Former Gov. Bob Taft's administration was marked by scandal and corruption, especially in his final year. But one piece of legislation he worked on in that period and signed just before leaving office last week deserves significant praise.
Taft passed the Ohio CORE plan, increasing the graduation requirements of high school seniors and admission requirements for Ohio's state-funded four-year colleges and universities, effective with the Class of 2014.
The highlights of the plan require four years of math, including algebra II or its equivalent, three years of science, four years of English and three years of social studies. Also, students must take a combination of five units from foreign language, fine arts, business, technology and career technical. Two semesters of fine arts must be taken between grades 7-12.
We repeat our urgent plea to state lawmakers to fix Ohio's school funding system. Right now, it stinks. It doesn't allow educators to properly focus on teaching. CORE opponents say it will force more expenses onto local school systems. Time will tell how accurate this statement is, but the problem exists. We know how difficult it is for schools around here to pass levies. Taft didn't estimate how much his plan might cost, but according to an Ohio CORE fact sheet on the Ohio Partnership for Continued Learning Web site (www.pcl.ohio.gov), $16.8 million is appropriated every fiscal year through 2012 for the Ohio CORE Grant Program.
If it will be costly to the schools, we dare say the price is worth it. Many exemplary high schools across the state have had these graduation requirements already in place for years.
We like the CORE plan because it focuses on producing better prepared and better educated Ohioans in more areas, which is never a bad thing. More than 40 percent of factory jobs will require post-secondary education by 2012, according to the fact sheet. For us to find a way to overcome our dwindling manufacturing-based economy, we need people to figure out new ways of earning a living. In this century, these new ways are going to come from intellectual accomplishment more than any other areas.
While the manufacturing jobs are dwindling, 40 of the 50 fastest-growing jobs in the nation and 92 of the 100 highest-paying jobs now require at least some education beyond high school, according to the fact sheet.
We see the best and brightest high school students across the Firelands head off to college, then leave the area and the state to take jobs. Let's give our youth a way to compete, and let's give ourselves a place for them to work in the future so they don't need to keep leaving the state in droves.