Democratic school chief candidate protests GOP flyer attacking him as “radical liberal.” Over the top or politics as usual?

Here is a mailer for John Barge that his opponent Joe Martins thinks is appalling.

Here is a John Barge mailer that has irked opponent Joe Martin.

Democratic school chief candidate Joe Martin is unhappy with a flyer being sent out by his GOP opponent John Barge.

The flyer calls Martin “Obama Liberal Joe Martin” and an “Unqualified Radical Liberal” and charges that Martin has spent no time working in public schools.

“This flyer is a throw-back to the hard-nosed tactics of attacking one’s opponent by hurling epithets and playing to fears, ” says Martin in a mass e-mail.

To me, it seems that Barge is playing to the audience dissatisfied with President Obama, as are most Republican candidates this election season. The flyer seems like typical Georgia politics.

I am showing it for your judgment: Politics as usual or over the top?

I have now attended three school superintendent panels and noticed that Barge has  softened his disdain for federal aid over the course of the campaign, especially Race to the Top. I was told that he has chatted with the governor or at least with representatives of Gov. Sonny Perdue, who was influential in Georgia winning the $400 million federal grant. Perhaps, that conversation was cathartic.

Libertarian Kira Willis continues to display the strongest awareness of classroom issues, but I still think her faith in local control is not shared by all voters and may reflect her own experience both attending and teaching at a high-functioning high school in a high-functioning system.

I think it is fair to say that Martin has the best grasp of school funding and of the history and politics that landed us in this current financial mess, but his affiliation with the troubled APS, where he once served on the board of education, may hurt him.

I still don’t see this race getting much attention from either the public or the media around the state, and I suspect that this contest will be an eeny meeny miney mo choice for many Georgians.

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by School Money, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Democratic school chief candidate protests GOP flyer attacking him as “radical liberal.” Over the top or politics … [...]


October 27th, 2010
4:11 am

When you run on no substance then you throw out lies and try to install fear into those older white Georgians I saw at the polls yesterday. They could not follow the signs to vote, I had to show them what door to go in. But I can see them listen to all the Barges of this country without no thought.

Mr. D

October 27th, 2010
5:53 am

It is a very sad day in Ga when the only person that can get elected is the one with an R beside their name regardless of platform or history. Kevin Kenerly is the perfect example of a Republican candidate. Four years ago he was exposed as a crook in a video mailed to the AJC and Gwinnett citizens. He was still elected over the Democrat. Now look at the Gwinnett commission, one resigned and Keven is indicted. The governors race is shaping up the same way, Deal may very well be indicted as governor and the Ga voters would still rather have him in office than a Democrat. Ga. was a moderately conservative state with a spirit of statesmenship. We put the people and the state first. Now, only radical Republicans are elected for everything down to dog catcher.

Bitter EX democrat

October 27th, 2010
6:14 am

STRIVE to be SMARTER than the EVIL CORRUPT democrackkks WANT you to BE!


October 27th, 2010
6:30 am

It is the downside of living in a republic. You get the representation you deserve.


October 27th, 2010
6:30 am

Exactly, mike. I just wonder what GA schools would be like if it is overseen by a superintendent who gets elected because he is anti-Obama.


October 27th, 2010
6:47 am

If liberal democrats didn’t have a recent history of going against the majority of the Americans voters wishes, than democrats would not be offended by being linked to liberal democrats and would denounce the actions of the current empowered liberal democrats in much the same way as if Muslims didn’t like being linked to the ways of the Islamic extremists they would step up and denounce the actions of the few that tarnish the reputations of an entire religion. Please don’t think me anti Muslim or anti democrat…I’m not. My point is if you loosely associated with a group or a person that is acting poorly, you must speak up. Don’t get upset when others stereotype you.

My own two cents

October 27th, 2010
6:52 am

Mr. D.
“Ga. was a moderately conservative state with a spirit of statesmenship. We put the people and the state first.Now, only radical Republicans are elected for everything down to dog catcher.” How long have you studied Georgia Politics? From 1872 until 2002, Georgia was controlled by the Democrats. We have had people elected like Gene Talmadge,and Marvin Griffin elected to the Governorship several times. I don’t think you could call either them moderate conservative and the state certainly wasn’t run in the in the spirit of statesmanship. There were hardly any Republicans serving in the Legislature until the 1960s-1980s. You also had a staunch segregationist and a high school dropout in Lester Maddox elected governor over Bo Callaway simply because he was a Democrat. When your party dominates like the Democrats did, that’s not statesmanship.

In both the superintendent race and the governor race you are seeing typical Georgia politics. I dislike both parties but Republicans at least talk closer to my philosophy. Libertarians are attractive, but unfortunately, tend to draw votes away from Republicans. Get over the fact that just like for Republicans G. W. Bush was an albatross in 2008 Obama in 2010 is an albatross for Democrats.


October 27th, 2010
6:52 am

I had to click to delete an ad on Facebook yesterday that said Roy Barnes “hero” is Barack Obama. One thing I’ve learned in the nearly 27 years I’ve lived in Georgia is a Georgia Democrat is usually not like a California Democrat. I’m ready to write the Georgia Republican Party to tell them to stop mailing flyers to my house until they realize that fact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Republican. I voted for quite a few, but I also voted for quite a few Democrats because I looked at each race and decided which candidate had the most similar views that I do….. Dying breed I guess, someone who actually looks at the candidates to avoid ones who might get indicted shortly into their terms.


October 27th, 2010
7:05 am

I for one will be glad when the election season ends next week. Hopefully there will not be many runoffs. I’m getting fatigued with all of the negative campaigning on all sides.


October 27th, 2010
7:06 am

Do you ever get tired of the BS. The reason Ga. ranks so low in education is because we have so many minorities. If you break our SAT scores for white Georgians you will find we are in the middle of the pack. Then break out SAT scores for minorities and again you will find we are middle of the pack. But when you combine the two, since the weighting of minorities is so high, Georgia ends up near the bottom. Why do minorities score so much lower than whites? I don’t know but since this is the reality to judge the Georgia school system by SAT scores or any standardized test is totally misleading. You should look at the breakdown by ethnic groups.
As for school funding that really doesn’t make as much difference as you think. Look at your lowest spending states like Utah and your highest spending like Washington DC and you will see what I mean. School operating expense is a function of class size and teacher pay and administrative overhead. For years we have heard the mantra of lower class size wil mean better educated students. That has proven to be mostly malarkey..


October 27th, 2010
7:09 am

Doesnt matter Mike. White or black, young or old, the majority in this Country are down on Obamanure, his policies and those that would want to see him and his failing policies succeed.

Thanks for the warm morning cup of bigotry. We have faith in you! ;)


October 27th, 2010
7:14 am

The person we need in the state “school chief” position was appointed to the seat at present, but was unable to jump through the hoops in time to get on the ballot. The bad timing of the departure of our former “chief” left the state with 2 weak candidates. Brad Bryant knows and understands our troubled systems in Georgia, he is well informed on funding and has the capacity to bring consensus from discussions. He should have been a write-in candidate for the sake of our students.


October 27th, 2010
7:15 am

It’s funny to hear dems whine about this. To dems, every repub is a right wing radical and according to the Barnes campaign. a vote for Deal is a vote to allow rape.

Write Your Board Members

October 27th, 2010
7:18 am

For the last 8 years, no one has been advocating for the students of GA. Kathy Cox was busy kissing up to the DC republicans by being the poster child for NCLB.

This is a position that needs to be appointed. The governor needs to appoint the most qualified person and then the governor is accountable.


October 27th, 2010
7:28 am

@ d

Like you, I actually choose candidates rather than a party. In the case of the governor’s race I will choose the one that might get indicted over the one who I know is a tyrant.

That’s a pretty sad statement on our choices, don’t you think?

East Cobb Parent

October 27th, 2010
7:33 am

From the folks I’ve talked to John Barge is willing to change the math and Joe Martin is not. I’m finding more people have issues with the math than funding. Given the % of the budget that education receives, many feel the money has been mis-managed.(Pls note I said many not all) So if by understanding you mean he would push to have more funding, I think many would not buy into it. I have not seen the flyer in question nor has anyone mentioned it. Doesn’t mean others haven’t.

I would hope no one votes based on the party in which the candidate is affiliated.

don't care

October 27th, 2010
7:33 am

I ignore all campaign commercials and I do not vote.


October 27th, 2010
7:41 am

I agree with you. I am tired of being called names like racist, extremist and radical because I don’t go along with the statist agenda of the democrats. It seems that the democrats don’t have any problem with the tactic as long as they are the ones using it.
Mr. Martin may not be but the democratic party has been been more than willing to smear, lie and use guilt by association when it suits them. Mr. Barnes rape ad, for example, has set a new low.


October 27th, 2010
7:46 am

@ Ernest;

Around where I live, Race Trac (gas station) has an ad that says:

“Beer. Because it’s election season.”

I think it captures what many of us are thinking…


October 27th, 2010
7:49 am

I dislike Obama and his policies, and I think Pelosi is a threat to our nation. That being said, Joe Martin is the by far the best candidate for Superintendent. It’s not about political party affiliation, it’s about the person who can do the best job. Joe Martin without a doubt is that man.


October 27th, 2010
7:52 am


That’s a good one! Several cold ones could help us get through this painlessly :)


October 27th, 2010
8:09 am

Pragmatic: My son goes to a all black School and their school is ranked in the top 5 school in the country, so you can save that stereo type remark, what about the poor whites that live in some of these hick towns who education system is screwed?
The reason they run ads like this because they know the majority of whites in this states are bigots and hate Obama, they are dumb enough to blame him for Georgia screwed up system under Rep for the last 8 years.

Gene V. Debs

October 27th, 2010
8:16 am

If the Republicans don’t like him he sounds like a great candidate.


October 27th, 2010
8:18 am

Georgia voters must think the Democrats are currently in office in this state and want to do what they see happening nationally and that is to get rid of incumbent Democrats. Folks, Republicans have had a lock on the state capitol for the last eight years. maybe you are all confused because most of them used to be Democrats.


October 27th, 2010
8:26 am

It’s politics as usual. The commercials are outrageous and lack a whole lot of truth. I especially find the commercial that implies “Roy Barnes supports child molesters”; just because he represented one. In this country everyone has a right to legal counsel; including suspected child molesters.

I would definitely rather vote for School Superintendent than have him or her appointed by the governor. These people tend to appoint friends, family and those who are will to pay. Heck Nathan Deal even accuses Barnes of getting special favors and large payout from judges that were appointed during his term as governor. If Deal is elected governor(I pray he’s not), I hope he chooses not to appoint any judges; just in case he decides to practice law once his reign is over.

What if

October 27th, 2010
8:35 am

Maybe one of ‘em should have just changed his name to something similar to a familiar name – maybe Sunnie Perdoo. Worked the last time for someone far less qualified and competent than the other candidate – - -
SDK, needs to be REALLY high gravity beer – -


October 27th, 2010
8:36 am

The problems with Dem is they need to be proud of the things this President has done, 85% tax cut on the middle class,health care, wall street is back, auto industry is back.

They need to stop letting a bunch of Anti Americans (tea Party) set the tone, because the conservatives get all their information from Rep news Anti President Obama Fox.


October 27th, 2010
8:50 am

It won’t be eeny meeny miney mo for most Georgians – they’ll just pick the candidate with an R attached.


October 27th, 2010
8:53 am

The education disaster created by the current republican leadership strongly indicates we should not elect someone just because he/she is republican. Joe Martin is very well qualified to hold the position and is by far the best candidate.


October 27th, 2010
8:56 am


October 27th, 2010
8:09 am

You are so full of BS its laughable. I dont hate Obama and Im White. I just believe he is incapable of handling the reins of power. His experience is lackluster at best, he is supposedly Hahvuud educated, however, being educated in his case doesnt translate into intelligence.

So continue with your diatribes and re-enforcing what I already know about types such as yourself.

Get real

October 27th, 2010
9:13 am

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the South this fall, and I have to tell you–yes there is substance, some of which I agree with and some of which I do not, in both Republicans’ attackeks on Democrats and Democrats’ atatcks on Republicans, and yes, tying ‘local’ politicians to unpopular national figures is a tried and true tactic.
But . . .
there is an undeniable “Southern Strategy” aspect of, well, calling someone a “n-lover” going on here as well. It may not sway some people, and that’s good, but it does work on some others, and I can’t believe the designers of an ad such as that above are completely oblivious to that.

DeKalb Educated

October 27th, 2010
9:18 am

Why is no one running on WHAT they do best? They just spend millions implying bad things about the other candidates. They will not get my vote. I am not voting for Obama in this election. I am voting for someone to raise our education programs out of the muck and mire. Time for a change? Tell me what you have done and how you will improve our schools. Stop using FEAR to gather votes.


October 27th, 2010
9:24 am

“Unqualified Radicals” on the left and right do not get elected to public office they host talk shows.

Hey Teacher

October 27th, 2010
9:40 am

Like Maureen, I’m worried that this race is not getting the attention it deserves — the teacher-talk in the lounge has been very subdued. For many of us, the mudslinging (the commercials last night were so awful I turned off the TV) in the governor’s race has turned us off to voting completely. Sadly, a teachers life is more affected by this race than any other — we need to wake up!

What's Best for Kids?

October 27th, 2010
10:02 am

Kira Willis, despite the media’s blatant lack of coverage, is pulling down 10%. One would think that since she accepts NO PAc money, and all of her campaign dollars come form individuals, that she has the best message. Unfortunately, the media has decided not to include all of the viable cnadidates, Willis will not win.

Warrior Woman

October 27th, 2010
10:41 am

@gm – Facts aren’t stereotypes. Look at the SAT score test and you will see that pragmatic is correct about the score distribution. SAT scores are correlated with income, gender, race, and ethnicity.

For example, for the class of 2009, the national average SAT score for SAT with the writing section was 1509. Students that had taken AP classes averaged 1707. Students with family incomes of at least $200,000 averaged 1702, while students with family income between $60,000 and $80,000 averaged 1506. Students with family incomes of $20,000 or less averaged 1321.

By race and ethnicity, Asians had the highest average score, 1623. Non-Hispanic whites averaged 1581. Native Americans (including native Alaskans and Hawaiians) averaged 1448. Hispanics averaged 1364, but Puerto Ricans averaged 1345 and Mexican Americans averaged 1362.. African-Americans averaged 1276.

The average male score was 1523, while the average female score was 1496.

If you get past your bigotry and deal with the facts, perhaps you could contribute to a solution for problem of low and declining minority scores.

Dr. John Trotter

October 27th, 2010
10:58 am

As I eat my eggs and drink my green tea (and about to write about the phoniness of that sham organizaiton called SACS and about to get dressed up for a good ole fashion MACE picket against an administrator who allows students to defy the teachers), let me proffer up to the readers my most profound analysis (sarcasm intended) of this state superintendent’s race: Joe Martin will lose because he has a “D” behind his name. The truth of the matter is that he should lose. I am sure that John Barge and Kira Willis have the real “experiences” in the schools to understands their needs and so forth. Joe Martin simply served on the Atlanta School Board. He, I believe, was one of the naive ones who voted to bring J. Jerome Harris down from New York City to be the superintendent of Atlanta. Enough said. Bad judgment and a profound lack of discernment about what kind of leadership that the schools need. Oh yes, I think that he spearheaded the “COPs” (Certificates of Participation) financial scheme back in the early 1990s to allow businesses and others to help finance APS, resulting in APS paying fairly handsome interest. I can’t remember the details of this financial scheme. I think that I got the name correctly. But, hey, Joe, you can correct me. I am not easily offended.

Joe Martin does not need to be elected state superintendent. Even though he apparently got his state representative brother, Jim Martin, to help change the law so that he could run as a non-educator, you don’t have to worry. He “ain’t” gonna win. Educrats and vendors: Start kissing up now. John Barge will be Georgia’s next state superintendent. Kira Willis would also be a good state superintendent but Georgia is a two-party state.

Now back to my green tea and vitamins! Ha!


October 27th, 2010
11:13 am

I am just a concerned individual interested in making the best choice for this position…John Barge is highly partisan, which scares the heck out of me. The States Schools Superintendent Race should be as nonpartisan as possible, and John Barge clearly does not see why. Unabashed reliance on fear and ignorance of others indicates the lack of a true and viable platform. I was once interested in Kira Wilis because of her experience in the classroom…but after asking a question about local control, culture, and the academic achievement gap, I have determined that she is simply naive about what needs to be done. Here’s how it went:
Kira Wilis: Schools are businesses, they follow the market model
Me: The basic assumptions of the market include 1. that there is perfect access to information and 2. people think and act rationally. Giving the fallacy of these assumptions when we compare them to reality, how do you plan to address market failure in the “business” of schools, say, when parents don’t care or have access to information to make decisions? Also, Do you think the academic achievement gaps are culture issues?
Kira: Blah blah blah–no real answer to my question because she doesnt have a plan or perhaps has not considered this…which is something serious. I honestly don’t even remember what she said. I only remember thinking, after she was finished, that it totally somehow entirely disregarded my question…like a politician. Then she follows with “The academic achievement gap is a socio-economic issue, not a cultural one.” Wrong yet again.
Then Joe responds
Joe: There has to be a culture of education not just in schools but also communities. We Georgians need to change our culture all around to accommodate education as top priority.
And I thought “Hallelujah!”
States schools superintendent needs to be good at handling budgets. This is indicated, I believe, in their past experiences handling money—public money, and how they handle their campaign. Joe is a Harvard MBA who has 21 years of experience on a board of education…His campaign has raised 5x more than Barges’. People please wake up. Barge is going to subject our children to partisan bickering and nonsense, Kira Wilis is at best out of touch when it comes to people outside of her own sphere. Joe has stated time and time again that he is not a radical dem and is not running this race on partisanship. Did I mention he has 21 years as a board of education member? Then he also recognizes the role of culture in academic achievement, which shows that he truly knows what he’s talking about. I will be really sad if he does not win.

[...] as usual or over the top? Get Schooled blogger Maureen Downey reports Democrat Joe Martin, who is running for state schools superintendent,  is unhappy with a flyer [...]

Dr. John Trotter

October 27th, 2010
11:18 am

Please forgive my typos…”to understand[s]…” I was just so excited getting all that protein from those three large eggs sprinkled with ever herb imaginable (but I think that I forgot the basil leaves this morning!) and drowned in Heinz Ketchup! My taste buds were all excited (unlike this rather boring election — not just for state superintendent but for governor and others too) and my fingers were just pecking away on the keys! Oh…what a life! And I do love a good picket! The teachers will be excited, the parents will be befuddled, and the administrators will be as nervous as a mut pooh-poohing peach seeds. How is this for being snarky? Ha!


October 27th, 2010
11:49 am

@ What’s best…

A superintendency is a political position – a superintendent must be a good politician in order to be effective. Williams is completely unqualified to be an effective superintendent precisely because she is not a politician.


October 27th, 2010
11:50 am

Dr. Trotter, I think you need to check your herbs more closely

What's Best for Kids?

October 27th, 2010
12:59 pm

@ SDK, It’s WILLIS, and why would we want someone who is a politican and not someone who is an educator? someone who truly knows what it is like for schools, teachers, students and parents? If you want a “YES” man, vote Barge. Maybe you should ask yourself why he flipped on all of the issues that he was so vehemently against in the primaries…


October 27th, 2010
1:16 pm


October 27th, 2010
11:13 am

You my dear are not telling the truth. I am a Dr. Barge supporter and was at the same event and wrote about it on this blog the next morning and what you said about MS. Willis is not true. She is the one that talked about the cultural change that was needed before education would truly change. I think the quote she said was “you can change all the programs any way you want to put until we have a cultural change our scores will not increase dramatically” (may not be exact but very close.

” People please wake up. Barge is going to subject our children to partisan bickering and nonsense,”

How do you figure? Do you really think the republican controlled legislature is going to be less partisan with Martin after he sued them, then they will be with Dr. Barge?

Joe Martin has never been in the classroom, has never had to make a lesson plan, never had to figure out how to get a child to understand a objective and never had to maintain discinpline in the classroom.

Ms. Willis is a very nice lady and probably a very good teacher but has no experience in any type of leadership position and can we really take a chance on her learning on the job.

Dr Barge has 20 yrs experience in education in urban, rural and suburban counties. He was a Star teacher won an award for being the best Assistant Principal in Georgia, been the state director of Career tech, and is currently the middle and secondary curriculum director in Bartow county. He wants to end the current HS math curriculum, put back the two track diplomas in HS and return as much control as possible back to the local BOE’s.

Dr. Barge is probably the most qualified candidate we have ever had run for this position.


October 27th, 2010
1:38 pm

@ What’s best…

Because the position of state superintendent is a POLITICAL position. The person must be a politician to navigate among other politicians.

Willis will be just as effective as Jimmy Carter was as the President.


October 27th, 2010
3:13 pm

Cobb County voters decided, in the July 20 primary, against experience for their school board members, especially in Post 6. Will be interesting to see what they vote against on Nov 2!!!!


October 27th, 2010
7:51 pm

It’s effete elitists like Mike who will be shown the door as well!


October 27th, 2010
9:55 pm

@littled Post 6 voted for experience….in Fiscal matters and not in supporting status quo.


October 28th, 2010
12:05 am

@td Very well said. He is the only qualified candidate.

I do agree that the state super should not be politicized.