GOP House leader to state school chief on charter stand: “Were you lying then or are you lying now?”

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:

John:

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

95 comments Add your comment

living in an outdated ed system

August 14th, 2012
8:57 pm

I already know that Barge’s political career in Georgia is likely over. Lindsey makes a valid point, and given the political tides in Georgia at present, I see now material impact on Barge’s flip-flop on the vote in November. It will still be a bi-partisan vote to approve the amendment.

Out by The Pond

August 14th, 2012
8:59 pm

I am sure that John Barge is a republican. Everyone else at the dome screwing up our government is. Come time to vote this democrat will cross over and vote for John.

IvyParent

August 14th, 2012
9:00 pm

If the shoe fits….

IvyParent

August 14th, 2012
9:01 pm

@Out by The Pond and my vote will cancel yours.

Reality Check

August 14th, 2012
9:05 pm

Whoever gave Barge advice to jump ship because the educrats are mad at him should be fired. This was clearly to appease all the emails and letters he has gotten over the last few months threatening him and complaining.

Barge needs to stop getting his talking points from GAE and Herb Garret and start listening to parents and students or he will not be re-elected. I use to be a Barge fan but he has lost my support.

Dunwoody Mom

August 14th, 2012
9:08 pm

Oh, how I have come to immensely dislike politicians!!!! Let the ugliness begin….

Reality Check

August 14th, 2012
9:10 pm

Whoever gave Barge advice to jump ship because the educrats are mad at him should be fired. This was clearly to appease all the emails and letters he has gotten over the last few months threatening him and complaining.

Barge needs to stop getting his talking points from GAE and Herb Garret and start listening to parents and students or he will not be re-elected. I use to be a Barge fan but he has lost my support.

3schoolkids

August 14th, 2012
9:11 pm

“But we am not in court.” Maybe he should have taken the time to proof his letter.

yuzeyurbrane

August 14th, 2012
9:13 pm

Defeat Lindsey.

A Superintendent

August 14th, 2012
9:15 pm

I know this was hard for Dr. Barge. Am proud of him for his stand.

dc

August 14th, 2012
9:17 pm

well written letter, and completely valid point. Maureen, it sounds like you are implying that it’s “typical” for a politician to run on a strong position on a key issue, and then reverse their position after election. I honestly don’t see it that way….maybe on the grey area issues, but not on ones as clear as this.

I seem to remember a pol in 1988 (read my lips…no new taxes) who paid the price in 92. I hope this one pays the price as well.

parents for public education

August 14th, 2012
9:18 pm

Why is Lindsey getting so heated about the charter school amendment?
Lindsay and many other legislators have no problem redirecting taxpayer dollars from Georgia’s public schools into the pockets of these for-profit companies who want to make money off our kids. Many of them are getting campaign contributions from the out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies who stand to make a ton of money if the constitutional amendment gets the votes. It’s corruption.

A chink in the armor

August 14th, 2012
9:18 pm

Looks like Ed and the boys don’t like the idea of independent thought. It is about time someone decided not to march in lockstep and take a stand contrary to the wishes of the “supposed” leadership. Lindsay and his cronies have but one mission and that is to destroy public education. Something he knows little to nothing about.

Vote Yes for Charters

August 14th, 2012
9:18 pm

Voting Yes for this amendment. Local School boards should not have so much power. The Ga supreme court decision was incorrect and must be over turned. These local school boards have screwed up so many systems it’s ridiculous. Time o get them under control. Time to do something for the students and the future.

Old Physics Teacher

August 14th, 2012
9:22 pm

Yep. Lindsey is showing his true colors, too. He doesn’t care about anything but getting his way. This just confirms the Henry VIII and Thomas Beckett analogy I used earlier. Barge is a man of conscience who put the public schools ahead of politics. To Lindsey, politics comes first, the children of Georgia come second, and the teachers of Georgia… well, they’re last. If Lindsey gets re-elected, Fulton voters get what they deserve.

And the beat goes on...

August 14th, 2012
9:26 pm

Thomas Beckett and Henry II, not Henry VIII

dc

August 14th, 2012
9:28 pm

Not seeing how it’s “noble” that someone runs on one platform, and them completely reverses course after the people who support that first position vote for them. There will likely be a chorus of accolades on this blog from the Educureaucracy….the same people who would be screaming “turncoat” if it had gone against their desires. Frankly..that’s pretty much hypocritical. Personally, I want an elected official who does what he/she says they will do.

Political Peer Pressure

August 14th, 2012
9:30 pm

I think State Representative Edward Lindsey may have opened
himself up to more scrutiny as news organizations and bloggers
may check his public statements and voting record to see if it
is consistent. Whatever one’s political affiliation, one has a right
to change one’s mind, but a certain amount of criticism comes
with that right ( I think State Representative Edward Lindsey’s
criticism is over the top.).

Laughing

August 14th, 2012
9:34 pm

Barge has angered teachers, principals, supers, board members, and now his own party. Stupid.

mountain man

August 14th, 2012
9:37 pm

” And I promise that once the 400 construction bonds are paid off, the toll booths will be removed”

mountain man

August 14th, 2012
9:37 pm

“I did not have sex with that woman”

CharterStarter, Too

August 14th, 2012
9:41 pm

Yes, Barge does an excellent job protecting the school systems (status quo)…but not the children in these systems. He stands up for all districts, even the ones failing children. Shameful man.

Rep. Lindsey wasn’t vitriolic, just straightforward.

td

August 14th, 2012
9:43 pm

Edward Lindsey is huge snake in the grass. I am a conservative and can tell you he is nothing more then a optimistic non-partisan lawyer out for nothing more then his self.

mountain man

August 14th, 2012
9:45 pm

Zig-Zag Zell: I promise to only serve one term and not run for re-election.

Eddie Hall

August 14th, 2012
9:46 pm

I wrote Dr. Barge today to commend him for the stand he is taking! Far from selling out Georgia’s children, he is standing up for them. If you read his statement in its entirety , you will find he said, UNTIL the state has our children back to a full 180 day schedule, and THEY restore the millions that have been cut from school budgets, HOW could he support the creation of yet another divison of government that would take even more from our children. I think he weighed his options and took the road less traveled by most politicians. He did the right thing! He will have my vote in the future, and for my money Nathan Deal could learn a thing or two from an old teacher!

mountain man

August 14th, 2012
9:47 pm

I wonder how the public school supporters would feel if they elected a State School Superintendent who pledged to fight against Charter Schools and then, once elected, threw his support behind charters?

Accountability

August 14th, 2012
9:49 pm

The fact is Mr. Lindsey,,,,. Dr. Barge opposed the dismantling of PUBLIC EDUCATION and you and others like you have made it an either or situation. Charter schools MAYBE a good idea but not at the cost of destroying public education. Shorter school years, less pay for teachers, budget hand tying, on and on.

Accountability

August 14th, 2012
9:52 pm

I agree with your comments Mr. Hall and applaude your clarity of the situation!

Educator

August 14th, 2012
10:00 pm

Thank you Dr. Bardge. The charter school amendment will be defeated just as the TSPLOST.

Chris

August 14th, 2012
10:02 pm

Welcome to Georgia LAST IN EDUCATION First in pocket lining for politicians, now at the expense of education! Charter schools just another dirty DEAL for the citizens.

mountain man

August 14th, 2012
10:02 pm

“Charter schools MAYBE a good idea but not at the cost of destroying public education.”

Who is “destroying public education”? Who is taking money? The cuts were in place long before this new charter initiative was ever formed. If you turn down charters, it does not mean any more money will be given to public education.

Public education DOES need to be funded – just as soon as they address the glaring issues in the schools – discipline, truancy, social promotion, and parental apathy. Public schools turn a blind eye and when charters are formed that will address these issues, the county BOE’s turn them down because they don’t want them horning in on their territory.

A chink in the armor

August 14th, 2012
10:03 pm

I met Mr. Lindsay and the others that control school funding and it was obvious that they just don’t care about public school. None of the leaders have or had children in public school so they could care less about funding it. Dr. Barge was right on target, restore what was cut (even during good times) and then have an honest discussion about what this is really about. A plan to privatize all public education in this state and make a few well connected people a ton of money.

MS MAN

August 14th, 2012
10:05 pm

Maureen,
Didn’t the funding mechanism behind the State Charter Commission change with the new proposed amendment. I could see Dr. Barge supporting the idea of charters and the charter commission when looking at districts in Metro Atlanta that have more money than the rest of the State of Georgia. But, when you look at the 170 other districts in GA outside the metro area (which Barge represents as well) there are no charter options that are viable and there are no local dollars to make up the budget shortfalls from austerity cuts. I tihnk Dr. Barge is making a decision based on the facts presented, the numbers he can see. I also think that people seem to forget that when local at “PUBLIC SCHOOLS” overwhelmingly parents report that all schools are really bad, except the one that their kids attend. As a final thought, it would be really interesting to see a report sharing student achievement over the past 3-5 years at charter schools in GA and compare to traditional public schools. I think its also really important to make a distinction between start up charters and conversion charters. The charters in Hall County, for example, are all conversion charters and they really have nothing in common with the start up charters that the charter commission is supposed to support. These start ups are the ones that are invariably run by corporate entities like Edison Schools, Mosaica, KIPP, etc.

crankee_yankee

August 14th, 2012
10:18 pm

When tou don’t walk in lock-step, you will feel the heat. Kudos to Dr. Barge for educating himself on the issue, looking at the key factors, and taking a stand on what is best for students despite his previous leanings. He has earned my vote by not acting as a lemming.

zeke

August 14th, 2012
10:19 pm

Most of us have had one position but, upon learning something new about the situation, changed our minds. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Dr. Barge could have done the same. It’s one thing to talk about running the DOE, but then once you see how things really work (and have to deal with crippling budget cuts) perhaps realize that there is a better way. And I find it ironic that the “smaller government” crowd is mad that Dr. Barge is trying to avoid more bureaucracy here. That’s the real hypocrisy.

3schoolkids

August 14th, 2012
10:23 pm

I don’t remember Rep. Lindsey being this upset when Chip Rogers jumped ship from TSPLOST to avoid getting beat by Brandon Beach.

Thank you Dr. Barge!

crankee_yankee

August 14th, 2012
10:23 pm

Sorry, “When you don’t…”

td

August 14th, 2012
10:40 pm

It would be nice if the AJC did a little back ground check to see if Ed’s wife’s law firm has clients that want to open a Charter school.

BlondeHoney

August 14th, 2012
10:45 pm

Kudos to Dr. Barge for doing what’s right. I don’t have any children in Cobb schools (my kids grew up and attended both private and outstanding public schools in Miami) but I am a stakeholder because my property taxes fund education in my county. The state can have a say when they fund the majority of the cost of public education, not before. As Dr. Trotter says, follow the money; Dr. Barge makes the point of for profit companies pushing charters run by these companies who are lining the pockets of the politicians in this state. I want my money going to properly fund public schools, not private aka charters.

Hillbilly D

August 14th, 2012
11:00 pm

Zig-Zag Zell: I promise to only serve one term and not run for re-election.

That’s when he ran for Governor, correct? When he ran for Lt Governor (the first time) it was ‘It’s a useless office and if elected, I’ll have it abolished”. He made no such claims when running for re-election, 3 times.

Bernie

August 14th, 2012
11:01 pm

Fortunately for the children of Georgia, Dr.Barge grew a conscious and now will pay the political price for it. Sometimes, things happen for a reason and for the children of Georgia its a good thing!

Don't give non-profit EMOs a free pass

August 14th, 2012
11:01 pm

Dr. Barge did the right thing and he appears to be a competent State Superintendent.

For those who decry for-profit EMOs running charters, but think non-profit EMOs are alright, let me direct your attention to a Fulton County Schools audit of Fulton Science Academy, a North Fulton charter. The report was released in June of this year. That school was run by a NON-profit. The audit showed numerous, serious issues which would give any taxpayer pause.

Don’t assume that non-profit EMOs are promoting the general welfare

Veteran Observer

August 14th, 2012
11:16 pm

Lifelong Republican who will vote against the amendment and for Mr Barge exactly for the reasons he put forward! Mr Lindsay and Chip and the rest of the gang are weakening our schools at this time by proposing this! When they get back to doing their part to support education in this state then I will consider their ideas, but not until then!

Steven

August 14th, 2012
11:17 pm

Thank you sir for making your decision to NOT support an amendment to the State Constitution. Even though you have commited political suicide. I admire your courage by taking a public stand.

Georgia, I would say, is one of the most racist states in the UNION. At least in the Metro-Atlanta area. You can tell this by all the cities filing for seperate charters, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs etc, and the list goes on. Heck, it follows suit with all the couties in the state.

td

August 14th, 2012
11:20 pm

How can any conservative say with a straight face that it is a primary value of his/her philosophy to take control of education away from the local elected community with oversight from an elected state and give it to an appointed commission with no accountability to the voter? I am a life long Republican and very conservative and this is not conservative values that Mr. Lindsey is promoting.

Buzzy

August 14th, 2012
11:21 pm

This is a heavy handed approach taken by Lindsey. I had no position on this Amendment but I will vote against it now in support of Barge.

Lee

August 14th, 2012
11:30 pm

As long as the AJC doesn’t endorse Barge, I’ll vote for him next time he runs….

An AJC endorsement is the kiss of death for me.

wovoka

August 14th, 2012
11:52 pm

Dear Ed,
I daresay if one were to closely examine your campaign promises and compare them to your stances as an elected official, one would find that you had “changed horses” a few times too. What perspective employee hasn’t taken a job thinking things were one way only to discover things are not at all as they were presented? When a candidate is outside looking in, it is easy to say what would work best. When one gets in and learns the ropes, there is a whole new view. Barge knows a great deal more than he did when was a candidate. And rather than support something that he knows is not right for GA students, he is rejecting it. To stick with something that he no longer feels is right for the sake of pleasing officials would be cowardly and foolish. Instead, he is being brave and wise. This is not a courtroom, but I am sure you enjoyed pulling out your ego and calling Dr. Barge a liar. That was so unnecessary. Why not ask, instead, what he has learned that has changed his mind? I bet he knows a lot more about this than you do.

Dr. John Trotter

August 14th, 2012
11:56 pm

Dr. Barge: I just looked at the AJC today. I actually saw on my Facebook home page a reference to the position that you took on the superfluous charter school commission. Good for you. If you did change your mind, no problem. Everyone has a right to change his or her mind. Don’t pay any attention to the naysayers. It just doesn’t make any sense to have people going around the democratically-elected school board to tap into tax payer monies. No taxation without representation, right? Hey, if they don’t like the public schools (and I often disagree with how they are run!), then organize, politicize, and get your people to the polls. Otherwise, put your children in private schools (I’ve done this too!). But, I don’t want any outside-of-the-county (and especially outside-of-the-state) company to get any of my tax dollars without my elected representatives having a right to vote on it.

Beverly Fraud

August 14th, 2012
11:57 pm

Maybe some of the charter starter crowd here cares about children (most likely even) but can we please stop PRETENDING Ed Lindsey does?

First, wouldn’t Mr. “Law and Order” and “Personal Responsibility” be willing to address DISCIPLINE in the schools?

No Ed needs to destroy ANY fighting chance teachers have to make an impact, to prove they have “failed” so he can take care of his privateer friends.

Have some INTEGRITY Ed. Empower parents with more choices AND empower teachers to help children in the regular public schools by addressing DISCIPLINE.

Then you create two LEGITIMATE choices; but that’s only if you REALLY care about choice.