Georgia election and GOP sweep: More of the same or less for schools?

Tonight’s returns suggest a GOP sweep in Georgia, which means either more of the same for education or even less. Nathan Deal is in the lead for governor and John Barge is well ahead for the state school chief job.

We already have a Republican governor and a Republican school superintendent so we should not see any dramatic shift in how our schools or the Department of Education operate.

But Deal is not as interested or as versed in education as Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Deal’s comments on education have been platitudes rather than policies — restoring “the joy of teaching and the magic of learning” — so we are in the dark about what he will do with education, if anything.

One policy that Deal did articulate — letting elementary and middle school students take the CRCT whenever they are ready during the year and then moving them ahead — lacked specifics. In fact, when Deal announced the plan at the Capitol, a GOP lawmaker/educator on hand whispered to me later that he had no idea how such a concept would work and whether schools should advance third graders to the fourth grade midyear simply because they did well on the CRCT.

And John Barge is not the same sort of Republican as Kathy Cox, who was on good terms with the federal Department of Education and who was increasingly frustrated with the Georgia Legislature’s cuts to education funding.

Neither Deal nor Barge has promised more money, so I suspect hard times will continue for schools that cannot rally local funding.

Barge was initially opposed to even accepting a Race to the Top grant, the federal scrum that rewarded states for the most ambitious reform plans. His attitude softened after we won a $400 million grant, but he still asserts that education is a state responsibility, not a federal one.

That sets the stage for some tensions as Georgia and the rest of the nation move to national standards and national tests.

So, as we discussed earlier, we are on our way to interesting times.

34 comments Add your comment

Fayette County Teacher

November 2nd, 2010
9:00 pm

Since Georgians overwhelmingly punch the R button on the ballots, and this fact is not about to change in the near future, I fear for education. Where is the citizenry common sense that will vote in people who care about education and don’t want to see Georgia wallowing in the lowest sector of state rankings year after year?

Proud Black Man

November 2nd, 2010
9:08 pm

WHY!!?? Okay my first last and only bit of angst. Looking forward to hearing rethuglican excuses and incompetencies.

outta here

November 2nd, 2010
9:14 pm

will be actively looking to find a teaching job in another state if it is a true Republican state. Seriously.

Cobb County Teacher

November 2nd, 2010
9:16 pm

Teachers need to get over the idea that it is necessary to throw lots of money to “improve” education. It is past time for school boards, administrations, and teachers to structure education with a discipline of learning. Too many students are passed forward without the demonstration of skills to make them successful learners. Teachers are well-qualified, but are hampered with social rules and interference by protective parents. This is not a Republican/Democrat issue; it is an issue of common sense and a question as to our willingness to move our students forward. We have the means to do so; however, teachers are hampered by a lack of willingness on the part of school boards and administrators willing to take responsibility and accountability. The social-influenced media is not supportive of accountability and responsibility as indicated from the above article.


November 2nd, 2010
9:38 pm

Deal’s “Move On When Ready” plan shows a singular lack of any kind of sense about education. The cut rates on the CRCT have been dumbed down so that the majority of students can pass it. As a third grade teacher, I will be the one having to explain to little Johnny’s mother why I’m not letting him go on to fourth grade when he can’t spell, capitalize or write a coherent sentence -but he “passed” the CRCT.

Forsyth County mom

November 2nd, 2010
9:46 pm

I am truly scared for Georgia now…..


November 2nd, 2010
9:50 pm

Public education is in serious jeopardy. Republicans and their rich friends send their kids to private schools, so they don’t care about public education. However, what the don’t realize is business and industry will not locate in GA with a weak public school system. We cannot continue to cut funds from public schools. Perdue and the Republican legislature have cut over 4 billion dollars in education in 8 years. We already have one of the worst school systems in the country, and now it will only get worse. Our state is in serious trouble.

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November 2nd, 2010
10:01 pm

Deal and Barge are in, it appears at this point. The inmates have now been handed the keys to the asylum….God help us all.

Toto: exposing the man behind the curtain

November 2nd, 2010
10:13 pm

I just want to know who was responsible for the economics and geography lessons?

UN-Happy Voter

November 2nd, 2010
10:16 pm

I want to cry. As an educator in GA, and a very successful product of GA schools (honor grad, college summa cum laude, M.Ed with honors), I wonder why we can’t just have the days of Zell Miller back…I was measured on what I learned, not how I could demonstrate it. I was a twice exceptional child…in Special Ed. and Gifted classes…I thrived because I wasn’t measured on just a test…but on what I knew. I hate that my students won’t have the same chance.

South Georgia Teacher

November 2nd, 2010
10:17 pm

Further cuts will completely decimate my rural school system. Teachers have already taken a five percent pay cut, with another 2% coming next semester. The local supplement is gone. More cuts mean more reductions in pay, and continued hiring freezes. Georgia is a large state, with many school systems outside the Metro area.

Marcus Valdes

November 2nd, 2010
10:25 pm

I voted R because they will leave the homeschoolers alone.

Please come back, Zell!

November 2nd, 2010
10:36 pm

This is the man we need back in the G-mansion:
“I know what Dan Quayle means when he says it’s best for children to have two parents. You bet it is! And it would be nice for them to have trust funds, too. We can’t all be born rich and handsome and lucky. And that’s why we have a Democratic Party. My family would still be isolated and destitute if we had not had F.D.R.’s Democratic brand of government. I made it because Franklin Delano Roosevelt energized this nation. I made it because Harry Truman fought for working families like mine. I made it because John Kennedy’s rising tide lifted even our tiny boat. I made it because Lyndon Johnson showed America that people who were born poor didn’t have to die poor. And I made it because a man with whom I served in the Georgia Senate, a man named Jimmy Carter, brought honesty and decency and integrity to public service.”

Bring back Zell!!

Dr. John Trotter

November 2nd, 2010
10:51 pm

What can we do to improve public education? Make the kids behave, and this won’t cost a penny. John Barge, congratulations on your win.

Fayette County Teacher

November 2nd, 2010
11:00 pm

@ Dr. John Trotter:

Pontificating as usual just like the people elected in this state to oversee the welfare of all. We don’t need your brand of simplicity.


November 2nd, 2010
11:06 pm

I didn’t live in GA when I was a student. My family moved often while I was a child, so I usually attended primary and secondary schools in New York, Florida and in one memorable year, both NY, FL and CT. Started in NY, continued in FL, finished in NY. I’m now retired (early retirement due to a buyout,) but managed to obtain my MLS from Emory University. It’s not necessarily the school, parental involvement, or the teacher (although a good teacher is a big plus), but the desire of the student to learn is the overriding factor. Throwing money at schools isn’t going make a big difference… instilling discipline (impossible in this political/litigate climate), and accountability (that’s not going to happen) might be a good start to improving the quality of education in this, and all other states. Both political parties are clueless; politicians get in the way of education; they don’t ever enhancement it in my opinion.


November 2nd, 2010
11:10 pm

Mr. Deal has already said he’s going to continue furloughing teachers, cutting taxes (and therefore budgets) without regard to what is actually right for the children of this state. Good thing he’s likely to be indicted soon and we’ll see what Governor Cagle will do.


November 2nd, 2010
11:33 pm

Twelve furlough days this year in my rural system….what’s left? You can rest assured Deal will find a way to fund vouchers, charters, anything to help those who have, while those who don’t will get the modern equivalent of “separate but NOT equal”… and Barge will surely be his puppet. We’ll never see education budgets restored. Parents, I hope you don’t expect your kids to ride on safe buses or be in well maintained buildings staffed with devoted, excited, certified educators. Those days are over and won’t be back in the forseeable future.


November 3rd, 2010
12:03 am


Are you going to allow yourselves to be subject to more republican rule, or are you going to do something about it? If you like being stuck in a redneck republican state that doesn’t care about education, then you should he happy today. If you want to see if things can get any worse, you soon will find out.

Get out of Georgia: now. Leave it behind. Forget it. Drop it. There is no hope.

What’s my definition of bliss? No republicans for 6,000 miles.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

November 3rd, 2010
12:09 am

What a bunch of whiners.

Look–I’m disgusted by Deal. I didn’t vote for him (I also refused to vote for Barnes). The new state school chief seems to be an abrasive jerk. But Republicans didn’t run the Atlanta Public Schools into a ditch. Republicans didn’t cause our board of education to melt down. Bevvy Hall, I’m pretty sure, is not of the Republican persuasion. I’d also bet you a mortgage payment that you won’t find three registered Republicans on the eighth floor of the Trinity bldg. downtown. Republicans didn’t cause the problems that caused our family to desert the public school system. Incompetent and mediocre leaders caused those problems, and those people–the people who have brought about the near-collapse of the Atlanta Public School system–are almost all not Republicans or TP’ers.

You Democrats certainly have a right to whine about getting your a$$es kicked tonight. But go do it on the Vent. We parents don’t want to hear your pathetic attempts to correct horrible Georgia schools to Republicans or TPers.

One thing that will happen now, one hopes, is that certain of Georgia’s urban public school systems will get the message that they need to get a lot better in a terrific hurry or we’ll engineer some new options for ourselves as an electorate. That’s the way this is headed, and you can get on the bus or be run over by it.


November 3rd, 2010
12:49 am

republicans suck. republicans suck. republicans suck.


November 3rd, 2010
5:10 am

As a comical aside, Clayton voters have elected Sandra Scott (ousted school board member) in district 76 over Gail Buckner. LOL. Idiots abound on both sides of the political fence.


November 3rd, 2010
7:23 am

Why do other people’s stupid decisions have to effect so many others? Public education will continue to be gutted. Even when Cagle takes over, it will continue. The rich will get richer and the rest of us will pay for it. Time for me to retire.

I can only hope that since Republicans know what is best for us (and can work the definition around the law and their own shortcomings) they will implement some strict rules on behavior (after all, if you can legislate the behavior in the womb and in the bedroom, SURELY you can legislate that non-performing, non-behaving students can be dismissed) and tighten (as they did voting) rules on the students and their parents who fail to take responsibility (another key buzzword).

Of course, perhaps that is just duplitious pandering? We will soon see.


November 3rd, 2010
7:27 am

God help public education now because we can’t. And “throwing more money at schools” may not be the answer, but draining the financial education resources is not the answer either. Cutingt more money instead of restoring already lost funding will not improve anything. I had 5 sets of essays to grade this weekend– 5 sets of 130 papers to each set– but I did NOT grade on Monday or Tuesday, which were furlough days for us. Instead I spent time with my family and looked for a part time job. The papers are due today but mine will not be ready. I absolutely REFUSE to work on furlough days. I graded on Saturday and Sunday, but two sets did not get done. My kids will be behind. This is hurting kids. But I will no longer spend all of my personal time doing school work.$398 of my money is deducted every time I have a furlough day.. And we have 8 scheduled so far.Less money MEANS LESS OF MY TIME FOR KIDS AS I STRUGGLE TO MAKE UP MY LOST INCOME. This is my reality and that of many others. It’s not that I don’t care– I just do not have the time, energy or resources to do more. Kids will be hurt.

Former Springdale Park Elementary Parent

November 3rd, 2010
9:25 am

It is hard for me to agree to higher property (school) taxes (we already pay some of the highest rates in Atlanta) while Bev Hall has a driver who makes more than two teachers’ salaries combined; while APS squanders millions in federal technology funds; while the BOE has to pay an angry female educator a nearly $100,000 settlement because her boss, a certain former middle school principal now inexplicably in charge of all childrens’ programs at APS, apparently doesn’t understand basic HR. (It’s all in the online BOE docs, as ChillyWilly from this blog pointed out).

It makes me angry that Elizabeth (@7:27 am) is getting furloughed. That’s an outrage. Some exurban districts have very serious funding issues. (Elizabeth–know this. Our family will always understand that even bad systems have many, many great teachers, and that teachers are special people–some of the best people we have. We are strongly pro-teacher in this family and your situation is very upsetting to me.)

But here in Not-lanta, don’t even talk to me about money and how Republicans are the root of all evil. Our problem is not political and it’s not racial. It’s about incompetence, and about people who cannot walk the talk.


November 3rd, 2010
9:44 am

republicans suck.

Henry in Distressed

November 3rd, 2010
9:45 am

Education will suffer because I believe the republican leaders will further reduce spending on education. They will make across the board cuts versus surgical cuts that reduce funding in less critical areas (administration) and increase the funding for critical areas (classroom). But the bigger problem is the dysfunctional school boards. On this point, we must look in the mirror because we are responsible. We do not spend sufficient time researching the candidates that run and the end result is incompetent people on school boards. The same dynamic plays out in urban and rural counties. The other solution to our educational problems is not political but personal. There are too many parents who are not engaged in their children’s educational journey. Teachers are treated as gloried baby sitters. Little Johnny or Susy is always right and the teacher is always wrong.
Gov. Perdue was busy pounding his chest because of the recent increase in high school graduation rates. While this is good news, he neglected to mention another fact. At the same time, colleges are experiencing an increase in the number of students that need to take remedial courses to be able to perform effectively in college.
Also, look for Henry County to be the next metro Atlanta county with a dysfunctional school board. Erik Charles was re-elected and he has not accomplished anything in the previous 8 years he has served. He adopts the Clarence Thomas approach to school board meetings (i.e. say nothing, ask nothing, do nothing). Rep. Steve Davis used his political machine and bullying tactics to put his 20 year old son on the school board. The kid has no real world experience and has not yet graduated from college. Thank god, my daughter has only one more year in Henry County.


November 3rd, 2010
10:07 am

Hey Dumb as a Rock… You sure are… Without the R&D investments and purchases by the federal government, especially in the early years of industry development, you would be typing on a typewriter right now. Industry has benefited from sales to government as well as R&D investment and favorable (protectionist trade policies). From the Semiconduct Industry Association’s own report..”.Federal, state, and local governments spent $109 billion cumulatively on computers from 1995-2009; however if this computing
power was purchased at 1995 prices, the government would have spent $1.2 trillion”

You realize that the Semiconductor trade association has been whining for years about need for protectionism from the big bad COMPETITIVE Chinese and Indian semiconductor industries. Check out the association’s web page for 2010 news on urging FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROTECTIONISM of sales of final products at the same time they have shipped more and more production offshore. The industry sells a lot to the automotive industry too – oops, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT bailout of two of the big 3 automakers protected that market from those nasty overseas COMPETITORS. China just announced a $50 billion federal government investment in semiconductor research.


November 3rd, 2010
10:12 am

Apologies Get Schooled — post for DAAR was supposed to go to a different blog…

Really amazed

November 3rd, 2010
11:57 am

Georiga’s education is not a money thing!!! Georgia is going to receive millions from RTTT! Money is not and has not been Georgia’s issue. Every time GA receives funds for education, scores have declined! Georgia’s scores and teachers had better attitudes when GA had much less and teachers were paid less. How much worse can it get? Things can only look up. Be positive and things will be positive!


November 3rd, 2010
12:55 pm

Springdale Parent, of course republicans are responsible for what happens with the APS. They left. Running from your neighbors because one’s own self-interest and shrugging off the responsibilities of citizenship are clearly activities for which the GA GOP has and will continue to follow. It is a sad day for Georgia’s children and all those committed to the public-school visions of our founding fathers. Even they, with all the aristocratic tendencies and fear of the mob, understood that taking care of all Americans’ education was a community responsibility. Georgia will soon be left with a European model full of vouchers and aristocracy (in the name of capitalism and competition; is that even theoretically possible?)

Former Springdale Park Elementary Parent

November 3rd, 2010
2:19 pm

historydawg, you cannot make the argument that I must sacrifice my children on the altar of public education– and that if I flee the bad schools instead of fighting the uphill battle to make them less sucky I’m somehow less of a citizen.

If the schools suck and you have worked hard to make some money, you get to choose a private school for your children and you also get to do so without making apologies for “shrugging off the responsibilities” of citizenship–especially if you’re living in a very expensive house and paying lots in school taxes. ESPECIALLY then.

I did my time fighting to try to make things better. I attended countless meetings with APS officials from the educational, tech and special-ed wings of the system. I had the same experience every time. I dealt with a few good employees and a whole lot of bad ones; people with questionable degrees from second-rate institutions, almost all of whom could not write or speak clear English. But I didn’t care about that.

I cared that these folks all thought they were excellent at their jobs when in reality none of them could’ve gotten hired by any business anywhere that wanted to make a profit. The gap between their estimation of their own abilities and their ACTUAL abilities was as wide as the Grand Canyon…

That’s what angers me most as a parent–the utter lack of humility within APS. These folks think a “C” is an “A,” whereas those of us who have seen “A” work elsewhere in this great country understand the difference.

They’re peeing on our heads and telling us it’s raining. Both parts of that bother me–the peeing and the lying.

But you go on and believe it’s the Republicans’ fault. I understand it’s a tough day for you today.

Earl of Ft. Liquordale

November 4th, 2010
6:14 am

Hey “Fayette County teacher” (really regular blogger): Sometimes it the simplicity that is so profound. Dr. Trotter is right. My greatest administrators simply made sure that they supported the teachers in classroom discipline.