State superintendent touts innovation at schools

by: Elsa Gillis Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina's new state superintendent made his first visit to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school Friday and laid out his priorities.

This was a full-circle moment for the new superintendent, because West Charlotte High School is where Mark Johnson got his teaching experience.

He taught there for two years about 10 years ago.

He said the struggles he saw in the classroom back then is what set him on this path to improve education.

Since Johnson worked there, the public high school has benefited from Project LIFT, a program that has pumped millions of dollars into low-performing public schools and paid teachers more.

Johnson has been vocal about his support of school choice and controversial new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is an advocate for charter schools and vouchers.

Johnson said the innovation he saw at West Charlotte is working and wants to bring what he saw back to Raleigh.

"They attract and retain high talent, motivated talent. Talent is the key to what's going on here at West Charlotte," Johnson said.

When Johnson was asked if that meant he would be pushing for higher teacher pay and a bigger budget for public education, all he would say is he would be pushing for innovation.

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