Taking a Look at How the November Elections Will Affect K-12 Education

Georgia’s education funding formula, the role of charter schools, and the Common Core standards are major topics in the races for governor and state school superintendent. This morning, Education Week takes a look at how issues affecting K-12 education are affecting the two contests.

The question of how to properly fund public schools has become a major campaign issue in the governor’s race. Democrat Jason Carter wants a separate education budget, which includes over half of state spending. He proposes spending an additional billion dollars on education. Governor Deal proposes changing the state’s QBE funding formula to reflect new teaching methods, such as online classes.

GOP school superintendent candidate Richard Woods wants to audit the education department’s budget and favors a funding formula change, while Democrat Valarie Wilson says that any changes to school funding should be guided by educators on the ground rather than bureaucrats.

Governor Deal’s support of charter schools is well known, and one of the highlights of his first term was getting the charter schools amendment to the state constitution passed in 2012. According to the Education Week article, Carter thinks that the push for charter schools takes attention away from the need to properly fund traditional schools. Wilson fears that a focus on charter schools will give the impression that traditional public schools are failing, while Woods supports them.

In the contest for State School Superintendent, the issue of Common Core and the battle over federal vs. local control of education looms large.

Ms. Wilson and Mr. Woods are both eager to criticize federal K-12 policy as well. Mr. Woods, for example, is a common-core opponent, but he is also echoing American Federation of Teacher President Randi Weingarten and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan by calling for a two-year moratorium on using common-core-aligned test scores in teacher evaluations. The standards, together with federal K-12 policies, create a “straitjacket” on schools and teachers, in his view.

“I never saw common core as something by itself,” Mr. Woods said in an interview. “We’re still assuming that every child is the same, that every child is at the same level.”

Unlike Mr. Woods, Ms. Wilson is a strong supporter of the common core and argues that the state, rather than vacillating as Gov. Deal has done by ordering a review of common-core classroom materials last year, should back the view of teachers and stick with it.

But she also says that the common core has been damaged because it has been “married” to evaluations that base half a teacher’s score on student test results through Race to the Top. A better Race to the Top program, she said, would have simply identified innovative district-level approaches and provided them with a federal funding boost, instead of attaching strings and caveats to the grants.

A bill sponsored by State Senator William Ligon that would have stopped the use of the Common Core standards in Georgia failed in the waning days of the 2014 legislative session. A committee consisting of House members and educators has held several public hearings to examine the federal role in education. A study to be released later this month shows Georgia’s teachers approve of the wording of the Common Core standards.

While tinkering with the QBE funding formula is possible, it’s difficult to see how a Governor Carter would find the money to significantly increase the education budget without a tax increase, likely a no go with what is already guaranteed to be a Republican General Assembly. Charter schools are already a reality, despite an unwillingness in the Senate during the most recent session to accept them. The outcome of the governor and state school superintendent elections will likely affect any action taken by the legislature in 2015 with regard to Common Core.


  1. Robbie says:

    Ms. Wilson has said multiple times that charter schools can be a wonderful opportunity for bringing new and innovative methods to public schools – as long as they aren’t run by for-profit management companies.

    It’s also worth noting that the AJC’s Get Schooled column has pointed out that Georgia teachers DO support Common Core: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/29/georgia-teachers-wording-of-common-core-works-for-us/

    And I agree that teachers themselves need to have a voice in the system. Everyone says that we need business leaders involved in regulation and tax law; why isn’t it just as obvious that teachers and educators need to be involved in educational policy?

    • Charlie says:

      I asked Ms. Wilson via twitter if she supported charter schools run by non-profit operators over the weekend. The reply I got back said the following:

      “Once we fully fund our public schools, I am happy to consider other proven options for Georgia’s children. With input from our educators, parents, and taxpayers, of course.”

      In other words, it’s the usual Democratic rhetoric. Give us an unspecified “more money” now, and later after we’re “fully funded” we’ll talk about whether or not we’re actually spending today’s and tomorrow’s funding most effectively.

      This is very disappointing to me, as the GOP candidate offers me nothing whatsoever. And, apparently, neither does Ms. Wilson.

      • Robbie says:

        I’m not sure I read that the same way you do. I see it as, “my first priority is fixing the traditional public schools” as in, the schools attended by the majority of students in Georgia. Once we’ve been able to fix the problems there, then we can start looking at changes to the system. It seems, to me, that it’s more of a “fix the problem here” argument rather than a “scrap the whole thing and start over with a private company” kind of thing.

        • First of all saying supporters of charter schools want to “scrap the whole thing and start over with a private company” is a straw man argument. Let’s set that silliness aside.

          If Candidate Wilson wants to “fix” traditional public schools she must consider changes to the system. The system IS traditional public schools. She wants to fix the schools without making any changes which says to me her only answer, like Senator Carter’s, is massive increases in funding.

          Candidate Woods says essentially the same thing which is why I join Charlie is being supremely disappointed in the choices the two Parties have foisted upon us.

          There are countries and states who spend much LESS than Georgia does whose students perform better than ours. There are also countries and states who spend much MORE than Georgia does whose students perform better than ours. Funding is important, but the additional $1 billion Democrats want to pump into the system won’t necessarily be better for Georgia’s students.

            • Charlie says:

              I’m sorry, but nothing in her statement reads as someone who supports charter schools. There’s the original dodge to try and paint them as non-public/private operated, then the carefully worded statement that still says she won’t try them until we do what we’ve always done within the existing system, only with more money.

              You’re a supporter and you can read it any way you want. I’m someone actively looking for options and I read her statement as one from a champion of the status quo. Which is very disappointing.

                • ryanhawk says:

                  I just listened to what Wilson had to say about charter schools at the link you provided. She doubled down on her opposition to the charter school amendment and specifically states that she is opposed to some of the most successful charter operators in the nation. She is, quite frankly, full of the same BS about “supporting charters, but… ” that every Georgia politician opposed to charters hides behind. Also, she has yet to DO anything that demonstrates support for an actual existing charter school or charter startup. And Woods isn’t much better….

    • I’ve always been puzzled when people complain about “for profit management companies” being involved in schools. We aren’t concerned about other vendors public schools use so why not, when it makes sense, let people who are skilled in business and management help schools run efficiently?

      Let business experts run the business side of schools and let Educators educate. Why is that controversial?

      • John Konop says:

        Not so black and white issue. We have seen abuses in private businesses intertwined in politics while the public gets left holding the bag…The father of capitalism warned about this in his famous book “Wealth of Nations”.The private prison system has been a mess…with massive abuses, pay back for longer sentencing scams, lobbying for longer sentencing in the prison interest not public……In some states the failure has been as high as almost one out 4 charter schools….Mean while the companies walk away with the property….while tax payers are left holding the bag….

        I am still not convinced you have enough controls in the current charter bill…..I have seen proposals that tax payers guarantee bonds for the charter school, while the investors/ private management group makes a big hit on the property….if the deal goes bad we tax payers get stuck with the bill and they got rich….A charter school can sign a long term lease guaranteed by tax payers on property the management group owns, and if it goes under once again we tax payers are stuck again….I am old school conservative, if I would not sign the contract with my own money at risk…why should office holders be able to put us at this the type of risk? Trust many of them would never use their own money for the tax payer risk part…

      • ryanhawk says:

        It never ceases to amaze me how so many people that draw a paycheck from a government or “not for profit” seem to think the legal status of their employer makes them, personally, altruistic. Forfeit your paycheck or forfeit the argument folks. Best answer to this ad hominem attack comes from Robert Greenleaf:

        “The common assumption seems to be that “for profit” is tainted with self-serving, whereas “not-for-profit” is presumed selfless. In my experience both assumptions are false. The self-serving motive is an attribute of individuals who are just as prevalent in not-for-profit as in the profit-making institutions. The corporate form should be chosen as the one most appropriate for the mission and with regard to legal constraints and privileges. The opportunities to serve with distinction are the same.” — Robert K. Greenleaf , Servant Leadership

        • John Konop says:

          Father of capitalism….

          ……….“The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public”…….

          ― Adam Smith, An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Volume 1 of 2……..

          • saltycracker says:

            The interest of the public resides within the public education bureaucracy or teachers unions ? When Adam Smith rolls over in his grave. I prefer public schools but we have a lot of work to do in places that need them the most.

          • saltycracker says:

            Am a fan of Adam Smith but our water is not so pure today. The Government and Business models in particular. In government pay scales and numbers (including pension/benefits/medical/job security) are higher. Govt delays negative economic consequences by deferring them, increasing debt, controlling interest rates and printing currency. Govt will not adapt at the rate of business and has lost the will to enforce.

            There are a lot of scenarios where a private business operating efficiently with a 2/3%/5% net profit is far superior to a govt. program wasting 10-20% and more.

            And a lot of scenarios where rewriting the govt business plan is the right thing to do but rejected by Congress.
            Low hanging fruit ? The USPS, the IRS, SS disability, healthcare, home mortgages, student loans, or just pick a department…….
            Do they really need to make a penny for our thoughts ?

            • John Konop says:


              All in balance…..without proper rules the margins or rules get manipulated ie private prisons…..that is my only point…life is grey…to many want black and white solutions which makes the problem worse ie war on drugs, no child left behind……

              • saltycracker says:

                Keeping options open and balance was Buzz B’s premise at the beginning of this circle and my remark.

                Businessmen are not the exclusive order of men that might want to deceive and oppress – to some extent in the private world it is voluntary for us while the government can mandate it. Adam Smith is rolling over in his grave.

          • ryanhawk says:

            I frequently find your opinion on charters to be frustrating, and try to take a charitable view of people who I disagree with. But I can’t see how your selective misquote is anything other than a dishonest attempt to mislead. Here is the full quote from Adam Smith:

            “The interest of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public. To widen the market, and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can only serve to enable the dealers.”

            So tell us John, who wants to widen the market and who wants to narrow the competition in the education marketplace?

            • John Konop says:

              As Adam Smith pointed out the question is not that simple….to avoid us tax payers getting screwed. The market place does not function if tax payers are out at the majority of the risk, private companies get the upside, and can walk if it blows up. I would think you would of learned this lesson with the last lending crisis…that left tax payers with more than 70% of government backed loans, not including worthless PMI insurance and deposit on hand we were on the hook for. I have made the warning pre the last massive mess and was called “chicken little” by so called conservative like YOU who did not want to hear about the lack of controls….The same BS free market crap was spewed…and who was right? Using talking points without with no real reference of knowledge of a topic gets you in trouble….Be liberal with other peoples money, and free to say what you want it is America….Just stop with the conservative BS….

              • ryanhawk says:

                What Adam Smith “pointed out” and what you say he “pointed out” are two very different things John. You are welcome to your opinion, but you are not welcome to selectively misquote Adam Smith’s words, reverse the plain meaning of what he actually wrote, and then suggest Smith, and people who admire his thought, should support your position.

                The only one spewing BS and calling names here is you John. I know it’s not pleasant to be caught in such an obvious whopper, but just fess up and reconsider your argument. You aren’t going to convince me, or anyone else, by writing obvious and easily verifiable whoppers about what Adam Smith did or didn’t say. If you want to rail against free markets have at it. Just don’t mangle Adam Smith or anyone else in the process.

                  • ryanhawk says:

                    It’s not what I say that matters John. It’s more a matter of what Adam Smith wrote and your misleading, selective, and edited quote that reverses Smith’s plain meaning. Did you or did you not selectively misquote Smith to reverse his plain meaning? Anyone that cares to look it up can see that you did. And anyone reading this thread can see that you are now dissembling to avoid accountability for your earlier misleading statements. I’m sure you are not always a liar and a troll, but in this instance that’s the best that can be said for you.

                    • John Konop says:

                      No I did not, he was very suspicious of business and government doing public deals….Honestly this is fairly basic….You obviously never took higher level economics classes…

                    • ryanhawk says:

                      I rather expect I’ve taken a few more “higher level” economics courses than have you John. And I’ve probably taught a few more too. Of course Smith is typically an undergrad subject and has been long forgotten by the time you get to graduate level econ courses. And feel fee to “proof text” Adam Smith if you want John. Smith is not who I would look to when discussing edu reform, but he does have interesting thoughts on education in his time. I’m sure you can twist a few of those statements to make it appear as if Smith would oppose marginal reforms to the current edu status quo, just as you did above.

                    • John Konop says:


                      Nothing personal if you are teaching economics fairly scary for kids….but hey if you can’t do it teach it….btw would have an open debate anytime with you on economics….you do not deny being part of the same crowd that got us into the last mess…

                    • John Konop says:

                      Ryan Hawk theory of economics tax payers take the majority of risk, private company takes all the gain, and can walk away if it goes bad. And you teach at a graduate school level this is what Adam Smith free market system is all about….If that is what you teach no wonder the last crisis happened…..

                    • ryanhawk says:

                      I’m not going to waste my time engaging with you on anything other than the very specific subject of your deliberate misquoting of Adam Smith to create the impression that Smith would approve of your opposition to charter schools. I have no interest in refuting your specious arguments or engaging with straw men while dealing with constant name calling from you.

                    • John Konop says:


                      Nothing I wrote was missleading at all….I am not sure if you understand the concept of liabilities…No way would Adam Smith, nor anyone who understands capitalism and liabilities….would support tax payers being on the hook for long term leases, bonds…..with guarantees…and the private company gets all the up side ie management contract, land….while the private company can walk leaving tax layers holding the bag..,we have seen deals like this via home loans, rycycling plants….and they usually end in a bad story for tax payers….and yes what I posted any rational person with or without economic training would see I am right, and you make no sense…..What am I missing!

                    • ryanhawk says:

                      You’re not sure if I understand “liabilities”? Well I’m not sure you haven’t &^$%d a goat. But neither my understanding of liabilities or your having &^$%d a goat or not has anything to do with you misquoting Adam Smith. Why don’t you just slowly type what Smith actually wrote versus the “quote” you attribute to him above and let that be the last word on the subject?

  2. NoTeabagging says:

    Nothing will change in education until we stop teaching short term memory retention of answers to standardized tests and reward teachers for meeting standardized test result quotas.

    Education requires we teach students to link ideas from various subjects – the three R’s + history, science, civics. Well rounded students get exposure to arts and sports in schools. Both teach creative thinking, coordination and teamwork. The entire package should teach students use all the skills and knowledge in their current and future lives. The current approach, in its worst form, teaches subjects as unrelated strings of trivial facts. Facts that only have relevance for the upcoming multiple choice test and are expected/taught to be forgotten.

    You can decide whether it takes millions or billions or no dollars to change the educational method.

  3. Will Durant says:

    Governor Deal has already proven that the elected and state constitutionally mandated position of Superintendent of Schools can be virtually neutered. Both his administration and Sonny’s have proven beyond a doubt that many of the checks and balances built into the Georgia Constitution can easily be circumvented when all of the branches are of the same party. Just a minor example regarding the purse strings without touching on responsibilities of the office is that the current Superintendent’s salary is ~$25K less than the do-nothing position the Governor created for Chip Rogers over at GPB.

    • Charlie says:

      People that believe we should undermine the concept of providing equal opportunity to learn for all by calling public schools “government schools” are one of my pet peeves.

      • blakeage80 says:

        Charlie, Not speaking for Harry, but you’ll have to give us Neil Boortz fans some slack. We’ve been every bit as indoctrinated as a Gover…uh Public School student. 🙂

        On another note: Does anybody else think that ‘Common Core’ is going to end up being like ‘New Math’ in the 60’s? It will just be realized that it is trying to reinvent the wheel and people will just drop it. I kind of hope so as I have tried to do the whole ‘counting up’ method of subtraction and am ashamed to say, I get it wrong on the first try most of the time! I pity my son if he has to rely my help.

        • Charlie says:

          Common Core isn’t worth the political capital required to save it in most parts.

          Problem is, are you talking about “integrated math” – which is what most people are complaining about – or are you talking about Common Core, which is what everyone will actually make go away.

          GA had integrated math being rolled out before Common Core. GA’s BOE also realizes they have issues with integrated math. But many of the opponents of one don’t realize which one they’re fighting, or why.

          Anyone that has actually taken the time to talk to the folks at DOE or the Board would know that they’re taking integrated math under the hood for a serious review. But the hystrionics are better for page views and ratings from the true believers. You know, the ones that don’t have their kids in “government schools” already.

          • John Konop says:

            …….Problem is, are you talking about “integrated math” – which is what most people are complaining about – or are you talking about Common Core, which is what everyone will actually make go away……..

            You are right many are confused about this topic….The “integrated math” is a locally controlled math curriculum rolled out in Georgia which restricts us from fully using the national common core. The irony is the anti common core people use this poorly locally implemented math style to complain about common core. You could not make this up? God help us….

      • Harry says:

        Charlie, as one having two kids who recently graduated from “public” school, what they were taught of history (US and otherwise) was a travesty and they know it. “Public” schools are crap.

        • saltycracker says:

          We do have good public schools (a higher % of teachers & kids that choose to focus) the edu-cracy and screwy parents have not corrupted, you just have to keep moving to stay with them. The average classroom teacher today works for less than half the years we will pay them, accounts for a smaller % of personnel costs than in the past in a system with mandates and demands creating a black hole for money. Charter schools offer some an out, that’s ok, but they will not solve the demand for more money nor will they fix the problem.

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