Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle meets with The Albany Herald Editorial Board on Thursday. (Staff Photo: Jennifer Parks)
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle congratulates Stewbo's for being Albany's Small Business of the Year.
ALBANY — While in Albany to help honor a local business, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also expressed his support for education reform which includes support for charter schools and College and Career Academy models.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle met with The Albany Herald Editorial Board on Thursday, to discuss his views on educational improvements.
Cagle said the charter school system “affords a very unique transformation in public education” from the standardized model with mandates that, he said, were not yielding better outcomes.
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“It takes the school system from the one size fits all,” he said.
While stating that charter schools offer flexibility and innovation in the classroom with roughly 20 in Georgia currently operating, Cagle also made note of the College and Career Academy model — which combinations the high school and technical college experience, allowing students to leave with a manufacturing certificate or college credits.
“We are seeing graduation rates usually at 98 percent, and we are seeing job placement rates that are through the roof,” he said. “Those two initiatives (charter schools and college and career academies) will transform public education.”
A benefactor for the initiatives is economic growth, Cagel said.
“Education transitions the economy, not the other way around,” Cagle said. “A business can’t succeed if they don’t have the talent base to support it.”
“If money was the driver for education, the Atlanta school system should be the best system, because there has been more money spent there than anywhere else … Money is important, but it is not a game changer.”
Cagle noted that charters act as a contractual agreement, and that there are remedies the state school system can act on if a school manages to “flop.” While there have been cases of schools violating their charter, there has yet to be one that has failed, he said.
“Hopefully that is the last plan of action, and if (a charter) is pulled, they go back to (the old model) with no flexibility,” he said.
Asked what Southwest Georgia needs to do to attract industry, Cagle said workforce development.
“You have an abundance of land, great transportation and an abundance of water supply,” he said. “The highest priority, in my opinion, is to focus on work force development. The best way to do that is through a college and career academy.”
Cagle says charter school fit into that concept.
“A high school diploma only will not get you very far,” Cagle said. “You define success by giving students skill sets that are employable. That’s why I fought hard for dual enrollment. It is very important that they are all (colleges and K-12 educators) working together.
When charter schools are shot down, it is the community that loses.
“I don’t believe in the status quo,” Cagle said. “You have to take risks that can give greater results. The No. 1 reason for kids dropping out of school is that they don’t understand the relevance of what they are learning. You have to give them relevance … there are too many systems not giving students what they need.”
Cagle also mentioned that among the high priorities for next year’s session will be the regulation of marijuana use pertaining to the treatment of seizure disorders.
“We have no interest in opening Pandora’s box,” he said. “It would only be for the specific seizure disorder we are trying to solve.”
Cagle visited Merry Acres Inn to recognize Stewart Campbell and Bo Henry of Stewbo’s for recently being named Albany’s Small Business of the Year.
At Merry Acres, he commended the entrepreneurship of Stewbo’s and the willingness of Campbell and Henry to take risks.
“What they have done is remarkable,” he said. “They are seeing not just what the need is for the community, but how they can best serve it.”
Cagle also visited Moultrie, Tifton and Valdosta on his way through Southwest Georgia.