Is support mounting for an independent candidate for school superintendent? Could an independent even win?

I posted yesterday that the business community was reportedly unhappy with the current field of declared and qualified school chief candidates in the wake of incumbent Kathy Cox’s decision to resign and pull out of the race. I reported that word is that the business leaders are  looking for an independent school chief candidate who they can support and push.

My colleague Jim Galloway has this item –  a snippet of an interview the governor had with Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM) — that suggests Sonny Perdue may also be willing to consider an independent. (It is too late for anyone to qualify to run as a Democrat or Republican.)

I think that Democrats will push a Roy Barnes/Joe Martin ticket, holding it out as a dream team for education reform. Not sure what the Republicans will do as I stated earlier; at least one GOP candidate is not a big fan of Race to the Top, and the governor is. I am not sure there is a united vision in the GOP camp on education reforms and where Georgia should be going. Candidates appear to be all over the map. For example, GOP gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson is still calling for vouchers, an idea that has pretty much disappeared from the debate in many states.

I understand that the governor is not happy with Cox’s decision to accept a CEO job at a new think tank, thus throwing the race for her seat into bedlam, but it seems to be a great opportunity for her and her family. I can’t blame her for going.

O’Hayer: Will you be trying to pick someone who can simply hold the fort and get us through a new school year and through the elections, or will you try to pick somebody who’s already on the ballot?

Perdue: You know me well enough to know that I’m not much of a caretaker. I don’t believe in just holding the fort. I don’t think we can hold the fort on education. I think we’ve got to move. And I think anytime you hold the fort, you risk the possibility of slipping back. We’ll make an appointment with that in mind.

O’Hayer: Does that mean you’ll look at someone who’s already declared?
Perdue: It means I’m going to look at everyone.

O’Hayer: Would you consider appointing a Democrat?

Perdue: I would consider appointing the best person I can find to the job of superintendent of education. It’s that important. I, frankly, asked for legislation this year that that position be appointed, because I don’t think it should be a partisan position.

23 comments Add your comment


May 26th, 2010
10:30 am

GOP education reform = dismantling of public schools

V for Vendetta

May 26th, 2010
11:13 am

Heck, I’ll throw my hat into the ring as an independent. Vote for V!


May 26th, 2010
11:16 am

You’ve got my vote, V! :D

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May 26th, 2010
11:28 am

It will not be an independent–it will be who ever will do THY BIDDING for Perdue. Kathy Cox NEVER,NEVER stood up once for the teachers. They have destroyed education beyond a laughable to almost a saddened state. Perdue and his “friends” at the General ASSembly are so hypocritical–at one end they get upset when Federal Gov’t tells them how to run insurance and tries to sue them and then on the other end they don’t mind trying to implement the stupid education reform called Race to the Top from the federal gov’t. A bunch of worthless hypocrites. I used to be the Grand Ole Party but the last seven years has caused me to go the other way at least on the state level. The state is ran by a bunch of holier than thou fill my pockets at the expense of yours idiots-VOTE OUT ALL INCUMBENTS AND VOTE OUT THE PUPPET that Perdue puts in as school super.

Dr. John Trotter

May 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Nix, Rogers, Schrenko, Cox, et al. Have any of these folks made a difference? Do we actually think that changing the State Superintendent is going to change business as usual at Fulton’s Randolph Elementary School, Atlanta’s Turner Middle School, or DeKalb’s Clarkston High School? Or, at Cobb’s Lindley Middle School or Gwinnett’s Shiloh Middle School for that matter? A new superintendent for Georgia will do NOTHING until he or she realizes, acknowledges, and confronts the issue of students being out of control. Sweeping students’ incorrigible and wanton misconduct under the proverbial rug will not solve any thing. We have been saying the following at MACE and will continue to declare it without wavering and without fear of contradiction: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. (c) MACE, April 26, 2010.


May 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Sigh. As long as there is no viable candidtat who is really going to work for teachers, nothing will change. I do not even want to speculate on this.


May 26th, 2010
11:47 am

We got a change rammed down our throats–Math 1, 2, 3, and 4. Misaligned CRCT geography standards, higher EOCT failure rate for Social Studies, had to lower the passing scores becuase the tests doesn’t aligh correctly with the standards being taught, expect more out of teachers without giving them the resources, cut funding so severe it affects student learning, created a school of test and continued to do unnecessary testing (1 and 2 grade levels for seven years) costing a huge amount of accumulation of money that is needed now just to buy testing materials, leaving some schools so broke thy can’t afford testing scan trons, changing the curriculum every two years, allowing the Math 1, 2,3 and 4 textbooks to give out examples that have nothing to do with questions on the EOCT, cut 2,000,000,000 dollars out of education while building a 100,000,000 dollar road by Perdue’s land, already spent 37,000,000 dollars for a horse arena, raised taxes for Ga. Power customers to build a nuclear power plant but refused to raise taxes to help education, try to raid the teacher’s retirement, while Perdue fatten his retirement with a 100,000 dollar tax break, trying to change the curriculum again to match the RAce to the bottom standards, spent millions of dollars on a pretty binder to send out to the 100,000 teachers that detail a very complicated evaulation process, pay money to allow state bloggers from the Department of Ed to cut down people who blog against Perdue and COx, allowed vouchers for student with disabilities, tries to pass merit pay based on the crappy testing that CRCT and EOCT is doing–I can’t wait to see the replacement–it will be someone who also send or have sent thier children to Private school like PERDUE did his.


May 26th, 2010
12:00 pm

I love business leaders–who ever they are–Don’t want to raise taxing but don’t mind having thier input into school affairs.

come on . . .

May 26th, 2010
12:15 pm

Kira Willis. She’s a teacher, she has experience, and she has common sense – not POLITICAL sense. She’s endorsed by the Libertarian party, so she’ll be on the ballot for sure.. Check out her site – I think you’ll see why she’s the best choice!


May 26th, 2010
1:01 pm

What is the libetarian’s view on public education? Aren’t they also for a “smaller” government and tax-cuts? Kathy Cox was a teacher, wasn’t she? Maybe most teachers don’t have what it takes to be effective in this political position. We can dislike the political nature of the position, but perhaps what we need is a good politician who can make things happen for schools. A good intention isn’t good enough.

Ros Dalton

May 26th, 2010
1:03 pm

In answer to your question; No, an independant could not win. Campaign funding in our two party system isn’t structured to make it possible except in the case of complete disillusionment of the constituents of both parties. Favoritism and access to advertising will win the day no matter how bad the results of previous candidates from the major parties.


May 26th, 2010
1:16 pm

Dr. Trotter might be an interesting candidate. If you read between the lines, he seems to advocate for shifting some of the responsibility for student performance/success back to the parents. When many speak of the ‘good ole days’, they are also referring to a time when there was greater partnership between the local schools and parents with respect to students behavior. I believe many voters could support that idea however would probably want to see more specifics as to how that could be done.

What do you say, Dr. Trotter? Should you be considered as a candidate for appointment?

Mike Honcho

May 26th, 2010
1:17 pm

@ Come on

I read her website and I have to say she sounds like a great choice. She is on my radar for sure.


May 26th, 2010
5:10 pm

Does he believe that we are all so ignorant to believe that an appointed Superintendent of Schools would be less partisan than someone who is elected? Yeah right! Look at all the people he appointed to the State Board of Education. I guess because we all live in the state of Georgia he assumes we’re all as big an idiot as he is…o.k. Sonny. Is it November yet?


May 26th, 2010
6:09 pm

I guess if you are against the feds taking over the curriculum and telling us how and what we should teach our children then you are not a good candidate for Sonny? This just proves what I have been saying for 8 years, Sonny is a RINO and now that his term is about to end he is showing his true colors. I think Dr. John Barge is a great candidate. He is against RTTT federal program, he wants to do away with this crazy new math curriculum and says the current everyone has to be on a college bound track is ridiculous. He also believes that we should make as many decisions as possible at the local level. All sounds like good conservative veiws to me. Maybe this is where Sonny has a problem?

He has been in Education for 20 years as a Teacher, in administration at the county level and a director at the state level and has a Phd in Educational leadership. How much more qualified can one be to do the job? Better qualified than any previous superintendent.

Sounds like a good canidate to me. Check out his website:

Yeah. . .I'm that guy

May 26th, 2010
7:22 pm

We all know it is republican or nothing in this state. Come on now!

Anonymous Jones

May 27th, 2010
12:19 am

Purdue is bouind to appoint someone already qualified to run for the GOP nomination. Just get the word out to NOT support Purdue’s appointee and do more damage in the remaining six months.

@ td

May 27th, 2010
6:47 am

Teachers should not be the ones to decide what to teach. They should be the ones to decide how to teach.


May 27th, 2010
8:59 am

@ td, I did not say teachers should make the decisions of what to teach. I meant to say the closer to the local community these decisions are made, with some general guidance, the better off our education system will become.

Attentive Parent

May 27th, 2010
1:14 pm

The business community also supported the new math curriculum because they are willing to accept rhetoric about excellence in education over the pertinent facts.

I know. The reason I first discovered all the multimillion dollar grants involved in the adoption of the new math curriculum was after I was told who to call and they explained that they weren’t interested in factual info because “they just knew this would be a wonderful thing”.

Same with RTT. Has the business community noticed that the states with the most acclaimed standards are the ones dropping out of RTT and they are saying it’s because the Common Core Standards would be weaker?

None of them are dropping out because they don’t need the money.

This is Georgia and the attitude is “if you give us money, we will impose it on our students”.

Does the business community have anyone reading the Pioneer Institute reports on Common Core so that they can begin to appreciate why we are so different in Georgia from Massachusetts?


May 27th, 2010
1:20 pm

Richard Woods, Republican Candidate, would work hard for teachers and curriculum reform. Check out his website.

An advocate for public education change & choice

May 27th, 2010
4:11 pm

The matter of State School Board Governance should be re-examined. The citizens of the State elect the Superintendent. However, as I understand it, the State School Board members are appointed by the Gov.

Does anyone else see a recipe for disaster? Why not divide the state up (much like the PSC board) have all State Board seats elected for 6-7 year terms (which reduces the partian politics) and have the aforementioned elected Board vote on Superintendent appointments made the Gov?

Allowing the Gov to appoint the entire board is definately not the way to go. But by the same token, the current model is not delivering results.