Officials give Core support at town hall
by Jon Gillooly
October 06, 2013 11:36 PM | 5442 views | 13 13 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) speaks during a town hall meeting he organized at the Presbyterian Village in Austell to inform the public about the Common Core State Standards. Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who also participated, is seated.
State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) speaks during a town hall meeting he organized at the Presbyterian Village in Austell to inform the public about the Common Core State Standards. Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who also participated, is seated.
AUSTELL — Georgia School Superintendent John Barge believes lawmakers who have favored the repeal of the controversial Common Core State Standards will not seek to do that in the coming legislative session.

Barge joined state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) and Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa on a panel to speak to a group of about 50 at the Presbyterian Village in Austell on Tuesday.

Wilkerson said he organized the forum to help the community learn more about Common Core.

Larry King of Austell, an education consultant appointed to the Cobb Transit Advisory Board by Commissioner Lisa Cupid, told the panel that the General Assembly would consider changes to Common Core when it meets in January.

“There already has been some stepping away as far as Georgia is concerned considering the testing component, so in the event that the General Assembly does decide to make the decision in their infinite wisdom to step in, then what?” King asked.

The panelists, who also included Amy Krause, the Cobb School District’s chief academic officer, and Tracey-Ann Nelson, government relations director for the Georgia Association of Educators, each pointed to the other to take the question.

Barge answered.

No move to repeal Common Core in Legislature

“The ‘then what?’ will probably be based on whatever that legislation says,” Barge said. “So far, I’ve had some very positive discussions with legislators who, I guess in the past, have been on the side of the legislation to pull Georgia from the Common Core, and we’ve been able to, I think, have some really good compromises as far as what legislation may look like in the future.”

Barge said what he hopes comes from any legislation is that the process for how the state adopts new standards is codified into state law. The process for adopting standards is only governed by policy now.

“It makes sense that we have a lot of folks who want to have input. We can live with it,” Barge said. “But at this point they are not looking at putting language into that legislation that pulls Georgia from the Common Core. So that’s good. Things could change between now and then though. So we’ve been able to charter those waters pretty well.”

Barge, Hinojosa and Wilkerson were asked whether they support or oppose the repeal of Common Core.

“OK, for me it’s no, and I will explain why,” Barge said.

Barge said he was a school district curriculum director when the state switched from the Quality Core Curriculum to the Georgia Performance Standards. The change was good, Barge said, since the former curriculum was “a mile wide and an inch deep, and we taught our kids a little bit about a lot of stuff. So that was a great move.”

Jerked around by policy makers

Yet just as educators were finishing up their training on the Georgia Performance Standards, Barge said, “we met with the state at a curriculum director meeting and they said, ‘oh, by the way, we’re introducing Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and we start training in six months.’”

“Teachers are tired of being jerked around by policy makers,” Barge said. “If feedback comes back that we need to make some adjustments, we’ll make some adjustments, but I don’t see any full scale backing off because teachers are tired of that. I think parents are tired of that.”

Barge challenged anyone to say there is a single standard in Common Core that a child doesn’t need to know.

“So they’re not bad standards,” he said. “They’re not bad, and I think a lot of folks are getting really emotional about the rhetoric when in fact, most people who are talking about it have never sat down and read them.”

Hinojosa was next to answer whether he supports the repeal of Common Core.

“I’ll be a lot briefer. No and ditto,” Hinojosa said, as the crowd laughed.

Wilkerson answered last, saying he too opposed the repeal. Wilkerson said he expects teachers to prepare his child with his help to be successful whether that means enrolling in college or entering the workforce.

“I expect them to reach a certain goal,” Wilkerson said. “I should not change those goals each year and expect them to be successful.”

The teachers and superintendents he’s spoken with support the new standards because they are rigorous, Wilkerson said.

Critics should put children in public schools

“Now, the people that are opposed to this are not the heads of the education committees in the House and the Senate,” Wilkerson said. “They’re not the governor. They’re not the school superintendent. The people that are opposed to this are running for other offices. Once those people put their children in public school, then they can come back to me and say —” Wilkerson went on to speak but was drowned out by applause from the audience.

“And until that day, as long as they are arguing about something they have no perspective of they are not sitting at home at a table working with that child for that child to be successful, then their opinion matters a little bit less,” Wilkerson said.

Barge said the main reason people oppose Common Core is because of the misinterpretation that it’s a federal government takeover.

“I’m as conservative as they come, and if I thought that the federal government was trying to take over education, we would not be doing it,” Barge said.

Nobody’s baby is ugly

Hinojosa’s comment generated the loudest laughter from the audience when he said, “Nobody’s baby is ugly. The Common Core, this is a baby, and I didn’t birth this baby. I came from Texas, and the baby’s still not ugly.”

Audience member Dan Buchanan of Powder Springs raised his hand to say he disagreed with Barge’s statement about Common Core not being tied to federal dollars.

“I have to disagree with you on the federal thing, because federal dollars have been tied to these,” Buchanan said. “There are at least three federal statutes that prevent the federal government from doing this. There is also one Constitutional Amendment, the 10th Amendment. The federal government is stepping where it should not be. They cannot tie federal dollars to the adoption of these programs.”

Barge dismissed Buchanan’s statement as misinformation.

“The Race to the Top grant said specifically that states must adopt college and career ready standards, not the Common Core standards, OK?” Barge said.

After the forum, Buchanan said Barge, who is running for governor, was practicing, “politics as usual.”

“The problem is I actually went on the government site and looked up what Georgia had to give in order to get the funds that were mentioned and one of the things that were mentioned there was we had to get the Common Core in order to get the funds. It’s right on the official government site,” Buchanan said.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Tina Trent
October 10, 2013
Mr. Barge is being dishonest, as are several people in elected and appointed education leadership regarding the accessibility, real impact, funding, and controversial nature of Common Core.

First, we can "read the standards" but we cannot access the curriculum. It is utterly unethical to yammer on about how we haven't looked at the curriculum when nobody can actually access them. It's also insulting, and the insult has been noted.

What is available on the state DOE website is a great deal of material about promoting Common Core and about implementing Common Core -- piles of pedagogical babble and bureaucratic jargon that is in itself meaningless, unless we can actually see what is being taught.

Elected officials are lying when they try to decouple Common Core mandates from RTTT funding, but they know that.

And they are lying when they say they have not received funding from Gates. Gates gave Georgia 2 million dollars in 2010 to implement math and ELA Common Core. This takes about five minutes to find on the internet -- unless Gates is lying about giving the money . . .

It is the government's responsibility to make this implementation transparent. Want to discuss the standards? Make them available to every Georgia parent and taxpayer, Mr. Barge.

We're not stupid. We're not tolerating contempt. And we're not going away.

Also, Mr. Barge, as a taxpayer in this state, I don't need to be told by people like you that I have no say in this until I sit beside a child, etc. I tutored children in Atlanta for years; I understand the blighted progressive education techniques keeping those children uneducated; and most importantly for the current conversation, I pay your paycheck. You work for me, so don't dictate to me where and when I can enter the conversation -- pal.

Mike H
October 07, 2013
When asked what Common Core opponents supported,some of the panelists shook their heads. Common Core Opponents oppose and criticize. They don't support anything.
October 07, 2013
Dr. Brage needs to STOP STOP STOP misinforming the public about Common Core. It is a government takeover, it does tie us to federal dollars. It says that right on the government web site. Dr. BARGE, STOP LYING TO THE PUBLIC. Those of you who read this, go and check for yourself.
October 07, 2013
No reason Washington shouldn’t be calling all the shots on how your children are taught and raised with that United Nations Agenda and then you wonder why your kids are so liberal. They are brain washed grade one to grade 12 and all through college the only freedom of speech will be what liberal’s say you can speak you know P/C speech.
Bill Millette
October 07, 2013
I ask you to review the listed video. Then make your decision on it's validity. I have no children in Georgia that would be taught Common Core. I see some good facets to it. However, the video tells me that it is esoteric proselytization for Islam.

Equal references to other religions would be far better if religion is to be taught in a history class.

It is further evidence that Islam is an ideology that goes beyond religion.

Fact Finder
October 07, 2013
There are serious issues with Barge's statement in this article, if correct, where he says that "The Race to the Top grant said specifically that states must adopt college and career ready standards, not the Common Core standards, OK?"

While the grant application may not have said that a state must adopt Common Core standards, an awful lot was riding on that pledge. Georgia did not win on the Phase I Race to the Top grant application. Georgia did win on Phase II.

The Phase II Race to the Top grant application has multiple references to a "Common Set of K-12 Standards" which further defines them as "...substantially identical across all States in a consortium."

The scoring criteria weighed heavily on a state's willingness to adopt a Common Set of K-12 Standards.

The grant scoring rubric also suggested that more points were earned when a state went along with states comprising more than 50% of the states. There was also scoring incentive to adopt before August 2, 2010.

Georgia adopted Common Core Georgia Performance Standards - July of 2010.
October 07, 2013
Dr. Barge just lost the Governor's Race.
JoEllen Smith
October 07, 2013
Rep. Wilkerson, I greatly appreciate you putting this Town Hall together. A public forum of education officials has been badly needed: the local and state education leaders all in one place at one time to discuss. I'm glad to hear in-depth on their reasoning. I've been on the fence on this issue because it is not clear-cut, and has broad ramifications on both sides. I'm still deciding. Thanks for this important effort.
Mike In Smyrna
October 07, 2013
Presbyterian Village is a senior housing complex. Not to be disrespectful, were the 50 in attendance residence of the complex? Talk about a captive audience. When did this take place?
October 07, 2013
Actually, Mike, very few (if any) might have been residents. There were several educators and many parents there. The only ones who wanted to discuss the federal dollars rumors were obviously not parents of children in the CCSD, which is always fascinating. The panel did an excellent job.
Will a "TRUE" . . .
October 07, 2013
Republican please step forward . . . . How is Dr. Barge any different from Nathan Deal? He claims the difference is he has been a Republican all of his life where Deal has not. Wonder how many votes that will get either of them?
Previous Fan
October 07, 2013
Strange comments by Dr. Barge when just a couple of months ago he was working behind the scenes with several in the legislature to set up the repeal of Common Core in the upcoming session. He is getting very bad advice from those in his inner circle. One of the main reasons Dr. Barge was elected as State School Superintendent was to clean up the Math mess in Georgia. He did not do that. What exactly did/has Dr. Barge accomplished as State School Superintendent?
October 14, 2013
I AM a parent sitting at the table, and here is Common core math in 3rd grade today:

3x4=12 is now 3x3=9 (if you know that, if not use 3x2, or whatever you know). then 3x1=3. Now you get to add the (3x3=9) to the (3x1=4) to get 12. Even the kids know that this is ridiculous. And on Wednesday, they will take a timed multiplication math buster with 30 problems in 5 minutes. Anyone see the irony in all this? It is the kids who are going to wind up frustrated and discouraged and short changed in all this!
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