After what will have been 38 years as an educator, the final seven as superintendent of Columbia County schools, Charles Nagle will retire. He’s going to be hard to replace.
His departure comes at a difficult time for public schools, but the reality is that just about any time is tough. It’s only been harder for the past few years.
In many respects, the wounds to public schools are self-inflicted. Thanks to intrusion from the federal government and the influence in other states of public-sector unions, public education has suffered from a bloat of negative publicity that has sapped much of the goodwill otherwise directed toward it.
Opportunistic politicians, include many shameless Georgia leaders, make it worse. They see the revenue stream constitutionally directed toward public education as a tool for building their own influence, and seek ways to redirect public education funding toward bureaucrats who answer to them and not to local voters.
Sadly, conservative voters will fall for it and support such nonsense as this fall’s constitutional amendment allowing state officials to take over segments of public school systems by calling them “charter schools.” By the time local parents realize they’ve given up the local control invested in their elected school board members, it will be too late.
There seems to be no end to this sort of anti-education mischief, so it’s no surprise Nagle will pass the fight to someone else. He leaves wishing only that he’d actually had available some of the excess money public education cynics seem to think is piled up in every board office.
All he ever wanted, he says, was to have been able to offer teachers a “wish list” for classroom improvements. Instead, they’ve gotten less financial support, more students and greater federal and state bureaucratic intrusion.
Despite the challenges, our county’s public schools still manage to exceed expectations and provide excellent opportunities for every student who walks through the door.
Charles Nagle has had a lot to do with that these past few years. He’s certainly earned retirement. And our community will have a tough job on its hands to keep up the fight.