Deal wants to ax U.S. ed department, won't rule out more furloughs

Nathan Deal wants to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, won't rule out more teacher furloughs and once backed private school "vouchers."

Nathan Deal  AP
Nathan Deal

So the Republican governor hopeful may face tough questions today at an education group's candidates forum in Atlanta.

Attempting to burnish his credentials on education issues, Deal last week released a plan to upgrade Georgia's schools.

He and Democrat Roy Barnes, trying to win back his old job, are due to participate in a forum sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.

Deal told the Chattanooga Free Press he's for "the elimination" of the education department and said its funds were "not going to the children."

"The federal government does not need to be in the business of operating local schools," he also said.

He told the Athens Banner-Herald there might have to be more unpaid days off for teachers and it was "unrealistic" to rule them out.

He also voted to continue "vouchers" - federal money to help parents in Washington, D.C., send their children to private schools. Congress killed the program last year.

Such positions are popular with his conservative supporters. But they don't sit well with groups representing Georgia's 125,000 or so public school teachers.

Together with their families, school administrators and other school employees, the teachers represent a powerful voting bloc.

The groups' strongest sentiments concern furloughs.

"Balancing the budget on the backs of Georgia's ... teacher families and on our more than 1.6 million students is not the way to go," Professional Association of Georgia Educators spokesman Tim Callahan said last year.

The association and other statewide teacher groups also have opposed vouchers.

Barnes, who recently won the endorsement of the biggest group, the Georgia Association of Educators, also rejects Deal's positions.

Barnes spokeswoman Anna Ruth Williams underscored that point Tuesday.

"Deal," Williams said, "waited until eight weeks before Election Day to develop a plan for education, at which point he said he would open the door to school vouchers and continue teacher furloughs."

"When Roy was governor, he kept class sizes low and increased teacher pay - all without furloughing a single teacher.

"Roy's priority has been education - that's why ... he's visited over 90 counties, listening to Georgia's educators and developing a comprehensive plan to make education work in Georgia again."

But Deal spokesman Brian Robinson defended the former congressman's positions.

Robinson said Deal thinks local school officials should have flexibility in spending federal money and be held accountable.

"We don't need Washington bureaucrats setting one-size-fits-all education policy." Robinson said. "Nathan believes the same principles hold true in Georgia. We don't need state bureaucrats forcing one-size-fits-all models on local school districts."

Robinson said ending furloughs will be Deal's top priority if state revenues improve.

But, if they don't, Georgia "could face a bleak budget picture," he said.

Barnes "has promised everything to everybody," but the only way to pay for it is higher taxes, he said.

Robinson said the Washington, D.C., program was a response to "chronically failing" public schools. He said the program was "wildly successful and highly popular with families involved in it."

In Georgia, Robinson says, Deal believes "funding our public schools has to be our top priority."

He backs alternatives for children in failing schools - such as charter schools - but not "at the expense of the 94 percent of Georgia students who attend our state's public schools," Robinson said.

Robinson also took a potshot at Barnes.

Under Barnes, he said, Georgia fell to 50th in the nation in Scholastic Aptitude Test scores.

Citing the theme of his candidate's new TV ad, he said Deal will "get it right the first time" with his schools plan.

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GaPatriot 09/16/10 - 06:30 am
Roy Barnes will promise

Roy Barnes will promise anything and deliver nothing! Until the State's revenues recover, there is nothing the governor can do. Even if revenue goes back up, Barnes can't be trusted-every teacher in the state better think back to what he did to teachers last time he was governor. And, saying he didn't furlough teachers last time is garbage, the state didn't have the revenue problems then that it has now.
One more thing, King Roy got together with Jessie Jackson and decided what kind of flag our state was going to get. Do we really want to have somebody like Roy running roughshod over our state-in these trying times? By the way, I am a teacher of 19 years experiencing a 10 day furlough this year and I don't believe for a second, Roy wouldn't furlough us if he wanted/needed to. Think about this-the most dangerous leaders are lame-duck executives, the day he gets elected, Roy is lame-duck.

Ga Values
Ga Values 09/16/10 - 06:39 am
Looks like there are a lot of

Looks like there are a lot of "NO BID CONTRACTS" in Deal's future and the Georgia Taxpayer will be paying for Deal's bad judgement. If he had properly disclosed his financial condition during the primary, Handel would be the GOP candidates not this corrupt relic from Washington.

Vote NONE OF THE ABOVE, John Monds.

corgimom 09/16/10 - 07:35 am
So...Nathan Deal wants to

So...Nathan Deal wants to abolish a Federal Cabinet Department.

Good luck to him. I'm sure that Congress will hop right to it.

Thanks to NCLB, it ain't gonna happen.

johnston.cliff 09/16/10 - 07:39 am
The Department of Education

The Department of Education has lowered the standards and results of American government schools every year since its inception. Yes, it's pushed the government agenda of social engineering, but the goal of increasing the knowledge available to American is general has been effectively abandoned.
Vouchers will turn that trend around.

Catering to the teachers union isn't a political agenda, it's an election trick.

disssman 09/16/10 - 07:40 am
GAPatriot. As you sit for

GAPatriot. As you sit for three months next year doing nothing or going to Europe on vacation, maybe you should do like everyone else and get a part time job to make up the 10 days.

Maybe the reason you are being furloughed is because of the Salaries the top ten percent earn in the RCSS.

Did any one look up the Nutrition specailist's salary in yesterdays paper? If you didn't it is $96K plus. Or put a different way, it is $124.8K with benefits. And for what? Has anyone ever looked at the menus these school have? A restaurant would go broke the first day if they provided a menu these kids have.

disssman 09/16/10 - 07:45 am
JohnsonC. Did the DOE lower

JohnsonC. Did the DOE lower the expectations or did parents just want a reason for a new "My kid is in honor rolll" bumper sticker. Didn't parents see a change in kids habbits and correct it?

themaninthemirror 09/16/10 - 08:13 am
I am a Republican, but it

I am a Republican, but it seems like Deal is shooting himself in the foot with these stances. No one wants to think that they will have to take mandatory unpaid leave from their job. I hate to say it, but it looks like King Roy will reassume his throne.

Chillen 09/16/10 - 08:14 am
I found this online. Deal's

I found this online. Deal's voting record on Education issues. It's actually not too bad. Many of the things he voted Yes for are non-financial issues.

Voted NO on $40B for green public schools. (May 2009)
Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
Voted NO on allowing Courts to decide on "God" in Pledge of Allegiance. (Jul 2006)
Voted NO on $84 million in grants for Black and Hispanic colleges. (Mar 2006)
Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror. (Nov 2001)
Voted YES on requiring states to test students. (May 2001)
Voted YES on allowing vouchers in DC schools. (Aug 1998)
Voted YES on vouchers for private & parochial schools. (Nov 1997)
Voted YES on giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer. (Mar 1994)
Supports requiring schools to allow prayer. (Jan 2001)
Tax deductions for private scholarships to public schools. (Feb 2003)
Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
Supports a Constitutional Amendment for school prayer. (May 1997)

mable8 09/16/10 - 08:17 am
No vote for Roy Barnes....he

No vote for Roy Barnes....he didn't do a very good job as governor in the past, what makes him think he'll do better this time around?????

chascush 09/16/10 - 08:24 am
disssman, ‘Did the DOE lower

disssman, ‘Did the DOE lower the expectations or did parents just want a reason for a new "My kid is in honor rolll" bumper sticker.’
Since the federal guvamint became involved in local school in the 60s and then peanut head Carter formed the DOE schools have steadily gone down. Yes, the DOE has cause standards to be lower. The entitlement programs have finished what the DOE didn’t do.

CorporalGripweed 09/16/10 - 03:11 pm
D.of E. is a massive

D.of E. is a massive boondoggle. It should be done away with. Unless some one in favor of keeping it can post why it should remain. I'll check back in.........nevermind. I don't even think ultra-lefties can defend this abject failure of a department.

overaugusta 09/16/10 - 05:19 pm
a private school voucher? You

a private school voucher?
You mean a handout for someone to acquire some luxury that they couldn't afford otherwise? HMMmmMMMMMmMmMMmMMM how easily we double standard-ize.

billcass 09/16/10 - 06:14 pm
Next to the Department of

Next to the Department of Energy, the Department of Education may be the biggest waste of federal dollars I can think of. Good grief. Do we really need a federal bureacrat telling us how to educate our children? What a complete and utter waste of money. Take that money, send it back to the states, and lets give our teachers a working wage. I know the Democrats will spin this to make it look like Deal is trying to take money away from kids but this is a common sense move and one we should all support.

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