Taft proposes new high school curriculum

Kelly Mills

Although Gov. Bob Taft’s latest education initiative could have serious impact on school districts across Ohio, area schools will see little change.

Taft has laid out his plans for a tough new curriculum for students as a requirement for graduation and admission into Ohio’s four-year colleges and universities. Roger Sidoti, principal of Theodore Roosevelt High School, said Kent City schools will not have trouble aligning with the new requirements, which will begin with students in the seventh grade.

“Eighty percent of our students already meet that criteria and more,” Sidoti said.

In the class of 2005, 80 percent of graduates from Theodore Roosevelt High School went to four-year colleges, while 9 percent went on to two-year institutions. Sidoti said the number of students who go to four-year colleges fluctuates between 80 and 85 percent.

The governor wants students to complete a rigorous core curriculum before being granted admission into four-year institutions.

Mark Rickel, press secretary for Taft, said the new core curriculum includes four years of math, including algebra two, four years of English, three years of science including biology, chemistry and physics, three years of social studies and two years of a foreign language.

Sen. Kimberly Zurz said she has mixed emotions over Taft’s proposal.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to offer it,” she said. “I don’t know that it’s a good idea to require it for graduation, which is what is being discussed.”

Students who fail to meet the requirements will be required to begin a college career at a two-year institution. Zurz said this idea is one of the main problems with Taft’s plan.

“For one of the solutions to be to send your students to a community college is not an answer,” Zurz said. “That might actually dissuade them from going to school.”

She said students choose their universities based on a number of different factors including parent alumni, location or atmosphere. Zurz said she fears some students would not want to be relegated to two-year institutions to complete the remedial courses necessary to enter a four-year college.

Sidoti said Kent City Schools and other similar districts will not have great difficulty conforming to the new standards, but large inner-city schools, which don’t currently have a high number of students meeting the requirements, will have the most problems.

Zurz and Rep. Kathleen Chandler both said funding will be a major problem for the new initiative. Although local schools may not have problems, Chandler is concerned with the state as a whole.

“I think we have very fine high schools, and the problem for the schools throughout Ohio is the lack of financial support from the state and an over reliance on property tax,” Chandler said.

Rickel would not say when the initiative might be a piece of proposed legislation but did say Taft hopes to have it drafted by the end of the year.

Contact public affairs reporter Kelly Mills at [email protected]