson’s office didn’t offer any further context last month on their criticism of DPI’s spending habits. Now, Atkinson suggests Johnson is using the controversy to fuel long-standing Republican criticism of DPI’s funding priorities.”
You got that? Johnson is trying to make political hay by attacking his predecessor for something his budget advisor was, at least in part, responsible for. You really can’t make this stuff up.
Unfortunately, when it come to Superintendent Johnson, the sad reality is that crazy, made up stuff is an almost daily occurrence.