Suzanne Miller has a general admission ticket to State Superintendent Mark Johnson’s big dinner event on Feb. 19, but she still can’t go.
Miller, an organizer for N.C. Families for Testing Reform, received an email Wednesday explaining that attendance is by invitation only.
So, the ticket Miller scored last month on eventbrite.com won’t get her through the doors of the Raleigh Convention Center where Johnson promises to make a “major announcement” about the state’s education system.
“If it’s a public announcement about public education, why is it being made behind closed doors?” Miller asked.
Miller said the eventbrite.com page didn’t mention that an invitation would be needed when she signed up to attend the event.
Susan Book, of Save Our Schools NC, also took issue with the invitation only event.
“There are quite of few teaches I know who signed up but are not going to be able to go,” Book said. “We support public education, so why can’t we be in the room? If you’re going to make a major announcement about public education, there shouldn’t be an invite list. It doesn’t sit right with me.”
In an email message to those who received tickets through eventbrite.com but no official invitation, Johnson said there isn’t room to accommodate everyone who wants to attend the event.
“Due to the response from invited educators, policy makers, and philanthropic and community leaders, we are at capacity,” Johnson wrote. “We regret that we will not be able to provide you a seat for the dinner.”
Johnson could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
The invitation to Johnson’s event notes that no tax money will be spent on the dinner and program.
A spokesman for the superintendent declined to say who is paying for the event.
But Johnson’s “major announcement” has fueled speculation that North Carolina will be one of five states selected for a new K-12 initiative funded by the conservative Koch network.
Brian Hooks, president of the Charles Koch Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute, told reporters attending a fundraiser and retreat in California that the initiative would operate in five states and affect 15 million students.
Hooks said the initiative includes investments in curriculum to better support teachers and students, new technology to help families find the right options for their kids and public policy reforms that begin to get at the root causes of challenges in the nation’s education system.