Johnson High School alumnus Casey Cagle, who also is Georgia’s lieutenant governor, came home Monday morning to promote his book, “Education Unleashed.”
Cagle, who is a likely candidate for governor in 2018, warned the students he might get emotional — and he did, a couple of times.
He explained he was emotional about former teachers because the school, and teachers, “had such an impact on my life.”
He also choked up talking about his in-laws and his mother, to whom the book is dedicated. He noted he was raised by his mother, who worked two jobs. She taught him dedication and hard work, he said.
Among those attending were Cagle’s former football coach, Dewey Albertson; Jerry Smith, also a former coach who, Cagle said, taught him to drive; and Phil Carpenter, who was principal at Johnson when Cagle was there.
Carpenter introduced Cagle by saying he was “qualified” for that because he had “known him most of his life.”
Cagle played football at Johnson High School and later played at Georgia Southern. Carpenter called him one of the best safeties to play at the school.
“Education is the great equalizer,” Cagle said. “We are not bound by our circumstances.”
He said he has lived that life — going to eight elementary schools before the sixth grade, being raised by a single mother, being poor.
“You’re not defined by where you are,” Cagle said.
He called for education reform that focuses on charter schools and college and career academies, two ideas he has promoted as lieutenant governor.
He said local communities should “come together to strategically determine” the course of education for themselves.
He emphasized that education should not be “one size fits all” and said it “should focus on the needs of the individual student.”
Cagle touted the technical jobs of the future that will not require a four-year degree — not liberal arts, anyway.
He noted that Georgia recently had 20,000 jobs in the health care field that required training beyond high school, but only 5,000 people qualified for those jobs.
Public education should focus on “what real education reform is about,” he said. He urged students to remember that not all of them “have to go off and get that liberal arts degree.”
He said he intends for his book to provide “a broader vision of education reform for the future.”