News: Quick Takes

State superintendent kicks off listening tour in Winston-Salem

State Superintendent Mark Johnson at a January 2017 meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education. (CJ Photo by Kari Travis)
State Superintendent Mark Johnson at a January 2017 meeting of the North Carolina State Board of Education. (CJ Photo by Kari Travis)

RALEIGH — State Superintendent Mark Johnson will kick-off his listening tour of North Carolina’s public school system Friday.

Johnson last month promised he would travel the state to hear concerns from each district. The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County district — where Johnson previously served as a school board member — will be his first stop.

“Winston-Salem is known as North Carolina’s City of Arts and Innovation,” said Johnson. “I believe innovation is going to be key to strengthening public education in North Carolina, so it makes sense to start the NC Education and Innovation Tour in Forsyth County.”

Thirty-three out of 72 state-graded public schools in Forsyth county last year received D or F performance marks, landing them on the state’s list of low-performing schools.

Johnson will visit Glenn High School, a formerly low-performing traditional public school that showed great improvement in 2016.

The district also is home to six non-traditional schools, such as charters and education centers for students with special needs. Johnson, who backs Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, is an outspoken advocate for traditional public schools, but also supports school choice options, a sharp contrast to his predecessor, June Atkinson.

North Carolina’s education system is riddled with problems that must immediately be addressed, Johnson said in January.

“Complacency is the antithesis of urgency,” he said. “So I ask that we not be complacent, and act with urgency in anything that we do.”

Johnson will speak at the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County education building at 11:45 a.m. on Friday.

Kari Travis reports on K-12 and higher education in North Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @karilynntravis.