Strickland addresses education reform in visit to Kent

Kevin Gareau

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland speaks to an audience about education at Kent Displays Inc. yesterday. Strickland toured the facility and talked with some of the employees. RACHEL KILROY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Gov. Ted Strickland visited Kent yesterday to present his plan for education reform, pushing for changes in testing requirements, a longer school year and an increased partnership between the education system and private businesses.

Strickland spoke at Kent Displays Inc., which manufactures LCD display products and recently received a $4.9 million grant through the state’s research and commercialization program.

Strickland lauded Wednesday night’s passing of his biennial budget through the Ohio House of Representatives and said it shows Ohio’s commitment to school funding.

“Some 36 other states are cutting funding for education, and we are maintaining funding in Ohio,” he said.

Strickland put an emphasis on changing the way students are tested. He said he wants to phase out the Ohio Graduation Test because it has essentially been “an effort to compare ourselves with ourselves,” and instead make it mandatory for all high school seniors to take the ACT.

Strickland stressed, however, that the ACT alone will not be used to determine whether students will graduate.

“Students will be expected to meet certain standards, but we are using multiple measures to achieve those standards,” he said.

Measures the governor plans to use include end-of-course exams, senior projects and a service learning program, which Strickland said will help students fulfill their “obligation to be a citizen.”

Strickland also wants to gradually lengthen the school year to at least 200 days.

“The international average is 200 days, and we want to incrementally lengthen our year to at least meet the international standard,” he said.

Also during his speech, Strickland hailed the partnership between Kent State and Kent Displays.

The grant Kent Displays received will be used to manufacture and market color electronic skins for cell phones and other mobile electronics.

“This partnership has built innovation and technology in this region and should serve as an example for other universities across the state,” Strickland said.

The electronic skins are a part of Kent Displays’ new line of products, known as Reflex. In addition to the electronic skins, the company is also launching an eTablet, which allows users to write on an LCD screen with a stylus.

Dewey Chapman, superintendent for the Portage County Educational Service Center, said he sees great potential for local schools using the eTablet.

“I’m very impressed with the technology,” Chapman said. “And I’m even more impressed with the leadership at Kent Displays and the partnership with the university.”

Chapman said he has requested that the Portage County School District test the eTablet for Kent Displays.

President Lester Lefton attended the speech, and said he is also excited about the technology.

“Imagine sitting in your dorm room and you want to jot a quick note down, and you don’t have to use paper,” Lefton said.

Contact public affairs reporter Kevin Gareau at [email protected].