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Barge talks Common Core in Effingham visit
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State Superintendent John Barge visits with students in the Blandford Elementary hallway. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

In his time as state schools superintendent, John Barge has heard plenty of criticism of the Common Core standards.

However, Barge touted the teaching methods he saw on a visit to Blandford Elementary School last week as an example that Georgia’s curriculum standards are working.

“If we could get the Common Core naysayers here, seeing what the teachers are doing here and what they’re teaching in the classroom, that’s the Common Core,” Barge said. “The Common Core’s not some evil takeover. It’s getting kids to think differently — not just memorize, but to be able to apply what they learn to solve problems. That’s what you saw a lot going on here, is teachers teaching children how to solve problems.”

Blandford was the only school in Effingham County Barge visited. He said it was part of his pledge to visit every school district in the state while he was in office.

BES principal Harriett Snooks gave Barge a tour of the school, joined by Effingham County Schools Superintendent Randy Shearouse and school board Chairman Lamar Allen. Along the way, Barge talked with children in the hallways and read students’ writing pieces displayed on bulletin boards.

Barge observed several classrooms, including one using the iRead program. The school system purchased iRead, a diagnostic reading program for kindergarten-second grade students.

Barge surprised many with his decision to bypass a second bid for state schools superintendent and instead run for governor. He lost in the Republican primary.

Barge visited BES just days before the general election. He was hesitant to speculate on the biggest challenges his successor will face.

“That’s kind of tough to say, because a lot of that will depend on how the governor’s race comes out,” he said. “The candidates for governor have two very different views and visions when it comes to education.”