Governor Ted Strickland has announced that one of his twelve planned "education forums" will be in Akron at North High School on July 23. The Governor has started a website, Conversations on Education to facilitate/publicize the listening tour. The url embedded on Ohio dot com doesn't seem to work for the website. You can try here or here.
The Governor has gotten grief for not fixing either the schools themselves or the school funding mess as of yet. It always seemed to me that any proposal would come after the midterm elections. First, because such a proposal takes time. The Governor committed to getting input, particularly from the business community. Being pretty much a pro-business D, that's what he would have done anyway, plus anyone paying attention to the GIRFOF mess knows that the effort was doomed as soon as the business community spoke out against it.
Also, any proposal prior to midterms becomes a political football. The R's would have to oppose it regardless of merit or risk handing the statehouse over to the D's. Which brings up the third factor -- once it became apparent that generic D's would do well in the midterm, Strickland's best bet is to wait until the November smoke clears to see what kind of General Assembly he has to work with. If, as hoped, D's take the House, he will get much more of what he wants.
I've had background conversations with various sources that pretty much confirm the above. And it's pretty well known that Strickland has been meeting with various stakeholder groups, including business groups.
The forums are another step in the process. How much will be gathering input and how much will be softening the ground for the eventual proposal remains to be seen. According to the website, things are organized around the six principles outlined in the State of the State address. You remember those, right? No? Well, here's a refresher:
- And I have developed six core principles that will guide our efforts to achieve that vision.
First, we cannot address our education challenges without strengthening our commitment to public education. As a practical matter, the vast majority of Ohio children are and always will be educated in the public school system.
Second, a modern education must be directly linked to economic prosperity. Ohio cannot thrive without understanding that world class schools will produce a talented workforce, and a talented workforce will attract and create jobs.
Third, we need to identify the great strengths of our schools. There are features in our education system that the rest of the world seeks to emulate, and we must build on these triumphs.
We excel internationally in our ability to foster creativity and innovation. These skills fuel a lifetime of success, especially in an evolving global economy.
Ohio schools produced the minds that created Superman, with his fictional X-Ray vision, and the mind that invented the MRI, giving doctors the very real ability to painlessly view inside the human body. Ohioans are visionaries, but practical as well. It wasn’t long after a pair of Ohioans invented the airplane that another Ohioan invented the parachute.
Our schools must teach students to think past the limits of what’s been done, and imagine what could be done.
Fourth, our best teachers can show us what works best in the classroom. We need to consult them and follow their lead.
Great teachers can be a resource not only for their students but for their fellow educators. We should support these teachers by giving them the freedom to stay in the classroom and still be rewarded for sharing their expertise with their peers. We lose a lot of new teachers – as many as half of all new teachers leave the profession in the first 5 years – but we can help keep these talented people by giving them better access to senior colleagues.
Fifth, we must strive to develop a specific, personalized education program that identifies how each individual student learns and use the teaching methods appropriate to that student’s needs and abilities.
The great educator and philosopher John Dewey described this idea many years ago. He wrote that we must shift “the center of gravity” in schools. It’s a “revolution, not unlike that introduced by Copernicus when the astronomical center shifted from the Earth to the sun. In this case, the child becomes the sun around which the appliances of education revolve.”
And sixth, testing and assessment will continue to answer accountability questions. But their most important role will be to guide personalized and individualized education through a comprehensive and ongoing understanding of a student’s capabilities and weaknesses and growth in the educational process.
Not the list I would pick, but good enough to be going forward.