Education

Public school advocates to unleash ‘Twitter storm’ in protest of Superintendent Johnson’s private dinner

A group of public schools advocates upset about being uninvited to Superintendent Mark Johnson’s invitation only dinner have new plans for Tuesday.

The advocates are planning to unleash a “Twitter Storm” during the two hour dinner to protest Johnson’s decision to make a “major announcement” about the state’s public education system in a private setting.

Susan Book, an organizer for Save Our Schools NC, said advocates discussed gathering at the Raleigh Convention Center to protest the dinner but decided to tweet about the event instead.

“By having a Tweet Storm, everyone can participate in advocacy,” Book said. “Our teachers, parents, and community members can have a say in what is happening no matter how close or far away from Raleigh they live.”

Johnson has promised a “major announcement” about the state’s public education system during the dinner on Tuesday.

Book and other advocates contend such an announcement should be open to the public.

“For many of us, this doesn’t sit right,” Book said. “A public figure making a public announcement about public school should make the venue public.”

Suzanne Miller, an organizer for N.C. Families for Testing Reform, told N.C. Policy Watch last week that Johnson’s announcement should be made in public.

“If it’s a public announcement about public education, why is it being made behind closed doors?” Miller asked.

Dozens of public education advocates and teachers used Eventbrite to secure tickets for the event, but received email messages from Johnson last week telling them they could not attend.

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson

Book said the snub from Johnson is one of many.

“[Superintendent] Mark Johnson has continually chosen to stay silent on major issues plaguing public education,” she said. “Parent and teacher advocates alike have tried to sit down and discuss real issues facing their schools but our superintendent rarely responds.”

One Wake County teacher, Kim Mackey wrote an open letter to Johnson after her ticket to the event was “revoked.” Mackey will attend the event thanks to an invitee who gave up their seat for her.

Drew Elliott, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Instruction, told NC Policy Watch that Mackey was one of about 25 to 30 uninvited individuals who signed up for the event when the registration page was shared on social media.

Elliot added that half of the guest will be educators.

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.

Book hopes that’s not Johnson’s big announcement.

“I’d love the announcement to be a restoration of teaching assistants or investment in textbooks,” Book said.

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