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State superintendent visits Rotary
(Left to right) Conyers Rotary president Al Meyers III, State Superintendent Dr. John Barge, Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Richard Autry - photo by Kathy Hooks

“Things are a lot better than people give public education credit for” is the sentiment spoken by State School Superintendent John Barge as the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Conyers Thursday.

Barge’s presentation focused on the financial difficulties facing the state’s education system and he spend some time debunking negative headlines that have painted Georgia’s schools among the worst in the nation.

“We have some of the most rigorous expectations in the nation to earn a diploma,” he said. “What each state expects varies tremendously.”

Barge said that, despite cuts totaling more than $5 billion in education over the last decade, Georgia improved in SAT, ACT and AP test scores in 2012, with Georgia ranking 12th in the nation for advanced placement results.

“Public education is facing the most difficult financial times than it has ever faced in my 23 years in public education,” Barge said. He said the academic results are remarkable considering students in 121 of Georgia’s 180 school districts have shortened school years ranging from 144 days to 179 days.

“Our kids are improving, we are heading in the right direction, we have a lot of things that we are working on and we need to keep plugging along,” he said. “If we had all the money we should have and kids were in school for 180 days, where might we be?”