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State school superintendent to visit Gwinnett

John Barge

John Barge

John Barge, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, will visit Gwinnett on Wednesday to congratulate four schools who last month were named Schools of Excellence.

Barge, the state school superintendent, will visit Mulberry Elementary, Harris Elementary, Head Elementary and Osborne Middle throughout the day. The honorees were among 28 schools that have shown the highest performance or highest progress across the state.

Barge was sworn into office in 2011, and said he ran for statewide office because he had the leadership skills to make a difference in education at the state level. Since then, Barge has clashed at times with Gov. Nathan Deal, most notably on last year’s proposed constitutional amendment about charter independent public schools, which voters passed in November.

Barge said he was against the charter amendment because it threatens local control and state financial support for traditional public schools.

“I believe I have proven myself to be capable,” Barge writes on his campaign web site. “Unfortunately, I have realized that many politicians in Georgia have declared, at least quietly, a war on education, particularly public education. Education is critical, not just for our students, but also for the well being of our state. Therefore, I cannot sit back and let the current governor dismantle the department of education, something he has been doing over the past year or more. Education is economic development.”

Barge wrote that his vision is focused on funding public education through existing revenues and some of the state’s surplus. He said the school year must return to to 180 days, and teachers’ contracts should be 190 days without furloughs.

“It has become obvious to me that this can only be done from the governor’s office,” Barge wrote. “At this critical time in our history we need a governor who understands education completely and has the nerve to do what is best for the state, instead of what is best for himself and a small group of friends.”