New DOE chief: We will do more with less in Georgia

 New Georgia school chief John Barge met with the press today.

New Georgia school chief John Barge met with the press today.

In his first big media appearance since taking office, new State School Superintendent John Barge said two priorities this year would be creating multiple pathways to the state’s single diploma and responding to concerns about the math curriculum. (He said DOE had math teachers in last week — they could not come in this week for a second session — to participate in a “precision” review of the math curriculum.)

Barge made his comments at a media symposium sponsored by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. I will update this blog all day as new speakers appear.

Right now, we are hearing about Race to the Top from Erin Hames, formerly with DOE and now with the governor’s office, and Teresa MacCartney, RTTT implementation director with DOE. MacCartney just introduced Kathie Wood, a teacher who recently joined the RTTT team — she was a state teacher of the year finalist and taught at Marietta Middle School — to provide the teacher perspective.  Wood is speaking now; she is very inspirational so I can  understand why DOE tapped her to be part of the RTTT team.

Here are Barge’s comments:

On the state budget: “I do have a lot respect for the difficult job that Gov. Deal has. We expected the budget to be worse than it was. I think Gov. Deal took a great deal of care to prevent deeper cuts than what we even anticipated. We were encouraged by what we saw…the budget he proposed seeks to strike a fiscally sound balance in tough times. We have to do more with less. Revenues continue to decline.”

“We continue to work at better leveraging technology. We must embrace technology to deliver what we need to deliver to our students with less resources. We are already working within our department to look at efficiencies and model doing more with less for local school districts. We continue to make the Department of Education the most efficient, best customer service agency in the state of Georgia. Can we streamline? Yes, we can.”

“One of the benefits of growing up in poverty is that you figure out how to get things done with limited resources. Limited resources will not prevent DOE from finding ways to deliver the best education we can to the students of Georgia. I want to be transparent in the department.  That has been one of the issues. As a person out there in field, sometimes we didn’t always have best communication from the department.”

Barge then gave his bio: Youngest of five kids. Dad was an alcoholic and abusive to his mother. Very difficult and challenging childhood in Georgia.

He said:

“I decided very early on when I was little that you know what, when I am an adult, I want better for my family. I want a better life. I want to provide for my family. And the only way I could do that is education. No one in my family ever went to college,” he said

“School gave me the opportunity to be me. It gave me the opportunity to escape home. I had scholarships to a number of schools. I ended up at Berry College in Rome where I paid the least amount of money to go. I really came to love Berry. I realized that Martha Berry understood education better than anybody I have ever known. It is about education of the head, heart and hands,” he said.

Barge said he raised his brother’s two children for five years. The youngest child was 4, and was hiding food when he first came to live with Barge and his wife because the child had never known from where his next meal would come. The child was far behind, but by second grade was the best reader in his school, said Barge.

“We are passionate about education,” he said. “I know that education is a great equalizer. It didn’t matter when I walked through the doors of Campbell High School that maybe all we had to eat that morning for breakfast was popcorn. It didn’t matter that my dad was an alcoholic. It didn’t matter what was going on at home. When I walked through doors of that school, I had the same opportunity as every other child in that building.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

68 comments Add your comment

Shamus

January 14th, 2011
12:17 pm

Well, more or less what you would expect from a Republican – less for education. They will keep cutting and watch educators try their best – and turn around and say, “See you can do with less. You didn’t really need all what you had before – they were all frills. Let’s see how much you can do with even less.”

Maybe GA educators can learn the lessons from living in poverty.

EnoughAlready

January 14th, 2011
12:23 pm

When schools are equal(books,computers,resources,etc..) and have excellent teachers; it really doesn’t matter what goes on at home.

I’ve been saying that for years……but I have attended and observed schools that are not equal; meaning they don’t have the same teachers, books, computers, resources, etc…… Those are the schools that are in effective and do not meet educational standards.

Say WHAT??

January 14th, 2011
12:26 pm

Funny how he wants to do more with less and still manages to hire more folks making big salaries. Also funny how the DOE now has to work with Erin Hames who he didn’t want. Oh the irony.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
12:36 pm

@EnoughAlready — I am sorry, but it DOES matter what goes on at home. There are some, like Dr. Barge, who are able to break through that. But for many of our kids, no matter how much we do and provide at school, it isn’t enough to overcome a sorry home life.

As far as doing more with less, let’s see how history looks back on this in a generation or two.

QUESTION

January 14th, 2011
12:41 pm

in these difficult economic times, can anyone explain to me why we need a Governor’s Office/Department of Educational Achievement (or whatever it is) AND the DOE? isn’t that redundant? I have no idea why the governor’s department needs to run independently of the DOE.

Ernest

January 14th, 2011
12:49 pm

Maureen, do you know if there are ‘rotational’ slots for teachers on the DOE team? It would seem to make sense to have teachers as part of any education advisory committee to ensure their perspectives are included.

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
12:55 pm

Perhaps cutting the salaries of these overpaid Supers, like Bev “Cupcake” Hall and the first place to start. Then concentrate on these “para-pros”…no doubt they are about useless. Then Administration personel from the top down. Make some serious cuts in these three areas for starters then see out other areas.

Then will have more less and probably achieve more.

No Teacher Left Behind

January 14th, 2011
12:57 pm

HERE WE GO AGAIN–REINVENTING THE WHEEL AGAIN!

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
12:57 pm

Hmmm…rephrase…

Supers, like Bev “Cupcake” Hall and others of her ilk is the first place to start.

Then will have more money to pay less and even achieve more.

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
12:59 pm

EA…you can forget about this “equal” nonsense. Nothing is equal. Never has been and never will be. Perhaps making the best of ones situation and dispensing with the blame might be a better tactic…no?

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
12:59 pm

@Dr NO — have you been in a classroom to observe what parapros do?

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 14th, 2011
1:09 pm

“New DOE chief: We will do more with less in Georgia”

Thats mighty white of him isn’t it?

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
1:13 pm

yes…and yes

MsCrabtree

January 14th, 2011
1:14 pm

Dear Dr. Proud Black Man,
No, it’s not mighty white of him, it’s mighty Republican of him. Not a race issue, please.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
1:18 pm

I believe the will do less …with more…

This is apparent in their own neighborhood…drive into Buckhead and see how clear the streets are!
This is a GOOD OLE BOY REGIME.
the RHETORIC ain’t gonna get no better THAN THIS …

Top School

January 14th, 2011
1:25 pm

Yes…and that is mighty WHITE of him…
White Folk want to control PUBLIC EDUCATION…in their neighborhoods.

But don’t put them in PUBLIC HOUSING or give them PUBLIC HEALTH CARE…

HEAVEN FORBID!

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
1:33 pm

White folk…LOL. And yes…we dont want the public housing thug life in our hoods. Its only serves to diminish our property values. Ever visit the public housing ATL once had. Nothing but mass destruction and not a blade of grass in the entire complex…except for the kind ya smoke!!

I guess public housing is good for something.

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
1:34 pm

“New DOE chief: We will do more with less in Georgia”

Translation: we will increase the teachers’ load.

Any education reform that increases the teachers’ load is not sustainable. The Title1 students need more individualized attention from the teachers because lack that attention from their own parents (if they do have parents). Increasing the load on the teacher will not allow the teachers to provide more individualized attention to the students, but more crowd management.

EnoughAlready says: “When schools are equal(books,computers,resources,etc..) and have excellent teachers; it really doesn’t matter what goes on at home.”

That is a complete false fabrication created to make the public think that government has all the answers in education by taking the parenting out of the equation and making the parents/students feel more entitled. You can take the excellent suburban teachers and resources and transplate them to the inner city Title1 classrooms, and they will look just as ineffective. And take the inner city teachers rating ineffective and resources and transfer them to the suburbs and they will look just as stellar. There is not a teacher that would not love a classroom full of students with Amy Chau type of parenting. See
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704111504576059713528698754-lMyQjAxMTAxMDEwMDExNDAyWj.html

In fact if all the APS students are parented like that, APS would be just as stellar as all the suburban districts. Before you start criticizing me, check out the poll of what other parents think.
http://online.wsj.com/community/groups/general-forum/topics/western-parents-too-indulgent?dj_vote=14221

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
1:38 pm

@Dr. No — Parapros work very, very hard with the children they are assigned to, whether it is one, many, or the entire class. When assigned to one, they help with the others as much as possible as well. There are many children with special needs who have made great gains because of the services they receive from a parapro. Are parapros necessary in every grade level or every class? No. I haven’t had one in four years. If money were no object, I would certainly make great use of one to work with students who are behind in math.

Five years ago, the parapro that I had who worked with a special needs student worked her tail off and was instrumental in helping that child make great strides.

Toto

January 14th, 2011
1:44 pm

Home schoolers have been doing more with less for years. They also continue to pay for the wasteful government schools. Home schoolers receive an equal and usually superior education for a fraction of the money spent on government school students, even the “poor” ones. For example, you can order a complete prep-school quality video curriculum for around $1,000, including books and tests. My kids consistently score in the 95+ range on the ITBS and COGATT. Many non accredited courses in the arts and sciences are offered by home school “schools” for as little as $5.00/ one hour class and are taught by degreed teachers. I would encourage more parents to home school so that the government doesn’t raise property taxes to cover their self-inflicted shortfall.

If you want to weed out the institutionalized corruption, TAKE EDUCATING YOUR CHILDREN INTO YOUR OWN HANDS! Work to repeal the compulsory attendance law. Without this law, all government school enterprises would become illegal! The unconstitutional U.S. Department of Education would be dissolved. ‘No Child Left Behind” and its unfunded mandates to the states would be history. The government curriculum monopoly would be broken. There would be no more free education ride for non-Americans. Our gasoline consumption would drop dramatically. Parents would be motivated to train their children. Lazy parents and their children would be losers and would provide a low income work force to compete with China. Parents would arrange internships for students who are trades bound. Money wouldn’t be wasted putting a square peg into a round hole. Those who want Jewish religious ideas taught, would pay to teach their own children. Same for Muslims, Christians, and Catholics. If they wanted to pool their resources and start 501c3 private and charity schools, then there is nothing to stop them. Expensive government school lawsuits based on religious conflict would DISAPPEAR. The playing field would be leveled, as the Constitution promotes.

At the present, the public school system is poised to fall off the financial cliff, AS IS OUR NATION! The U.S. Treasury should start following the Constitution and coin/print its own money AT NO INTEREST, just like Lincoln did to fund the War of Northern Aggression (however, be sure to buy a bullet proof vest). This interest-free money could be loaned to the states to pay off our current massive debts. Combine this action with Taxing any corporation that uses OFF SHORE LABOR! We currently have a huge inventory of well trained CHEAP labor! PUT AMERICANS TO WORK AND PUT THE BANKSTERS (the Fed, etc.) out of business. It is really not that complicated. COVERING UP CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IS!

justin

January 14th, 2011
1:45 pm

Ernest,

There are rotation positions at DOE filled by teachers “on loan” from districts.

Often times, they are the evidences why teachers won’t be the best administrative resources.

HS Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
1:47 pm

“Multiple pathways to a single diploma”, if I understand that correctly, is a good start. “Looking at the math curriculum” is another good move. In other words, let’s admit that some HUGE policy mistakes were made, and let’s get back to doing what works. Finally, I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t hear a loud horn.

To hell with the money and resources; I never had much to begin with. Give me a chalkboard, and a class full of decent kids. Good teachers & good kids are all that’s needed for good education.

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
1:50 pm

Ernest says: “It would seem to make sense to have teachers as part of any education advisory committee to ensure their perspectives are included”

What classroom teacher has the time and energy to sit in more meetings? If you create a position for a classroom teacher to be on the advisory committee and take that teacher out of the classroom, then you just created another administrator that everyone complains about making too much money, etc.

Dr NO says: “you can forget about this “equal” nonsense. Nothing is equal. Never has been and never will be.”

Good point. Even when we had state institutionalized “separate but equal”, it did not work. And if you take the effective suburban teachers and resources and transfer them to APS, they will be just as ineffective as the APS teachers now. Everyone ignores the simple fact that the population will always have achievers and non-achievers. The best teaching in the world will not “socialize” and make everyone equal–the Chinese Cultural revolution and communism should have taught us that.

Mikey D

January 14th, 2011
1:58 pm

@toto:
Not everyone is financially able to homeschool their children. There are many single-parent homes and families in which both parents must work to provide for their children. How nice that you ignore these realities as you look down your nose on the “unwashed”…

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
2:07 pm

@Toto — I don’t have a problem, at all, with people who choose to homeschool…UNTIL they have attitudes like yours. Honestly, there are many, many children who NEED to be away from their parents. You appear to be taking your children’s education quite seriously. So many parents would not, and would completely resent that responsibility. Other parents would feel completely unequipped to handle that.

Great for you that it’s working. Other families need other options.

RBN

January 14th, 2011
2:11 pm

Barge has defintely picked out the two areas of highest priority in Georgia. The social experiments with one track and the math curriculum have failed. The new graduation percentage method will send a shockwave through Georgia education and the math debacle has already caused a rebellion by Georgia’s math teachers and soon by parents. There is little that the Superintendent can do with the budget problems. Governors from Zell on have not taken kindly to Twin Towers types mucking about in the dollars and cents side of the equation. That is not likely to change now. The department should focus on these two policy issues; then move on to improving the quality of the state tests, which is a simmering scandal that can’t long be kept under wraps.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 14th, 2011
2:12 pm

@ Dr. NO

“And yes…we dont want the public housing thug life in our hoods.”

I know…you people prefer the surburbun assassin.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
2:18 pm

Is the …Math Maestro

SELF-AGGRANDIZING??
is it time…MAUREEN?

wHAT DO You Think?

JUST KIDDING Math Maestro…TYPE ON…AND VOICE YOUR OPINION!…. I love it!

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
2:34 pm

Dr NO says: “we dont want the public housing thug life in our hoods. Its only serves to diminish our property values.”

And I don’t know many upper middle class suburban blacks that want their property values diminished either.

Middle Grades Math Teacher says: “the parapro that I had who worked with a special needs student worked her tail off ”

Exactly! Many students need more individualized attention. I wish the student/teacher ratio is down to 1:1. Ultimately what everyone will realize is that the reason some students need more attention and learning is because their own parents do not provide the attention and teaching to them at home. Longer school days, lower student/teacher ratio, better resources. Sounds like we should just provide surrogate parents to all those parents who do not know how to parent?

Toto says: “Work to repeal the compulsory attendance law.”

Thank you Toto! Until teachers realize that the compulsory attendance law really diminishes the teachers effectiveness, teachers will continue to get the blamed for the poor student motivation from that law. See
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/01/13/is-k-12-more-important-than-higher-ed-in-georgia/

Toto says: “Home schoolers have been doing more with less for years.”

Ultimately, education is the job for the individual parents and students. Education is not in the US Constitution, and should not be in the Georgia Constitution. Parents/students should have the choice of where best to go for their education and what they want to learn. If the parent/student decides that a plumbing trade school is best for them, then why is the government forcing a dumbed down academic curriculum to pass a state test on those students and lying to them that they will be college-ready? Teachers should not have to put up with the by-products of these de-motivating government rules.

HS Math Teacher says: “Good teachers & good kids are all that’s needed for good education.”

Where do you think “good kids” come from? Good parenting, of course. How many “good kids” come from neglecting parents or no parents? At one time a good percentage of my students had parents that were incarcerated. And I was supposed to be their surrogate parent? Does it make me an ineffective teacher, if I can’t “adopt” 30 out of the 180 students that I had as their surrogate parent?

Mikey D says: “Not everyone is financially able to homeschool their children.”

But it is still the parents and students are still accountable for their own learning and education. Blaming their education on the teachers do not serve the parents and the students. Public education should be no more of a government service than say, public health clinics. Parents/students should have the right to attend or not. Attend to the closest one or not. Just because the parents/students are not motivated to go to the clinic and get ill, then it is the clinics fault?

Middle Grades Math Teacher says: “Honestly, there are many, many children who NEED to be away from their parents.”

That is correct. A lot of parents do not know how to parent. By taking many of those children that need to be away from their parents is essentially offering a surrogate parenting service.

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
2:37 pm

“I know…you people prefer the surburbun assassin.”

Out of context but funny in a naive sort of way.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 14th, 2011
2:45 pm

@Math Maestro — the child that I referenced DID have parents who worked very hard with him. They did everything — and then some — that you’d want a family of a special needs child to do. But even with all that, he needed the services of a parapro, and she worked with him…and other students in our room. We ALL benefited!

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
2:54 pm

Wait a minute…who you calling “you people”? Im offended and you people is you people… :)

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
3:01 pm

Middle Grades Math Teacher says: ” the child that I referenced DID have parents who worked very hard with him. They did everything — and then some — that you’d want a family of a special needs child to do. But even with all that, he needed the services of a parapro, and she worked with him…and other students in our room. We ALL benefited!”

Yes I agree. Student/Adult ratio of 1:1 may not even be enough for special cases like that. You have to increase the Student/Adult ratio even more to say 1:4 (reverse ratio?). Just imagine the poor teacher who has to reach that poor child in a class of 30 with no parapro help in a 30:1 ratio?

Incredulous

January 14th, 2011
3:09 pm

Help me understand. Attending Berry College?! ( where ), and raising your brother’s children following a childhood in poverty somehow qualifies a person to lead the state’s educational system? Really! Are you kidding me? I’d like to see that on a resume. More posturing from the same people. Are those admissions of difficulty intended to aid credibility? Fraud!

justin

January 14th, 2011
5:01 pm

I think Berry College is in Rome. It’s a small private college – I guess he must have had a lot of scholarship to attend a private college. Any chance he would suggest eliminating the private college support from the HOPE???

catlady

January 14th, 2011
5:07 pm

Do more with less? Sure. We have been doing it at the bottom of the food chain for years. Now let’s do more with less AT THE TOP! Set an example for us, Mr. Barge! Cut 1/3 of those making more than $75,000 this year at GADOE, then 1/3 more July 1. Lead by example, I always say! Show us! Until then…

Toto

January 14th, 2011
5:48 pm

@Mikey
“Not everyone is financially able to homeschool their children.”

Well, Mikey, why not? Public schools have been tax supported in this state since 1919. Are you saying that the public school system has failed in its mission to educate and produce a morally and financially responsible population? Why do they not have the money? Did they not learn basic accounting and money management in school? Why can’t they teach their children K-12 academics, or at least k-8th academics? Isn’t this basic knowledge to graduate? And what of the poor divorced or unwed parent? Weren’t they taught to make wise choices in school? Weren’t they taught that they and/or their parents would bear the burden for their bad choices, NOT OTHER CITIZENS? Because, after all, that would be stealing. Also, wasn’t it the public schools that encouraged feminism and the abandonment of homemaking so families could buy a bigger house and fancier car, now depending on TWO incomes? Oh, silly me, I thought personal responsibility was a requirement, not an option. Yes, yes, you are right. WE ARE ONLY A NATION OF VICTIMS!

justin

January 14th, 2011
6:19 pm

Should we cut the salaries of teachers making more than $75000, too? Maybe no salary increases, but I don’t think Barge is suggesting salary cuts, at least not yet.

justin

January 14th, 2011
6:20 pm

@ Toto,

Maybe they should have made a wiser decision. But they didn’t, and there are kids. What do you want? Do you want them to become dependent on the social welfare and home school, or do you want them to get into the work force and become contributing members of the society? OK, some may not be contributing members right now, but are you going to limit that option?

Top School

January 14th, 2011
6:31 pm

Maureen…I think it is time to filter some of this.
I think they’ve made there points.
What do you think?
Some of them are getting out of hand.

ScienceTeacher671

January 14th, 2011
6:47 pm

Berry College in Rome was founded to help poor children get a college education. Originally all the students attending worked their way through doing various jobs at the college or in the dairy the college ran. In recent years, most seem to pay tuition instead, although I think some are still able to work their way through.

td

January 14th, 2011
7:42 pm

How did Dr. Barge make it out of his disadvantaged youth and become a PhD and now the State Superintendent? According to you liberals on this board, there is no way a child can make it with this much disadvantage without massive government intervention.

It appears that Dr Barge stayed away for the three things that almost always condemns the young to stay in poverty. It looks like he stayed worked hard in the classroom (was not a trouble maker for the teacher), stayed away from Drugs and alcohol and did not make babies at a young age.

As a person that went to Campbell with Dr. Barge, I can tell you that all of the teachers taught students and did not coddle students. You either made the grade in the classroom or you failed. You either did the homework or you received a zero. You either passed a test or you did not. There was no such thing as a make up test for a bad grade. On top of all of this most of the students worked jobs as well as went to school. These are the lessons we need to get back too and not giving these kids excuses for not doing the right thing in the classroom and not taking personal responsibility.

Dr. Proud Black Man

January 14th, 2011
7:56 pm

@ MsCrabtree

“No, it’s not mighty white of him, it’s mighty Republican of him.”

Theres a difference?

long time educator

January 14th, 2011
7:59 pm

I did not vote for our new state school superintendent, but his remarks seem practical and based in reality. If you actually read his resume, he has 20 years of educational experience, see http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/sup.aspx . Be fair; give him a chance. I admire the fact that he has risen above his circumstances and that he was willing to raise his brother’s children. His very example is why I believe so strongly in the ideal of public schools. I agree that there are many problems in our public schools, but I still believe in what they could be. Every child in America deserves a chance to work hard and improve his life. To do this, every child needs access to education and responsible adults to model what he/she may never see at home.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
8:15 pm

@ long time educator
Yes…we should give him a chance…

He needs to clearly look at the GOOD OLE BOY system and decide how he is going to be influenced into doing what they want…or really making a difference.

Remember this…they like a good follower…NOT A LEADER.
That’s why KASIM REED is MAYOR OF ATLANTA…
and Beverly HALL was SUPERINTENDENT OF Atlanta Public Schools.

This might be a WHITE SHEEP in Black Sheep’s clothing.
Wait and see…Give him a chance.
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

God Bless the Teacher!

January 14th, 2011
8:32 pm

No one has asked the most obvious question: Who were the math teachers who met about the curriculum? If Barge wants truly to be transparent, publish the names of the teachers and their backgrounds. I’m suspect…

An American Patriot

January 14th, 2011
9:22 pm

Sounds like a great guy who really wants to do good and I wish him all the luck in the world……he’s gonna need it…..

@DPBM…….offer’s still open, buddy :)

justin

January 14th, 2011
9:24 pm

@ Science Teacher,

That’s a very interesting information. I think I have more respect to that school now.

Toto

January 14th, 2011
10:22 pm

@Justin
“Maybe they should have made a wiser decision. But they didn’t, and there are kids. What do you want? Do you want them to become dependent on the social welfare and home school, or do you want them to get into the work force and become contributing members of the society? OK, some may not be contributing members right now, but are you going to limit that option?”

My question was why did they choose to become unwed mothers or divorced parents if they knew the consequences? Their family should always be the first safety net, not society at large. An unwed mother that cannot care for her child and has no parental support or child support, should be required to give the child up for adoption. A divorced mother should have access to child support and should live with her parents until the child is older. If no parents are around and she cannot support her child, he/she should be given up for adoption. Or, the mother could find a God-fearing church (501c3) that has a ministry and financial help for someone in her situation. NEVER should the public at large be made responsible for that person’s welfare through forced taxation. Otherwise, they and their offspring will learn that crime does indeed pay! “God loves a cheerful giver.” Forced support for sinful choices goes against Divine Law.

Toto

January 14th, 2011
11:03 pm

Here’s a whole public high school full of pregnant unwed students WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES! Need I say more?
http://www.aolnews.com/2011/01/14/1-high-school-90-pregnant-teens-video/