One of the more unfortunate results of the current recession is dramatic cuts in state funding to public education. Larger class sizes, cuts to courses students need to graduate, and less instruction time î º these are just some of the consequences.
Education funding will again be on the line next year, as governors and state legislators are forced to make tough budget choices. Among those governors is Ohio’s Ted Strickland.
The eighth of nine children, Governor Strickland didn’t consider college a realistic option growing up in Appalachian, Ohio. That is until a high school teacher took him to visit the college from which he would later earn his bachelor’s degree. Governor Strickland was so inspired that he went on to receive two master’s degrees and a doctorate.
That passion for education continues. In a state whose manufacturing base has been ravaged by the recession, Governor Strickland has defended students, educators and schools.
Governor Strickland’s consensus-building across party lines has not gone unnoticed. This May, the Ohio Education Association gave Governor Strickland its Friend of Education Award. Said OEA President Patricia Frost-Brooks, ‘When the economic crisis crippled Ohio, Governor Strickland faced down a budget crisis and partisan opposition to fund and transform Ohio schools ‘“ including universal all-day Kindergarten and smaller K-3 class sizes. . . He led a multi-state coalition that secured an unprecedented $100 billion in emergency federal education aid nationwide, preserving 11,000 educator jobs here in Ohio.’
Governor Strickland explains his singular focus on education this way, “If somebody wants to know what my priorities are in the next budget, it’s going to be education. And if I have to make painful decisions about eliminating things or terminating things or reducing things, it’s not likely to be education.”
As the head of America’s seventh largest economy, Governor Strickland understands the link public between education and economy prosperity: ‘The most important thing we can do for the future economic well-being of our state and our people is to educate our young people and our students.’
Governor Strickland is not a recent convert to fighting for public education. During his stint in Congress, he averaged more than 95 out of a possible 100 on the National Education Association’s Congressional Report Card. Among his accomplishments in Congress was his co-authorship of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which today covers 11 million children nationwide.
Besides garnering bipartisan support in the state legislature for universal Kindergarten and smaller class sizes in grades K-3, Governor Strickland changed the state’s much litigated school funding formula, increasing the state share of education funding over the next few years from 48 percent to 54 percent while easing local property taxes. He also froze tuition at state colleges and universities for two years and increased college aid by $100 million.
Governor Strickland’s formula for economic success is simple: Ohio’s long-term economic security depends on schools having the resources necessary to succeed.
Supporters of public education will raise their voices during the state’s next budget deliberations and remind Governor Strickland to stick by his time-tested formula for economic success.