Richard Woods wins. He comes in as an outsider. Will that change?

Republican candidate for state school superintendent Richard Woods

Republican candidate for state school superintendent Richard Woods

Republican Richard Woods won 55 percent of the vote Tuesday to come the new state school superintendent.

In a Republican sweep of statewide offices, educator Richard Woods won the state school superintendent’s post, earning 55 percent of the vote Tuesday.

In a statement, Woods said,

Since the start of this campaign, I have had the opportunity to travel thousands of miles across this great state and speak with thousands of Georgians about education. They share my passion for providing the best possible education for every child.

With my election, Georgians have sent a clear message that they desire a diagnostic approach to standardized testing, a fair tool for evaluating our teachers, and the very best standards for our students.

I have been very clear on my positions and ideas for moving education forward in our  state. Tonight, Georgians were clear that they fully support my child-focused and classroom-centered vision.

There is no doubt that we face many challenges, but I pledge to run the GaDOE in the same fashion as I have run this campaign — listen to education stakeholders, provide solutions, and move us forward for the betterment of our children’s future and the teaching profession. Let’s get to work.

In her concession statement, Democrat Valarie Wilson said,

It has been a remarkable eight months. The support was overwhelming, not just for me, but for all of Georgia’s 1.7 million children in public schools. Together, we raised our voices for our children, and they know we have their backs. While we won’t be championing public education from our Georgia Department of Education, we must continue the momentum we’ve built – our children, our educators, our schools and our state depend on it.

 I’d like to wish Mr. Woods well, and I feel confident that the momentum that has been created between our educators, parents, students and supporters won’t stop when we wake up tomorrow. We look forward to working with him.

Woods’ election creates an interesting dynamic in Georgia, one of the first states to adopt Common Core State Standards. The state will now be led by a school chief who opposes them.

But Georgia was in a similar position four years ago.

John Barge won the seat opposing the federal Race to the Top program but accepted that the $400 million grant was a done deal and was already making a difference in some districts, particularly in teaching training. (Nathan Deal also opposed Race to the Top but changed his mind as well.)

However, Barge arrived at the Georgia Capitol as an outsider and stayed an outsider. He had a contentious relationship with Deal and the Legislature, especially over cuts to school funding.

Woods also takes office as an outsider. Outsiders have an easier time taking independent stands, but they also have a harder time winning support for their platforms and their budget requests.

The challenge for Woods will be leading a department well down a standards path he doesn’t endorse and developing a rapport with a governor and a state board in favor of maintaining Common Core in our schools.

What do you think of the results?

Reader Comments 0

45 comments
jmc1007
jmc1007

Get rid of the Dept of Education, keep those dollars in the states, and the let the state and locals deal with education.  We had a much better educational system in this country before Carter created the Dept. of Education..

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@To all, Just got a note from a reader who reminded me I pledged in this new format to take down non-education comments. Her email: "I read your blog for education comments, not for the same posters complaining about the AJC." 

In that vein, please comment on education. If you want to rant about the AJC, send me or the editor an email.


dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@MaureenDowney In the end, it's your blog, and you call the shots.  Those of us who often disagree with you realize you can remove us any time you want.  But not sure it would quite as diverse of a discussion without us :)

bu2
bu2

I think we need to have an appointed school board chief.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

LOL.  I laugh  because I am glad that @GATOTY78 is echoing what I have been saying for a few years now on this blog.  This position should be a gubernatorial appointment, period.


Having said that, nothing will really change.  Woods will not be foolish enough to pull a "Barge" and buck his party.  The question is whether Deal will feel more emboldened to cave to the Tea Party and abandon Common Core altogether.  At least for the moment, one would hope that education policy will stay the course in Georgia, given Woods and Deal are both in the GOP.


I think you'll find that most of Woods' rhetoric will remain campaign rhetoric.  I doubt we'll see any major changes for at least a few years, but a lame duck governor might feel like he has nothing to lose by trying something new and unproven.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@living-in-outdated-ed @GATOTY78 Can't imagine he'd "cave" to the group that he supports, and who just won a massive wave election in Ga.  What smart politician would actually do what he promised??  


Too funny...let's see, how'd it go in 2008?  "Elections have consequences".  


Going to enjoy seeing the results, as the people who supported the party whose main message was "whitey is racist" are left with nothing.

GATOTY78
GATOTY78

Is it time that we have a constitutional amendment for an appointed candidate like our neighboring states have? Just look at the salaries of our top school systems in the state—who would want to take a cut in pay from running one system to running the Department of Education for the entire state? The superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools makes almost 3 times what the current state school superintendent salary is and the Dougherty  County superintendent makes more just working part-time. Having seasoned and tested candidates from around the country to apply would give us a stronger pool to select an administrator with a proven background at local and state levels. The simple fact that 85,000 GOP voters did not scroll down after voting in the US senate runoff race to vote for a GOP nominee for superintendent —shows the apathy for this position. FYI- Our new super's system grad rate was 75%--the candidate that lost had and 89% grad rate--the devil is in the details.

FCSEmployee
FCSEmployee

I can't even stomach this column and have never expected it to be anything but biased.  While Ms. Downey is likely a nice person, she has not worked in a school or personally seen the damage done and havoc wreaked by common core and all that Wilson supports, thus should only report fact and not her biased opinions.  How can you write about something (i.e. teachers and how they should be evaluated or teach) when you have not taught in an actual classroom, completed the mounds of paperwork, and are judged by test scores you have little to no control over? And even common core/Pearson/ETS/ McGraw Hill/etc. admit the tests and curriculum are not aligned.  Have you not seen the liability statement (or lack there of) on the common core website?  If it was all they said it was would they have to make such broad statements about lack of any liability?

I thought newspapers were supposed to be balanced and tell the facts (unless an op-ed).  Ms. Downey has shown a "liberal" bias in all her years of writing.

How can you be for education when the true advocates (Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Kozol, etc.) are vehemently opposed to almost everything written about in this column?  Does GAE also fund this column?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@FCSEmployee 

Presuming from your screen name that you are a Fulton Schools employee: So, here is my question. Where is the havoc? Where is the detrimental effect on student performance in Fulton, which ought to be the main concern?

And Common Core has nothing to do with the movement to hold teachers accountable for student performance as measured by test scores. That was a separate effort, one supported by politicians from both parties and one likely to remain even if Common Core disappears.  (I am puzzled by the notion that teacher accountability is a liberal plot as many conservatives at the state and local level supported it. Georgia's embrace of using test scores in teacher evals occurred under the leadership of former Gov. Sonny Perdue. His education team led and won that battle in the Legislature. But history tends to get recast.)

For better or worse, we are in the midst of a teacher accountability movement that will somehow incorporate student performance. I agree that the current model is flawed, but that will not stop its implementation.

Fulton Schools seem to be improving by several objective measures. Many of Fulton’s high schools count among the best in the state. And the improvement in the south Fulton high schools is pretty impressive.

From your superintendent’s recent state of the system report:

Fulton outperforms neighboring districts
Since 2011, when the Georgia Department of Education launched its revised calculation for graduation rates, Fulton County Schools has shown tremendous growth in its graduation performance. Of all large metro Atlanta school systems, Fulton County has increased its graduation rate by 8.6% over the past four years, whereas other districts increased between 3.6% to 7.4% during the same period.

Schools show increases

The Class of 2014 data also shows that 14 Fulton high schools showed increases from the previous year, but of particular note are the double-digit gains made by Cambridge High School (+12.3%) and Riverwood International Charter School (+13.5%). Five other schools – Banneker High School (+9.2%), Creekside High School (+8.5%), Fulton Science Academy (+8.5%), Hapeville Career Academy (+5.4%) and North Springs Charter High School (+5.6%) – increased the graduation rate for all students by more than 5%.

Achievement gap closing
Fulton also has increased its growth margin for all student subgroups over the past four years. Since 2011, the graduation rate has increased 7.2% for Economically Disadvantaged students; 17.5% for English Language Learners; 4.7% for Students with Disabilities; 6.3% for Asian students; 9.5% for Black students; 7.8% for Hispanic students; 5.6% for White students; and 19.3% for Multiracial students.


This is the fourth year the Georgia Department of Education has calculated the graduation rate using the adjusted cohort rate formula. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman and is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. By contrast, Georgia’s former graduation rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate from high school.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

@FCSEmployee 

"I thought newspapers were supposed to be balanced and tell the facts (unless an op-ed).  Ms. Downey has shown a "liberal" bias in all her years of writing."

Well there you go - you must not be from around here with that kind of thinking about ANY newspaper, much less the AJC - the AJC has one agenda, and one agenda only, and balanced ain't one of them. 

And, as the late, great Lewis Grizzard once said:" if you want "facts" in a newspaper you're going to have to pay a whole more than a quarter"!

Falcaints
Falcaints

@MaureenDowney @FCSEmployee The teachers in my system have already been told the test won't count this year for students, they won't be graded in time.  Another FUBAR

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Surelyyoujest @FCSEmployee The best part is watching the AJC lose all power.  They've run off so many potential readers, that they are left "preaching to the choir".  And this election showed how small that choir is.


I LOVE (LOVE - need to say it again!!) how shocked the libs are at these results.  Because "no one they know voted (R)".  And they accuse conservatives of being insular.


Reminds me of the so called "tolerant ones"....who in reality are the most intolerant of all.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@dcdcdc @Surelyyoujest @FCSEmployee  Folks, I can assure you no one at the AJC is shocked at the election results. I get several hundred emails a day. I look daily at the incoming letters to the editor. I read these blog comments. I can assure you that I was not surprised at the election results.

What I find a bit odd is that the posters who go on and on about the AJC losing status are the most attentive readers and the quickest with comments. They are literally commenting within minutes of a blog posting.

As to "dwindling" readership, the AJC recognized earlier than most newspapers that readers were going online and our online traffic is very high as a result of the early adaptation.

I have remarked on this before but for the sake of setting the record straight: In my long career, I have never written stuff that is as widely read as my stuff is today. And that is because of the Internet. My emails now include readers from Europe and Australia who often find their way to me via links.

I know it will upset those of you who prefer the scenario that no one is reading. But it is not true.  More people than ever are reading.

I will admit that newspapers -- which were happy to give their news away online a decade ago -- now have to figure out a way to make money off those many new online readers. And that is the challenge and one I am happy I don't have to figure out as it's tough.

bu2
bu2

@MaureenDowney 

It won't be widely read for long if you don't get your websites improved.  This new website is even worse than the previous one.


Lots of crashes and freezing up.  Worst widely used  website I've come across.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@bu2 @MaureenDowney  Send me your specific complaints in an email and I will send to the folks overseeing the new website design.


OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@MaureenDowney 

About 2 years ago, I had a prolonged but polite  exchange on this blog with a poster in Sweden. He hated the diversity in this country, and I replied that I found the lack of diversity in his to be boring; but we both agreed that we were quite satisfied where we were.

GobBluth
GobBluth

@Falcaints @MaureenDowney @FCSEmployee


The students already know the new Milestone tests wont count this year too, so they aren't going to take them nearly as seriously as they normally would. At this point, teachers are still being told that the test scores WILL count towards their evaluations though. 


The issue of getting these tests graded is going to be a problem every year. The new ELA tests have multiple written components to them, which will take much longer to grade. AP testing is graded over the summer (with far fewer AP students than regular-ed test takers), and scores reported to schools in July.  In order to get all of the 9th and 11th grade students their scores before school is out, the test is going to have to be given in April or earlier. It really creates a snowball effect because if schools don't know if kids will pass, it makes it impossible for them to schedule for the next year, which makes teacher allotments impossible to accurately determine. Expect massive shuffling of teachers and students at the beginning of every school year once these tests are fully implemented.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@MaureenDowney Dwindling paid circulation is different from dwindling readership.  But one has a significant impact on the bottom line -and not in a positive way.


The AJC has decided its a good thing to alienate  significant portions of their potential subscribers.  That's their right.  But it has ramifications - just ask the CNN employees who just got released.

Falcaints
Falcaints

Absolutlely nothing will change; schools districts won't be properly funded, one reform plan after another will be created only to be abandoned before it is fully implemented and the rhetoric will just continue to rhetoric.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Falcaints Ahh contraire - we might well see lots of change.


I suspect they idea of forcing school systems to provide a better product, under the threat of losing the funding of students that leave, will begin to take hold more and more.  That and only that will produce true, ongoing, and lasting positive change.  


Oh..funding - what a wonderful topic.  I'm sure more money will solve all our ills.  Just like the doubling of per student funding in the last 30 years has produced such wonderful (cough cough, choke) results.....:)


That diatribe has gotten old as well.  You might want to come up with something whose validity isn't so easily destroyed.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

At this point, we don’t know whether Woods or Democrat Valarie Wilson will triumph.


We do now....congratulations Georgia voters, you did good, from top to bottom.  Now, let's rid our state of common core, the Fed. DOE, Arne Duncan and let's "Take back our Schools".

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

It is a ripe time for this blog to accept the results of voters and support the Georgia government (and not the extreme minority totally out of power opposition) in improving education in Georgia.

Woods election (along with almost very other state wide office Republican win margins) was by a landslide - not even close.

Caius
Caius

Correct me if my memory is faulty, but Common Core was adopted by the Georgia Legislature and signed by the Governor.  Woods has no voice in the matter unless he can get it changed by the House and Senate with the Governor's OK.


Astropig
Astropig

(Valarie Wilson concession)


"I feel confident that the momentum that has been created between our educators, parents, students and supporters won’t stop when we wake up tomorrow. We look forward to working with him."


You look forward to working with him? How? He defeated you. In our system of government, he doesn't have to "work" with you.It almost seems that you generously want to "share" power with someone that stomped a mudhole in your campaign last night.


Dems have this representative government thing backwards- You win elections and THEN implement policy.

BCW1
BCW1

Regardless of who is in control, the teachers always have a voice!

Astropig
Astropig

@BCW1


They have a voice now. Woods is a career educator.He spent 22 years teaching.

mbk6
mbk6

Well that's just great. Now my second child can also experience the confusion of another curriculum change. It was tolerable the first time when we saw the curriculum improving, although which college really understands what Math I, Math II, Math III and Math IV are.  Won't that be great to spend millions on developing another curriculum, millions more to train the teachers, develop new tests etc. 


Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady


I rejoice. Georgia is showing political maturity- Political parties actually have to win your vote-not take it for granted. For 130 years, the Dems did just that.

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

@Wascatlady 


Feel free to move.  You were so confident that your lib buddies were going to win.

Surelyyoujest
Surelyyoujest

@MiltonMan 

She already lives in NC - still can't figure out why she refers to GA as "her" state...

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

The two most important things that he can do:

1) Give the admin true incentives that force them to do the hard work of getting rid of bad teachers - the very few, who like a bad apple, ruin the entire dept and/or school.  With the current system, it's just easier to "let them be", and not do anything.

2) Give students that are stuck in awful learning environments a chance to move - and take their funding with them.  In the end, that is the ONLY way to ensure that principals are incented every day to make the hard decisions - the ones that require actual work.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Oh...forgot to mention - other than that, take everything Maureen suggests and do the opposite.  And I say that sadly, because she seems like a very kind caring person.  But her ideas are tired and worn, and don't work.  It's time for true Change, resulting not in Hope, but in positive results.

EdUktr
EdUktr


All that teachers' union money wasted—on trying to prevent Richard Woods and a multitude of other Republicans from gaining office here in Georgia and across the nation.

Tired of endlessly bankrolling the Democratic Party and liberal issues, GAE members? Instruct your county payroll department to cease GAE dues deductions, and then email your resignation to GAE and their local building representative.

Then talk to the PAGE rep.

Astropig
Astropig

@EdUktr


"All that teachers' union money wasted—on trying to prevent Richard Woods and a multitude of other Republicans from gaining office here in Georgia and across the nation."


This will make your coffee a little sweeter this morning- They struck out AGAIN in Wisconsin, where they have been trying to unseat "govenor" Scott Walker for like, a hundred years now. He beat the unions again. They are now "ofer"- three against him.

Astropig
Astropig

The final humiliation of John Barge.


Big winners- students, taxpayers,parents


Big losers- Unions, big media, Common Core


And despite assertions to the contrary, Woods won a strong mandate with a 10 point win over a much better financed opponent. I think he can be confident that the voters are on his side.


Congratulations Superintendent- Elect Woods!

dg417s
dg417s

@Astropig If Mr. Woods ends up like Dr. Barge - then everyone loses.  The real power lies with the governor's cronies on the Board of Ed.  Now that the election's over, I expect more furloughs, reduced calendars, lousy if any insurance from a lame duck governor.  It is what it is.  I hope that I'm wrong.

Astropig
Astropig

@dg417s @Astropig


Dr. Barge is responsible for Dr. Barge's predicament-no one else. He could have cruised to reelection and probably won easily and worked inside the system for positive change. But his vanity and inflated sense of self worth led him to a decision that has consequences. Bad for him,I guess,but his own fault.


One good thing did come of Barge's cynical opportunism-Nathan Deal's education policies were validated in the primary and the general election. barge ran on improving education and Carter hitched his star to the teachers lobby. both got pole axed at the polls.Now Deal and the legislature can move forward in the knowledge that the issue has been hashed out, argued and settled by the voice of the people.

bu2
bu2

@Astropig 

The downballot Repblicans got from 57% up to 59% for Gary Black.  Woods did worse at 55%.


I suspect his opposition to Common Core was part of that.  I seriously considered leaving that race blank as there was no one I was happy with.

Astropig
Astropig

@bu2 @Astropig


"The downballot Repblicans got from 57% up to 59% for Gary Black"


Gary Black is a  well known incumbent. Mr. Woods is a newcomer.