Posted: 5:08 pm Saturday, June 7th, 2014

GOP candidates for school superintendent lay out their differences 

By Jim Galloway

Below you will find an excellent report by AJC staff writer Nick Fouriezos, on Saturday’s debate between the two Republican runoff candidates for state school superintendent:

It may have been name-recognition that pushed the two Republican superintendent candidates through a crowded nine-person primary, but now their stances on the pivotal issues facing education – Common Core, charter schools and testing practices – will decide their fate.

Luckily for voters, the candidates have pretty different views on each of those areas.

Mike Buck, a political neophyte but 33-year school system veteran, established himself in the May 20 Republican primary as the frontrunner with 91,435 votes (19.5 percent). Right behind him with 78,542 votes (17 percent) was Richard Woods, also a long-time educator, whose only political experience was a failed bid in 2010 for the superintendent position.

 

The two met for a one-hour breakfast debate at the Cobb County Republican Party headquarters in Marietta on Saturday, sharing the impressive feat of forcing a runoff after besting far better-funded candidates.

After a few perfunctory questions about the nature of the position and the candidates’ qualifications, the national set of academic standards called Common Core emerged as the key issue.

Some view Buck, who is the acting chief of staff for current state School Superintendent John Barge, as a carbon copy of his boss, partly because he supports the Common Core standards which were adopted and implemented over the last few years.

“We have to raise the rigor of the tests. The old testing format was outdated,” Buck said. “We are into our third year of implementation. The teachers and students don’t need us to rip out the standards and start new.”

Woods disagreed, citing the U.S. Constitution – a recurring source for the former social studies teacher – as grounds to dismiss Common Core and adopt what he considers as a more tailored testing process.
“We have a constitutional right to decide what goes into our tests,” Woods said. “I believe that you should look at what you need to teach first and then decide what to put in that test. I think that was a bad error on the Department of Education and Barge.”

It was clearly the more vocal sentiment in the room of politically-active conservatives that Common Core dumbed down testing, rather than improving it. Buck received groans from the crowd, cuing the moderator to ask for quiet.

Whether that remains the most popular position will be determined at the polls. Buck seemed secure in his support of the standards – and aware of whom he would be working with while in office.

“What I have also said is that my opinion is not the most important opinion,” Buck said. “It is also the opinion of the governor’s office, the legislature, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the PTA and our military.”

He also touted a figure saying that 70 to 75 percent of Georgia teachers want to stand pat on current standards.

When discussing alternative educational options such as charter schools, there was similar distinction between Buck, who has the backing of traditional educators, and Woods, who touts a host of educational reforms.

The candidates said they supported charter schools as alternatives to public schools, though both said they did not vote for the charter school amendment in 2010 due to problems with the bill.

Woods described the charter-school option as an intrinsic right.

“We need to fight for the right of our parents to be autonomous,” he said.
Buck’s endorsement came with a caveat.

“I don’t have a thing in the world against charters,” Buck said. “But as the state superintendent, it is my job to make sure that public school is the choice for parents.”

The debate moved to rapid-fire answers about firearms in schools, Department of Education staffing and test frequency. Woods said he would have carried a gun to protect students and teachers, would like to launch a full audit of the DOE to assess budget issues and would work to decrease the frequency of tests.

Buck said he preferred hiring more school resource officers over allowing more firepower and described frequent testing as an accountability measure. He also believed the DOE is already understaffed, especially after recent budget cuts.

“We are not a top-heavy, administrative-laden department,” he said. “We took a 25 percent in our central office budget last year. I had to send good people home.”

The closing statements were typical fare, though Buck managed to throw in a stinger when he was chosen to be the first to finish.

“I am the only candidate who can hit the ground running from day one,” he said.
The statement was similar to the slogan on Woods’ campaign website, “Ready to lead on day one.”

And while it’s true that Woods could be ready to start from the get-go, it’s hard to imagine him having an easier transition than Buck’s move from the office next door.

71 comments
rphillips111
rphillips111

I'm extremely grateful for the account of the State School Superintendent Debate.  I spent 14 years in the House of Representatives, 12 of them on the Education Committee and 8 on the University System committee as well. I know a lot about education, and I know that one of the most disastrous facts about Education in Georgia and the rest of the country is the takeover of our educational system, our classrooms and what is taught there is the federale takeover of education.


The "Common Core" curriculum is a dangerous development in mis-education and conformity which should be dismantled as soon as possible.  Mr. Buck endorsed this disastrous program in his presentation and proved to he he is unfit to lead the Georgie State Department of Education.


It's Mr. Woods for me.


Randolph Phillips,

Former Ga. State Rep.

BigHat
BigHat

I'm only voting for the candidate that provides more guns for teachers, more guns for administrators, more guns for coaches, more guns for cafeteria workers & servers, more guns for librarians, more guns for janitors, more guns for landscapers, more guns for hall monitors, more guns for secretaries, more guns for bus drivers, more guns for crossing guards, more guns for study hall, more guns for lunch room,more guns for shop class, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns, more guns for everyone.  July 1 can't come soon enough.  

DavidFarrar
DavidFarrar

The debate and goal of the winning  state school superintendent should be to insure every student, and, in the case of juveniles, their parents, of attending the public education facility of "THEIR" choice.


ex animo

davidfarrar

gotalife
gotalife

The gop attack education to get the ignorant vote.

Mr_B
Mr_B

It is somewhat comforting that Mr. Wood is a former teacher. Emphasis on the former.

Mr_B
Mr_B

"there was similar distinction between Buck, who has the backing of traditional educators, and Woods, who touts a host of educational reforms."


The reporter fall into the  semantic trap that Republicans have been laying for years now: the idea that the word "reform"  means the same thing as "elimination," which is the devout hope of many charter school advocates. This is exactly the same pattern as "tort reform," "tax reform," and "ethics reform."

AvailableName
AvailableName

Carrying a gun would have lost me with Woods, had he not already said "[w]e have a constitutional right to decide what goes into our tests."


Really?  I want to see the SCOTUS folks fight about the multiplication tables.

EdUktr
EdUktr

GAE members may want to google "NEA" and "contributions" to see where the teachers' union is sending their money this election season.

Kamchak
Kamchak

Anything_but_a_centrist and plagiarism boy extraordinaire's whine in 3...2...1....

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

Thanks for the report! I have been struggling with where to put my vote in this race. Isn't there a Democratic runoff as well? Of course we would never hear of it on this right wing blog, hahahahaha!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Buck, over Woods, in the Republican arena, by far.  That's my opinion. ;-)

td1234
td1234

@gotalife You do not even live in GA. so how in the heck do you know about anything related to this subject? 

EdUktr
EdUktr

@gotalife

Except for yours, presumably.

honested
honested

@EdUktr 

Why?

Georgia does not have a teacher's union (at least not using the same definition of 'union' as is used in the Civilized parts of the Country).

findog
findog

@MaryElizabethSings Whatever, just glad my kid survived Georgia's bottom tier system with a functioning capability for critical thinking.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@honested @EdUktr


"Union 101: You're in the largest professional union in the United States."

—National Education Association website (http://www.nea.org/home/18469.htm).

Georgia Association of Educators members are required to pay an extra $168 yearly to also belong to the NEA.

Lynn43
Lynn43

@honested @MaryElizabethSings I have worked with Valarie on Educational issues and boards.  I know her devotion to all children of Georgia. Morgan alines with Michelle Rhee and anything she says.  We do not need this kind of influence to dominate our educational system.  I voted for Barge when he was running for state superintendent, but that is the only republican I have voted for since they have become so radical and obsessed with eliminating public schools.  Right now we just need to focus on getting Buck and Wilson to the November election.


Lynn43
Lynn43

@honested @MaryElizabethSings Valarie Wilson-democratic candidate.  Vote for her.  She is in a run-off with Morgan.  No matter which-Morgan or Woods would be a disaster for Georgia schools.  If we had a union, everyone would be required to be a member.  I taught over 30 years and never belonged to Page or GAE.  I did belong to my subject area organization.

td1234
td1234

@honested My children both go to public schools and Georgia and they are getting a great education. 


The teachers of Georgia, for the most part, have the knowledge and present the information so that all children can become educated. Why are not all the children receiving this knowledge? Why is it the government fault that there are children in Georgia that are not getting the education my children receive? 

honested
honested

@EdUktr 

In what school system anywhere in the State does the 'union' negotiate contracts and working conditions for the teachers?

NOlongerRepublican
NOlongerRepublican

@EdUktr The GAE is anything but a union. And a very large percentage of teachers don't even belong to it. PAGE is an association that gets a lot of credibility with teachers in Georgia, much more so than GAE.

honested
honested

@Lynn43 @honested @MaryElizabethSings 

Not only does morgan align with rhee, she stands to 'profit' fur roping school districts into purchasing her ex-husband's 'products'.

Only in Georgia could such a clear conflict of interest be sanctioned.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lynn43 


I agree with everything you have written, Lynn.  Everyone - who can - should vote for Valarie Wilson over Alisha Morgan in the Democratic run-off for Superintendent of Schools of Georgia. I especially agree that we do not need Michelle Rhee's influence in education in Georgia.  Rhee is looking out for Rhee, imho.


I cannot vote in the Democratic run-off because I voted for Dr. Barge for Governor in the Republican primary.  Morgan, in my opinion, would be a disaster for Georgia's public schools if she were to win that position because she has no direct experience in education and favors charter schools, even privately operated charter schools, in that she co-sponsored the Charter School Amendment.  I want to hear more from Wilson and Buck before making a final decision between those two.  If Morgan were to win the Democratic primary run-off, then I will definitely vote for Buck in the general election.  Hopefully, however, Valarie Wilson will win the Democratic primary.  She is a steady, committed, caring person, dedicated to public education in Georgia, for ALL students in Georgia, imo.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lynn43 


I agree with you totally about NOT voting for either Morgan or Woods and that both would be disastrous for Georgia's public schools, imo.  Voters do NOT need to vote for Democratic candidate Alisha Thomas Morgan for Georgia's Superintendent of Schools, who votes frequently with Republican ALEC members.  Morgan has never been a teacher, principal, nor anything else in public education, only a politician on the Educational Committee in the House.


To be honest, Lynn, I have to hear Buck's and Wilson's educational views in more detail. I would love to see them debate, if they both win in the Republican and Democratic primaries, respectively.  Buck worked closely with Barge, a Republican who bucked Republican Gov. Deal by not supporting the special charter school amendment and neither did Buck, which of course Morgan sponsored, along with ALEC member and House Pro Tem Jan Jones.  I like that Buck says his primary responsibility will be to look after all of Georgia's public schools, the same position that Superintendent John Barge took.  Of course, Valarie Wilson has that same position, also, but Buck has had more direct experience in education.  I am a stanch Democrat, but I will listen very closely to what each of these two candidates say in this race, if Buck and Wilson win. (P.S. I am voting for Carter and Nunn, for sure!)

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Let's see, the most likely culprit is inadequate revenue causing excessively large class sizes without the clearly necessary additional help provided by assigned teacher's aides.

Did I get it right?

My kid graduated Dekalb County Schools in the top 1% of her class and has done very, very well since. But she missed most of the perdue/deal cuts.


Gutting education pretends to cut taxes, ergo, ensures the ignorant vote.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@honested @EdUktr

In none. It contents itself with funding Democrat candidates here and elsewhere, plus liberal causes far to the left of most Georgians.

Google "NEA" and "contributions". There's more to unions than workplace militancy.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings 

"I cannot vote in the Democratic run-off because I voted for Dr. Barge for Governor in the Republican primary."

Thinking Georgians take note: LOTS of spiteful public leeches did exactly what Mary (above) did and threw their vote away for John Barge in the primary. (Fat lot of good it did them. He barely made double digits) Anyway, turnout for the runoff will be extra,extra light. (probably less than 8% statewide). This means that if you want to deliver a 2x4 upside the head of the Obama robots,this is your chance. Your vote will carry a lot more weight in the runoff because a lot of people stupidly disqualified themselves from voting by trying to upset the (R) primary. VOTE FOR Alisha Thomas Morgan in the runoff (if you DIDN'T vote at all in the primary, you can still vote for her). If she wins, it will be a CRUSHING, DEVASTATING blow to the NEA in Georgia. She stood by you in the fight for the Charter Schools amendment,she stood by you for parental choice. Here's your chance to return the favor. Alisha Thomas Morgan would be the only way to assure that we don't have a union THUG and Obama hugger as state super.

Astropig
Astropig

@honested 

" the most likely culprit is inadequate revenue"

Translation- When you look at what they take out of your paycheck on payday and cry, Ed thinks you are selfish. NO amount of taxation will ever be enough. Wise up, Georgia. It's easy for the Ed's of the world to demand higher taxes because they don't pay any.

td1234
td1234

@honested You daughter did well because you must have set the right expectations and made education a priority. 


When parents take the initiative then their children succeed. 

honested
honested

@EdUktr 

If a UNION does not REPRESENT WORKERS then it is not a factor.

The Supreme Court has decided pretty much anybody can contribute to pretty much any campaign. Why aren't you whining about the 'business union' (the chamber of commerce)?


MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 


Please do not speak for my reasoning.  Yours is a cynical mind and an arrogant one which cannot possibly understand from where I come.  I voted for Dr. Barge for a positive reason - simply to give my affirmation to his character and to his choices in behalf of public education. Political considerations were not my concern when I cast my vote for Dr. Barge.  I would make the same voting choice again, regardless of the outcome of the election.

honested
honested

@Astropig 

Not quite, a vote for morgan would be a CRUSHING, DEVASTATING blow to Public Education in Georgia!!

td1234
td1234

@Astropig Why? The Democrat is not going to win the general election. 


Voting for any Democrat in the state of Georgia is just throwing your vote away.

honested
honested

@Astropig @honested 

Having lived though periods where adequate revenue was collected (see 1993-2001) I didn't miss the extra collections then and I wouldn't miss them now.

I did, however, enjoy the benefits of civilization derived from adequate revenue.

Tell me, pig, when does the magic of trickle down start to work?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

It's easy for the Ed's of the world to demand higher taxes because they don't pay any.

Not this crap again.

Every consumer pays taxes, sport.

Just remindin'.

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

Wowsers, I think we agree for the second time in history, but I have to give credit to Dekalb County Schools as well, since credit is due!!

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings 

 " I voted for Dr. Barge for a positive reason - simply to give my affirmation to his character and to his choices in behalf of public education. Political considerations were not my concern when I cast my vote for Dr. Barge.  I would make the same voting choice again, regardless of the outcome of the election."

At least be honest with yourself. Lying to me and others is no big deal. You voted for Barge because you arrogantly drunk the Maureen kool-aid that Barge had a chance in the primary. You don't give a toss about his character. You're just trying to ex-post facto rationalize voting for Barge as a moral virtue.

Astropig
Astropig

@td1234 @Astropig 

I agree that any Dem is facing near insurmountable odds this fall (the polls are starting to show that whatever bump the D's got in the spring is gone),but Morgan is a special case. She's burned her bridges with the educrat school cartel. The Repubs are trying to build theirs. Dem hate her guts- reason enough to give her a try.

Astropig
Astropig

@Kamchak @Astropig 

" Every consumer pays taxes, sport."

Note the sleight of hand. Sure, every consumer DOES pay taxes. Its the only way to get the "disabled", jib heads and lazy butts to pay any.They just haven't figured out how to get exempted from them yet (other than working off the books). Its INCOME taxes that they evade by taking their income from us. 

Nice try, "sport".

td1234
td1234

@Kamchak How many pay Federal and State income taxes? 


Just sayin

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234 Teachers are trained the same no matter if they teach in Dekalb, Cobb, Charter or private school and they all have the ability and teach the material as dictated by the state office. 


The difference is the parent and if they are doing the proper job in making education a priority in their home and following through with their children to make sure they live up to the expectations set. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig


How wrong you are about me, Astropig. All that you just described about me, incorrectly, is exactly how your mind would work, not mine.  I was honest with myself and to you and to readers; in fact, based on poll results, I knew before I voted for Dr. Barge that he would more than likely lose.  I made a statement of what I value with my vote.  You simply cannot accept that fact, and that is your problem, not mine.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

Its INCOME taxes that they evade by taking their income from us. 

(shrug)

If you meant INCOME taxes, then that's what you should've initially posted, sport.

Just sayin'.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@honested 


"Public education was never intended to be a for-profit enterprise."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Amen to that. Public school students should never be used as commodities for profit for self-serving opportunists.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings 

 " I made a statement of what I value with my vote.  You simply cannot accept that fact, and that is your problem, not mine."

Not in any way true. You thought (incorrectly as it turned out) that Barge had a chance because your pied piper(s) told you he did. Anybody with half a brain knew that Barge would get AT MOST 8-10% of the vote. You fell for the spin and zing! Now you can't do anything but watch Morgan as she picks up steam.

Astropig
Astropig

@honested @Astropig 

" Not at all, the polls show a good thumpin' for morgan."

Right- The polls you hear at night when Jesus calls in from his magic spaceship. There are NO statewide polls in this race. With a turnout for the runoff projected in single digits, no media outlet will waste money on a poll with so little interest. You've shown that you're a total loon.

Go back in your hole.

Astropig
Astropig

@Kamchak @Astropig 

 "

If you meant INCOME taxes, then that's what you should've initially posted, sport.

Just sayin'."

Caught you , didn't I "sport"?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 


Some things are more important than winning. That is a lesson many could learn, including you. It seems to me that you have a petty mind and, as a result, you will never understand how my mind and spirit work.  Think what you will, but you are completely wrong about me.  Good night. 


honested
honested

@Astropig @honested 

Ever hear of 'internal polling'?

But I do like your handle, it always makes me think of a pale, 400 pound guy in a rusty, clapped out Astro-van.


By the way, President Clinton will eliminate the need for a third Obama term, and may actually provide some LIBERAL action.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

To reiterate:

It's easy for the Ed's of the world to demand higher taxes because they don't pay any.

All consumers pay taxes, sport.

If you meant INCOME taxes then you should've initially posted INCOME taxes.

Too late to walk it back now, sport.

Just sayin'.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings @Astropig 

I know how your mind works just fine, thank you. You're a hypocrite moralizer that should just retire to dementia with dignity. That (apparently) is too much to ask. If politics is "beneath your moral plane",then stop telling others how they should vote. Heck, stop voting yourself. All I ask is stop being a moralizing hypocrite.

Astropig
Astropig

@honested 

"Internal polling" - What comes out of a Dems internals when they are losing. In other words, pretend numbers. I can see the desperation in your posts the last few days. The jig's just about up and you know it. Lovin every minute of it.

Astropig
Astropig

@Kamchak @Astropig 

"

If you meant INCOME taxes, then that's what you should've initially posted, sport.

Just sayin'."

And if you meant "consumption taxes" you should have identified them as such. I called you out and exposed your attempt to deceive. That burn you are feeling will go away over time. Sport.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

I know how your mind works just fine...

Not intended to be a factual statement.

Just sayin'.

honested
honested

@Astropig 

Look at the total vote, genius.

Look at the total vote from Metro Atlanta.

This race should be a walk for Wilson, especially since most of the auslands have no idea what the Superintendent's job includes.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@Astropig 

And if you meant "consumption taxes" you should have identified them as such. 

What part of "All consumers pay taxes" seems to be giving you the most trouble?

Four words, all of them English.

First day of that brand new ESL class?

Just askin'.

Astropig
Astropig

@Kamchak @Astropig 

I think I already specified that "consumers" pay taxes. (sales/consumption taxes). Just admit that you tried to deceive everybody and move on. Okay?  Even the best get face planted sometime.(although you're nowhere near the best) Don't take it personally.

td1234
td1234

@Kamchak And you actually have proof the "ALL" pay taxes? 


Please show your work.