Kasich advocates ‘lifetime of learning’ in 2014 State of the State

Arielle Campanalie

Video by Haley Phillippi.

Gov. John Kasich touched on many topics throughout his State of the State address Monday night at the Medina Preforming Arts Center, including Ohio’s education reform. In the speech, he suggested focusing attention on vocational education, raising standards for early childhood education and prioritizing higher education spending based on graduation rates.

“To address some of the most pressing needs, we had the largest increase in state aid in a decade and now we can build on that foundation to start taking on other challenges including one of Ohio’s and the nation’s toughest problems and that is the issue of dropouts,” Kasich said.

The current yearly drop out rate for students on Ohio is 24,000, according to Kasich. To reduce this, he said his administration will soon be sending ideas to members of the legislation to help lower the drop out rate in Ohio by better identifying and reaching out to at-risk students.

“We are going to ask our local school districts to craft unique plans for these students that chart a completely alternative path to their high school diploma,” Kasich said.

Additionally, Kasich said he and his administration are starting to work on “an innovative system” to let college drop outs in Ohio work with two-year colleges in Ohio to get high school diplomas. Though, he did not address state funding or cost of this new program idea.

Confident in his future plans, Kasich challenged his opponents saying, “You come up with a program better than ours, and we’ll sign it.”

Kasich said he is also looking to get parents and community members more involved in the education system with the “Community Connectors” program. The proposed plan would bring together schools, parents, communities, community organizations, faith-based groups, business leaders and students in mentoring efforts.  

To fund the program, Kasich asked Ohio legislators to take $10 million in casino receipts and create a program to give these communities a three-dollar match to every dollar they put in to building these mentoring efforts.

“We can teach them work-place culture.  This is working in many places around Ohio,” Kasich said.  “We’re hungry to help, we know what’s missing out there, we just don’t know how to do it, and Community Connectors is going to give us a chance… It’s going to lift up our educators, and it’s going to lift up our kids.”

For now, Kasich said Online Career Roadmaps will be available this spring for students and will be accessible through their cell phones. These roadmaps, Kasich said, will help students learn about in-demand jobs in the state, how to acquire them and the salary these jobs pay.

He said he believes today’s batch of students need guidance, and the Online Career Roadmaps are a step in the right direction.

“Our kids need direction, and with the in demand information about jobs, we can reform education that connects kids to jobs and their actual passions in life, and we can do it right on their phones,” Kasich said, “and that’s what they love.”

Additionally, Kasich said he wants to put more emphasis on vocational education in Ohio. He plans to bring talks of the correlation between jobs and education down to the seventh-grade level.

“They’re going to have a better sense of where they’re going if we allow our kids to enter those vocational schools and we’re putting more money into it.  But I think taking it down to the seventh grade will be a big change,” Kasich said.

In order to better prepare students, Kasich said he thinks every student in Ohio should be able to earn credit for college while they are still in high school saying, “You can get it some places in Ohio, but you can’t get it everywhere.  [But] we’re going to get it everywhere.”

Kasich said community college and university presidents have come together to share resources.  

“Colleges and universities will not get any state dollars based on enrollment… They will only get paid if students complete courses and if students get degrees,” Kasich said.

Kasich isn’t the only one who thinks increased graduation rates in Ohio would be a good thing.

“We support the efforts of increasing the number of college graduates in Ohio,” said John McNay, president of the Ohio Chapter of the American Association of Union Professors, “and I think raising this issue is an important thing that the governor is doing, but he really needs to include facility in decisions about higher education.”

Gov. Kasich also said his administration is starting a new effort to give military veterans college and academic credits for the training and experience they receive in the armed forces, “for free.”

After a large roar of audience cheering, Kasich said, “This is unbelievable we haven’t yet done this.”

However, Kasich did not address what government funds will be covering this cost of free military veteran college credits.

But he didn’t focus completely on higher education and the job force, Kasich said he also wants to raise the standards for publicly funded early childhood education.

“We believe in early childhood education, we are going to promote it and we’re going to make it work in our state in an effective way,” Kasich said.

“You must have lifetime learning to consistently update your skills so one day you don’t find that you don’t have the skills to succeed and win and that is our philosophy,” Gov. Kasich said.  “It’s not just pre-K through job, it’s going to be all the way through your life time, and this is the strategy that I think we need to take.”

Contact Arielle Campanalie at [email protected].