Election 2010: School chief has critical role in setting tone, but I’m not sure public cares

When a friend asked me if Alvin Wilbanks was the front-runner for state school superintendent, I got a sense of how hard it must be to run in a race that few people follow. Wilbanks, the Gwinnett County superintendent, is not among the three candidates seeking the state post.

Joe Martin is one of them, and the Democratic candidate wasn’t happy with a comment I made on the ajc.com Get Schooled blog that many voters will likely resort to eeny, meenie, miney, mo to decide the question.

“There is a huge difference in the philosophy, executive experience, and political independence of the three candidates, and the outcome of this election will have significant implications, regardless of who is governor,” Martin said. “I thought this would be a major concern for you.”

I am concerned. And, certainly, other voters are, too. But overall, this race has been eclipsed by the duel for the governor’s mansion.

The indifference reflects a lack of understanding of how important the state school chief can be in promoting education.

We’re at a point in which many people, even educators, argue that we expect too much of schools, that they can’t be viewed as agents of social change. It’s parents, they maintain, who really determine a student’s fate.

If the parents read to their children every night, review their algebra sheets and take them to museums on weekends, then the student will soar.

If the parents ignore homework, skip teacher conferences and don’t read their kids “Good Night, Moon,” then it’s “good night, success” in school.

According to that view, I should still be scooping ice cream at Dairyland because I can’t recall my parents ever reading to me or my three brothers. They didn’t take us to museums or plays or do our homework with us.

With two jobs, my father didn’t have time. With four children, a job and a house that was spotless enough for surgery, my mother wasn’t eager to sit down in the evenings and discuss symbolism in “Othello.”

They made clear we were supposed to do well, but they were hands off after that point. They sent us to school rested, fed and wearing clean socks; the schools were supposed to handle the rest.

And the schools did their part. All four of us were good students, graduating from college and beyond, as did most of my cousins. In a generation, my extended family went from high school degrees or less to graduate degrees in law, architecture and business.

Now, we all read to our children, drag them to art museums and quiz them on state capitals.

My family is testimony to the power of education to change lives for the better. Those changes can occur even in students whose parents don’t know how to help them, don’t have the time to help or simply won’t do it.

Yes, it would be easier if children had parents who taught math at Georgia Tech and drilled them with flashcards on long car rides.

But it doesn’t mean that the children of a cafeteria worker at Tech who doesn’t own a car or flashcards can’t succeed.

I hitched a ride Thursday on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education bus trip when it stopped at Drew Charter, an APS school that spans preschool to Grade 8. The theme of the annual bus trip was schools that use flexibility to achieve.

What Drew really uses to succeed is what its principal called “intentionality.” Each decision is evaluated in the context of how it enhances student learning.

So, the school has longer days, a longer year and hand-picked teachers who believe that their students, despite 79 percent being poor enough to qualify for free and reduced lunches, can excel.

The proof is that the majority of students in grades one to eight met or exceeded state standards on the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Test in math and reading.

When visitors walk into Drew there’s an immediate recognition that this is a culture of success, of high expectations, of “get behind our kids or get out of our way.”

Culture and expectations matter, and the state superintendent influences the culture of education in the state.

Each candidate for school superintendent has a unique perspective on how to create that culture and improve schools.

Republican John Barge doesn’t want a federal hand in education, believing the state has the sole responsibility and is the better equipped.

Libertarian Kira Willis doesn’t want a strong state presence, contending that state rules are strangling creative responses by local districts.

Martin maintains that the state has undermined districts and achievement by underfunding education for years.

As the leader of the state Department of Education, the school chief will oversee the $400 million federal Race to the Top grant and will have to help school systems cope with continued cuts to their basic budgets.

All three candidates have websites. Check them out.

We can’t give every child inspiring and attentive parents who read Dr. Seuss to them at bedtime and understand polynomials.

But we should be able to give every child an inspiring and attentive school environment.

21 comments Add your comment

Belinda

November 1st, 2010
11:03 am

Thanks for your article. I have been trying to decide who to vote for for this office. I will check out all their websites.

Attentive Parent

November 1st, 2010
11:08 am

Maureen- You have once again mischaracterized John Barge’s position on the federal role in education. I know you know better so this article must be a last ditch effort to help Martin’s campaign.

Not exactly fair play less than 24 hours before an election.

Hopefully someone from his campaign will contact you and correct this.

My interest though is the importance of public schools in providing a means of moving beyond the circumstances you were born into. The Super does indeed set the tone.

Unfortunately though the current move in this country, with the federal government taking the lead through funding priorities, is to push the schools away from academic learning.

This priority is made repeatedly and explicitly in the collateral documents surrounding the implementation of Common Core.

The next Governor, state Ed super, and legislative leaders need to understand well the differences between the rhetoric about excellence and the reality of these priorities.

Plus it’s not just federal agencies. You have some of the largest charitable philanthropies in the country actively coordinating with each other on how to best support the federal priority.

In schools, “equity for all” means that we will be catering to those without skills or knowledge and hobbling our most talented students.

As Jay Mathews noted today. It sounds good but it actually means eliminating spelling tests and learning multiplication facts since all cannot succeed equally.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2010/10/murdering_spelling.html

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November

November 1st, 2010
11:24 am

Right on, “Attentive Parent”. Maureen, I also applaud you for your achievements despite the lack of parental involvement; however, I’m not voting for a democrat……period!!!!!! I don’t care if it was my twin brother running and he was a democrat (not likely)……..please, stay out of the promotion business…..it’s not becoming :)

rural education

November 1st, 2010
11:34 am

Many don’t seem to care because our last super was just a “lackey” for the gov. If Barge really comes in and cleans house as he states he will do then more power to him.

without parents no chance

November 1st, 2010
11:46 am

Parents who read to children is meant to imply those who are concerned for their childs well being. They have taught their children self control, importance of education, and have expectatations for achievement. Parents who do not instill these values are the norm in most schools these days, and in my opinion, there lies the culprit of underperforming and low achieving strudents. The best of teachers can effect the classroom environment with high expectations but if the student doesn’t care or can’t be motivated, it’s no use. Most parents of low performing students will not do what’s necessary with discipline.

What's best for kids?

November 1st, 2010
11:52 am

Barge has gone back and changed most of his platform after he was nominated as the Republican candidate. That does not bode well for the next four years. He was vehemently against RT3, and now he has “some reservations”; he was against school choice and vouchers, and now he says that they are not “the silver bullet”. Just sayin.

Ormewood Native

November 1st, 2010
12:10 pm

The Superintendency in Georgia is all about smoke and mirrors; almost all real education policy in this state is set by the governor and the General Assembly. You might as well appoint ten year old; it would be cheaper.

Dr. John Trotter

November 1st, 2010
12:10 pm

John Trotter’s voting list…and I hope that I don’t cost these candidates any votes! Ha!

For the heck of it (and because I am impervious to pain, so it has been said), I will state openly for whom I intend to vote:

U. S. Congress – Lynn Westmoreland. I have known Lynn for over 20 years (24, in fact)…when he was trying to get elected to the State House. In 1988, he was elected instead to the State Senate. I like Lynn. He is nice, somewhat doctrinaire, but truly, I think, believes in the hearty American principles for which he stands. And, by the way, he is not afraid to stand alone, and I admire this in anyone, despite his or her political stripes.

U. S. Senate – Johnny Isakson. I first met Johnny about 20 years ago when I was on GAE’s staff. Again, this is a very nice gentleman. He was running against Zell for governor at the time. Zell, at the behest of a little known political advisor named James Carville of Louisiana, had trashed the teacher unions (or, should I say shunned them to the side?). This was unusual for Zell since he was always at every GAE Convention, glad-handing each year. But, Carville had the lottery that he wanted Zell to push, and he wanted Zell to appear to be strong and anti-union. A New Democrat, I suppose. Anyway, Johnny must have seen this as a golden opportunity to “steal” the teacher vote. He solicited GAE’s endorsement, but GAE just didn’t have the political testicles to endorse a Republican for governor. Instead, GAE did a non-endorsement in this race. I was sad. I thought that Johnny Isakson deserved the endorsement. Anyway, I have bumped into the Johnny on numerous occasions through the years, and I have always found him to be quite the gentleman. Plus, I tend to be anti-big government, for lower taxes, and for a strong national defense.

Governor – I have never voted for a Democrat gubernatorial candidate in Georgia. For real. Not even for Zell, although I voted for Zell for U. S. Senate (he did run one term on his own, right?). I always saw the good-ole-boy Democrats having a strangle hold on state government until Sonny was elected. I voted for Republicans Bob Bell, Guy Davis, Johnny Isakson, Guy Milner, and Sonny Perdue. I might have voted for Hal Suits (the Television guy) and Rodney something, but I was in school at UGA at the time and cannot remember if I was able to vote in those elections. In 2002, I was mad as heck at Roy Barnes about those TV ads essentially trashing teachers and about his doing away with due process for teachers. But, times have changed. I believe that Roy has truly “repented” of his ways concerning teachers. I do indeed think that he was taught a tough lesson, and I simply believe now that Roy would be the LAST person on Earth to mess with teachers in Georgia. I could be wrong, but I feel this way. I think that Roy is a very smart cookie. Very smart. I think that if anyone can secure more businesses and industries for Georgia, it will be Roy Barnes, not Nathan Deal. This is why people stay p_ssed with me…I am never partisan enough. The Republicans always perceived me to be a wild-eyed liberal (or radical), and the Democrats perceived me to have Republican sympathies. I intend to vote for Roy Barnes.

State Superintendent – John Barge. I think that he has a lot of common sense about how our schools should be run. He is also very suspicious of the Feds role in local education. I am too. When we get money from the Feds, our hands are tied and our local educators are made to jump through many hoops.

State Attorney General – Ken Hodges. He has the experience as a prosecutor. But, the Republican Olens of Cobb will probably win handsomely.

Lieutenant Governor – Probably go with Casey Cagle, though if he and Deal both win, there will be too much power concentrated in the Gainesville area. Already the law firm of Harben, Hartley, & Hawkins operates out of Gainesville. This law firm represents over 100 school systems in Georgia as well as serves as legal counsel to the Georgia School Board Association. I have to take these things into consideration. I like the attorneys (Sam, Phil, and Stan) but they represent “the Dark Side”! Ha! I would like to see Carol Porter do well; poor husband Dubose didn’t have a prayer from the beginning, despite his sterling Gridiron credentials. (Truth be known…ole Roy probably donated a lot more to Gridiron than did Dubose, and as Cousin Booger says, “It’s all about the cheddar.”)

I better run before I tick off everyone! For the record, MACE does not endorse any candidates at any level. Heck, I couldn’t even influence how anyone in the MACE Office votes! Our votes will be scattered all over the board, as they should be. We have some lively discussions at the office. But, we would never deign to try to tell our members how to vote. Voting is private (except for fools like me!) and sacred. The first Presidential candidate that I voted for (in 1972) was Richard M. Nixon. The only Democrat that I voted for was James Earl Carter in 1976. I met Clinton in 1988 and found him to be very warm and charming. He talked with me like I was so important (which I was not). That is his gift…making people feel important. But, I never voted for him. I voted for George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 and 1992 (but I voted for Pat Buchanan in the 1992 GOP Primary against President Bush because I am not a “free trader” because it is never “fair trade”). I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. I have never, however, cared much for John McCain (and hated the McCain-Feingold bill which I thought abridged free speech). My children are racially mixed, and I thought that it was about time that the glass ceiling was bursted. (My sons’ mother had called me early on election morning, and told me that my sons wanted me to vote for Barack Obama. She had been in line at 5:00 AM at the Catholic Church in Peachtree City.) Tears rolled down my cheeks when Barack Obama won the Presidency. I thought that it was a great day for the United States of America! Do I agree with all of his policies? No. In fact, I have a real problem with some. But, this is what makes American great…we can fight, we can debate, we can vote. What I country we live in! Darn good country!

catlady

November 1st, 2010
12:13 pm

Your parents gave you what you needed to succeed. It wasn’t “being read to”, although that is a symbol of what it was. Your parents gave you respect for education, not as a babysitting service, not as a couple of free meals, but as what you should and would do–your “job”. They gave you discipline, self control, and accountability (by your description of them) which might be represented by “going over the algebra test results.” You also obviously got a sense of efficacy–that your actions were important, and would have results.

Many of our students now do not have these vital gifts from parents. Their lives are disorganized, chaotic, dependent on others for whatever they can get. They have feelings of entitlement (which I doubt you ever had) that even if they did not do the (whatever), they would still get the $100 tennis shoes or whatever.

I have taught for almost 40 years. The (very rural, Appalachian mountain) children I taught “back then” had parents who were poorly educated (average 6th grade for dads, 10 grade for moms). They had little money. They did, however, have self-respect and a sense that they had an OPPORTUNITY to do something with themselves. A sense of discipline, of dependability, of their parents’ goals for them.

I grew up as an only child in a house with parents with degrees from Duke and FSU. My parents did read to me–but that was a symbol of their expectations, their attitude, their nurturance, their discipline for me.

I cannot contrast for you how different teaching in this same community is now.

NO ONE is saying if you read to your child they will be successful. If you read to them every night, talk to them, turn off the TV, have family meals and projects, worship together–ALL those things are mere SYMPTOMS, or MARKERS of discipline, self-respect, respect for education.
Just as a fever is a symptom of illness, looking at your child’s tests, or setting aside a place for homework, is a SYMPTOM of the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that DO lead to success for many children.

I challenge you to somehow get outside your upper middle class life and see what a mess most of our kids are being raised in! Talk to kids who tell you of staying up till 2 playing video games with “mom’s new boyfriend.” Talk to kids who can’t find their backbacks in the squalor of their homes. Sit and listen to third graders read who keep scratching their ankles, pull back their socks, and 3 fleas jump out! Or pick up the coat of a third grader who reeks of marijuana smoke. Listen as a fifth grader tells you he will be out of school tomorrow because he has visitation with his mother’s boyfriend who is in jail for rape.

I don’t think you have a clue about how unimportant many of our children are to their parents.

just a point

November 1st, 2010
12:13 pm

Maureen, while you might not be able to remember your parents lack of reading time with you, your parents also did not have to combat the internet, cell phones, cable tv, video games, and the other myriad distractions that children face. It takes a strong, disciplined parent to encourage their children’s self-discipline amidst all these current distractions as well.

You also said it: you were clothed, well-fed, and clean. Not every child comes from that background. Schools can’t be the panacea for every social ill. But I believe that parents have a basic responsibility to say, “Turn off the TV and do your homework.”

Dr. John Trotter

November 1st, 2010
12:13 pm

John Trotter’s voting list…and I hope that I don’t cost these candidates any votes! Ha!

For the heck of it (and because I am impervious to pain, so it has been said), I will state openly for whom I intend to vote:

U. S. Congress – Lynn Westmoreland. I have known Lynn for over 20 years (24, in fact)…when he was trying to get elected to the State House. In 1988, he was elected instead to the State Senate. I like Lynn. He is nice, somewhat doctrinaire, but truly, I think, believes in the hearty American principles for which he stands. And, by the way, he is not afraid to stand alone, and I admire this in anyone, despite his or her political stripes.

U. S. Senate – Johnny Isakson. I first met Johnny about 20 years ago when I was on GAE’s staff. Again, this is a very nice gentleman. He was running against Zell for governor at the time. Zell, at the behest of a little known political advisor named James Carville of Louisiana, had trashed the teacher unions (or, should I say shunned them to the side?). This was unusual for Zell since he was always at every GAE Convention, glad-handing each year. But, Carville had the lottery that he wanted Zell to push, and he wanted Zell to appear to be strong and anti-union. A New Democrat, I suppose. Anyway, Johnny must have seen this as a golden opportunity to “steal” the teacher vote. He solicited GAE’s endorsement, but GAE just didn’t have the political testicles to endorse a Republican for governor. Instead, GAE did a non-endorsement in this race. I was sad. I thought that Johnny Isakson deserved the endorsement. Anyway, I have bumped into the Johnny on numerous occasions through the years, and I have always found him to be quite the gentleman. Plus, I tend to be anti-big government, for lower taxes, and for a strong national defense.

Governor – I have never voted for a Democrat gubernatorial candidate in Georgia. For real. Not even for Zell, although I voted for Zell for U. S. Senate (he did run one term on his own, right?). I always saw the good-ole-boy Democrats having a strangle hold on state government until Sonny was elected. I voted for Republicans Bob Bell, Guy Davis, Johnny Isakson, Guy Milner, and Sonny Perdue. I might have voted for Hal Suits (the Television guy) and Rodney something, but I was in school at UGA at the time and cannot remember if I was able to vote in those elections. In 2002, I was mad as heck at Roy Barnes about those TV ads essentially trashing teachers and about his doing away with due process for teachers. But, times have changed. I believe that Roy has truly “repented” of his ways concerning teachers. I do indeed think that he was taught a tough lesson, and I simply believe now that Roy would be the LAST person on Earth to mess with teachers in Georgia. I could be wrong, but I feel this way. I think that Roy is a very smart cookie. Very smart. I think that if anyone can secure more businesses and industries for Georgia, it will be Roy Barnes, not Nathan Deal. This is why people stay p_ssed with me…I am never partisan enough. The Republicans always perceived me to be a wild-eyed liberal (or radical), and the Democrats perceived me to have Republican sympathies. I intend to vote for Roy Barnes.

State Superintendent – John Barge. I think that he has a lot of common sense about how our schools should be run. He is also very suspicious of the Feds role in local education. I am too. When we get money from the Feds, our hands are tied and our local educators are made to jump through many hoops.

State Attorney General – Ken Hodges. He has the experience as a prosecutor. But, the Republican Olens of Cobb will probably win handsomely.

Lieutenant Governor – Probably go with Casey Cagle, though if he and Deal both win, there will be too much power concentrated in the Gainesville area. Already the law firm of Harben, Hartley, & Hawkins operates out of Gainesville. This law firm represents over 100 school systems in Georgia as well as serves as legal counsel to the Georgia School Board Association. I have to take these things into consideration. I like the attorneys (Sam, Phil, and Stan) but they represent “the Dark Side”! Ha! I would like to see Carol Porter do well; husband Dubose didn’t have a prayer from the beginning running against Roy, despite his sterling Gridiron credentials. (Truth be known…ole Roy probably donated a lot more to Gridiron than did Dubose, and as Cousin Booger says, “It’s all about the cheddar.”)

I better run before I tick off everyone! For the record, MACE does not endorse any candidates at any level. Heck, I couldn’t even influence how anyone in the MACE Office votes! Our votes will be scattered all over the board, as they should be. We have some lively discussions at the office. But, we would never deign to try to tell our members how to vote. Voting is private (except for fools like me!) and sacred. The first Presidential candidate that I voted for (in 1972) was Richard M. Nixon. The only Democrat that I voted for was James Earl Carter in 1976. I met Clinton in 1988 and found him to be very warm and charming. He talked with me like I was so important (which I was not). That is his gift…making people feel important. But, I never voted for him. I voted for George Herbert Walker Bush in 1988 and 1992 (but I voted for Pat Buchanan in the 1992 GOP Primary against President Bush because I am not a “free trader” because it is never “fair trade”). I voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. I have never, however, cared much for John McCain (and hated the McCain-Feingold bill which I thought abridged free speech). My children are racially mixed, and I thought that it was about time that the glass ceiling was bursted. (My sons’ mother had called me early on election morning, and told me that my sons wanted me to vote for Barack Obama. She had been in line at 5:00 AM at the Catholic Church in Peachtree City.) Tears rolled down my cheeks when Barack Obama won the Presidency. I thought that it was a great day for the United States of America! Do I agree with all of his policies? No. In fact, I have a real problem with some. But, this is what makes American great…we can fight, we can debate, we can vote. What I country we live in! Darn good country!

Dr. John Trotter

November 1st, 2010
12:33 pm

Help! I got mugged by the Filter Monster again! I thought Halloween was over!

kwanza

November 1st, 2010
12:36 pm

Even if a parent cannot be completely hands on just having the expectations for their children goes a long way, as it seems to have done for your family. Some immigrant families seem to be in a similar situation where parents can’t be at home too often because they have to work but the expectations are often high…and met. There are so many students whose parents do not set an expectations for them, and I think that’s why people refer to parental involvement as the real answer. Perhaps not so much parental involvement as parental expectation and guidance. It’s not that schools don’t matter at all, they do. But parents, home environment and culture matter just as much, if not more.

Joe Martin has been the only candidate who has used the phrase “culture of education” to refer to what is so badly needed, perhaps being that missing variable…I’m surprised that phrase wasn’t attributed to him. I also heard him use it several times at the debate at Grady when no one else did.

oldtimer

November 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

Attentive parent and Catlady….good letters. I might add…My parents, in a family with 6 kids, never erver went to school and yelled at the teacher for “giving” me a bad mark on a meth test. They told me to work harder. They never went to the administrator to complain that the teacher was “picking” on me, or I had too much homework, or even that on the playground someone was mean. I knew if if got in trouble at school, it was bigger trouble at home. Lord only knows what would have happened if I told a teacher to shut up!

What if

November 1st, 2010
1:06 pm

I have two neighbors like November. Abject politics bigots through and through. One’s “Democrat” and one’s “Republican” – vote those tickets just like Pavlov’s dog. Don’t think, just press that lever and salivate. Neither one apparently learned anything about democracy in school. Sad.

Have a very successful (actual conservative, not “Republican”) friend who knew one of the candidates when he was an assistant principal. Observed “Okay as an assistant principal – - – shoulda stopped there” – -

Maureen, the folks responding are correct: there are many factors at play here and even the best teachers still only have those kids 6*180=1,080 hours a year out of 8,760. The kids we’re arguing about here can and do have phenomenal daily and lifelong hardships your and my middle-class upbringing can’t even begin to imagine, much less relate to. Aside from the reality that we won’t get better teachers by beating the (4 letter word here) out of them and telling them all they’re worthless, most of them CAN and DO “fix” a lot, but no teacher can overcome today’s political gutlessness and shortsightedness blaming the public schools for the last several decades’ radical increases in poverty and its related social impacts. This current “reform” psychosis will fail just as miserably as all the rest of them unless we start to figure out how to stop the economic slide of so many.

Dekalbite@ Maureen

November 1st, 2010
1:11 pm

My parents felt the same way. My education was my responsibility. Both my parents worked, and my grandmother took care of my sister and I most of the time. My Nanna read to us and encouraged us since she was a former teacher, but basically we were expected to bring home good grades and have good behavior in school.

Both your and my educational successes are anecdotal examples. Early childhood research shows that a greater percentage of students experience better cognitive development and academic success if they have good language skills, social skills, understand the importance of delayed gratification, etc. when they enter school. More recent research shows that cognitive ability is not static, but changes throughout our lifetime. “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in how people learn.

Did/do you read to your children, take them places and have them accompany you on vacations? Did you provide them with crayons and paper when they were small? Did/do you require them to treat respect others respectfully and wait their turn? Did/do you provide them with nutritious meals and require that they go to bed at a decent hour? Did/do you tell them an education is important? Did/do you take them to the doctor when they have an infection or the dentist when they have a toothache?

If you did some or all of these things your children are well on the way to being good students. I think any educator will tell you these components are not necessarily a function of wealth, but these are all easier to provide if you have a middle class income.

If you taught in a low income area you would find that many children do not have these basics that you take for granted. Those that do most likely will find success in school. Those that don’t will have a more difficult time.

The neighborhood I was raised in had very few parents with anything but a high school diploma (and many had probably not even finished high school). However, the men in my small town had good paying jobs at the paper manufacturing plant, the chemical plant, the glass plant, and the railroad. They could buy a small house, put nutritious food on the table (most had gardens in the back), clothe their children, and purchase and a car and a TV on a plant laborers salary. The doctor up the street made house calls or you went to his office, and all the plants provided insurance in case you went to the hospital. That’s not the reality of my hometown now. The paper plant and glass plant were closed and they are now reincarnated overseas where labor is cheaper. The railroad gave way to superhighways that cut through my hometown. Only the chemical plant remains, and even much of that work has been outsourced. Times have changed, and it is more difficult than ever to care for children and give them the basics that I have a feeling your parents worked very hard to give you and your siblings.

That is what teachers are seeing in their classrooms. A changing and more demanding world is fraying our economic system. The educational system is reflecting much of the economic dislocation.

Shar

November 1st, 2010
1:20 pm

Schools have been forced to take on the parental role for certain kids because those parents believe that the state’s obligation to provide free schooling through high school has been expanded to providing free child care. This includes health care, guidance, discipline, food, transportation, after school activities and oversight, educational and other supplies, tutoring, homework help, and a guarantee of graduation.

Schools have accepted these roles because they have each meant new revenue streams and power to the systems and administrators. Legislators and special interest groups have encouraged this trend because they have been able to use this expanded public arena to advance their own agendae on vulnerable, impressionable children. Taxpayers have not paid attention, and more independent parents who are in a position to best assess the increasing costs and challenges of the poorly-parented kids have been sympathetic and eager to improve the performance of the weakest students in order to push ahead their own children’s grade or school.

The extra tasks larded on to core educational mission now threaten to submerge the whole purpose of public education, as well as public support for it. I like Joe Martin, but he’s wrong. Public education has not been underfunded, it has been overextended. The next State School Superintendent must focus on this obvious fact, and resist the insistence of those who want to use the school system for adult purposes to strip away all non-core activities.

Parents, the primary beneficiaries of taxpayer investment in their children, can and should be held to account to fulfill their role in educational success. Parents should be required to get their children to school on time, fed, rested, healthy, properly clothed, with homework done and with sufficient discipline to allow teachers to teach and other students to learn. These requirements are not dependent on income or ethnicity and are achievable by just about any non-abusive parent, and failure to deliver them should result in penalties.

Not Fooled...

November 1st, 2010
5:01 pm

Does Martin think third times the charm? There is a reason why Martin hasn’t won in the past and is running behind in the polls; he is not the right one for the job and Georgia knows it. This is not about being the master of policy; the Superintendent doesn’t set policy. That would be like Martin sitting on the Atlanta BOE, (hasn’t been on the board for more than twenty years… much has changed) and then vie for the superintendent’s job. His experience really does not qualify him for the position.

Dr. Barge has been in the classroom, as a high school teacher, an assistant principal, school district technical education director, high school principal, and worked at the state level at the Georgia DOE as well. He is currently the Curriculum Director of Bartow County. He has current experience and worn ‘all the hats’ needed to move Georgia in the right direction educationally.

(No, I don’t work on his campaign, nor gave him any campaign contributions, I just did what every Georgian should do; my homework!)

DeKalb Educated

November 2nd, 2010
9:23 am

Wish Brad Bryant had run for School Superintendent. Decatur has wonderful schools and is locally run. DeKalb is out of control and I wish someone from the state had the power to investigate them for abuse of funds and hiring.

high school teacher

November 2nd, 2010
10:14 am

I find it quite ironic that when I tried to access Kira Willis’s page, it was blocked by our school server :)