June Atkinson, the incumbent Superintendent of Instruction for the state of North Carolina, was beaten by 33-year-old Mark Johnson on November 8. She was surprised by the outcome. Johnson won 50.8% of the vote; of 4.4 million votes cast, Johnson’s margin of victory was 58,000 votes. 

 

Atkinson had worked for the Department of  Public Instruction for 40 years, the last 11 as state chief.

 

Atkinson is the longest-serving state superintendent in the nation and the first woman in North Carolina to hold the job. She lost to Republican Mark Johnson, the second-youngest statewide elected official in the country. Johnson is a lawyer and school board member in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. He received 50.6 percent of the vote in the Nov. 8 election.

 

During an interview at her office last week, Atkinson shifted between moments of sadness, sometimes crying as she spoke about leaving the job she loves, and moments of frustration as she recalled comments Johnson made during the election, some of which she thought were unfair.

 

“I have two pet peeves. One is it bothers me when people swim in the swamp of ignorance or swim in the swamp of dishonesty,” Atkinson said. “It bothers me that my opponent would say disparaging things about people here in the department, that they are incompetent, that there are a bunch of bureaucrats here who don’t work well. I don’t take that personally because I know what it’s like to run for office. It’s the first time, however, I’ve run for office when I felt as if my opponent was dishonest in what he said.”

 

The two have not spoken about the election outcome, Atkinson said, and she doesn’t know what she’ll say when the time comes. She promises a smooth transition when Johnson takes over in January, but it’s clear the transition will be tough.

 

“It’s really hard for me to figure out what I want to say to him, because I don’t know where to start. I mean, he has taught two years. He’s never run an organization that has almost 900 people. He has never traveled to the 100 counties. He doesn’t have a background,” she said. “So, it’s like, how do I teach or how do I help a person who is an infant in public education to become an adult overnight to be able to help public education in this state?”

 

When asked about Atkinson’s remarks, Johnson responded:

 

“I acknowledge that (Atkinson) has been at the Department of Public Instruction for 40 years, and she has a lot of institutional knowledge,” he said. “I look forward to talking to her and hearing what she has to say about running the department and taking that into consideration as I go forward.”

 

Still, he said, Atkinson should not discount his experience as a teacher, local school board member and lawyer.

 

Johnson was a TFA teacher for two years, and a local school board member for less than two years, which should position him well to take charge of the schools of the state of North Carolina.
Read more at http://www.wral.com/ousted-nc-superintendent-on-successor-how-do-i-help-an-infant-in-public-education-/16236296/#2E8eABKf7wCRS4sO.99