Barge makes it a trio in GOP governor’s primary

State school Supt. John Barge formally qualified for the governor’s race Thursday morning, ensuring a lively Republican primary race involving him, Gov. Nathan Deal and former Dalton mayor David Pennington.

Where Pennington is running at Deal from his right, Barge is a career educator who will be criticizing the incumbent governor over the state’s shortcomings in public education.

A touchy issue in this race will be the Common Core curriculum guidelines for K-12 schools that Barge supports, but that tea party conservatives vehemently oppose because they consider the standards to be part of a conspiracy by the Obama administration to take over public education.

Barge made it clear he doesn’t agree with those conspiracy theories.

“This is not a federal government takeover of education,” he said.  “The federal government had nothing to do with putting these standards together.”

“The state board (of education) voluntarily adopted the standards,” Barge pointed out.  “These are our standards.  We were not forced or coerced to adopt those standards.”

Conservative lawmakers are trying to pass SB 167, which could force Georgia to withdraw from the Common Core standards the state has already adopted.

That would have “far-reaching implications,” Barge warned, potentially putting $1 billion in federal funding at risk.  If the state withdrew from the Common Core program, “you would wreck what’s left of teacher morale in this state,” he added.

Barge was asked: could that in turn motivate school teachers to vote for state Sen. Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor?

“Potentially, yes,” Barge answered.

Barge was also asked why he didn’t run for another term as state superintendent if his interest was in improving the state’s schools.

“The governor’s trying to dismantle the agency and move the pieces out to other departments,” he said, referring to the Department of Education.  “He did that with the Department of Labor.  He’s doing it with the state superintendent of schools.”

Barge so far has raised less money than Pennington for his primary campaign and far much less money than Deal.

“My fundraising will get kicked up as soon as the session’s over,” Barge said.  “We will have some money.”

© 2014 by The Georgia Report


Tags: GOP primary , governor\'s race , John Barge , Nathan Deal