I am the fifth son of hard-working parents who struggled to make ends meet. I have worked for everything I have ever received. I knew early in my life that getting a good education was my only path to success. I am a product of Georgia’s public education system. The Barge family settled in Georgia in the late 1700’s. Out of my roots I have grown to love Georgia and her people. I believe that Georgia is destined to be a greater and more influential state. We deserve better than where we currently find ourselves.
I have lived my entire life in the State of Georgia. I have never worked in Washington, D.C. I am a lifelong educator and not a politician. I have a doctorate degree from the University of Georgia in educational leadership.
My career began in the public classrooms of Georgia. I immediately began work on advanced degrees in educational leadership so I could become a principal because I knew that by becoming a principal I would be able to influence an entire school by making sure I hired the right teachers, thus improving an entire school rather than just a classroom. I also knew that if I became a superintendent in the public schools, I would have the ability to impact an entire school district, again helping more people to achieve their dreams.
I never dreamed that this vision would end up with me being Georgia’s State School Superintendent–a position I have held for nearly three years.
As State School Superintendent I have led our public education system to many improvements. Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not! Are we moving in the right direction? Absolutely! We have instituted a new system of school and school district accountability. We are creating a new evaluation system that fairly evaluates all of our teachers and administrators. We have seen statewide improvements on our student’s SAT scores, our ACT scores, and our Advanced Placement test scores–Advanced Placement is the best predictor of student success at the college level.
As State School Superintendent I have challenged the status quo government in Atlanta. I have refused to operate on the “sit down and do what you are told” principles of status quo leadership. The people of Georgia deserve someone who will stand up for them even when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Status quo leadership? Georgia deserves better!
I know that education is freedom! Through education we all have the opportunity to improve our lives. We must do everything in our power to improve the opportunities for our sons and our daughters–every child in Georgia. John Adams, one of our nation’s founding fathers, clearly understood that our freedom depended on education. Adams said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.…And the preservation of the means of knowledge among the lowest ranks is of more importance to the public than all of the property of the rich men in the country.”
Education is economic development. I believe we can no longer have our economic development plan only be tax deductions for corporations. Our economic development plan must also focus on education. Over one million children drop out of high school in the U.S. every year. The main reason these students say they drop out of high school is they find it unrelentingly boring and irrelevant to what they want to do. For the economic viability of our state, we must transform our educational system through classes like career pathways–an initiative we are currently developing in Georgia. When our schools produce graduates who have the knowledge they need to achieve success in post–secondary schools and the skills they need to succeed in the workforce, then we will have created a successful model of public education that undergirds the state’s economic development plan.
That is what I am working on now. I believe the only way to achieve this goal is from the Governor’s office. Our governor should understand education! Education is the largest item in Georgia’s budget! Education is the most important thing we do as a state government!
We must have a Governor who understands, in his heart, what it takes to properly educate our children! We must have a Governor who is committed to public education. We cannot afford status quo leadership and political posturing with education or any other issues in Georgia.
I believe that good leadership is leadership that promotes the common good rather than looking out for friends and donors. I believe that good leadership takes no account of self needs, but looks only to the needs of those who elected that leader to serve.
This servant leadership approach is long overdue in Georgia. I pledge to run my office in a manner that is best for the people of Georgia rather than what is best for me and my household and friends.