Saturday, August 1, 2009
HOLDING THE GOVERNOR ACCOUNTABLE SERIES: "THE POLITICAL SEASON IS IN FULL BLOOM?" JACKSON HAS 36% COLLEGE REMEDIATION RATE - NO NEED FOR REFORM?
If there ever was a sure sign Ted Strickland is in for the fight of his political life, all doubt is removed with his "kickoff political barn - err school storming trip to various school districts in Ohio to make the case that he and his administration is making progress on his promise to "Turnaround Ohio" made to Ohio voters in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
Reforming Ohio's education infrastructure is the key to his "turnaround" promise.
Strickland, you will recall, said early on in his administration that he would be a "failed governor" if he failed to reform education in Ohio.
Undoubtedly, his political operatives say that he is making headway.
But is he?
Strickland came to Stark County on Friday to Jackson Township. What he had to say makes one wonder if Strickland has read his own Ohio Board of Regent's report on how ill-prepared Jackson graduates are for college?
Jackson, Lake and North Canton are the best we have in Stark and they all share similar numbers on the need for remediation.
A keystone to the Strickland Ohio economic development plan is having high school graduates ready for college (for those who choose to attend) or ready for the workforce.
The SCPR compared Jackson to Hudson High School (Summit County). And sorry to say the results were not even close.
Hudson is the creme-de-la-creme but it has always been no matter what the folks in Columbus do or don't do.
Recently, Jackson has passed a "survive these times" levy after failure of larger levies which might have enabled Jackson administrators and faculty to cut into the gulf between the Jackson and Hudson remediation rates.
But Stark Countians would not approve the higher levies.
So the only solution will have to be with the state of Ohio or more well off districts like Hudson will continue to outshine Stark County's 17 school districts.
And get this.
Stark Taxpayers get to pay twice for what were are not getting from Stark's high schools. If those students go to either Kent - Stark or Stark State and our grads are required to take remediation course; they get no credit and still have to pay tuition and buy books for these non-credit towards graduation course.
If they attend college outside of Stark, then the rest of Ohio's taxpayers help Stark Countians with the "double taxation" as we do them.
There are many more costs to Stark's, Ohio's and the nation's economies for the high remediation rate.
Employers who get "unprepared" recently graduated from high schools have to make up for the deficiencies in basic educational skills (reading, writing and math) by purchasing technology which does basic human skills and thereby masks the graduates lack of fundamental skills. Moreover, these employers may have to provide post high school training that is general and not job specific just to get the newly high school graduated employee to the point where they can cope with job specific add-on skills.
So employers all too often end up with a "surcharge tax" of sorts because of the failures of Stark's high schools.
And there are other costs that the SCRP will be holding up to Stark County educational officials and the governor as huge barriers to turning around Stark's and Ohio's economy.
When Strickland first appeared on the gubernatorial political scene, yours truly thought Strickland was different from the typical politician. However, skepticism has replaced the initial hope.
Strickland seems to buying to the politics of the likes of former Stark County Democratic Party chairman Johnnie A. Maier, Jr and his ilk which include: "spin" the failures, finger point at political opponents, revise and qualify political history/statements and above all - don't be a stand up and be accountable public official.
For Ohio and Stark County to have any chance at all to become a place for the creative, the energetic, the industrious, the imaginative, the optimistic and the forward thinking to take up residence; the bench mark of the need for remediation at college and in the workplace with have to be at the Hudson level or below statewide.
Until it is, Stark County and Ohio will continue to be the backwater of economical growth and development.
Strickland may get re-elected in 2010, but he is well on his way to being a failed governor on his self selected substantive standard - education.
If he fails, he will survive the personal put-down, but Stark County and Ohio may not!