Ted Strickland long ago painted himself into a corner.
In 2006, the Democratic governor, then a little-known congressman from southern Ohio, made the kind of campaign promise that often ends up slung tight around your neck. He
boldly told anyone who would listen that he’d solve Ohio’s intractable school-funding dilemma or he wouldn’t be worth his salt as governor.
“I said that if this issue were not dealt with, regardless of whatever positive things I may achieve as governor, than I will consider myself a failure,” Strickland has repeated to reporters since then.
That’s from the Plain Dealer earlier this year.
Well, Pat Smith, a former teacher and past president of the Worthington and State boards of education, recently wrote an editorial that highlights just how much of a failure Strickland has been on education.
While giving credit to Strickland for a few ideas, the meat of the editorial rips into the Governor for many aspects of the joke of a plan he submitted earlier this year:
- Obviously ignored was the fact that per-pupil spending, adjusted for inflation, has doubled in this country in the past 25 years, largely due to ever-shrinking class size with no corresponding increase in achievement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently gave Ohio a C for return on investment, noting that student achievement is mediocre relative to state spending.
Mandating all-day kindergarten even though many, if not most, districts lack staff and space to comply without additional funding. In response to districts’ astonished outcry, they were granted a reprieve but only if they seek a waiver that includes a plan to implement the mandate — still with no assured funding — by 2012.
- Adopting the so-called evidence-based model that two national gurus provided as a basis for funding their version of an ideal education — whether taxpayers can afford it or not — and regardless of what other equally important services may have to be cut to the bone or eliminated. What it amounts to is arbitrary and uniform hiring mandates on all districts, regardless of their varying needs, and $3 billion — roughly a 30 percent increase in the education budget.
- Ignoring several national reports calling for needed system overhaul, such as the McKinsey report on the world’s best performing schools; the National Center on Education and the Economy’s “Tough Choices or Tough Times,” highlighted by Ohio’s foundations; and the School Redesign Finance Study, funded by the Gates Foundation, as well as others that specifically examined Ohio. These reports advocate far different approaches from the one adopted.
I think it’s safe to say we can take the Governor at his word.