Barge and Martin win. Voters have distinct choice in school chief race now.

Updated at 12:20 a.m. to note John Barge’s victory.

 John Barge won the GOP primary Tuesday.

John Barge won the GOP primary Tuesday.

Former APS school board member Joe Martin handily won the Democratic nomination for school superintendent, while Bartow County school administrator John Barge won a close GOP contest.

Now, voters have a clear choice in November. Nothing shows the differences between the two candidates more clearly than their stands on the federal Race to the Top grant program, which Georgia is competing for this summer:

John Barge:

The current leadership did not help its image recently with their announcement that they would be pursuing $200 – $400 million in federal grant monies through an initiative of President Obama’s called Race to the Top…. I’m sure you will find as many around the state have found, this will put FAR TOO MUCH power in the hands of the federal government to control our school systems.

I have this one question: Is the less than 1% of our total educational budget for a year worth selling the education of our children to the federal government? I say no.

Joe Martin won the Democratic primary Tuesday.

Joe Martin won the Democratic primary Tuesday.

Joe Martin:

I support the Race to the Top funding, but don’t think Georgia’s application was prepared in a cooperative way or based on accurate representations. The only way to make sustainable change is to involve everyone in a team effort. That certainly hasn’t been the approach in this process thus far. And some of the text is close to being a fairy tale. For example, where is that great student information system touted in the application?

I agree with the four assurances (high standards, great teachers, reliable information, and reform of struggling schools) that are the goals of Race to the Top. I also believe everyone in education has to be evaluated on the success of their schools in educating our students, but I don’t support a pay-for-performance system that is tied to standardized test scores.

51 comments Add your comment

Slick Joe

July 20th, 2010
9:55 pm

So you like RT3 but not Pay for performance that Obama wants?

Typical Demoncrat with the fence pole up his rear.

That Inside the beltway mentality will haunt you when I got to the ballot in November.

Dr. John Trotter

July 20th, 2010
9:58 pm

I will have to support the GOP nominee. I can’t go along with the Race To The Top in any manner or form. It is disasterous.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

July 20th, 2010
9:59 pm

Joe Martin is OUT for me!

MA

July 20th, 2010
10:05 pm

Brad Bryant, an Independent, will be the best choice of all in November!

Honker

July 20th, 2010
10:06 pm

Wow. Two talk about what amounts to conspiracy theories about the Federal government and one sounds like he’s actually aware of the program and knows how it has been going.

No surprise that he probably doesn’t stand a chance in November. Ideology trumps knowledge every time in GA.

ScienceTeacher671

July 20th, 2010
10:13 pm

Kira Willis will be in the mix in November. FWIW.

B. Thenet

July 20th, 2010
10:33 pm

The Federal Government directly pays for 1/3 of our state budget anyway, why on earth are those two GOPer whining about another 200-400 million that I am sure we could find a good use for.

If you truly do not want the Federal Government in our state, either raise state taxes and fees to cover the 33% true shortfall in our state budget….or cut the state budget by another 33%. I am sure the rest of the country would appreciate being able to use the funds, or perhaps we could cut taxes in some of the blue states whose taxes are used to pay for our own states budget.

There is nothing worse than an ungrateful beggar.

Teach 10

July 20th, 2010
10:34 pm

Unfortunately, there’s the death knell right there. I thought for sure that Martin would be in a fight to win and certainly not cruise to victory the way he has. Yet another candidate who has never been in the actual classrooms of education (regardless of opinion, you can’t say that about Kathy Cox) and going along with the same OLD BS that’s we’re seeing right now in education.

Martin will surely lose in November because it would have been an extremely difficult job winning as a Democrat in a pretty heavy Republican state and he wholly endorses the Race to the Bottom. Will now have to move to check out Bryant and Willis as Independents, because as Dr. John Trotter said, I will not vote for any candidate that supports the Race to the Bottom, also known as the Duncan/Obama/Gates/Broad/Walton/Klein/Rhee War Against Teachers plan. Missed a golden opportunity to stand up for teachers and against Obama’s Atrocious plan. His stance on education alone will possibly drop my vote for “Change We Can Believe In”….My @ss!

ScienceTeacher671

July 20th, 2010
10:39 pm

I’m just totally depressed about the gubernatorial race. All these people running, and the people who could be bothered to go to the polls think that Handel, Deal, and Barnes are the best we have to lead our state??

td

July 20th, 2010
10:42 pm

With 60% of the vote in, John Barge has increased his lead by 9000 votes as the metro counties start to come in.

B. Thenet

July 20th, 2010
10:48 pm

When you look at how poorly this state has done in testing compared to the rest of the country, do people really think that taking the governments money and some of their input on our states education could possibly make things any worse.

I would wager the only other states where people are truly upset about the idea of getting additional educational funds from the government are the other bottom dwelling states here in the South.

schooled

July 20th, 2010
10:51 pm

Bryant WILL NOT be on the ballot as an independent because he did not get enough signatures to run. Bryant is NO longer a choice.

Teach 10

July 20th, 2010
11:06 pm

B.Thenet — I understand what you’re saying, but much of the reason we have lower scores has a lot to do with economics. Obviously, there are so many issues that have to do with our lower test scores, but getting input from a government, a president, and his henchmen trying to run schools like a corporation is not the answer. I do agree that leadership is a huge problem, but common sense has to make its way back into education and people quit looking for a quick fix and silver bullet. 30-40 years of education “reform” has failed, in part, because people want a shortcut and are looking for the next big thing. A sustained, labor intensive, common sense effort that includes all aspects of education (most importantly parents, students, teachers, communities) to find out what works.

Dekalbite @ScienceTeacher 671

July 20th, 2010
11:11 pm

I voted for Barnes today. I’m very concerned teachers may still not vote for him. The reason I voted for him is I’m a retired DCSS teacher, and I think it’s wrong for our school system to have 8,500 admin and support personnel and only 6,800 teachers (and going down even further in the next 2 years). Barnes may not have included teachers in his plans and meetings and that’s not good, but he cut class sizes dramatically and that is good. I remember teaching 4th grade and having 33 in a class. It was crowd control. Barnes cut class sizes and told the superintendents that they had to figure it out. They screamed and moaned and complained and pleaded, but Barnes stood firm. The superintendents ended up cutting admin and support staff substantially and increasing teacher numbers dramatically. I trained teachers during the Barnes years. It was so great to see small class sizes. Kids could do hands-on activities, science experiments, get the individual attention they needed, etc. and the teachers really enjoyed their classes. It only lasted a little while and then Perdue came in and now it’s quite miserable for so many teachers and kids who are packed into classes like sardines. What a difference small class sizes make for kids. Our DeKalb administration and BOE are busy raising class sizes to unprecedented levels in order to preserve the admin and support jobs. Have you looked at DCSS scores? We need Barnes to come in and hold the line and push back the class sizes (Science classes in DCSS can range up to 36 in HS – how unsafe is that!). And non-core subjects in high school can soar to 39. Barnes will reduce the class sizes and the superintendents will be forced to cut anywhere but the classroom. This is what we need – someone who puts an emphasis on the classroom. Here in DCSS we won’t get reasonable class sizes any other way.

Cobb Parent

July 20th, 2010
11:13 pm

The last thing I want is for this position to become a political post. I dislike RTTT but I’m not sure I’d vote for either Barge or Woods come November. I guess we’ll just have to watch campaign season unfold.

B. Thenet

July 20th, 2010
11:17 pm

The very fact that you said that our President has henchmen leads me to believe that you are putting politics ahead of education, and I think that approach to education in this state is a big part of the problem.

When you are terrible at something, at what point to you look in the mirror and admit you have been doing things the wrong way? The US Government has nothing to do with our own primary education woes, and considering nearly every other state in the country manages to do a better job….perhaps we should not be so headstrong to turn our backs to them…or twist the governments attempts to pull us up into a game of conspiracy theories.

Sk8ing Momma

July 20th, 2010
11:20 pm

Any candidate who supports getting rid of NCLB in its entirety gets my vote.

MCC

July 20th, 2010
11:26 pm

I think Martin might be on to something – maybe the RTTT application wouldn’t have been so awful if more input was sought from teachers on the ideas. And just because a candidate supports applying for the grant doesn’t mean that we will get the $$. We do, however, desperately need federal money in order to follow the law as it pertains to special education. We are BROKE in Georgia, and 1% of the budget (# from one of the repub candidtates) is still a lot of $$.

And let’s face it, we’ve never had a great education system in Georgia (in the 1980s I left GA for 2 years as an average elementary school student and lived in NJ; when I came back I was at least 1-2 years ahead – had to take math with kids in the grade above) so what makes you think Georgians are better equipped to run education than those in the federal government? I don’t know who will be the best superintendent but I’m not ruling anyone out because of an application for money for which Purdue was responsible.

Teach 10

July 20th, 2010
11:41 pm

B. Thenet — Perhaps I worded it wrong, but its also hard to argue that Obama isn’t playing politics with education either. Obviously, this isn’t a political blog, so I’ll just say that I couldn’t be more disappointed with the president referring only to his position on education. I can tell you that working at a Title I School in Clayton, money is NOT the issue. We have some of the best technology, professional development out the ying-yang, excellent facilities, and we have some of the lowest scores in the county. We had less than 10% of our students take part in our mandatory free tutoring, dictated by NCLB, including transportation this year. Throwing money at it is simply not the solution. Also add to the fact that this RTTB money is only a temporary solution and you now have states competing against each other like wild animals and it simply isn’t the solution. I can only speak for my situation as a Title I teacher, but we have taken every single thing the government has mandated since NCLB and we have gotten worse, not better. The current plan that Corporatist Arne Duncan has implemented in Chicago has been an abject failure. What about looking at, working with, and partnering with other states and how they have made improvements instead of taking orders from jacklegs who’ve never stepped foot in the classroom (Duncan, Joel Klein, Alan Bersin).

schooled — Thank you for the update.

Cobb Parent — Very well put.

BehindEnemyLines

July 20th, 2010
11:48 pm

While it appears that Barge will hold on for the primary win, there seems to be legitimate cause for concern about the extremely low vote total for their down ballot race vs others, over 100k fewer votes than any of the other lower profile offices. That seems to say quite a bit about how little either candidate was able to inspire voters or distinguish themselves in any way, something that could be surprisingly problematic in November.

Maureen Downey

July 20th, 2010
11:50 pm

@behind, See my new post. I think Kathy Cox got those votes.
Maureen

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MONISE SEWARD, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Martin poised to win. GOP contest too close to call. Voters have distinct choice in school chief race now. http://bit.ly/922yaQ [...]

atlmom

July 21st, 2010
12:51 am

Kira Willis. She’s awesome.

free market educator

July 21st, 2010
2:52 am

Rick is my pick for write-in candidate. He has the best platform-hands down.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9BA5e2Of_U&feature=related

New Blood Needed

July 21st, 2010
6:44 am

@Maureen

The election hasn’t been over 12 hours yet and you’re already showing bias by omitting Kira Willis. She too offers voters a “distinct choice” for State School Superintendent.

Where are her views on RTTT to compare to the stances of Barge and Martin? Similar to Barge and Martin, she WILL be on the November ballot.

Do your homework and you’ll see that she has notable support and that this is NOT just a two candidate race. Kira Willis for State School Superintendent! The people will speak! New blood needed!

http://www.willisforstatesuper.com

New Blood Needed

July 21st, 2010
6:50 am

Teaching family

July 21st, 2010
8:08 am

I just spent some time on Kira Willis’ campaign website. She seems to be an advocate for everything that I believe needs to change in Georgia’s education system. Can anyone tell me if she’s heavily connected with the Tea Party movement? I’m concerned about candidates too wrapped up in that movement. Although, as an independent, I respect most grassroot inititaves.

Maureen – I would love to see this blog look at the Superintendent race as a 3 candidate race now. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reviewing stances of both democrat and republican candidates. I think Kira Willis is a viable candidate that deserves equal media attention. Thanks!

New Blood Needed

July 21st, 2010
8:24 am

@ Teaching Family

I’ve met Kira Willis at some Tea Party events but she is straight Libertarian. Her table at these events has always been a high-traffic area as people enjoy meeting a true champion of community schools.

New Blood Needed

July 21st, 2010
8:25 am

@ Teaching Family

I’ve met Kira Willis at some Tea Party events but she is straight Libertarian. Her table at these events has always been a high-traffic area as people enjoy meeting a true champion of community schools.

http://www.willisforstatesuper.com

Attentive Parent

July 21st, 2010
8:28 am

The CCSSO has released Model Core Teaching Standards describing how Common Core is to be taught that all teachers will want to read.

http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2010/Model_Core_Teaching_Standards_DRAFT_FOR_PUBLIC_COMMENT_2010.pdf

This is a radically different vision of what “education” will be like so that it is accessible for all.

We need to find out the views of Barge and Willis and Martin (as one of them will belong to the CCSSO) on this radical vision funded by the NEA, Perason, and Educational Testing Service.

Attentive Parent

July 21st, 2010
8:33 am

CCSSO is the Council of State School Officers.

There is an accompanying document called “State Policy Implications of Model Core Teaching Standards” that teachers will not want to miss either.

http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/2010/State_Policy_Implications_Model_Core_Teaching_DRAFT_DISCUSSION_DOCUMENT_2010.pdf

Teachers- How will you feel when nothing is about individual excellence anymore and your own knowledge and skills?

Please note that the new national teaching model expressly calls for accountability, rewards, and sanctions to all be “team-based”.

schooled

July 21st, 2010
8:36 am

I guess some people don’t read the news if they are wasting votes on Cox and thinking Bryant is still in the race. Unless something extreme happens Willis and Barge will divide the votes that most likely would go to Barge in a race without Willis. Martin will win if this happens. Martin supports RTTT. Is this what we want in Georgia?

New School

July 21st, 2010
8:47 am

B. Thenet, where do you think the fed gov gets the money it sends (back) to us? To me, it seems a little heavy-handed to tax money away from an area and then offer some of it back if you play by “my” rules.

question for maureen

July 21st, 2010
9:43 am

Maureen,
When will the next round of RTTT monies be awarded?

An advocate for public education change & choice

July 21st, 2010
9:44 am

@ MA: I was struck with the thought last night that if Bryant really thought he was the best man for the job, why not put some energy around a write in campaign for the position. Forget the partisan label besides what more important in a job like this???

My prediction, Kira Willis and Barge’s hairbrained public policy position to isolate the GA public educational system will spell a win for Martin. Personally I think he has the best composite skill set for the job amongst the candidates remaining.

Maureen Downey

July 21st, 2010
9:45 am

@question, Deadline for applications is Aug. 2. Awards are expected sometime in September.

An advocate for public education change & choice

July 21st, 2010
9:47 am

@ Schooled: Unless I’m way off base, a vote for Bryant could be cast as write in candidate in the general election. But the big question is does Bryant want to take the unpresidented step of campaigning as write-in choice?

An advocate for public education change & choice

July 21st, 2010
10:00 am

@ Cobb Parent: Sorry too late, this position has been a political stepping stone for sometime now.

@ New Blood Needed: My only knock on both Willis & Barge is dont appear to have the savvy that’s REQUIRED of the office. This post isn’t about who is best teacher, who supports a particular federal grant application or not, but it is about who can build a colaition of stakeholders to serve the best interests of students across the state. That means navigating under the Gold Dome,a close partnership with the Gov, and opening yourself up to input from all stakeholders within the public education system across the state, particularly teachers. Hence a strong executive manager. Martin thus far is the closest to convincing me he can carry the load. We will see if the general election campaign can do something to alter my view.

HStchr

July 21st, 2010
10:40 am

Well, if anyone believes Barge, they’re crazy. The only reason he doesn’t want the RT3 grant is that it is sponsored by the Obama administration. Typical republican- they say NO, NO, NO as they hold out their hands for the money. He’ll cave on that issue as soon as he realizes the budget over the next two fiscal years at least is only going to get tighter. He’s just as bad as Perdue, who initially flatly refused stimulus money from the feds- and he ended up taking it anyway. I’m so tired of republicans in this state…

As a teacher, I can accept the fact that pay for performance is inevitable. The way to make it work and make it fair is to build a growth model based on student performance in a variety of ways, including but not exclusively standardized test scores. I’d be willing to accept a plan like that. Do some reading folks on growth models used in several states now and you’ll see that it is a much fairer way to judge student performance and set individual goals. I’ve worked exclusively with “at-risk” kids for many years, and growth models will work if people will take the time to understand them.

td

July 21st, 2010
10:46 am

An advocate for public education change & choice, How is Martin going to ” build a coalition of stakeholders” when the gold dome will be controlled by Republicans? Education spending is more than 50% of the entire budget for the state and politicians want to take credit for all the good spending of the taxpayers dollars. Is it better for education for a Republican legislature to fight with a Democrat and policies not being implemented because of partisan bickering, or is it better for both to be Republicans so everyone looks good and gets to take credit?

td

July 21st, 2010
11:14 am

HStchr, You need to get your history straight. John Barge and Richard Wood ran against Kathy Cox (the two term incumbent) was because they thought her leadership was taking the state if education in the wrong direction. RTTT was just one part of both of their reasons. John also does not like NCLB and it was a Bush plan. John does not think we Georgian should give up control of our ability to develop our curriculum, how we evaluate and pay our teachers to the Feds for what amounts to 1% of our total state budget. If you think this is a good idea then I guess you can vote for the Barnes, Martin ticket.

Nikole

July 21st, 2010
11:26 am

@ HStchr—Do you think growth models may be unfair as well? I teach first grade, and there is tremendous growth every year by every student. Even if they don’t pass the CRCT, they make monumental gains in this year. Don’t almost all students grow each year, if they just show up? I haven’t researched growth models, but it was just a thought I had.

HStchr

July 21st, 2010
11:33 am

td- where did I say I support RT3? I don’t FYI, but I fully believe whoever wins the race will, in the end, go after it. Even if it’s only 1% of the budget, when YOU study your history openly and honestly, you’ll realize that while they say no to “federal control,” they hold out their hands for the money. This is only going to get worse as the state economy continues to lag. My opinion is, as I said, that if the powers that be decide to go after it, let’s at least look at options for how to meet pay for performance requirements. I’ve talked to a number of folks at the state level who don’t like it, but realize that even that 1% may be necessary. Personally, I’d rather teach classes of 40 kids than to have to go after the RT3 money, but I have little doubt the horse will refuse to follow that carrot if it gets hungry enough.

I don’t plan to vote for Barnes and I frankly don’t like either of the republican hopefuls. I’ll write in Mickey Mouse before I’ll vote for any of them at this point.

HStchr

July 21st, 2010
11:41 am

Nikole- they’re not perfect, but growth models set individual goals based on amount of growth in the previous year. The goals are set trending towards catching up with age level peers. So, those who just show up and grow only a little will be the target group for intervention and challenge towards greater growth. Read about them- you may see the possibilites there that I have seen- maybe not. They’re an interesting alternative in my opinion. The end result for teachers is that those kids who do not pass mandated tests but show consistent growth won’t cause a negative evaluation. The actual growth of the student compared to goals will determine if there has been success in teaching and learning. As a teacher of “at-risk” kids, I see how much students can grow even if they don’t pass a standardized test. I can move a kid up two or three grade levels in reading but have the child still be below actual grade level. If I were to be judged on amount of growth, I’d be considered successful. If the only judgment is the standardized test, then I’m not.

Maureen Downey

July 21st, 2010
11:52 am

@Teaching family, I plan to ask posters to send some suggested questions for me to present to all three candidates. Please send them to mdowney@ajc.com.

decaturparent

July 21st, 2010
4:34 pm

Nikole, we have growth model testing in our district… and no, sometimes even top students show no growth or may evern lose ground in an subject over an acedemic year. When that happens year after year with different classes and across varying types of students… it’s time to show that teacher the door.

decaturparent

July 21st, 2010
4:34 pm

meant to say.. “a subject”

An advocate for public education change & choice

July 21st, 2010
4:45 pm

@TD – The composition of the legistlature is always like a box of chocolates no matter which party is “in control”. I would argue you that there are more bi-partisan coalitions formed with regard to public education policy than you may realize of late.

I think at bear minimum the Gov and State Super should be closely aligned in their public policy outlook. On that basis I guess one would have to see the two as a team and vote accordingly. For practical purposes that would mean many chosing to vote party line one way or the other.

An advocate for public education change & choice

July 21st, 2010
4:51 pm

@TD – Isolating the GA public school system as is suggested by Barge doesn’t address the issues that still exist with the status quo. Sorry to say but while I don’t necessarily think that Martin is all that better a candidate, I think he’s the most practical choice out of what remains. Willis IMHO would be weak poltically by comparsion and I think she pulls more from the Barge base than Martin’s. This impacts the viability of her campaign in my eyes. But what can I say its 3 months till Nov elections maybe how I see this race will change.

td

July 21st, 2010
6:15 pm

An advocate for public education change & choice, My friend that is the difference between a conservative and a liberal. I personally think the Federal government has no business in any state education or for that matter a lot of other thing either. I think the best results are found when you let decisions made at as local a level as possible and hold those people accountable for their decisions. You really need to go to John’s website or better yet go see him in person and read his view’s on getting us out of Math 1234, offering the vocational/carrear diploma track and his vision to try to let students take EOCT before a class and if passed then get the credit and move on to harder classes and graduate early. He did not get into this race to be a political hack or to move to the next job (he really is a political neophyte)but instead because he was concerned of the direction his chosen field was heading.

It really does not matter because the Republicans will have a clean sweep in November of all the state held offices. Just look at the number totals from yesterday (about 200,000 more Rep ballots than Dem). Also, contrary to the AJC’s story yesterday about low voter turnout, I really think their are a lot more ticked off at Obama conservatives in the state that will come out in droves, not know hardly any of the candidates and vote a straight Republican ticket to send a message to Washington.