Gov. Ted Strickland Visits Toledo Elementary School – Touts Seamless System of Education
By Fletcher Word, Sojourner’s Truth Editor, Special to La Prensa
Feb. 2, 2009: Gov. Ted Strickland included Toledo as part of his state-wide tour designed to boost various parts of the education plan he outlined during last week’s State of the State address.
On Monday morning, he stopped by Grove Patterson Elementary School and praised the strides that school has made during its 10-year existence. “This is a great school,” said the governor after he had been given a tour of several classrooms. “There are a lot of things happening in this school that I would like to see happen around the state.”
Grove Patterson is a Toledo Public School that operates under magnet or charter school principles – students are chosen by lot, the schools days and hours are extended and parents are expected to agree to participate in monitoring their students’ activities.
Strickland was taken around to classrooms in which the students were studying, as part of their daily routine, German and Spanish. Even kindergartners at Grove Patterson are introduced to a foreign language.
“I came to this school because I like what’s happening here,” said the governor at a news conference after his tour. “I am concerned about Ohio’s future. If Ohio is going to have a bright and prosperous future, we have to make sure children get the right education.
“I have been trying for two years to see how we can have that seamless system of education that starts for a child early in life and continues for them through to college.”
Strickland had laid out a number of education proposals in his State of the State address including:
· expanding the school year from 180 to 200 days,
· making all-day kindergarten mandatory;
· reducing the minimum number of property-tax mills that school districts must levy from 23 to 20 with the state making up the difference;
· implementing a two-year tuition freeze for community colleges and regional campuses;
· implementing a one year tuition freeze for four-year colleges, adding new student topics to include global awareness and life skills;
· replacing the Ohio Graduation Test with the college ACT college assessment test; and
· granting permission to districts to ask voters to convert property tax levies into mills that would increase in dollar value to the district as property taxes rise.
The last measure would eliminate, the governor stressed during his visit to Grove Patterson, the problem of “phantom revenue” that assumes that districts are collecting more in local taxes than they actually are as property values rise.
“This is a good plan for Ohio in many aspects,” said Strickland. “There are reforms in the way we organize and teach and reforms in the way we fund schools.”
The governor’s proposed budget would invest an extra $925 million in K-12 education over the next two fiscal years - $331.5 million in 2010 and 603.5 in fiscal year 2011.
Since Strickland put forth his proposals for a longer school year last week, various critics, such as those in the tourist and amusement parks business, have suggested that a 200-day school year would adversely affect the tourist business from the standpoint of both visitors and summer employees.
“I say let’s get serious about education,” said Strickland, when asked about the criticism.
The governor took to task those whom he said were unable to think creatively about solutions to problems because they were so used to their routines – whether successful or not. He used a term from psychology called “functional fixedness” to describe some people’s inability to “look and seek solutions beyond the way they have always done things.”
Strickland maintained that he is committed to a longer school year and that obstacles to such a plan could be overcome. “I am committed to these changes,” he said.
“We have constructed a path forward that we are confident will enable us to sustain this investment,” he added. “Over an eight-year period of time, [we can] continue to put more and more resources into elementary and secondary schools.”