NC superintendent won’t run for re-election

Mark Johnson, Superintendent, N.C. Department of Public Instruction

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s schools superintendent has decided he’ll run for lieutenant governor next year instead of seeking re-election. Mark Johnson announced on Tuesday he wants a different office than superintendent of public instruction, which he won in 2016.

Johnson had hinted that he was considering an executive branch position. Now he’ll join a crowded March GOP primary field with at least six other announced candidates.

Power to the superintendent’s position actually increased during Johnson’s term after a 2016 law shifted responsibilities away from the state education board.

Responding to Johnson’s announcement, the N.C. Association of Educators released a statement. “After years of making bad decisions for our public school students and educators, we are glad that Mr. Johnson has realized that the role of state superintendent was not a good fit for him personally or professionally,” NCAE President Mark Jewell said in a written statement.

There are at least six announced Democratic candidates including Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member James Barrett, former N.C. Department of Public Instruction employee Amy Jablonski, education consultant Constance Lav Johnson, N.C. State professor Michael Maher, UNC Greensboro professor Jen Mangrum and Wake County school board member Keith Sutton.

On the Republican side, Catherine Truitt, chancellor of Western Governors University NC, said in August that she was considering a run for state superintendent if Johnson did not run again. Truitt previously served as associate vice president of University and Pre-K–12 Partnerships at UNC General Administration and as senior education adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Sources on Jones Street say that Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), former state Rep. Chris Malone (R-Wake) and former state board of education legislative director Zane Stilwell are considering GOP primary runs for the top education job.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.