State officials’ trip to France raises questions

13, 2013 State officials’ trip to France raises questions Sponsored Links The Associated Press ATLANTA A trip to France by some of Georgia’s top education officials has led to questions and confusion about who paid the tab. Three Georgia Department of Education officials traveled to Europe late last year involving expenses of almost $9,400, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://bit.ly/1erdcHU ). The state agency initially said the French government covered the costs. When asked for details of the French payment such as when it was made, officials said the money came from a Georgia trust fund set up for international exchanges for students, staff and teachers. Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said Georgia taxpayers didn’t pay into the fund, which was established in 1994 with help from a private donor. He said there was confusion about who paid for it because of how long the fund has been around. The officials who traveled to France included Joel Thornton, who was Georgia School Superintendent John Barge’s chief of staff at the time of the trip. David Turner, director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education at the department; and Greg Barfield, program specialist for World Languages and Global Initiatives; also made the trip to Nancy, France, from December 8-14. The purpose was to renew a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Academie of Nancy-Metz, officials said. It served as an opportunity to establish relationships with business officials in France and study how the French teach culinary arts, Thornton said. Culinary arts is one subject in the state’s “career pathways” initiative. Under the new program, Georgia students are being asked to choose a pathway leading to a possible career. Critics say the trip was a waste of money.

Substitute Samir Nasri gave France the lead in the 70th and Paul Pogba scored from close range to seal the win in the 73rd. France overcame a poor first half and two blunders from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to remain second in the group before its final qualifier next month against Finland. It is level on 14 points with leader Spain, which has played one game less. The top teams in each group automatically qualify for the World Cup while eight of the nine second-placed teams go into the playoffs in November. Finland beat Georgia 1-0 in the group’s other match to stay third on nine points. Roman Eremenko scored the winning goal in the 74th with a penalty. “It was a weird match, especially in the first half,” Ribery told France’s TF1 television. “I think we have a good team, but we must play more relaxed and not put pressure on ourselves. Some players in the squad are young. We must play and have fun like we did in the second half.” After a disappointing goalless draw with Georgia on Friday, France coach Didier Deschamps showed his patience had limits by benching Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who had not scored in his last 15 games with the national team. Midfielders Pogba and Blaise Matuidi were back in the starting lineup after missing the Georgia match because of suspension. However, France’s passing game still lacked the fluidity needed to trouble Belarus. The hosts created the first chance of the match in the seventh minute when Sergei Balanovich took a pass from Anton Putilo to fire wide from a tight angle.

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