ATLANTA – Do Georgia teachers have enough clout to put Democrat Roy Barnes back in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta? He has just garnered the support of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) and his website is full of his commitment to restoring educational progress to the underachieving state of Georgia.
The past two years under Republican Governor Sonny Perdue has been disastrous in the way of education. Perdue has tried to more in his last two months for education than he did in the entire eight years of his tenure. Why? Well many say that his disregard for teachers and students will be the lasting sad legacy of his time as Georgia governor. In other words, that is all the history books will mention in the years to come.
Barnes has a lot to say about what he will do for Georgia teachers. He has it laid out on his website. He promises to end teacher furloughs and many other issues that have the educational force in the state up in arms.
Nathan Deal, the Republican candidate, on the other hand, only has a mere paragraph as to what he will do to fix the educational problems in the state. The paragraph is very general and vague; there are no specifics. The main gist of it revolves around the fact that his wife and parents had been public educators. Yet, his own children did not attend public schools and one has to wonder why. If he claims to be such a champion of Georgia public schools, then why were they not good enough for his own family?
The election will be held on November 2, 2010 and it is a close heated one. Georgia is a very red, republican state and has been for quite some time. Yet, the voters always chose Democratic candidates for the highest position in the state. Until Sonny Perdue came along. In 2002, he was elected governor and became the first Republican Governor of Georgia since the Reconstruction.
So can education put a Democrat back in the Governor’s Mansion down on West Paces Ferry Road? Do teachers have the voting power to help it come about? Parents are another matter. They are not significantly in line with the educational establishment in the state. Discouraged over the poor education their children are receiving and the bleak career outlook for these kids, will they break out of the statewide tendency to elect Republicans and turn back to Barnes?
The GAE has over 40,000 education members, according to their website. Numbers of actual teachers employed by the state can vary. With the layoffs in each of the 159 Georgia counties, it is hard to determine any recent figures of the state teacher workforce. But the number of teachers in the GAE would be less than half of the actual teaching profession work force in the state. So do all teachers fall in line with the ideas of the GAE and its endorsement of Barnes? The answer is probably not, because they would show a higher percentage of teachers actually belonging to the organization.
Look at it this way, for every GAE member that votes in the direction of Barnes, the same amount could potentially vote the opposite direction. In that situation, the teachers would essentially cancel out one another’s vote, with no true block of votes for a candidate in either direction.
As November 2 rapidly approaches, all the reasons to put a Democrat back into the Governor’s Mansion. The whole state is concerned with the removal of classroom limit size. Barnes has promised to put the limits back in place and lower the size of Georgia’s classrooms. The final result and who will take Georgia and education into the next decade will be decided in less than two months.
Sources: North Georgia Access, Roy Barnes for Governor, Nathan Deal for Governor, The Georgia Association of Educators