Georgia school chief: Republican John Barge wins it all

 New Georgia school chief John Barge

New Georgia school chief John Barge

Congratulations to Republican John Barge who won the state school superintendent’s job today.

Barge had worked for former state school Superintendent Kathy Cox at the DOE, and decided to run against her in the GOP primary. He was director of career, technical and agricultural education at the DOE in 2004-2005 but resigned after 12 months, saying he wanted to go back to being a high school administrator.

Cox was assumed a sure bet for a third term, but she stunned the state by resigning her post for a think tank job in DC, throwing the July primary contest into chaos and creating an opening for the unknown Barge. Gov. Sonny Perdue was so unsettled that he tried to get an independent on the ballot.

Barge capitalized on the opportunity created when Cox resigned and landed the job. Some DOE officials who worked with Barge while he was at DOE told me they would not stay on if he won. We’ll see if folks follow through now that he has won. It may be that he’s not interested in keeping the folks with whom he clashed at DOE.

64 comments Add your comment

Dr. John Trotter

November 2nd, 2010
11:54 pm

John Barge, Congratulations on your victory. Maureen, I guess that the voters of DeKalb County are telling Mark Elgart and SACS to kiss their collective a_s.

Lydia Davidson

November 3rd, 2010
12:01 am

\o/ Yes!!! I’m thrilled. I look forward to Dr. Barge’s much needed leadership.

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Dr. John Trotter

November 3rd, 2010
12:14 am

Maureen, What kind of crazy rumors are you apparently trying to start about Dr. Barge “not stay[ing] on if he won.” This is a little bit reckless, don’t you think? I know that it was apparent that you were mesmerized by Joe Martin, but darn it! Give the guy a chance, OK? I hope that he brings some common sense to the DOE. This is much needed at the DOE.

Steve Schobelock

November 3rd, 2010
12:29 am

Shame on you Maureen Downey. Out of all the newsworthy comments available or desired on covering the election, you publish an unsourced, off the wall comment that adds no value to the election that was won or the candidate. Tisk, tisk.

Fled

November 3rd, 2010
12:51 am

republicans suck. Give up, teachers.

Aiken Faque

November 3rd, 2010
1:21 am

I have talked with the gentleman in question. He brings his own set of challenges to the job. I predict minimal measurable success. Many entertaining issues. More politics as usual. Continued manipulation of statistics to look good. I did not have a favorite in this race.

Lets talk about statistics. From my neighbor Bruce Kendall, who lets me use his computer.

“What the governor did not do was explain what happened to the 49,192 students of the class of 2010 that did not graduate. 91,561 students graduated. The 49,192 is equal to 53.7 percent of the graduating seniors. It would be nice to know, to where all of those children have disappeared.

What is the real graduation rate? It could be as low as 65.05 percent, give or take a missing child.”

Mr. Kendall was writing about the governor, when he visited Eagle’s Landing High School.

I predict more of the same, just a change of the name.

Bruce Kendall

November 3rd, 2010
1:44 am

I too have met Mr. Barge and hope that he will be successful in involving more stakeholders (parents). The problem here is that he is a product of our educational bureaucracy. I also hope that he will encourage School Councils to perform their duties as mandated by law. In addition, it would be nice if Character Education (which is required by law) were part of the GPS. The problem there is that it could completely refocus the focus of Social Studies.

We would have to discuss good and bad examples of choices made, and their consequences.

Bruce Kendall

November 3rd, 2010
1:44 am

Mr. Faque did not mention, was that the difference of 49,192 students was derived from the ninth grade spring enrollment for the class of 2010.

td

November 3rd, 2010
2:06 am

@Maureen: I agree with Dr. Trotter that your comment is pretty low. We know you wanted Brad Bryant or even Joe Martin to win but that is not the way the great citizens of this state voted. Dr. Barge is the most qualified candidate this state has ever had. I hope he will come in, set his agenda and not back down to the establishment or the special interest. Anyone that does not want to see progress come then I hope they do leave either on their own or maybe with a little help.

Ron Hyatt

November 3rd, 2010
2:20 am

Congratulations to Gov. Elect Turd Sammich, and condolences to former Gov. Douche Bag. Or is it the other way around?

Doug Wiley

November 3rd, 2010
5:09 am

State employees. Please resign. I beg you resign. Given the economy, if I was Mr. Barge, I would fire everyone of you and then hire you back on an at need to be determined basis. Called zero base budgeting what is what our government needs. Not last year plus or minus x percent. What does it take to the run this agency at it’s optimal level. Go ahead state employees, please resign in mass.

It's Official, State Water Use Will Rise

November 3rd, 2010
6:34 am

The state has gone to the proverbial “hell in a hand basket”, once again. Not that it would have been much better if more Democrats had been elected, but with the amount of sleeze Deal and his Republican cohorts bring, the only thing for sure is that state water use will go up significantly from citizens wanting to take showers to try and get that icky feeling off. Of course it won’t help.

Since moving here in ‘89 I admit being naive believing the state would eventually head in a positive direction, but with the level of stupidity shown in the latest election, the vacuous citizens can have it. Admittedly there was a stark lack of good candidates to support, but that’s something to be worked on in future elections. We do not nominate the best and brightest, just the connected and self-serving.

So where do I raise my kids? Next to red necks, race-baiting, entitled blacks or bible belt religious freaks? No thank you. Everything the rest of the nation thinks about GA, AL, MS is true. Hopefully some of the brighter citizens can escape to a better, more enlightened environment. The rest deserve what they’ve gotten.

Old School

November 3rd, 2010
7:34 am

I just hope Dr. Barge remembers his year over CTAE and understands how important our vocational classes can be if supported the way they should be. CTAE programs can keep kids in school and provide them with the training they need to earn a living.

East cobb Parent

November 3rd, 2010
7:44 am

@ old school, I believe John Barge does understand the importance of supporting vocational classes. I’m also hopeful that the will change the current math program. Since he named those as his top 2 initiatives. I think the voters spoke loud and clear as to the changes they wanted made in education.

As to Maureen’s comments regarding folks at DOE leaving, I for one hope those comments are true. Having met with several of the folks there, new blood is needed.

Dr NO

November 3rd, 2010
7:44 am

YES…The Reps are all over the place and the win of Mr Barge is even sweeter!! Hopefully he will slash and burn this bloated school system. Enough of the molly coddling and hand holding.

What if

November 3rd, 2010
8:23 am

Let’s hope that John has the management and leadership skills that have been lacking for the last sixteen years. DOE desperately needs its house cleaned so that the people who actually pull the load will stay more than a few months.

high school teacher

November 3rd, 2010
8:32 am

I did not vote for Barge (I voted for Willis), but for my sake and the sake of my children, I hope that he can make changes in education. Perhaps the majority of the DOE needs to resign anyway!

November 2nd Has Come And Gone

November 3rd, 2010
8:50 am

The whole bunch of dummies at the DOE should be fired, immediately. Let John Barge pick his own people to carry out his programs and then we’ll judge him when his term’s up……and I agree with some of the other posters……that was a pretty cheap shot…..shame, shame on you….. :)

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
8:51 am

Wow. It seems that to spite Obama, GA voters elected State republicans to office – that’ll show him!

However, the State republicans have been in office for 8 years. Under their leadership our State has been reduced to our current sorry condition – high unemployment, education being dismanteled, etc.

The continued “leadership” of the republicans in the highest office of education means continuing this same path. That would be the path of dismanteling education in GA. It means decreasing the funding of education. It means giving away “vouchers” to parents already sending their kids to private schools to reimburse them using public funds. It means the decrease in pay for teachers.

I need to create an exit strategy to move out of GA! The profession of teaching in this State will only get worse…… for teachers and for our students. I wish things were different.

Dr NO

November 3rd, 2010
8:53 am

“I need to create an exit strategy to move out of GA!”

Buh Bye!!

V for Vendetta

November 3rd, 2010
9:08 am

The pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Extremism in ANY form is not good, and I fear we are in for more of the same (disappointment) at the state and federal levels.

I voted for Willis. And Monds. Some say I threw my vote away. It’s a shame more people don’t understand that I was doing the opposite.

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
9:14 am

@Dr. Trotter, Please keep in mind that when John Barge decided to run, his former boss was still in the race. Clearly, he had issues with how Cox and DOE operated. That his former colleagues may have concerns with how he will reshape DOE should be not be a surprise.
Maureen

td

November 3rd, 2010
9:22 am

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
8:51 am

“The profession of teaching in this State will only get worse…… for teachers and for our students.”

How is it going to get worse?

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
9:23 am

Dr. NO -

You always have nothing of substance to contribute. Why do you bother to post at all?

td

November 3rd, 2010
9:29 am

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
9:14 am

If you would have wrote it that way in the article, I doubt that anyone would have a problem with what you said because there is probably a difference in philosophy between Kathy and John. The problem I had and maybe some others as well is that these people at the DOE think John is just a hick or not qualified for the job at hand.

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
9:39 am

@td -

I described how it will get worse in the second paragraph of the post.

Less money for education means larger class sizes. This is not good for students nor for teachers.

Less money for education means fewer textbooks, less science equipment, etc. This is not good for students and teachers cannot afford to purchase these out-of-pocket for the students.

Less money for education means fewer teachers and/or a descrease in pay for teachers. Remember that teachers never participated in the “good times” of the economy. We never got the raises as others did. Now, when things are bad, our salaries are going to be decreased?

Handing out “vouchers” to reimburse parents that send their kids to private schools is using public money. Using the money in that fashion means less money for education. See the above items about the implications.

I cannot believe that any rational person is unable to think through these issues. They are not difficult.

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
9:40 am

@td, No one has said he is a hick to me. They believe he has fundamentally different ideas than they do and than Kathy Cox did. Again, it is evident that when a former deputy runs against a former boss the two had differences. That Barge would also have differences with Kathy’s hires does not seem unexpected.
I think we will see some key changes at DOE. I am not sure which. From a purely personal vantage point, I do hope Dr. Barge keeps the communications staff as they are among the best in state government.
Maureen

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
9:44 am

@ Dr. NO -

My hope for you is that some day you will evolve to become Dr. KNOW!

oldtimer

November 3rd, 2010
9:59 am

I hope the changes are for the best. I think, for one thing, the department could e smaller. I believe the voters speaking yesterday voted for smaller government all the way around. And, if the republicans are not different this time around they will not stay around long.

Atlanta Parent

November 3rd, 2010
10:14 am

I’m excited about Dr. Barge’s win and think his background provides the best experience for what we need in Georgia. My kids have been in public school for four years and I am still learning how things work but think his plans to re-work the QBE formula, reduce red tape for our teachers, streamline DOE, reduce reliance on the Fed govt are what’s needed to move our state forward. I’m all for supporting education (even it it requires more $) but am cautious about throwing more money into a system that isn’t working well now.

teacher&mom

November 3rd, 2010
10:18 am

Isn’t there always a turnover at the DOE when a new superintendent comes on board? I’m not sure why anyone would expect a new superintendent to NOT make key changes in personnel.

john konop

November 3rd, 2010
10:20 am

I have had the pleasure of talking to John Barge and Joe Martin. I thought both of them would be a major improvement over Kathy Cox. The truth is on key issues on dealing with the failed math 123 and promoting vocational education options they both agreed.

In the few conversations I had with John, he always came across very thoughtful. He also seemed to have a real grasp on the issues surrounding education. I think some of you are overreacting.

Dr NO

November 3rd, 2010
10:21 am

Like I said…Buh Bye Now!

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
10:22 am

@Teacher@mom, Not sure there is that much turnover in the professional side when someone from the same party gets elected. Maureen

Really amazed

November 3rd, 2010
11:05 am

I think that if Dr. Barge disagreed with Ms. Cox, then that is a great thing! I would rather have someone in the school system that didn’t agree with Cox. The new math was one of the very reasons I wouldn’t send my child to public high school. Hopefully he will get rid of crct as well. Then I would re-evaluate re-sending my children back to public. With new mixed up math and children being taught to crct my children will stay in private and my tax dollars will still contribute to public. Hopefully he will change that around TOO!!!! A lot of people don’t understand that these two reasons are why some parents in GA decide on private. From the above comments all of you think it’s as low as it could already be too! Anything would be an improvement!

Hey Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
11:21 am

Even though I did not vote for Barge, my fervent hope is that he can move us FORWARD in this state. When I moved here to teach in 1989, salaries were substantially higher than neighboring states, benefits were outstanding, moral was high, and class sizes were reasonable. Moral is so low right now — especially with the new evaluation system being rolled out the year they dump extra kids in our classrooms — that I’m not sure any one person has the power to turn things around. I’m hopeful, but realistic.

HS Public Teacher

November 3rd, 2010
11:37 am

@ Dr NO,

As I said, I need to begin to create an exit strategy for moving out of Georgia. I will be around for a while until that plan is set into action. Thank you for your sincere “buh bye” but it is premature…. unlike your personality that is immature.

Cere

November 3rd, 2010
11:38 am

Dr. Trotter, your statement ” Maureen, I guess that the voters of DeKalb County are telling Mark Elgart and SACS to kiss their collective a_s.” is wrong. Joe Martin won DeKalb hands-down. DeKalb voters also strongly approved Jay Cunningham, Eugene Walker and even barely approved Sarah Copelin-Wood. I have to admit, although disappointed, I’m actually not surprised.

FWIW – I hope to God that Barge has “fundamentally different ideas than [GA DOE staff] do and than Kathy Cox did”. Please oh please make that be true! Georgia’s educational standing has long been an embarrassment to this state. It’s definitely time to do something “fundamentally different”.

Terri Lewis

November 3rd, 2010
11:49 am

The following post is immature and inaccurate – John Barge is the farthest thing from a “hick”. Grow up!

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
9:14 am

If you would have wrote it that way in the article, I doubt that anyone would have a problem with what you said because there is probably a difference in philosophy between Kathy and John. The problem I had and maybe some others as well is that these people at the DOE think John is just a hick or not qualified for the job at hand.

JATL

November 3rd, 2010
11:55 am

It was a hard choice between Barge and Willis for me, and I voted Barge. I’m glad he won. I’m not a Republican and nothing would get me to vote for Deal (wasn’t thrilled with any of the choices), but as a former teacher and a person with children who are and soon will be in school, I don’t like the Democrat’s stance of “throw more money at it.” I liked what Barge had to say about focusing on vocational tracks in high schools and I’ll wait to see if he slashes any state educational budgets before complaining. From researching his platform and answers to questions, I saw nothing to make me believe he plans to cut per pupil spending, but he believes, as I do, that we need to take a long hard look at some other factors in our educational system. Unfortunately when it comes to education, Democrats don’t seem to want to make parents do their part enough, and that’s when they lose me (although Obama actually talks about this -until we have RULES in place regarding it, nothing will change). Our schools are not supposed to be substitutes for parents teaching and raising their own kids. I don’t care if you allot 20K per child in this state, as long as we pass kids from grade to grade because of ridiculous rules about parent contact, force everyone to be on a college track and allow complete miscreants to keep attending school, our schools will be in the toilet!

td

November 3rd, 2010
12:09 pm

Terri Lewis

November 3rd, 2010
11:49 am
The following post is immature and inaccurate – John Barge is the farthest thing from a “hick”. Grow up!

Maureen Downey

November 3rd, 2010
9:14 am

If you would have wrote it that way in the article, I doubt that anyone would have a problem with what you said because there is probably a difference in philosophy between Kathy and John. The problem I had and maybe some others as well is that these people at the DOE think John is just a hick or not qualified for the job at hand.

What in the world are you talking about? I have been one of the biggest John Barge supporters since way before Kathy Cox quit. I think John is the most qualified Superintendent this state has had. Now if you are downing my comments as it was intended that some people at the DOE think John is just a “hick” from N. GA and does not understand then I know that is a accurate statement of some of the feelings at the DOE.

SDK

November 3rd, 2010
12:41 pm

I’m really excited about 4 more years of the Republican rule in Georgia (after 8 wonderful years) … NOT. I sure hope they won’t mess it up too much.

all right

November 3rd, 2010
12:46 pm

Not to worry, I think Dr. Barge will make changes for the good of GA. If he voiced his disapproval for taking away graduation pathways and the “new” math while he was at DOE then needless to say he is not a “YES” man. Like others at the DOE appear to be when K. Cox was running the show.

all right

November 3rd, 2010
12:47 pm

Oh, and those that claimed they would resign if Barge won; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

SDK

November 3rd, 2010
2:11 pm

The day after the election, a lot of people are full of hope – forgetting what the day after the inauguration was like only short time ago.

A part of the problem in US (not just GA) education system is they keep changing direction everytime the “top” changes – this happens starting at the building level to the federal DOE and everywhere in between. We don’t value “consistency” and overvalue (almost worship) “innovation.” Unfortunately, the solution of any education problem is not in an innovation.

d2

November 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

The Dept of Ed right now and has been since Cox took over a revolving door. It is even worse since the man appointed by Perdue took over. I am an independent–but I am glad that John Barge won. I am sick of having a kiss-a** spineless person running this office. Cox was horrible–the CLASS KEYS-what a joke–100 pages needed to evaluate teachers. One of the first things I hope Barge does is fire the hired bloggers the DOE has.

wanna be teacher

November 3rd, 2010
5:18 pm

@JATL. Yours is the most sensible comment so far.
@SDK While I agree with you in theory, we need to get rid of some of the “innovation” (namely the new math program) that Cox implemented. Call it a new direction because of a change at the top, but it is a much needed change so that we can be “consistent” with the rest of the country.

rosie

November 3rd, 2010
5:44 pm

Congratulations John Barge! Let’s just say we wouldn’t miss most of the folks at DOE if they left. New blood at the DOE might be just what the doctor ordered. We don’t have a lack of Asst. Superintendents. I think it would be smart of Barge to hire people loyal to him and his ideas. I would be very disappointed if he didn’t move on his ideas of doing something about our state’s awful math curriculum and reinstate the career and technical diploma.

rosie

November 3rd, 2010
5:47 pm

I also want to agree with d2———–Get rid of the 100 page or more evaluation document, ClassKeys. What a waste of time and money!