Category Archives: John Barge

John Barge
State School Superintendent

An Ignominious End to John Barge’s Political Career

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By | Oct 23, 2014 | GaPundit Daily, Georgia Politics

It is being widely reported that Republican (in name only) State School Superintendent John Barge will endorse Democrat Valarie Wilson today in a campaign event.

Sitting State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge (R) will join State School Superintendent Candidate Valarie Wilson (D) to make a special announcement and host a press conference on Thursday at 12 p.m. in front of Tucker High, 5036 LaVista Road, Tucker.

This brings Republican State School Superintendents who ended their political careers at their own hands to three. If you recall, Linda Schrenko ran for Governor in 2002 and was later convicted of embezzlement; Kathy Cox filed for personal bankruptcy in 2008 and resigned in 2010 to take a job in the private sector. Now Barge, who ran for Governor this year and appears to have spent the rest of his time seeking employment elsewhere without much success.

Two things about this. First is it shows that the election for State School Superintendent is not about who is the best candidate – it’s about the bureaucratic educational establishment retaining control of the Georgia Department of Education. The term “bureaucrats” does not include teachers, though many will follow the lead of the administrators who are supporting the Democratic candidate – by bureaucrat, we mean primarily people who draw a check from the Department of Education or a local school system and do not teach students.

It is the bureaucrats who are threatened by a candidate who will take a carefull look at how much money is spent by DOE outside the classrooms and seek to move more of that spending toward classrooms.

It is within the very large Department of Education, which educates exactly zero students, that Democratic activists will be hired and burrow in to career positions where they will outlast any State School Superintendent and affect education outcomes for years into the future.

It is the state’s educational bureaucracy that has delivered the results we have gotten for our tax dollars. Electing yet another bureaucrat like Valarie Wilson will mean that Georgians continue to get more of the same results.

The second issue is that the State School Superintendency has become a stepping stone – from Schrenko who sought the Governor’s Office, to Cox who left to work in the private sector, and now John Barge, who has spent the better part of at least this year seeking higher employment.

It is well-known that John Barge has been an absentee Superintendent for months, turning the office into a mobile campaign, and now seeking out-of-state employment and holding press conferences with other politicians in the middle of the day on a Thursday, when he should be at work.

So I have two questions for Dr. Barge.

First, what kind of deal did you cut with Valarie Wilson to help her win election as Georgia State School Superintendent. Since your job search appears to be going nowhere – either in Cobb County or in Utah –the most-likely scenario, in my opinion, for your endorsement, is that you cut a deal.

If no deal has been cut, will Barge and Wilson both pledge that Barge will neither be offered nor accept, a position as an employee, consultant, or contractor, with the Georgia Department of Education if Valarie Wilson is elected?

Second, will John Barge reimburse the taxpayers the cost of his job search, including his absences during the Gubernatorial campaign, and the time he’s spent on his job search instead of performing the job he has?

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Filed under Georgia State School Superintendent, John Barge, Richard Woods

Kyle Wingfield, John Barge, and Common Core

By: Eric The Younger

At the beginning of October, Kyle Wingfield at the AJC had a good article (MyAJC article) about the confusion around the Common Core State Standards. As a response to this article the State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge answered several of the questions that Wingfield asked.

Why bring this up almost two months later? Mostly because Sen. Fran Millar recently tweeted out the Barge response. Here’s the link. The response was very wonkish (awesome for me, not so much for non-wonks) and four pages long, so not really a quick cut and paste kinda thing. I’ll try and hit the highlights and key points.

The first question was in regards to which set of Standards ( Common Core State Standards or Georgia Performance Standards) was stronger, as well as questions about modifying the CCSS. Barge’s answer was very long and qualified, in short it depends on which standard you’re looking at. Some of the standards are the same (81% ELA and 90% Math), some CCSS standards are more rigorous and some of the GPS standards are stronger.

The cool thing about this? We can keep/add in the GPS standards that are stronger to the CCSS standards. And that’s what we did, according to John Barge.

Then there is the standard question about state sovereignty and outside groups controlling curriculum. This is probably one of the most misunderstood parts about the CCSS. Barge’s answer?

The Common Core State Standards establish general grade level academic expectations which provide a structure for teachers. Instructional strategies and practices instituted to meet those expectations continue to be the decision of local education agencies. By adopting CCSS, Georgia has established a structure that can be adjusted as needed. The state has not agreed to shift even slightly from its stance on locally controlled decision making regarding curriculum and instruction.

Can we please stop saying teachers can’t teach anymore yet?

There are a few others that I haven’t covered that are definitely worth reading but one last one that I would like to address is one about how the CCSS would affect innovation in teaching and education. Barge has another good answer.

It is important to recognize that CCSS offers a structure in establishing academic standards for each grade level, but the standard set does not direct instructional practice. Common Core would not stifle innovation, but instead could foster effective changes as teachers across state lines share successes and novel approaches to teaching and learning.

John Barge seems to be very confused on where he stands on the issue, but he does do a fairly good job of defending the CCSS when not at a Cobb County GOP breakfast.

Nancy Jester, running for Georgia Superintendent, said in her MDJ article:

Our state spends in the top 10 nationally on education, yet, most of our education metrics hover in the bottom five. We have to admit that we need a change in leadership on educational issues in Georgia. Rigorous standards need to be adopted, but they must be part of a process that continues to innovate and is not beholden to a central authority. Georgia has a long road ahead but Common Core is not a path to prosperity.

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Filed under Common Core, Georgia Education, John Barge, Nancy Jester

Lindsey And Barge Continue Charter School Debate

By Edward Lindsey

Superintendent Barge:

I appreciate your response e mail and I am copying my GOP caucus and others since they also received my first sharp rebuke to you earlier this week.  Quite frankly, however, despite your protestations, you simply cannot match up your present stated position in your e mail today with your past conduct in this area.  I also sharply disagree with the merits of your arguments.

You were not an education novice who campaigned in 2010 by actively seeking out support from charter school advocates and indicated “strong” support for state created charter schools.  You are an experienced educator who was well versed on the history of the state supported charter school issue and fully understood at that time the arguments for and against — most of which being the same arguments we are hearing today.

Furthermore, this issue returned to a boil again shortly after you took office with the Supreme Court decision in the spring of 2011 striking down much of HB 881. In response, those of us in the legislature and the executive branch worked closely with both advocates and critics of state funded charter schools for a year to answer concerns and fashion a coalition to pass the constitutional amendment in the legislature. We also worked to maintain funding of existing state created charter schools with the help of your department.

As part of that effort, we also worked extensively throughout the process with representatives from your Department of Education for information and guidance. Throughout this long drawn out process, you never raised opposition to the proposals, voiced fiscal concerns, opposed the continued funding of existing state funded charter schools, or otherwise indicated a change of heart.

This history is what led to my blunt rebuke of your actions earlier this week.

Turning to the merits of your newly minted position,  I share your stated concerns for the 1.6 million public school students in this state and the 11,000 public school teachers.  Let me start of by reminding you that charter schools are public schools, charter school students are public school students, and charter school teachers are public school teachers.

Regrettably, there have been cuts in state spending on education since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008 – as with every other state in this country.  Nevertheless, education has seen some of the smallest cuts of any area in our state budget.  Our teachers are still the highest paid in the Southeast and after adjusting for cost of living among the highest paid in the nation.  Overall funding per pupil in Georgia is also the second highest in the southeast.

The status quo on education in Georgia is unacceptable.  The overall graduation rate in Georgia hovers in the mid 60% range and half of the students who come from low income households drop out before graduating high school.  In my household, if my children brought home success records like this from school it would be time for serious changes.  It should be same for the Georgia’s education system.

Charter schools are not a silver bullet – there is no one silver bullet – but they are a critically needed tool in the tool box for education reform.  Confining children to low performing traditional schools with no hope of an alternative or choice is morally wrong in the 21st century, and under Georgia’s existing state constitution we already have a duty to provide a quality education for every child in Georgia.

I chaired the Charter School Study Committee in 2007 and studied charter schools in Georgia and around the country.  Georgia’s present system has left us far behind other states in progress toward true education reform by virtue of many systems’ refusal to even consider charter schools or by other systems literally fiscally starving them to death.

Our charter school proposal provides a simple pressure relief valve – not a fire hose – by giving parents an alternative path for consideration of a charter school application.  They must still meet rigorous standards for consideration and if they fail to perform as promised they can be shut down.  (Let me know the last time a traditional public school was shut down for poor performance.)

You speak of local control.  I believe the ultimate local control should rest with the parents and the students.  Therefore, I will let you stand with the status quo education bureaucracy.  I stand with the students and their parents who deserve better.

In closing, let me also add that I will work with you on other education issues in the future despite my deep disappointment in your reversal on this matter.

State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip

cc:  Georgia House Republican Caucus

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Filed under Charter Schools, Edward Lindsey, Georgia Education, John Barge

John Barge’s Reply To Edward Lindsey’s Open Letter

Dear Rep. Lindsey,

Thank you for your comments on my position on the charter schools amendment. As the state’s top education official, I felt it was important stand up for the 1.6 million students and 111,000 teachers in Georgia’s public schools. I fully support creating high quality charter schools, but I cannot support the constitutional amendment. It would be harmful to the 2,300 public schools in the state that have been cut more than $4 billion since 2008. I am a true conservative who believes in limited government and fiscal responsibility. Establishing a charter school commission would go against both of those principles. First and foremost, we must work to restore school calendars to 180 days and make sure teachers are getting their full annual pay. A new state agency that duplicates the existing work of the state Department of Education and the powers of the State Board of Education – while taking away local control and costing taxpayers millions of dollars – is just plain wrong. If the amendment passes, I will honor the wishes of Georgia voters, but I could not stay silent on an issue so critical to our public schools. I look forward to continuing to work with you on issues relating to education in Georgia.

Sincerely,

John Barge
State School Superintendent

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Filed under Charter Schools, Edward Lindsey, Georgia Education, John Barge

An Open Letter to State School Superintendent John Barge

John:

I read with interest – and surprise — your statement today opposing the Charter School Amendment. I also went back and reviewed your responses to the questionnaire you filled out when you ran for office in 2010 which can be found here http://www.gacharters.org/wp-content/uploads/John-Barge.pdf, in which you stated that you “strongly” supported the State Charter School Commission and the creation of state charter schools.

If you were in court on cross examination the people of Georgia might enjoy watching you answer one of my favorite questions when someone impeaches themselves by testifying two entirely different ways to the same question: “were you lying then or are you lying now?”

But we am not in court. Therefore, let me simply say that as one public official to another that the most important attribute one person can have is personal trust in the public arena. You have squandered that today – as well as selling out the children of Georgia who need a State School Superintendent who does more than simply cower before the entrenched forces of the status quo.

State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip

cc: Georgia House Republican Caucus

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John Barge Opposes Charter Schools

By John Barge

I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education.  What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).

I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally – including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.”

I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education.  What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).

I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally – including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.

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Filed under Charter Schools, John Barge