April 15, 2024

While the presidential election is over a year away, primary season is already upon us. For many students at Wittenberg, this will be their first opportunity to engage in the democratic process, and with Ohio Governor John Kasich running for president, this is sure to be an exciting election. It’s also a great time to look at an area of policy that should be important to us all as students and educators – education.
During his first term in office, Kasich made Ohio’s schools a priority. Recognizing that education is important at all levels, and that a weak K-12 program produces under-prepared college students, his administration added $1.7 billion to public education funding. In his State of the State address in February he announced that he planned to add an additional $700 million. He outlined an ambitious plan to level the playing field for Ohio schools by allocating funds to poorer districts with funds that came from wealthier districts, which he views as capable of funding themselves.
Liberals cautiously praised the plan, though many felt their cynicism was justified when Kasich used a line-item veto to cut $600 million from education funding when he signed the state’s budget in late June. This was, however, not the duplicitous action it seemed to be. Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, said, “This led to a battle with the legislature. He thinks areas that can fund themselves should. He tried to fund areas that need help, and his budget did that. He vetoed out the money the Ohio House put into districts that were going to lose some funding to give more to others.” But, noting the Ohio budget surplus, Cropper said, “We shouldn’t be cutting funding to anybody.”
Cropper also said, “His philosophy on education for students is different than ours,” noting that the concepts of his policies are often good, but that they have concerns with the implementation of them. Currently, state universities and community colleges in Ohio are receiving funding based on completion rates. If students go on to finish their degrees at other schools, this can impact the funding at Ohio schools. Private universities aren’t affected much, other than a possible reduction in potential students, which could impact tuition costs.
With all of the personal and financial issues that can impact a student’s success, Cropper said the completion funding, “Holds the school accountable for individual actions.”
She also notes that there is a concern that the focus is too much on education as merely a vehicle to boost employment, which, while important, can devalue education itself. In that case quality may suffer as completion for completion’s sake takes precedence over comprehension and skill.
As with any policy there are rough spots, but implementation can be adjusted. In the meantime, Kasich has attempted to open up access to higher education for current and future students in Ohio. Calling his policy a model for the nation, his campaign should be worth watching as he outlines his plans for a national education policy.

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