Mark Johnson (R-NC) is the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of North Carolina. When he beat incumbent June Atkinson in 2016, he became the first Republican elected to that position in over 100 years. In his role as Superintendent of Public Instruction, he has control over the public schools in the state including their policies and their curriculum.
Despite being a Republican, Johnson has always been somewhat suspect in my estimation. When the Republican receives a donation from Michael Bloomberg, I am suspicious. I wrote in 2016 about how this made me feel wary of him. I found it interesting that Bloomberg contributed $5,100 to him and nothing to Democrat June Atkinson who was a strong supporter of Common Core. Bloomberg’s daughter Emma also contributed another $100 to Johnson. I noted that contributions like this come with implicit strings attached.
Johnson started to show his true colors back in 2018 when he opposed allowing teachers with the requisite training from being armed. Johnson said at the time, he wanted firearms on campus restricted to “these trained, uniformed law-enforcement professionals who courageously choose a career protecting citizens from violent threats.”
As bad as that was, it wasn’t too far out of the mainstream even for a Republican. His latest move, on the other hand, involves partnering with anti-gun group Sandy Hook Promise to set up an anonymous reporting system. The system will involve a mobile app with the tips monitored by volunteers with Sandy Hook Promise.
NC State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced today that the state education agency has contracted with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) to provide a statewide Say Something Anonymous Reporting System in the 2019-20 school year. The Say Something program, including an anonymous mobile tip app, is a school safety program designed to change and save lives by teaching students, educators, and administrators how to recognize the signs and signals of those who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others and to anonymously report this information through the mobile tip app, the website or the telephone crisis hotline.
“Students play a critical role in helping to keep schools safe,” Johnson said. “They may see and hear concerns that adults need to know about but may be reluctant to report it. With the Say Something program, middle and high school students will better understand what warning signs to look for and when and how to report important tips through an app. Making this app available will be an important part of our efforts to make schools safer.” “We are proud and eager to work with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to train students across the state to ‘know the signs’ of potential violence and report them to a trusted adult via the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, and mother of Dylan, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “With these comprehensive violence prevention systems in place, North Carolina schools will be safer, protecting millions of lives and empowering youth to be upstanders in their communities.”
Through the Say Something program, students, parents, educators and others can download the app and share school safety concerns with school administrators and school resource officers at schools, who will respond appropriately. More than 5,100 schools nationwide are currently using Sandy Hook Promise’s anonymous reporting system. North Carolina will be the second statewide partnership for Sandy Hook Promise, with implementation of an anonymous reporting system that will encourage student participation in protecting themselves and their peers.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, the 2018 state budget allocated $5 million to fund the project. It is estimated that it will cost about $650,000 per year to run it. While the release from Johnson and Sandy Hook Promise wasn’t explicit about this, the N&O reports that the “command center” will be staffed by Sandy Hook Promise and not local NC law enforcement.
An anonymous reporting system with no connection to local law enforcement is an invitation for abuse. I see a lot of kids getting back at other teens for imagined slights, I see “swatting“, and I see innocent people getting killed. This is “pre-crime” brought to the schools of North Carolina and civil liberties be damned. That is what Michael Bloomberg bought with his pocket change.