From Orwell’s 1984:

And so it was with every class of recorded fact, great or small. Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain.” (Book 1).

News today that state superintendent Mark Johnson halted key “listserv” communications from the Department of Public Instruction may not seem like the full explosion of a dystopian novel just yet, the idea that a rather reclusive government official is regulating key communicative avenues to those who need the information to make important decisions does sound a little like government control over what the masses can see.


From NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball today in “State School Superintendent muzzles communication from DPI”:

A directive from Superintendent Mark Johnson to temporarily halt key listserv communications from the Department of Public Instruction has some concerned the order will chill the flow of information from North Carolina’s top public school agency.

Policy Watch learned last week of Johnson’s command, which comes at a particularly busy time for central office personnel as they prep for the coming school year, which will include myriad legislative changes, including 24 new reporting requirements for DPI.

In Johnson’s message, recently obtained by Policy Watch, the superintendent wrote the department would “take a break in the distribution of information to the field and to other lists for stakeholders” following last month’s retirement of the agency’s longtime communications chief.

The superintendent said staff should stop use of their GovDelivery email lists—which provides for mass distribution of agency information across the state—for the month of July, and Johnson would notify staff when communications could resume (

Johnson’s directive was to “take a break” in communicating with “stakeholders.”

At a time when the state superintendent has really been nothing more than a shadow figure who seems more afraid of communicating with the public, it is ironic that he stops this “communication” chain for school systems that he should be enabling and removing obstacles.

It’s also ironic that Ball’s report comes right when Johnson has just been in court trying to wrestle more power from the State Board of Education for himself when the very General Assembly that is propping hi up just cut the budget for DPI nearly %20 over the next two years.

Johnson did release a statement concerning the “break” and Ball relates,

The department “has not shut down communications with the field, only temporarily paused listserv communications for the month of July, with certain exceptions,” Johnson wrote. “Since this is summer break for our educators, this pause is appropriate while we search for a new communications director and to enable the Department to thoughtfully review the many communications that come from our agency.”

Johnson’s statement would seem to contradict his order, which specifically nixed listserv communications with “the field.” The superintendent later clarified that the directive was intended to only halt field communications using the GovDelivery system, although DPI sources say the system is the simplest and most effective means of communicating across North Carolina school districts.

Temporarily paused?

Summer break for educators?

Enable department to thoughtfully review?


Ball says stipulates “DPI sources say the system is the simplest and most effective means of communicating across North Carolina school districts.” Things that don’t get communicated can get lost and fade. Things can get uncertain.

This seems more like a politically charged, government controlled means to further weaken a public good and it makes the next statement by Johnson a little humorous.

“NC DPI has not shut down all communications with the field, and staff is regularly engaged in supporting the field and responding to questions,” Johnson added.

Why is it humorous? Because Mark Johnson and “responding to questions” have never really collided in the same truthful instance.

It is interesting that 1984 was Pat McCrory’s favorite book.

And it is rather fortuitous that CNN publish a report on a study that talks about cities will be flooded by rising sea waters in the near future:

Talk about your Oceania.

But CNN is fake. So is climate change.