Lt. Gov. touts school revamp

CONYERS - Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle touted his vision to revamp the state's education system and other issues during a visit to Conyers on Thursday.

Speaking to the Conyers Rotary Club, Cagle said he believes improving education in Georgia will be the next big challenge to face the state. He said the system doesn't work because it "provides one answer to all students."

Cagle, who has been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in 2010, said he believes each child is different and requires a different approach. That means paying less attention to preparing children for college and more on vocational training.

"Not every child is motivated the same way, nor are they educated the same way," Cagle said. "And not every child needs to be on a path to college."

Cagle said Georgia has positioned itself well to attract new business through the state's vocational training programs that boost a ready-to-work work force. He supports building more career academies, similar to Rockdale Career Academy, that are geared toward students not planning to enter college immediately after graduation.

He also supports a move to allow more school systems to obtain charter status, allowing local school administrators to forego some state education requirements with the intent of improving test scores and graduation rates.

On transportation, Cagle said correcting inefficiencies within the Georgia Department of Transportation would go a long way to speeding up long-delayed road projects.

"I truly believe we can get 30 percent more projects done on the same dime, if we correct those inefficiencies," he said.

Cagle said he also supports a regional transportation special purpose local option sales tax, or T-SPLOST. The 1 percent sales tax could be used by one or several counties to address immediate transportation needs without going to the state.

A measure to enact T-SPLOST failed to pass the Georgia General Assembly. The T-SPLOST bill passed the house, but failed in the senate on the last day of the session.

"It's accountable to the voters and it has a sunset, so those two factors appeal to me," Cagle said.

On health care, Cagle noted that there are 1.7 million people in Georgia who do not have health care insurance coverage and, surprisingly, 60 percent of those people are employed.

He said there is insurance coverage available now that could provide enough health care coverage at affordable rates. The only issue is to educate residents on how to get coverage and what best suits their needs.

For those who are unable to afford any type of health care insurance, Cagle touted "safety net clinics" that coordinate volunteer services of physicians and other health care providers with faith-based organizations in communities.

Next week, the Conyers Rotary Club will host Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine. A Republican, Oxendine filed campaign papers in April indicating he will run for governor in 2010.

Cagle, the first Republican elected as lieutenant governor in 2006, has not made an announcement of his intentions to run for governor. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is restricted by state law from seeking a third term.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.