Strickland stops in Stow to discuss education

Kyle Nelson

Gov. Ted Strickland made a brief campaign appearance Friday at Etactics, Inc. in Stow to talk about one thing.

“I’m here today to talk about education,” Strickland said.

Strickland talked for 15 minutes, focusing mainly on the positive changes he has made to Ohio’s educational system.

“We have passed major education reform,” Strickland said. “When I became governor, Education Week had ranked our state 27th in the nation in terms of our public education system. As a result of our reforms, Education Week has us as the fifth strongest. Our goal is to make it number one.”

Etactics President Michael Teutsch spoke first, setting the theme for the speakers.

“We must stop the brain drain and obtain the best and brightest minds in our state,” Teutsch said. “In order to accomplish this, higher learning institutes are key in the development of our young minds. Growth is contagious, and I believe with the right strategies regarding education, Ohio’s future will be extremely bright.”

To hammer home the point of education, Strickland also invited Russ Jones, superintendent of Stow and Munroe Falls City Schools, Steven Farnsworth, superintendent of Hudson City Schools, and Deanna Dunn, director of engineering, co-op and placement from the University of Akron, to speak briefly with the crowd.

“The strength of public schools and how we’re able to help with the workforce and preparing kids for college is paramount in what we do,” Jones said.

Farnsworth reiterated similar sentiments and also added that community involvement is more important now than ever.

“We can’t always look to Columbus,” Farnsworth said. “There are times when local communities must act if they want their schools to be outstanding. There’s a time when the local people need to step up and say ‘this is the time. We need to do this ourselves.’”

Strickland emphasized how his competitor, Republican John Kasich, will hurt more than help the state’s education system.

“[Kasich] has a plan to eliminate the state income tax,” Strickland said. “Obviously none of us would choose to pay more taxes than necessary, but the state income tax over the last 10 years has provided 46 percent of all of the general revenue we have to operate our state with. That includes resources to support our schools, colleges and universities.

“To contemplate the elimination of 46 percent of our state’s general

revenue fund without talking about anything to replace it is

irresponsible,” he added.

Strickland said he believes the elimination of the state’s income tax would result in dramatic reduction to schools and universities and skyrocketing tuition.

“In my first budget, we were the only state in America to freeze college tuition for two years,” Strickland said. “Tuition will not increase more than 3.5 percent per year moving forward. During the years I’ve been governor, I believe Ohio has done more than any other state in America to constrain the escalation of college tuition, and I will continue to make that a priority going forward.

“I don’t know that we’ll be able to impose a freeze because of the economic circumstances, but I believe I have demonstrated my commitment to higher education.”

Despite all his efforts, Strickland realizes there is still work to do.

“I don’t have all the answers,” Strickland said. “I never pretended to have all the answers. That’s why I’ve reached out to professional educators, teachers, parent groups and business leaders to say what is it we must do to make sure Ohio is positioned for future economic growth and development?”