On January 5th, the North Carolina State Board of Education welcomed the newly elected State Superintendent, Mark Johnson, to his first meeting.
Johnson ousted three-term incumbent, Dr. June Atkinson to take the top state education spot. The finalized results showed that Johnson pulled in 53,880 more votes than Atkinson.
Johnson ended up with 2,285,783 votes or 50.60% and Atkinson received 2,231,903 votes or 49.40%.
Johnson’s remarks to the State Board were captured on video by the Department of Public Instruction. In those remarks, he recounted how he taught science at a Charlotte high school, what got him interested in education and in teachings.
Johnson also became slightly emotional as he recounted a story about a ninth grade student who came to him unable to read the assigned textbook.
Johnson said it was that memory that kept driving him while on the campaign trail, stating that, “the system had failed that young man.” He went on to say that his mission is to see that in his life time we have a school system that does not let that happen.
About half-way through, Johnson turned to the topic of “ownership.”
Without naming Common Core by name, Johnson said that when he reviewed a tape of teachers reviewing standards that what struck him was that, “one teacher turned to another and said, ‘this is just confusing'” and remarked, “we have to own that.”
The new superintendent touted “innovation” as sorely needed in the current education system and that the current system is antiquated; dating back to the 1930’s. Johnson also announced he will embark on a listening tour around the state.
Watch his full remarks:
The State Board of Education filed for a restraining order to keep the law from going into effect on January 1st and that same day, December 29th, 2016, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens granted the request. There was to be another hearing on the matter today, January 6th, however it has been postponed.
The attorneys for the State Board of Education (Bob Orr and Drew Erteschik) released the following statement about the postponement:
Last week, the Wake County Superior Court granted our motion for a temporary restraining order to stop unconstitutional legislation that attempted to transfer the constitutional powers and duties of the State Board of Education to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Earlier this week, Chief Justice Mark Martin assigned a three-judge panel to hear the case. The three-judge panel was scheduled to go forward tomorrow morning (Friday, Jan. 6) with a hearing on our motion for a preliminary injunction.
Yesterday evening, however, we were contacted by state officials about the possibility of postponing the hearing and continuing the temporary restraining order. We agreed to that request. Today, the parties submitted a consent order to the three-judge panel that will continue to block the legislation until the panel can consider the merits of our constitutional challenge. A signed and filed copy of the consent order will be available tomorrow (Jan. 6).
We are pleased that the legislation continues to be blocked, and that the status quo has been maintained for the Board, the public school system, and North Carolina’s 1.5 million students.
The changes made to the law by House Bill 17 were extensive. The many changes in the law stripped the State Board of Education of many of its current functions and powers.
In particular, the changes gives the State Superintendent control over functions which had previously fallen under the purview of the State Board of Education.
Specifically, the changes give the State Superintendent the power to, “create and administer special funds within the Department of Public Instruction to manage funds received as grants from nongovernmental sources in support of public education.”
Read more about the changes House Bill 17 made to education.
View the NCSBE v. The State of NC filings:
- Cover Letter to Judge Stephens
- FILED Summons and Verified Complaint (Session Law 2016-126)
- FILED Certification of Notice of Intent to Seek TRO (Session Law 2016-126)
- Temporary Restraining Order Filed