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Monday, April 03, 2006 

Education most important issue to Ohio Republicans according to Poll

I recently went through the Suffolk University Poll on Ohio Politics that was released in early March. The poll was quite extensive with over 210 pages of data and analysis. I was surprised by some of the findings in the Poll including :

Q11(A-F). How important is this issue:
  1. Health care? 90% very important
  2. Education? 89% very important
  3. Terrorism? 73% very important
  4. Ethics in government? 69% very important
  5. Unemployment? 68% very important
  6. Taxes? 64% very important
I would have suspected it to be a little different. Now, if you seperated it by Party affliation it plays out like this:

Q11(A-F). How important is this issue:
  1. Health care? 90% Total 87%R - 95%D -89%I
  2. Education? 89% Total 90%R - 92%D -87%I
  3. Terrorism? 73% Total 87%R - 66%D -71%I
  4. Ethics in government? 69% Total 74%R - 74%D -65%I
  5. Unemployment? 68% Total 50%R - 76%D -70%I
  6. Taxes? 64% Total 69%R - 59%D -64%I
So, the most important issues for all Ohioans regardless of party is Education and Health Care. That sounds pretty progressive to me.

Ted Stricklands Turnaround Ohio plan really focuses alot on Education. It's number one component is "Provide every child a fair start through access to high-quality early care and education". This seems like a solid plan.
Recent findings have found that investing in early-childhood education programs is key to ensuring solid economic growth in a community. With every tax dollar spent on early-childhood development, $17 will be returned to the community through the increased earnings of the child in the future or by eliminating potential spending on special-education and correctional institutions.

The plan also addresses technology in education and increasing enrollment in our higher education programs.

Ken Blackwell offers the 65 cent solution which would put restrictions on how schools could spend money. Schools would be unable to repair buildings, provide busing, provide food service, have support staff or in house nurses and counselors if 65% of the schools funding didn't go to in the classroom activities (which oddly but thankfully included field trips and athletic programs). This initative is popular in conservative circles and has been defeated in many states including Texas.

"There's no guarantee (this proposal) would put more money in classrooms, especially if you leave it to administrators, who're more likely to cut valuable and necessary support services rather than their own salaries," said Ohio Federation of Teachers President Tom Mooney (no relation to Tim Mooney).
The Republican establishment has decided to move this agenda forward, not to help education in Ohio but to obtain "political benefits" according to this memo circulated amoung Republican lawmakers.
The memo, first published by the Austin American-Statesman last month, says the proposal will "create tremendous tension" within state education unions by pitting administrators against teachers and will divert spending on other political goals of the "education establishment."
This seems typical of Ohio Republicans who seem to be more interested in their own futures than the future of our state or our children.

Jim Petro offers only one platform on Education on his "Vision for Ohio" section of his website. This article focuses on his P-16 approach. From what I can tell, this plan would like to create a more centralized governing approach by shifting power to the State Board of Regents away from the independent board of trustees for 2 and 4 year colleges. He is also interested in creating Charter Universities which he feels would shift funding away from state sources. In the end, Mr Petro seems wishy washy even on these vague proposals. His website states that these are "nothing more than ideas" and in the end he fails to commit to our children.

So for being the number one issue to Ohio Republicans - the Republican candidates really come up short on innovative ideas and planning. Mr. Blackwell opts for the plan that will offer him the most "political benefits" and Mr. Petro concedes that he has some ideas but no real plans. That is depressing.

On the other hand, the Strickland/Fisher Turnaround Ohio plan seems to be solid and offers creative approaches backed by research and experience. He has a background in education and was awarded entry into the UofK Education Hall of Fame in 2000. Among the many education laws he helped author are the National Service Act and the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB 2001).

If Ohio Republicans truly believe that Education is a very important issue in Ohio - they'll have to look seriously at the Strickland Plan. It offers a proven return on investment minus the risk, politics and big government of the other candidates plans.

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Wow! Great post. Really startling to see education rank higher than Republicans than with Democrats. And that memo publicized by the Austin American-Statesman is the perfect marker of how the Repubs apporach substantive issues.

Thanks!

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