This installment of NCED Updates includes movement on the Leandro report by WestEd, an update on the Istation reading assessment tool case and some headlines from around the state.
Also, if you can, please help out Blaine Dillard, the dad who was sued by MVP math for speaking out against it in Wake County. The district has sided with MVP and Dillard is still fighting. There are legal bills of $10,000 to be paid. You can help multiple ways, via Go Fund Me, PayPal or Venmo via “blainad.”
#1 – Leandro
At 10 am on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Judge Lee is expected to make some announcements and give some directions related to the WestEd report. Unsurprisingly, Governor Cooper’s partisan “Sound Education Commission” will be unveiling its own recommendations on Jan. 23rd.
I’ve created a public collection of the WestEd Leandro documents on Document Cloud.
- NC Republican legislators were never contacted by WestEd for Leandro Report research
- Consultant Hired to Recommend Billions in New Education Spending Fulfills Mandate
- Leandro recommendations: more plans, more money and more confusion
- WestEd, The Courts and the State Constitution
#2 – Amplify v. Istation, DPI
In the last NCED update, Supt. Mark Johnson had made an emergency purchase in order to keep the Istation reading assessment tool operating while the case was working through hearings.
Well, the Dept of Information Technology (DIT) decided that was not going to happen. DIT head Eric Boyette threatened that he may cancel the contract and sent five questions to DPI to answer.
Johnson and DPI responded and, in a nutshell, criticized the questions sent by DIT for showing a lack of understanding of the importance of the reading tool, that having such a tool in place is required by law, the timeline of the Istation/Amplify case and state law for emergency procurements.
“While I appreciate your questions, I am concerned that the agency DPI worked so closely with during this procurement process still does not seem to have a full understanding of the matter,” wrote Johnson.
Johnson later went on to slam the department, stating that “DIT cannot make that decision and then claim any ignorance to the negative impact of such actions.”
You can read Johnson’s full letter and response to the questions here.
Education NC also has a quick take on the current status of the hearings between Amplify, Istation, and DPI that are taking place.
At WRAL, a screenshot of communications between one of the former reading assessment tool reviewers is being questioned as “illegal spying.” Excerpt:
“State Superintendent Mark Johnson has said the text messages were provided to his office anonymously and show that inappropriate discussions between two former employees tainted the contract process.”
The Charlotte Observer’s editorial board took the “spying” accusation one step closer to conspiracy land.
The texts referred to of the so-called “spying” are a single screenshot of unknown origin in NC DPI’s own Jul. 26 exhibits.
NC’s Open Budget portal expenditures by DPI to Amplify show a total of $43,437,571 over the five-year period between 2014 and 2019.
No one seems to be interested in how Amplify got their long, very lucrative contracts with NC in the first place. If DIT is questioning procurements, then questions to former Supt. June Atkinson and her senior staff about Amplify seem prudent at this point.
#3 – NCED Headlines
National School Choice Week 2020 is January 26 – February 1, 2020. Look up one where you can attend one of the record-breaking 2,313 events and activities being planned in the Tarheel state at SchoolChoiceWeek.com.