Casey Cagle returned to his high school alma mater in Gainesville this morning to officially launch the release of his new book, Education Unleashed. The Lieutenant Governor addressed a capacity crowd at the Johnson High School gym before holding a book signing in the school’s media center. The book describes an educational philosophy that promotes local decision making in school systems as a way of promoting better educational outcomes than the one size fits all approach in wide use today. It also promotes starting career training in secondary school, with the goal of having each high school graduate ready to work or to start post-secondary education.
During his remarks, Cagle described what he hoped his book would do. “Education Unleashed puts a framework in place that allows us as public policy makers going forward and local communities to come together to strategically determine what is in the best interests of their community, and most importantly what is in the best interest of their students. That’s how we define true educational excellence.” Cagle described his vision as a locally developed education plan, called an accountability contract, which sets an academic floor that all students must achieve, but also one that does not have a ceiling that would limit a student’s achievement. “The reason I wrote this book,” Cagle told his audience, “is because ultimately I want to showcase the various models of change in education that we have been able to demonstrate.”
Responding to a reporter’s question about the advantages of the approach taken in Education Unleashed, Cagle emphasized the flexibility his approach offers, compared to what he called a compliance mentality that drives education policy today. He pointed out that educational needs will likely be different in Hall County than in Savannah, or in a school that has 70% of its students on free or reduced lunch, compared to one with a much lower ratio. Instead of having a one size fits all education for these different types of systems, Cagle’s vision promotes high accountability measures designed to fit the needs of the different systems. This method, which is used by Georgia charter systems, lets the school system be in charge of making those plans become a reality.
Lt. Gov. Cagle was asked how the educational philosophy expressed in Education Unleashed would fit in with the proposed Opportunity School District, which would allow the state to intervene with chronically failing schools in an attempt to turn them around. Expressing support for the OSD, he pointed out that a school that was placed in the Opportunity School District could use the approach described in his book to develop an accountability contract addressing shortcomings and providing locally driven solutions to improve student outcomes and get the school back on track and out of the OSD.
Cagle wrapped up the morning with a book signing event in the high school media center. Between elected officials, educators and students, he managed to sign all the copies of the book he had brought to the school just as the line of people awaiting his autograph came to an end. For more information on Education Unleashed, you can visit the book’s website.