Should Superintendent Mark Johnson speak at the NCPTA’s annual convention? Nearly 100 people don’t think so.

Susan Book

Nearly 100 people have signed a petition urging the North Carolina Parent Teacher Association (NCPTA) to rescind an invitation to State Superintendent Mark Johnson to speak at the organization’s annual convention.

“Superintendent Mark Johnson is welcome to come and listen to panels, workshops, and parents,” the petition states. “However, due to his own past actions and in-actions he should not be given the privilege of addressing the convention.”

The petition was started by Susan Book, a public schools advocate best known for her work with Save Our Schools NC. She serves on NCPTA’s special education inclusion committee and is active in Wake County PTA.

Book knows there’s little chance the NCPTA will rescind the offer to Johnson to speak. But she hopes the petition will raise awareness about Johnson and his views on public education.

“We have a superintendent who isn’t a champion for public education,” Book said. “PTA is for public education. There are some members who don’t appreciate him being asked. This was not a decision that everyday members approve of.”

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson

NCPTA had not returned phone calls by late Friday afternoon.

Johnson could not be reached late Friday afternoon.

Book’s petition cites numerous instances in which she believes Johnson has not acted in the best interest of public education.

The most recent example was Johnson’s new N.C. School Finances website, which has been widely criticized for misleading and inaccurate data.

Johnson was taken to task because the website compares average teacher salaries to median household income and wages across the state.

Book also noted Johnson’s support for a plan to give teachers $400 to purchase school supplies. Teachers have been critical of the proposal because it doesn’t come with any new money attached.

“I believe it’s important for someone like [Superintendent] Mark Johnson to listen to everyday parents and our struggles with public education, but I think asking him to speak is going too far as an endorsement to his policies,” Book said.

Book said she hasn’t made up her mind whether to boycott Johnson’s appearance.

The convention takes place May 17-18 at UNC Charlotte-City Center.

One Comment

  1. Linda Crandall

    May 19, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    As the first Chair of the NCPTA Special Education Inclusion Committee, and also as a Member of the NCPTA Board of Directors, I would like to clarify a few points in your story.

    1. Superintendent Mark Johnson was not invited to speak at our annual Convention this year. He responded to an e-mail I sent to him, and his entire DPI Special Education staff, informing them about our new Committee and our upcoming Convention and Special Education session tracks (celebrating 100 years of serving students in North Carolina), and also looking for ways to partner with DPI and find common ground to better serve students with special needs. Superintendent Johnson responded to my e-mail by contacting NCPTA and asking how he could help and participate at our Convention.

    2. Ms. Book’s remarks and behaviors (and her petitioners) are her/their own and do not reflect the views of the NCPTA or the NCPTA Special Education Inclusion Committee. Our organization is strictly non-partisan. We interact with elected officials — and others — equally, on the basis of respect and looking for ways to work together to serve students in our state with one voice. We also treat speakers at our events with equal respect, regardless of status, political party or any other parameters.

    3. NCPTA does not have “everyday members.” NCPTA members are all treated the same and we do not use labels to differentiate, bully, or marginalize them.

    4. It’s likely that you were unable to reach the NCPTA Office because our very small staff has been extremely busy planning, organizing, and executing our Convention, which involves pulling together many details, logistics and deliverables.

    Next time, please get all of the facts first.

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