Tuesday's “Mornings unPHILtered” show was all about the future of education in Georgia as two Republican candidates running for state school superintendent appeared on the show.
The first guest was Dr. John D. Barge. Originally from Smyrna in Cobb County, he currently lives in Fulton County. He is employed as the director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction in the Bartow School System.
Asked by host Phil Boyum about dealing with the current cheating scandal, Barge said he believes using the scores from only one test (such as the Criterion Referenced Competency Test, or CRCT) actually encourages cheating in some schools.
Moving to another subject, Barge said that using the concept of “Merit Pay,” to pay teachers has a number of problems. First and foremost, he said, while working as a school to reach goals brings everybody together to work as a team, the idea of using merit pay on an individual basis actually pits the teachers against each other.
Barge said that several years ago he was the state director of Career and Technical Education. As such, he believes very strongly that the “traditional” college bound liberal arts education is not for every student and actually fails to prepare many of them for the careers that they will fulfill.
Asked about Charter Schools, Barge replied that offering numerous paths to an education is a passion of his and if elected as the new superintendent he will work to create even more choices across the state.
Barge said schools are overburdened with paperwork required by the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) federal rules. Barge said if they could get rid of these burdens, things would be very different indeed.
The only way that could happen, he said, would be if the school systems no longer accepted the federal money that many of them currently rely upon.
The second guest on the show was Richard Woods, the other Republican candidate for state school superintendent. Woods is from Tifton, and is currently the K-5 Curriculum director for Irwin County's Elementary Schools.
Asked by Boyum how to do away with the focus on testing for the CRCT testing, Woods said that NCLB has required the schools to give the testing. Woods said the answer is simple: back away from reliance upon federal monies and run the schools the way local educators know they'll work best.
Concerning the need to meet AYP, Woods said one of things he would like to do as school superintendent is to discover if federal money that’s used to meet NCLB and AYP could be acquired elsewhere. If so, he then would tell the federal Department of Education to “leave us alone.”
Woods said he is opposed to “Merit Pay” across the board, which puts a complete emphasis on testing and blaming the teachers for any failures. Woods said the real problems are foundational issues that are not the responsibility or fault of teachers at all.
“Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on statesboroherald.com and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at BoroLive.com on statesboroherald.com