John Barge 2014 Campaign for Georgia's Next Govenor
Bartow County School System, Director,
Berry College, Adjunct Professor
Floyd County Schools – System High Schools
That Work Coordinator/Assistant Principal
Georgia Department of Education, State Director
of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education
Chestatee High School, Principal
Rome High School, CTAE Director and Assistant
Armuchee High School, English Teacher
John Barge was born and raised in Cobb County, Georgia; the fifth son of Norma and the late L.J. “Jerry” Barge. John attributes much of his early educational success to his mother who taught him some of life’s most important principles by the very way she lived her life. Ranking eleventh in a class of 300, John graduated from Campbell High School in 1984, and attended Berry College in Rome, Georgia on academic and journalism scholarships.
Graduating from Berry in 1988 at age 21 with a B.A. degree in Communications and Public Relations, John remained in Rome and married Loraine a few years later in 1991. Shortly after marrying, John and Loraine became foster parents for two young boys, Michael and Matthew ages 8 and 4, respectively. Eventually, they added their own child to the mix, Emma. About five years after becoming parents for Michael and Matthew, the boys were allowed to return to their biological father.
John’s family now consists of his wife of 19 years, Loraine; their daughter, Emma who is 14; and several dogs, cats, horses, chickens, goats and a cow. John’s favorite way to relax is to ride his tractor and bush hog the pastures. In addition to farm work, John enjoys running, cooking, and restoring their old farmhouse in Kingston, in Floyd County.
John has earned three advanced degrees, a master’s degree and a specialist’s degree from The State University of West Georgia and his doctorate degree from the University of Georgia.
Currently, John serves as the Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction with the Bartow County School System. John is the only candidate in this election who brings leadership experience to the table in rural, urban and suburban school systems in addition to experience at the state level with the Georgia Department of Education as the State Director for Career-Technical and Agriculture Education.
With slashed budgets, deficit spending, and layoffs occurring regularly across the state, school systems, leaders, and teachers are under extreme pressure and they need a leader who will not only be a voice for them in the legislature, but also one who will listen to their concerns, respect their opinions, and understand how state-level decisions impact the local school districts. Dr. John Barge is the most qualified candidate with the experience necessary to make Georgia's schools work.
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Committee to Elect John Barge State Superintendent
P.O. Box 129
Rome, GA 30162
- Recognize that a one-size-fits-all diploma does not meet the needs of every child, combine the relevance of Career Tech Education with rigorous academic standards to create multiple pathways to graduation;
- Recognize that every student is unique and our system must work to individualize their graduation requirements;
- Work toward more local control with state oversight;
- Turn back federal control of Georgia’s public schools;
- Create an advisor board of practitioners who have direct access to me;
- Return to traditional math teaching practices;
- Recognizing the value of Career Tech routes to graduation by including them as multiple pathways to Georgia’s single diploma;
- Remove seat time requirements for Carnegie Units toward graduation;
- Less testing of students using standardized testing;
- Streamlining the Department of Education for greater efficiency at less cost;
- Common sense approach to budgeting and educational oversight statewide;
We know that education only happens at the local level. With that in mind, what will you do to reinforce the authority of the local school district to educate our children?
- Give more control to the local school districts so that the state has mostly oversight and supervision
- Support local decisions in keeping with state principles
I believe it is critical that we get as much control as possible to the local level. It is less expensive and more responsive to parents and students. Therefore, I promise to work to return control of local school districts to superintendents, their key staff, and local boards of education. No one knows better than the teacher in the classroom what her/his children need. No one knows how to better allocate resources in a system than that system’s superintendent, their key staff, and local board. This means that the State Department of Education will return to its rightful, constitutional role of supporting the local school district rather than mandating behavior.
What will you do about federal government intrusion into education in Georgia?
- Begin working toward no federal involvement in education by working toward a Georgia only funded education system
- Exercise state oversight empowered by the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Education of Georgia’s children is Georgia’s responsibility. I am committed to reducing the reach of the federal government into the area of education. This means that Georgia must continue to be a leader in innovative education. At the same time, we need to continue to make Georgia less dependent on the federal government and the money it uses to gain greater control over curriculum, assessment, or teacher pay. Those issues are best served at the state and local level. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government no specific authority over the education of children. Under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution education is a state right that our current leadership is all too ready to concede to the federal government. I will not shirk my duty to educate Georgia’s students.
How will you insure that local school districts’ voice is heard by the Superintendent’s office?
- Superintendent’s Advisory Board of Current Practitioners will be created and have direct access to my office
- Set up channels of communication for every person working in Georgia’s schools, and students, to access my staff and me
I will intentionally seek input from and listen to the local school districts of Georgia by setting up a communication channel that comes straight to my attention. This will permit teachers and administrators to have a voice in making Georgia’s education better. Current practitioners’ opinions will never fall on deaf ears on my watch. Furthermore, I will create the Superintendent’s Advisory Board of Current Practitioners who will have direct access to my office to share issues and concerns directly with me.
What needs to be done regarding our curriculum, particularly the Math I, II, III, and IV curriculum?
- Return to traditional teaching of math through a traditional curriculum
Regarding the math curriculum, if elected I will work toward the elimination of Math I, Math II, Math III, and Math IV and the restoration of Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, Calculus, etc. to distinct courses. Our core standards are very well done in Georgia, but we need to find a more effective way to teach our students so that they can achieve a level of proficiency at math and other subjects.
It seems that career and technical education is being put out to pasture in Georgia, what will you do to return Career, Technical and Agriculture Education to its rightful and needed place in our schools?
- Recognize the value of CTAE by including CTAE pathways as routes to Georgia’s single diploma.
As the former State Director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education (CTAE), I know that CTAE programs not only serve the educational needs of a number of our students, but I also understand that they are a vital part of our society. I will restore CTAE to its proper place in our curriculum in the State of Georgia. It is a legitimate and essential part of not only our curriculum, but also the economic development of our communities and our state. Any less consideration afforded to CTAE is an abomination and an affront to the various trades and industries upon whose backs our prosperity is built.
What do you think about Georgia’s single diploma graduation policy?
- As long as there are multiple pathways, including CTAE pathways to the single diploma it is a great idea that will greatly improve education in Georgia;
- It should also include individualized graduation plans for every student
While the single-track diploma is a good idea in theory, the current means to that end is completely off-target. Treating every student in the State of Georgia the same by requiring the same courses to graduate is absurd. As State School Superintendent I will immediately begin the process of creating multiple pathways to a single diploma. This means that we will maintain the single diploma policy while allowing students individualized pathways to achieve that diploma. This will permit students to determine their path to graduation based on their career interests and educational needs, rather than keeping a one size fits all mentality.
What do you think about our current seat time requirement for awarding Carnegie unit credits toward high school graduation?
- We need to do away with seat time requirements in situations where students show they have the requisite knowledge
I believe the elimination of the “seat time” requirement for the awarding of Carnegie unit credit for high school graduation will make Georgia more responsive to our students’ needs. In other words, if a student can prove she knows the material by successfully passing an end-of-course test given as a pre-test, she does not need to spend 150 hours sitting in a desk in the classroom to receive the credit. This will allow students to advance their studies with a logic missing from our current program requirements.
What will you do regarding testing in Georgia’s public schools?
- Decrease the amount of standardized testing;
- Work to eliminate the Georgia High School Graduation test immediately
I will work to reduce the amount of testing or assessment we require in the State of Georgia. First, I will work to end the requirement of Georgia’s High School Graduation Test in the 11th grade. We should only rely on the End-of-Course Tests to measure a student’s achievement in our core curriculum. Under No Child Left Behind each state must measure every public school student's progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12. Additionally, schools must test students in science at least once in elementary, middle, and high school. In Georgia, we test all students in 1st through 8th grades with the CRCT and in 9th – 12th grades with End-of-Course Tests, the Georgia High School Graduation Test, and the Georgia High School Writing Test. 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders also take a state writing assessment. In addition to this litany of tests, we administer multiple tests for gifted students, English language learners, and students with special needs. When we throw in the multiple benchmark tests that schools give each year to prepare for these high stakes tests, it is surprising that teachers have any time to teach the actual curriculum!
What will you do to test our students more appropriately?
- Rely on the expertise of classroom teachers and local school districts to properly prepare our students and test our students readiness for graduation
In my 19 years of working with high school students and curriculum, I have seen far too many good students who are poor test takers not graduate from high school because they couldn’t pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test. This practice is an atrocity and must be stopped. I commit to working with practitioners around the state to develop a more accurate way of measuring student preparedness for graduation.
How will you work to make the Department of Education more efficient and better organized?
- Reduce layers of bureaucracy that do not improve education and streamline the department;
- Return key workers to the local districts where they will be more responsive
Over the past few years, the number of content specific specialists at the Department of Education has been greatly reduced while the number of “superintendent-level” positions has increased. This alignment of staff is out of balance, inefficient, and hinders the educational process in the State of Georgia. I will reorganize the department to be more efficient with a majority of staff being dedicated to assisting the local school districts in the state in content specific areas such as reading, English/language arts, math, science and social studies. We cannot lose sight of the fact that education is a local issue that is best controlled locally rather than in Atlanta.