Governor responds to school chief’s strong opposition to charter amendment on Nov. ballot

Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a response to the surprising news yesterday that State Schools Superintendent and fellow Republican John Barge was breaking rank and opposing the charter school constitutional amendment on the ballot in November.

Barge argues that the amendment simply creates another needless bureaucracy to do what the state Board of Education can do and already does: Approve charters rejected by local boards of education. In this time of fiscal Armageddon for public education, Barge estimates that the creation of an appointed Charter Schools Commission will divert hundreds of millions from schools.

While negative, Deal’s response is far more temperate than that of GOP House leader Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, who sent Barge a blistering letter, which I posted yesterday. Please read it as it’s high drama.

Deal sent this note to Republican lawmakers:

I am discouraged that Superintendent Barge has changed his position since the campaign trail and no longer believes parents should have public school options for their children. His new position doesn’t change mine. I stand with 2/3 of the General Assembly and will uphold the promises I made when I ran for office: Parents and students should have public school options; this is the best form of local control.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

142 comments Add your comment

teacher&mom

August 15th, 2012
9:15 am

Tell the truth Gov Deal. Two-thirds of the General Assembly voted yes after intense political pressure, promises for key appointments, and down-right arm twisting.

Mary Elizabeth

August 15th, 2012
9:22 am

A partial reposting of a post I contributed yesterday:

“If Dr. Barge pays a political price for doing the right thing for ALL of the children of Georgia (as he has done with his public statement of not supporting Georgia’s Constitutional amendment because, as he has stated, laws ALREADY exist in which the Superintendent of Georgia’s Schools can act as mediator with local Boards of Education who may not approve of certain charter schools in their districts), then the public will be able to see – in glaring daylight – who, specifically, will be trying to make Dr. Barge pay a political price for following his conscience. . . .

Citizens see more deeply into the political arena in education, in Georgia and nationally, than some are aware.”

Vote NO on November 6

August 15th, 2012
9:24 am

Republican legislators have been thanking Barge for coming out against the proposed amendment. Many of them don’t want voters to pass the constitutional amendment. It’s an expansion of state government and more unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars.

dc

August 15th, 2012
9:27 am

changing his position in a way that you agree with isn’t the same thing as “doing the right thing”…….

Maureen Downey

August 15th, 2012
9:27 am

@Vote No, I asked someone who knows Barge what drove this decision and was told; “I know it sounds crazy from an elected official, but this is not about politics, it’s about doing what he feels is right for 1.7 million kids. His opinion is based on information that apparently others don’t want to see.”
I also have to note that neither Deal nor Lindsey went after Barge for changing his mind on Race to the Top. During the campaign, Barge opposed Race to the Top, believing the grants put too much power in the hands of the federal government to control the Georgia school system.
However, once elected and faced with the fact that Georgian won a $400 million grant, Barge got on board. I would not call that an about-face, but a simple acceptance of reality: We won the money. It could be put to good use, especially in view of the deep cuts to education.
And a nod to the poster who noted that a legislator who changes parties from the minority to the majority — even right after an election — is treated like a hero by the majority party and welcomed with open arms for “seeing the light.” If he believes that people are wed to their word beyond the campaign trail, Rep. Lindsey could surely ask his lying question to a politician who campaigned under one party and then switched to another once elected.

Amazed

August 15th, 2012
9:33 am

Governor Deal is as weak as dish water on the issue. His staffers are driving the education agenda. It is so obvious that he does not know what to do or say on the matter. Spouting the selected party talking points and the armtwisting that he participated in was a shallow effort to push a repub ideology. No one considers the consequences on the children and educators in the field everyday. Make no mistake on the matter-it is about the money!

lllllsss

August 15th, 2012
9:37 am

I agree vote no on this issue. The problem with schools is not of what they teach.. They try to teach facts with technology.. What they need to teach to kids is how to use their brains to think. We are so hung up on the knowledge of facts and figures that these student only have to memorize and nothing else… Try teaching them to think on their on.

Waffle

August 15th, 2012
9:40 am

Good point Maureen. In fact it was Deal who originally opposed Race to the Top and the. Flip flopped after pressure from Will Scbofield of Hall County and a few others.

Deal has zero room to talk. Stay the course John.

Waffle

August 15th, 2012
9:41 am

‘then flip flopped’

bdawg

August 15th, 2012
9:47 am

HERE HERE DR. BARGE…Thanks for standing up for all struggling public school systems the current and previous governor seems to have forgotten. Governor Deal criticizes Dr. Barge for taking a position to support current public education with local control and not take the political postion to funnel more funds away from locally controlled public schools. Why add another layer of “government”? Governor Deal speaks of supporting his legislature’s 2/3 vote….if you believe there was no arm twisting during this debate and vote….JUST ASK YOUR LEGISLATOR….I did.

WAY TO GO DR. BARGE.

living in an outdated ed system

August 15th, 2012
9:54 am

Deal just put Barge in a corner. He is neutralized and his flip will have absolutely no bearing on the vote in November. The amendment will pass with flying colors and all of you should focus more on getting your traditional public schools to fix their broken system. More money ain’t the answer!

Republicans own this

August 15th, 2012
9:56 am

Bad news Republicans you own this education funding disaster. The whole process of gutting public schools started with Sunny and continues today. You can’t try to deflect that someone was once a Democrat to keep from admitting that the Republicans who completely control the govt. and have for a decade are culpable.

cris

August 15th, 2012
10:01 am

Deal has no excuse – his parents were educators (!) and his wife was an educator….but you’re not considered a good Republican (or Democrat in terms of education policy) if you don’t jump on the privately-run for-profit charter school bus. Wishing the Guvna and legislators would, ah-hem, grow a pair as Barge seems to have done and do the right thing, not the profitable thing.

Jerry Eads

August 15th, 2012
10:01 am

Bravo, bravo, bravo John Barge. The rest of the Republicans (not ever to be confused with conservative) have only interest in destroying the public school system in order to more easily segregate rich kids from the rest of us to further shrink the middle class.

It is amazing that so-called “conservatives” are intent on centralizing government control with BIGGER state bureaucracy. We can only hope the middle class and poor folks who have been duped into believing these individuals are “for” them will see clearly enough to dump this travesty in November.

Proud Teacher

August 15th, 2012
10:02 am

Follow the money.
I assure you the money will not be spent on improving education for the students of Georgia. The public schools should be the focus of every community. Everyone of these students have names and not just DOE numbers. While the powers-that-be fuss-n-cuss, the students lose more and more opportunites.
I am against charter schools. I feel every opportunity and every advantage offered by a charter school should be available in the public school. As an educator, it is not my duty to segregate the student population by the greed of politicians.
Oh, yes, I’ve heard all of the arguments about school choice and its stance. If you want a private education for your children, then find a way to send them to a private school. If you cannot afford a private school, then put these energies into making your local public school strong enough to offer what you want your children to have. If you don’t trust your local school officials and administration, then it’s your fault for allowing the misbehvavior and malfunctions to occur. If you don’t like the town where you live, you can move, but you cannot move the town! The same goes for education. You cannot move the neighborhood to improve your school. Go to the source.
And. . . follow the money!

Lexi

August 15th, 2012
10:13 am

Not surprised that an education bureaucrat would oppose choice for parents of public school children. After all, the public school system is perfect, or at least it would be if we just gave it more and more funding [see, e.g., Washington DC which spends $18,667 per pupil per year, and it's an educational Utopia].
More likely, the bureacrats don’t want competition, which exposes incompetent teachers, administrators and methods to harsh light, and lets parents vote with their feet.

red herring

August 15th, 2012
10:16 am

the best way to improve education is competition. we keep paying more and more for a bloated bureaucracy in our public schools. I am all for hiring and paying good teachers but I am 100% against the overstaffed and over budgeted administrations. It is ridiculous what we pay some superintendents and then have them staffed with layer upon layer of asst. supt., principals, vice principals, plus their central office staffs. The taxpayer paying for all this as well as the students in georgia public schools deserve better. Competition is the way to achieve this—not just throwing more money to the administrators.

yuzeyurbrane

August 15th, 2012
10:38 am

Follow the money. Yes indeed with this crowd in the statehouse. Dr. Barge alluded to, and many people are beginning to awaken to, the fact that big bucks are involved and that there is a huge industry of for-profit choice school “managers”, mostly from out of state, just salivating at the prospect of potentially billions of dollars heading their way. Who gets the “finders fees”, campaign donations and employment of friends and relatives? I would look at the usual suspects. This will be the new way for politicians to get rich now that T-Splost has been defeated. Follow the money.

living in an outdated ed system

August 15th, 2012
10:43 am

It’s amazing that you all believe that school choice = conservative Republican. This should not be a partisan issue. This is about our children and about innovating our education system which hasn’t been fundamentally altered in more than a century! You can be a Democrat and still support this referendum! Take Alisha Morgan for example. I have spoken with her several times, and she is one of the most charismatic leaders in our state. If she was my representative, I would be overjoyed. She is a bridge candidate and someone that should be groomed for higher office. And of course, all of you protectionists will rip her to shreds, but have you ever sat down with her face to face?

All Bums

August 15th, 2012
10:51 am

Face it, they’re ALL liars, cheats, thieves, and scallywags. In every city, state, and federal building the country over. The only thing that will free us from political corruption and skulduggery is when we die. The whole world has simply gone to HE!!.

Buzzy

August 15th, 2012
10:58 am

Rep. Lindsey and Gov. Deal are out of line. I applaud Barge.

They set up these Charter schools and then the schools hire all kinds of Republican owned contractors.

For instance, there is a Republican cabal that owns the so-called for profit internet education companies. There is where kids supposedly learn by taking classes off the internet. They will sell these classes to the Charter schools. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is definitely all about money. It is not about the kids.

As as been mentioned above, follow the money. Just because the Charter Schools are non-profit does not mean that you can’t cash in on them. The Charter schools must buy stuff and this is where the manipulation comes in.

Dawg

August 15th, 2012
10:58 am

Who is being scammed here? Any of Georgia’s 159 County Boards of Education, as well as the Georgia Department of Education, can authorize a charter school. Why is there a need for the taxpayers to pay for another government bureaucracy – The Charter Commission – to authorize a charter school? Someone is being scammed – and it is the GA voters if they pass this constitutional admendment!

Buckshot

August 15th, 2012
10:59 am

If you actually take teh time to research charter schools, with peer-rreviewed, factual statistics, you will see that charter schools do not perform better thatn public schools. For the most part, charter schools perform worse.

Returning DCSS Parent

August 15th, 2012
11:00 am

Although I am not a fan of Governer Deal, I am for charter schools. My property taxes have increased tremendously over the years and the public schools just got worse. I sent my son to a local charter school and he loved it! The teachers were engaged with the students and the books/supplies were brand new and state of the art while receiving less money than the public school. Every child deserves to learn in an environment that is free from distractions, bad attitudes and teachers that have no desire to be in the classroom. I know teachers are being blamed for a lot of things in the classroom but some of them don’t want to be there and it shows. I live in a great neighborhood but the local middle school is an embarassment. I refused to send my son there and wound up driving 17 miles each way and paying additional money for a private school. Not every parent has that ability. Charter schools provide a choice. Every child deserves the right to a good education and if public schools can’t/won’t do it, then good charter schools are the way to go.

Buzzy

August 15th, 2012
11:11 am

I am pretty sure our legislature pass a law this year that all school children in Georgia must take a class off the internet. One hour of internet instruction a day. I’m pretty sure this would apply to public and Charter Schools.

On paper this may sound like a good thing. Until you look behind the curtain. Many people see the schools today as a way to cash in. It’s not about education, it’s how to get their hands on those dollars.

Every voter should educate themselves about these online learning companies and what they are really about about: money. Labor cost is low, and profits are huge. Here is an article if anyone is interested:

http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bought-americas-schools?page=full#

Buzzy

August 15th, 2012
11:12 am

Sorry, i was typing too fast. Meant to say “legislature passed a law”.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:20 am

so, Gov. Deal.

how to you intend to fund this measure?

for all the republicans = anti education. you should love Deal. he spends like a Obama democrat.

living in an outdated ed system

August 15th, 2012
11:21 am

@Buckshot, I have to disagree. I have seen tons of research and while it is true that some charter schools may not perform better than public schools, I can almost assure you that in most communities where there is a public charter school and a traditional public school, the public charter school has higher achievement levels.

JD

August 15th, 2012
11:22 am

Barge explained his position in 2010. Rep. Lyndsey needs to read the note below the survey answer.

You can support the concept of Charter Schools but not support the amendment. The two positions are not diametrically opposed.

Just ask Sen. Rogers and his decision to not support T-Splost after voting for the legislation.

living in an outdated ed system

August 15th, 2012
11:22 am

More ridiculous comments from @Bootney. I know you are referring to me. Nice try.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:23 am

@ JD

you’re expecting logic from a politician?

JD

August 15th, 2012
11:24 am

Leaders will punish Dr. Barge by punishing our children — his decision is not about his politics — by opposing he will lose — unless the voters demand their representatives and senators promise NOT TO PUNISH DOE and K12 for exercising their rights to freedom of speech and for living up to their obligations as elected officials to faithfully support the constitution and laws of this state.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:25 am

something I’m wondering based on this near hysterical response from the GOP elite:

is this preemptive to keep others in line?

living in an outdated ed system

August 15th, 2012
11:27 am

@JD – I don’t think your note is accurate. If you support the concept of charter schools, then you cannot allow them to be run by local school board monopolies. They’ll die on the vine. It is still unclear whether or not APS will face a lawsuit because of their 11th hour allocation change which resulted in the closing of Tech High. They allocated costs that should not have been allocated to Tech High and other charter schools.

Innovation needs to have space to breathe, so if you understand the dynamics of how markets operate, you cannot have it both ways. You’re saying that it’s ok to have a public charter school, but we want it to be the ostracized stepchild of the local public school. That’s not going to fly.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:29 am

never forget ole Nate was up on corruption charges in US congress when he decided to inflict himself on us as gov.

Mary Elizabeth

August 15th, 2012
11:35 am

From Dr. John Barge’s statement yesterday:

“What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).”

I am certain Dr. Barge had studied this issue, throroughly, before making the statement, above. He knows from where he speaks. Again, I am grateful to Dr. Barge for his following his conscience for all of the school children of Georgia.
———————————————————————-

JD, 11:22: “You can support the concept of Charter Schools but not support the amendment.” This is a true statement, and Dr. Barge’s statement of yesterday, also, confirmed this to be true.

Pluto

August 15th, 2012
11:36 am

I think there’s a lot of voter regret for electing our governor. This guy has always done what was good for him and his cronies. Let’s see, setting up another government bureaucracy is yet another jobs program for minimally qualified at best friends and family.

Honey

August 15th, 2012
11:43 am

I like the sound of GOVERNOR BARGE!

Hillbilly D

August 15th, 2012
11:45 am

I intend to vote against the amendment. I believe in local control and I think this is just a power grab and a way for somebody’s buddy to make some money.

Georgia, The "New Mississippi"

August 15th, 2012
11:46 am

If they change the name to the “separate but equal school amendment ” it should pass with flying colors. Johnny Reb Values is the Golden Rule in Georgia.

Eddie Hall

August 15th, 2012
11:50 am

To the people who say you are paying “more and more to a failing system.”
Who is getting more? Public education in GA has been cut by HUNDREDS of millions over the last few years! The plan, which was a good one, put forward by Gov. Joe Frank Harris was NEVER fully funded. Bottom line, if you have a BAD school and a BAD BOE, VOTE OUT THE BOE! You have the power now, with this plan you won’t!
To Gov. Deal, read the statement, this was not a “flip”, he made a decission that was based on right and wrong. What a novel idea for a politician.
To Maureen, I have talked to legislators, and they felt “pushed” to support the ballot question, but intend to vote “no” on the issue in private.
To the RHINO’s who are pushing this issue, how did your other baby the TSPLOST work out for you?

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:51 am

@ pluto

the only alleged option, was King Roy, who we knew was a liar and political lady of the night.
no sane voter was gonna put him back in office. only real support he got was from the yellow dogs.

the bigger, sadder issue is we the people decided Roy and Nate were our two best options

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:54 am

@ eddie

the pols are getting more. this is educational TSPLOST.
give us money and trust us to spend it correctly.

not just no, hell no.

besides we now have the new illegal abomination to pay for.

Atlas Shrugged, anyone?

Eddie Hall

August 15th, 2012
11:55 am

@ bootney, I hope we apply the Gomer Pyle therem in the next election: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!”

LoganvilleGuy

August 15th, 2012
11:57 am

I think it is funny that our Governor had to lie to attack our Superintendent. There are currently two avenues to approve charter schools. They can apply directly to the district or to the State Board of Education if that fails.

Therefore, the State, contrary to what everyone wants you to believe, has the power to approve charter schools. This amendment is not about that power. The amendment is so that they can eventually exert control and authority over tax dollars that they currently do not have.

Just because Dr. Barge is opposed to creation of yet another political commission does not mean he is opposed to any type of “public school choices” as the Governor stated. I rate the Governor’s statement as a flat-out lie based upon a review of facts.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
11:57 am

knowing Deal’s past – think Tony Soprano when it comes to grudges and alleged corruption Barge is in for a looooong next term if Nate is re-elected.

I’m writing in Ronald McDonald for gov. next time. if we’re gonna be stuck with clowns, lets at least have a good one who brings fries.

bootney farnsworth

August 15th, 2012
12:01 pm

@ eddie

last election the only incumbent I voted for was my Us representative – and I had to hold my nose to do that. this year I intend to vote anti incumbent in every race, and no on every initiative.

back in my younger days we had the option of voting straight party ticket. how about the option of voting straight no on all incumbents?

Mr_B

August 15th, 2012
12:02 pm

“More money ain’t the answer!”

Because less money is working out sooooooo well.

Bernie

August 15th, 2012
12:08 pm

“Parents and students should have public school options; this is the best form of local control.”

You are right Governor, to choose your proposed plan is not supporting that assertion at ALL!

Reality Check

August 15th, 2012
12:10 pm

Buzzy – you are wrong. There is no mandate for an online class. You have either been reading your local paper of listening to the educrats because there is no mandate. If a child wants to take a class online from the Georgia Virtual School the local school district cannot prohibit them.