John Barge [SS-R]

Dr. John Barge, Republican for State School Superintendent
The difference is this race centers on one key issue: proven leadership
experience. There is no doubt that all the candidates for this position truly want what is best
for our children. For too long we have seen leadership in the State Department of Education that did
not have any real local school and school district experience. This means that the folks at the
top have no real idea how their decisions impact the local schools and therefore, they do not know how
their decisions are harmful to our teachers—more importantly, they have no idea how their
decisions harm our children and make them less ready to meet the modern world and its unique

The question is who is best positioned to see that the best interest of our
children is being met at the local level. I believe my 19 years of education experience as a
classroom teacher, an assistant principal, a principal, a district level leader, and at the State
Department of Education leave me uniquely qualified to serve as State School Superintendent. At the same
time, I have intentionally worked in rural, suburban, and urban schools. I understand
Georgia’s schools at every level and from every angle.

What do I mean by proven leadership experience? As a classroom teacher I was
awarded the highest honor I believe possible when I was chosen as Star Teacher, by the
Star Student. I was awarded Georgia Assistant Principal of the year, an honor that shows my
ability to excel at the administrative level in education. I was named the Berry College
Distinguished Alumni of the Year because of my work in the public schools. These honors are just one example of proven leadership experience.
It is my experience that will enable me to make the tough decisions on the
budget. We cannot continue to increase the size of the State Department of Education, while
furloughing or laying off teachers. Education is cheaper at the local level than it is at
the State and Federal level. We must get rid of the bureaucracy at the State level and return control
to the local level with oversight from the State. This means we have to begin now preparing to move
away from Federal control of Georgia’s education. As our financial situation improves we
need to begin weaning ourselves from Federal money and control.

It is my experience as a classroom teacher that enables me to understand the
pressures that excessive testing brings into the classroom. Excessive testing also means
that we spend less time teaching the curriculum and more time teaching the test. To make it more
difficult, these tests are becoming more and more high stakes. That means that we are putting
everything on the outcome of one or two tests. If a student is not a good test taker they will not
appear to perform well—even though they are excelling in the classroom. We cannot tolerate

It is my experience that tells me we have to end the bizarre math curriculum
that means we no longer teach math in the traditional manner. Our new high school math no
longer teaches math in the year long block for each subject; we now break it up in illogical
ways that make learning and teaching math more difficult. We did this because we did not listen
to those who are teaching math in the local schools.

I will listen to those who are in the classroom working every day to educate our
children. Our educators are our best resource for improving our education—we cannot
continue to ignore It is my experience that shows me that we cannot achieve success in our public
schools if we are not going to respect the Career Tech path to high school graduation.

Every student is not going to college—we cannot force them all to take college prep for four years.
Such a decision will only do one thing. It will drastically increase our dropout rate. That is
not a positive direction for Georgia’s schools.

All of this is important if we are to be led into the future in a way that
improves education in Georgia. For too long we have accepted less—we cannot afford to do so any

That is why I ask you vote for John Barge on July 20th in the Republican


  1. John Konop says:

    I have had the below conversation with many candidates from both parties running for Governor and State School Superintendent. The positive part is many seem receptive to the approach. The issue will be who can breakdown the walls between agencies to make it happen.

    The Governor will be a key person via the appointments to the state school board. We need the Governor, State School Superintendent and the state school board on the same page for real needed reforms.

    I will say that Barnes, Barge, Handel and Martin all seemed to have a very good grasp of many of the issues. The key will be who has the strength and savvy to breakdown walls while keeping the coalition together. I would hope on education would could put aside our differences and focus on solutions, rather than the next School Superintendent using the job as a steeping stone to cash out being a lobbyist like Kathy Cox did.

    My suggestion:

    We need to stop the one size fit all teach to the test approach toward education.

    We should focus on letting students have a multiple track option based on skills and aptitude. And coordinate the public school system with the proper higher education track for curriculum in high school. Why not coordinate the colleges and vocation/tech schools and let them set the standards needed for graduation and job skills for students?

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