In talking today to my colleagues who cover politics, several felt State Schools Superintendent John Barge would pay a steep political price for his decision to oppose the Nov. 6th amendment that would recreate a state commission to approve charter schools.
One noted that Gov. Nathan Deal carries grudges for a long, long time. The Charter Schools Commission was shuttered after the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional. The GOP leadership quickly responded with a constitutional amendment that voters will judge in the fall.
Barge opposes a change to the state constitution reviving the appointed commission. He contends that the state Board of Education can already approve charters and does approve them, so why create another costly bureaucracy at a time when school funding has been cut the bone.
The political fallout for Barge’s stand is already under way, as this letter from GOP House leader Ed Lindsey indicates.
I am surprised at the vitriol in this attack on Barge by Lindsey; the Atlanta Republican lawmaker assails Barge for changing his mind on the commission since he ran for school chief back in 2010.
Lindsey’s attack surprises me because members of the Legislature reverse themselves frequently on issues. Barge made his statements as a candidate, before he took over the Department of Education and got a close look at the budget cuts to education – cuts enacted by Lindsey and his colleagues in the General Assembly.
With that said, here is Lindsey’s letter:
I read with interest – and surprise — your statement today opposing the Charter School Amendment. I also went back and reviewed your responses to the questionnaire you filled out when you ran for office in 2010 which can be found here, in which you stated that you “strongly” supported the State Charter School Commission and the creation of state charter schools.
If you were in court on cross examination the people of Georgia might enjoy watching you answer one of my favorite questions when someone impeaches themselves by testifying two entirely different ways to the same question: “were you lying then or are you lying now?”
But we am not in court. Therefore, let me simply say that as one public official to another that the most important attribute one person can have is personal trust in the public arena. You have squandered that today – as well as selling out the children of Georgia who need a State School Superintendent who does more than simply cower before the entrenched forces of the status quo.
State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip