Georgia School Superintendent John Barge speaks about the strides that have been made in Georgia public education Nov. 1, 2012, at a summit at Albany Technical College.
ALBANY, Ga. -- State School Superintendent John Barge arrived in Albany on Thursday, touting an increase in student test scores over the past year.
"We're had some good news about student achievement in the state of Georgia," Barge said. "We've partnered with the Black Caucus to set up educational summits throughout the state to share this good news."
Accompanied by state Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims, D-Dawson, and state Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany, Barge talked about closing the "achievement gap" between black students and their peers.
Virginia and Florida have recently enacted varying race-based performance standards for Asian, white, Hispanic and black Students.
Barge, however, said that had never been discussed in Georgia, and he did not think that would help narrow the achievement gap.
"I've heard that Virginia and Florida were doing something like that, but I have not specifically talked to anyone in those states about it," Barge said. "I'm not in favor of that, and I think that they could have some OCR (Office of Civil Rights) problems with that later."
The state superintendent said the key into narrowing the gap is not to lower standards, but to hire better people.
"The is no more critical hire for a school than a principal," Barge said. "That person must have a sound educational background and the ability to lead people. He or she needs to know their stuff, because they will chose their school's teachers."
Barge was then asked about the controversial Amendment 1 dealing with state charter schools. He came out recently in strong opposition to the amendment, but was told to not use the Department of Education's website to address the political issue by state Attorney General Sam Olens.
"I am not against charter schools, but I am still against Amendment 1," said Barge. "Most people don't know that the state school board has the power to establish a charter school if it rejected by the local school board. The Amendment is not needed."
Powell-Sims later heaped praise upon the superintendent.
"John Barge is the first state superintendent in 16 years who has put children over political whim," Powell-Sims said.