Georgia SchoolWatch Interviews Superintendent Candidate Mary Kay Bacallao

Who: Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao
When: Friday (5/9) @ 8:30pm
Where: This Post

Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao has been a teacher for 25 years. A math, science and technology professor at Mercer University, Dr. Mary Kay began fighting Common Core math two years ago. She earned her doctorate in education from Florida Atlantic University and her undergraduate degree from Miami Christian College. Dr. Mary Kay is certified in early childhood education, math K-12, science K-12, ESOL and educational leadership K-12. She is a frequent presenter at state and national math, science and technology conferences. Her comparison of the math standards brought attention to the truth about Common Core. Dr. Mary Kay’s study proved that the Common Core math standards are 1-2 years behind the former Georgia standards. Dr. Mary Kay has a plan to restore academic freedom and respect in Georgia’s schools.



Filed under Georgia State School Superintendent, Mary Kay Bacallao

22 responses to “Georgia SchoolWatch Interviews Superintendent Candidate Mary Kay Bacallao

  1. We are joined by Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, Georgia State School Superintendent candidate. Please enter your questions as comments. We will hold, collect and moderate the questions as they come in.

    Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, thank you for taking the time to join us. Please tell us a little about yourself. Have you held an elected office before? Everybody has a story around why they got into politics. What were you doing when you decided to run for State Superintendent?

  2. I have been following recent proposed legislation. If HB 886 has passed during the past session, it would have made it a requirement for local schools boards to hold at least two public meetings and require that a summary of the budget be posted on the Internet. A detailed annual budget would have to be available on request. As a Fayette County School Board member, I requested this same procedure, and in greater detail because I wanted a detailed budget of every dollar available on the internet. I did not vote for the budget because we did not follow this procedure. As State School Superintendent, I will work with the legislature to pass this bill during the next legislative session to require total budget transparency for local school districts.

  3. OK, I saw a different question earlier and I was answering that one first.

  4. No Problem 🙂 Please tell us a little about yourself. Have you held an elected office before? Everybody has a story around why they got into politics. What were you doing when you decided to run for State Superintendent?

  5. I realized that school board authority has been removed since 2010 when the rules for local school board members were changed so that the primary role of school board members is no longer to represent constituent views. So we have an appointed state board of education trumping the locally elected officials, which is just un-American. We need a leader at the state level to reverse these bad state mandated policies. There are no current state leaders fighting Common Core. After fighting Common Core for 2 years, I knew running was the only way to get us out of inappropriate standards and testing. I analyzed the new math standards and found them to be 1-2 years behind the former standards. Math is very important, our students won’t be ready for schools like Georgia Tech if they use Common Core math. As a Fayette County School Board member, I voted for legislative priorities to get us out of Common Core two years in a row and against the adoption on inadequate math textbooks. My plan to revise the testing system will allow Georgia to jump ahead of all the other states as they get bogged down with lower level standards and inappropriate testing models.

  6. Dr. Bacallao, You said “we have an appointed state board of education trumping the locally elected officials”.

    Please tell us more about that.

  7. I ran for the Fayette County School Board in 2008 and lost in the Republican primary. When I went to find out about running, they told me that it would be better to run as a Democrat because I would be right on the ballot. I said that I would rather lose than run as a Democrat. I did end up losing that first time but came back four years later and ran for the same position. The incumbent switched parties and became a Democrat. I ran against another candidate in the primary and then against the incumbent in the general election. It took three races for me to finally be on the Fayette County School board only to find out that all authority over testing and standards was taken away from school board members. As a professor of education who has studied the standards, I could explain what was moved back and what was missing in the new standards. I went to 6 of the 8 listening sessions around the state to inform legislators, but they were not listening.

  8. In 1983 our Georgia constitution was revised and the State Board of Education became an appointed rather than an elected office. They are appointed by the governor.

  9. When you say trumping local school boards, are you referring to state approved charter schools?

  10. I am concerned about people who think that education is a “business.” It is a community service funded by tax dollars. The people who serve the community should not be making Fortune 500 level salaries. If you own a business, the sky is the limit as far as salaries go. If your company makes money, you should be able to do anything you want with it. But when it comes to tax dollars, there is a higher level of accountability and responsibility. I voted against the salary increase of our superintendent because our school system is not a for profit business. I believe in school choice. I wrote my dissertation on the topic of school choice in 1996. Education should not be a monopoly. We serve the parents and the students of our community and parents should be making decisions about the schools their children attend and what they learn. What is happening in our state due to the adoption of the Common Core standards is the creation of a monopoly for one company, Pearson, based in the UK. A private company should not hold the copyright on standards mandated by our state. It is creating a socialist-fascist educational system with government dictated standards and large companies connected to the government reaping excessive profits from the taxpayers because they own all the tests, test prep, standards, electronic resources and curriculum materials. I am against all monopolies, public school monopolies without parental choice, and corporate monopolies of educational materials.

  11. I was not thinking about state approved charter schools in my comments about the local school boards being trumped. But since my research is on school choice I would like to write about that topic.

  12. I wrote about charter schools in my dissertation in 1996 and have been an advocate for all varieties of school choice for over 20 years. Many of the problems that we find in education can be traced back to the fact that parents cannot choose schools. In my research back in 1996, a survey showed that 49 percent of the public favored the use of vouchers. But, the first thing that our president did when he was elected was to end the voucher program in Washington D. C. Now charters are the favored form of school choice.

  13. FJ

    Georgia’s Department of Education is a multi billion dollar department. It is effectively a Fortune 50 company. Why are you qualified to be CEO of this Fortune 50 company?

  14. Let’s look at how this all fits together. If we allow the adoption of these lower level Common Core standards, first in math and ELA, and then in Science and Social Studies, and the alignment of the tests to these lower level standards, there will be no more educational freedom of choice. There are three federal laws that prevent us from having a national curriculum, but this word “standard” was invented to circumvent those laws. Standards outline curriculum so they are essentially dictating curriculum. Then we have non-statutory requirements attached to federal grants binding us to these lower level standards. At that point, it will not matter if a school is a charter school or a traditional neighborhood public school, it will all be controlled at the federal level. Our school rating scores are calculated in D. C. based on questionable practices. If we really want charter schools to be free, then we will have to stop the implementation of the Common Core.

  15. Before qualifying for State School Superintendent, I served on the Fayette County Board of Education, overseeing a $163,000,000 budget. Before I was elected, our county’s reserve fund was less than $800,000, even with less than 177 student days of school and 5 teacher planning days. This year, we are in much better shape with over 10% of our budget in a reserve fund, 180 student days and 10 teacher planning days. We worked together as a board to restore confidence in the fiscal policies of the Fayette BOE.
    As an assistant professor at St. Thomas University, I was the author of several grants from the United States Department of Education that were funded for over 1.2 million dollars. I was responsible for the federal dollars and for the matching in-kind grant funds, well over 2 million dollars. I coordinated partnership agreements with several school systems, business partners, and several other universities and served as the project director.
    My philosophy on delegating authority is taken from Stephen Covey, which is: hire the best people, provide them with direction, guidance, timelines, and then follow up to make sure the work gets completed.
    Local school districts need to be accountable to their voters. Our system of government with locally elected school officials is the best system in the world. At the state level, we are also accountable to the voters responsible for overseeing local superintendents. In the event of a misapplication of any of the funds apportioned to any of the institutions of learning or schools receiving state aid, as State School Superintendent I will at once proceed to recover such funds by the institution of proper proceedings in the courts after demand to settle the matter is made upon the party misapplying the funds.
    At the state level, there will be a heightened sense of responsibility. I will lead by example. Accountability for the entire state department of education is a huge responsibility. My 4-1 votes against questionable practices, such as the adoption of inadequate textbooks at the FCBOE, no bid contracts, and a budget that did not prioritize instruction, show that I take accountability very seriously and will ensure that everyone who reports to me takes it seriously as well.

  16. David D.

    We have so many failing schools across the state, especially in the metro Atlanta area. What will you do to directly affect student achievement?

  17. Here’s the potential difficulty I see with state run charter schools. First, the commission is appointed rather than elected. That is a big red flag. Second, HB 797 reads, “The department shall assist in securing federal and other institutional grant funds to establish the commission.” There is the second red flag. I ran a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. These state approved charter schools will essentially be federally run charter schools, and they will not be in the jurisdiction of the locally elected officials. The problem with that is the same problem I am seeing with Common Core. Parents and teachers in Fayette County come to me as their school board member and think I can represent them and get us out of Common Core. I can’t. They come to me about opting out of the Common Core based test, I can’t help them. I can’t even opt my own daughter out of the test. And I’ve been on a content review panel to know how those tests are developed. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement with Pearson, so I can’t give any details. Are there school board members who are corrupt and self-serving? Yes, there probably are. Are there school board members who are against school choice? Yes, there are. But are we willing to give up the right to elect school board members to oversee our local school system? I hope not. This system of locally elected school board members is the foundation of educational freedom. If you don’t like your school board member, then elect someone else. But if there is corruption on an appointed commission, there is nothing you can do. How many Supreme Court justices would you like to be able to vote out of office? My concern is this: What if you put your heart and soul into starting a state approved charter school only to see it taken over when you have to participate in restrictive standards and testing models with inaccurate school ratings coming from the U.S. Department of Education. It is happening now. We need to have our own state tests so this does not happen. As State School Superintendent, I can get that done.

  18. I have been a consultant to school districts across the country for school improvement. In Newark, I worked with Miller Street Academy and after I worked with them a few days every month for one year, they met AYP after not meeting it for 5 years. I can recognize a failing school and make recommendations for improvement that work, since I have been there and done that. We have deprived our students of sound instruction and sound discipline. We have told them they have a behavior disorder, and they believed it. As State School Superintendent, I know how to return respect to the schools and sound instruction. These testing models are preventing students from learning because they are not diagnostic. When we have tests of reading level, math level, writing level and verifiable science, our students will be able to focus on the skills they need to achieve rather than learning test taking skills or trying to think like a test designer. When parents have authority over where their children go to school and what they are learning, they will become more involved and parental involvement is really the key to increasing student achievement. I spent 25 years in a variety of schools as a teacher, mentor, consultant, and supervisor so I am very knowledgeable about what makes for an effective learning environment.

  19. I see. Do you believe that Amendment 1, the state Charter School amendment from 2012, was a bad idea?

  20. According to our Georgia Constitution, “Paragraph I. School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits; provided, however, that the authority provided for in this paragraph shall not diminish any authority of the General Assembly otherwise granted under this article, including the authority to establish special schools as provided for in Article VIII, Section V, Paragraph VII.” These lines are still in our state constitution. So, county and area boards do have the authority to establish and maintain public schools. That has not been taken away. I did not vote for amendment 1 because of the appointed nature of the commission and the connection to the federal government and possible crony corporatism. But, it did pass so there is nothing I can do about that. I will, however, work so that standards and testing models are not dictated by entities outside of our state. If we can keep our standards and testing out of the hands on multinational corporations, our charter and public schools will still have academic freedom, which is my main concern.

  21. Thank you for being our guest today Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao. Only 11 days until the primary, so I know your schedule is packed. Are there any public engagements coming up that you would like to tell us about?

    Good Luck on May 20th!

  22. I have something scheduled every day except for Friday May 16th and Saturday May 17th so if anyone would like me to speak at their event I am available those days. I am always available to answer questions by e-mail or phone 678-923-0597 and there is more information on my website at Thank you for caring about education in Georgia. Let’s make Georgia #1 in Education!