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Ohio Gov. Says Four-Year Colleges

Ohio Gov. Says Four-Year Colleges
Should Stop Offering Remedial Courses

Gov. Bob Taft says Ohio must change the way it helps school children prepare for college and work, including those struggling to meet basic education requirements.

In his final State of the State speech on Jan. 25, Taft proposed a tough new set of graduation requirements for high school students and said four-year colleges should no longer offer make-up classes.

Under the program, which Taft dubbed “The Ohio Core,” students would have to take four years of math and English, three years of science and social studies and two years of a foreign language beginning in the fall of 2007.

Completing those courses would be required to get into one of Ohio’s four-year public colleges or universities, and any remedial work would have to be done at a two-year college.

“Too few high school graduates are prepared for college or a well-paying job,” Taft said. “The evidence is overwhelming that when it comes to our high school students, it’s not just about graduation. It’s about preparation.”

Lawmakers who provided only minimal increases in education funding in the current two-year budget backed the concept while saying details would have to be worked out.

“We’re not willing to send blank checks,” says House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering. “We are willing to make targeted investments that are going to benefit the education of all Ohioans.”

Taft, a Republican who can’t run again because of term limits, has had mixed results getting the GOP-controlled Legislature to adopt proposals from his eight annual addresses. This time, he is asking lawmakers to back his ideas in an election year when he has rock-bottom approval ratings and the stigma of being the first Ohio governor charged with a crime. The ethics charges for failing to report gifts he received are part of a government corruption scandal that has Democrats hoping they can end 12 years of GOP control in the state.

Democrats, in the minority in the House and Senate, say the idea looked good on paper but lacked money to hire the new teachers it would require. And while the state’s community colleges have voiced approval for the proposal, they are also eager to avoid past stereotypes of community colleges as second-class academic institutions.

Senate Education Chairwoman Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, questioned Taft’s ambitious timetable, saying it could take a few years to get underway.

Associated Press

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