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STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESSES: A Focus on Boosting College Graduates in Ohio and on Retaining Quality Teachers in Wisconsin

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"Education is the central issue I face as governor. I am determined to bring real change and real results. But I am also determined to find the best answers. We are creating a blueprint for the future of our schools and our state. And we will take the time to get it right."

In his state of the state address on February 6, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) outlined a comprehensive proposal to increase the number of the state’s college graduates, noting that doing so had to be a clear priority for the state “if our citizens are going to have good jobs and rising incomes in the coming years.”

To meet the goal, Strickland proposed raising the quality of the college academic programs and guaranteeing that those prepared and qualified to enter college could afford to attend. He also called for an expansion of the newly created University System of Ohio so that potential students who were unable to attend a four-year college would have access to local campuses and programs flexible enough to meet their needs. “Whether through college or technical training, our young people must be brought up with the expectation that they need to continue their education beyond high school.”

Strickland also announced a “Seniors to Sophomores” plan in which twelfth graders who meet certain academic requirements may choose to spend their senior year, tuition free, at a University System of Ohio campus. He said the program is designed to “raise the aspirations of all students,” both those who feel disengaged from their high school studies and those who want to accelerate their college education. He explained that the program would also save families a significant amount of money, saying, “just think about the effect on a family’s budget when they save the cost of an entire year of college tuition.”

The governor took pride in recent national rankings that placed Ohio near the top for its education system. Specifically, he pointed to the state’s seventh-place ranking by Education Week’s Quality Counts 2008 report that was based on six areas of performance and policy. Additionally, he said that the National Assessment of Educational Progress ranks Ohio in the top ten in all four of its measures. At the same time, Strickland stressed that more work needs to be done. “But while we are holding our own with most states, we have not kept pace with much of the world,” he said. “And we still must work to ensure that all our schools can meet the needs of all our students in this globally competitive environment.”

To achieve his global-competitiveness vision, Strickland outlined several core principles that will guide his educational efforts. Included among them is a personalized education program that would identify how each individual student learns and employ the teaching methods appropriate to that student’s needs and abilities.

“Education is the central issue I face as governor. I am determined to bring real change and real results. But I am also determined to find the best answers. We are creating a blueprint for the future of our schools and our state. And we will take the time to get it right.”

Governor Strickland’s complete state of the state address is available at http://www.governor.ohio.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=799.

Minnesota: Pawlenty Focuses on Recruiting Quality Teachers

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) made recruiting qualified teachers a priority in his state of the state speech on February 13. “We need to improve teaching and should start by expanding the talent pool for public educators in Minnesota,” he said. “The teaching profession is no longer consistently attracting top talent through traditional pathways. Predicted shortages of teachers with needed backgrounds like math and science are beginning to materialize.”

To attract qualified individuals from outside the teaching profession, Pawlenty focused on the need to expand opportunities for midcareer professionals to become teachers. He also stressed the importance of attracting young teachers into the profession. “We need to make it easier for such rising stars with needed subject matter expertise to have an alternative pathway into the profession, even though they may not have majored in education. Part of the attraction for these individuals will be a chance to spend some of their career in public service.”

Beyond recruitment, Pawlenty appealed to the state legislature to provide a 50 percent increase in funding for the state’s math and science teacher academies. Additionally, he proposed a summer institute that would train existing math and science teachers in teaching methods, curriculum, technology, and subject matter mastery and set a goal of training one thousand teachers over the next two years.

Pawlenty also discussed the need to implement a system of post-tenure review for teachers. “We can design this system in cooperation with the teachers’ unions, but it must get done,” he said. “It should include annual evaluations, access to additional training for improvement and a reasonable amount of time to correct deficiencies.”

More information on Pawlenty’s state of the state address, including a link to the full speech, is available athttp://www.governor.state.mn.us/mediacenter/pressreleases/PROD008677.html.

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