Originally created 02/26/03

Democrat fires back at Perdue's education plan



ATLANTA -- A week after Gov. Sonny Perdue suggested sweeping changes in education, a top House Democrat blasted the plan as shortsighted and unworkable.

Rep. Bob Holmes, an Atlanta Democrat and chairman of the House Education Committee, told reporters Tuesday that Perdue's plan to return more control to local schools "has not been thought through."

Holmes cited two components of Perdue's education bill as problematic. First, the provision allowing middle schools to spend less time on core academics could leave some students unprepared for high school, Holmes said.

The Democrat also warned that Perdue's plan to dismantle state oversight of schools will still leave schools under federal control because of President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" laws.

"Washington, big brother, is the one in charge," Holmes said.

Perdue's legislation, which is pending in the House, eliminates many provisions from former Gov. Roy Barnes' 2000 education package and gives local school systems more control over funding, curriculum and class size.

Holmes hinted that Perdue's education bill may not get out of his committee without changes. He complained that Perdue talks about bipartisanship but did not ask Democrats what they thought about education reform.

"Apparently his definition of teamwork and bipartisanship is total control in the hands of Emperor Perdue," he said, echoing the way Republicans tagged Barnes "King Roy."

House Republicans quickly dismissed Holmes' remarks.

"It sounded to me like a bunch of sour grapes over the election," said House Republican Leader Lynn Westmoreland. "I guess it's hard for people who have been in power for so long to understand that local people know best how to educate their kids."