College might be tougher to get into

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins


COLUMBUS – High school students would face a tough new set of graduation requirements and four-year colleges would no longer offer make-up classes under a sweeping education proposal by Gov. Bob Taft in his last State of the State speech.

Under the program, which Taft dubbed “the Ohio Core,” students would have to take four years of math and English, three years of science and social studies and two years of a foreign language beginning in the fall of 2007.

Completing those courses would be required to be admitted to one of Ohio’s four-year public colleges or universities, and any remedial work would have to be done at a two-year college.

“For too many, a high school diploma is not a passport to success, but rather a broken promise,” Taft said. “The world has raised the bar, and so we must act to raise the bar for high school graduation.”

Lawmakers who provided only minimal increases in education funding in the current two-year budget backed the concept while saying details would have to be worked out.

“We’re not willing to send blank checks,” House Speaker Jon Husted said. “We are willing to make targeted investments that are going to benefit the education of all Ohioans.”

Taft has had mixed results getting the GOP-controlled Legislature to adopt proposals from his eight annual addresses. This time, he is asking lawmakers to back his ideas in an election year when he has rock bottom approval ratings and the stigma of being the first Ohio governor charged with a crime.

The ethics charges for failing to report gifts he received are part of a government corruption scandal that has Democrats hoping they can end 12 years of GOP control in the state.

Taft called his education proposal a major change but didn’t say how much it might cost.

“Change is difficult, but we fail to act at our own peril,” Taft said.

Ohio’s top school official said the idea would require more spending and Ohioans must be persuaded the money should be spent.

“We hope the citizens of Ohio understand that children are our most precious resources and that we have a moral responsibility to prepare them for the future,” state schools Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman said.

Democrats in the minority in the House and Senate said the idea looked good on paper but lacked money to hire the new teachers it would require.