Commentary

DPI insider: Superintendent Mark Johnson’s new reorganization scheme is a “joke,” “travesty,”

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson

The blog post to which it is attached (“About That ReOrg at DPI And What The Hell Is a Deputy Superintendent of Innovation?” by public schoolteacher Stuart Egan) is excellent and worth your time if you haven’t already seen it, but the comment posted early this morning by a DPI insider who uses the online handle “ncdpivet”(the latest of several such comments), is also a “must read” for those who would like to grasp the nature of the wrecking ball conservatives are taking to North Carolina’s public education system.

Egan puts it this way after describing the demise of the past practice whereby many DPI staff reported to both the Superintendent and the State Board of education:

“A man with less than two calendar years of teacher training and classroom experience combined along with an unfinished term on a local school board now ‘calls’ the shots for all of those veterans in a DPI whose budget is being slashed by the very people who prop up Johnson.”

And this is the comment from the DPI insider:

“Here we go again. One more insult to all my colleagues at DPI, and this one is a doozy. Right as we’re dealing with the unnecessary elimination of jobs that many valued and productive colleagues were in, now we see demotions of the ones who have actually been running the day-to-day operations and the promotion of others who have done nothing. Maria [Piter-Martin] has been the de facto superintendent and everybody knows it. She’s been the one at the division meetings, the conferences, the agency preparations for monthly State Board meetings, etc., doing all the things that a superintendent is supposed to do. Even now, in his very email, she’s identified as the best point of contact for local district officials and superintendents. Isn’t our state superintendent supposed to be that person? And she’s been the epitome of a professional. And what does she get for that? Half of the divisions who used to report to her have been assigned to someone else; and not to just anybody. The person who got promoted, and is receiving these critical divisions to supervise: Has. Never. Been. A. Teacher. Or. Administrator. In. A. Public. School. He might smile and be very nice, but come on! Federal Programs? Our entire statewide testing system? Career & Technical Education and Curriculum & Instruction? All with zero experience in actually administering any of these at any level?

And how can one be a deputy superintendent of innovation? Sounds like ‘vice-president of bright and shiny’ or ‘vice-chancellor of different,’ because their current use of the word ‘innovation’ has nothing to do with quality. We have tons of innovative programs and practices already (School Improvement Planning, Migrant Education, Title II, Positive Behavior Intervention & Support, CTE Middle School Expansion Grants, District & School Transformation, State Improvement Project for students with disabilities, Home Base, Governor’s School, National Board Certification, the North Carolina Action Research Network, Head Start, and on and on), things that actually work and have real data. All of that gets ignored and replaced with vague detail-free references to innovation, silos, flattening and urgency. Here’s what it looks and sounds like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIxcxfL5jas. It’s what you say when you really know neither what already exists nor what is needed. Watch for that Deputy Superintendent of Operations position; that most likely will be filled by another political tie with no significant public school system experience. Toss in the slights and marginalizations of Adam, Stacey, Claire and others who have been doing the hard work of the agency while neophytes and ideologues run roughshod with disregard. And then, to have the nerve to say ‘I appreciate all the work staff and local districts have done while these shifts…have played out around us’ like he was some bystander who wasn’t responsible for them.

We’ve been through reorganizations before, each of them by people looking to make their mark, only to be whiplashed by the change for a while and then the person bolts and leaves us with the mess. Then the pendulum swings in a different direction for some other visionary claiming things are ‘urgent’ and we have to make another change. This, however, is far worse than any of them. I can only hope more people will wake up to this modern-day ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ story that is unfolding before them. What a joke, and what a travesty to see up close how taxpayer dollars are being squandered on such an absurd scam day after day.”

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