North Carolina’s ethically challenged and frequently perplexed, but ever-self-promoting schools superintendent Mark Johnson is out with another superficial PR scheme that has nothing to do with advancing public education in our state and everything to do with trying to make Johnson look good. Johnson, who once purported to survey teachers via an online “poll” that included no way of assessing whether the respondents were actually teachers, is promoting another equally absurd “Parents’ Perspective Survey” about school testing.
Johnson distributed a mass email to parents today (he apparently obtained their emails from local public school system lists) that urges parents to respond to the “survey,” but that also features the prominent words in large type “Too Much Testing!” (how’s that for a fair and balanced poll?) and even offers the “chance to win $250 right before your holiday shopping.” You can see the email below.
Suffice it to say that this is a ridiculous and inappropriate scheme that ought to be beneath the dignity of supposedly serious public official entrusted with overseeing the education of the state’s children. The issue of whether North Carolina does too much testing of its students is certainly an important one, but one obviously can’t obtain legitimate results with such a preposterously slanted overture.
As the folks at the NC State polling operation Pack Poll tweeted this morning, Johnson’s scheme is “unethical” and “dishonest.” It may also be illegal if Johnson intends to bestow $250 on his contest winner from public funds. Of course, given Johnson’s recent flaunting of state ethics laws, such criticism is likely to bounce off the Superintendent—especially since it’s almost certain that his real intention here is not to survey parents, but to harvest email addresses for future political purposes. Here’s the bogus email:
Parents and caregivers,
As the State Superintendent of North Carolina’s public schools, I want you to know that your child’s success in school and beyond is our top priority. This school year, we want your input to make sure we are on the right track for students, parents, and teachers.
Today, we want to know your concerns about testing in school.
Too Much Testing!
Students, parents, and educators are concerned about too much testing. As both State Superintendent and a parent of a child in our public schools, I share your concerns.
We have already taken steps to reduce testing. Find out more by visiting this page.
We have more work to do.
Please take our 5-minute survey on testing to tell us what you think.
As an added incentive, after you take the survey, you can enter for a chance to win $250 right before your holiday shopping.
I will use your input to guide our work with state lawmakers and local school districts to reform the current system of over-testing.
We are working hard to improve our schools because every child should have the opportunity to go to safe and inviting schools, to work hard, and to succeed. Thank you for being a partner with us in this important mission.