Ohio HS to Get Tougher in 2014 but The Time to Prepare Is Now

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Recently, I participated in a focus group convened by the Columbus Public Schools on Ohio CORE. If you do not know what Ohio CORE is, then you had better bone up on it fast because this legislation will have a major impact on how your children and grandchildren will be educated.

Governor Strickland signed the Ohio Core initiative into law January 2007, even though the legislation was initially the brainchild of former Governor Bob Taft and Republican members of the Ohio Legislature.

Ohio Core calls for a more demanding high-school curriculum stressing more instruction in English, math and science. Ohio CORE will require all students pass Algebra 2, and students must pass an 11th grade college and workforce prep exam to graduate.

The idea behind the legislation is to make Ohio students more competitive in the global, knowledge-based economy. We have all seen the stats on how kids in the United States are falling behind children in other countries in their knowledge of math and science. Consequently, at least 47 states including Ohio, are in the process of either revamping their high school graduation or state college admission requirements. With the establishment of Ohio CORE, our state has done both.

The initiative’s other purpose is to strengthen the link between high school performance and state college admission. Once Ohio CORE is in place six years from now, 10 of the 13 state colleges, including Ohio State University, will not admit students who fail to meet the Ohio CORE requirements.

After I left the focus group, I began to think about just how school districts like Columbus, and small rural districts, will have to set this whole plan in motion. Yes, our kids need to be better prepared to face the ebb and flow of the 21st century global economy.

However, Ohio CORE needs more than just students working harder for it to succeed. Teachers and administrators will need to be re-trained, classrooms will need to be re-tooled in order to update their technology, companies will need to provide hands-on learning experiences, and parents will need to play a vital role in partnership with their schools. Above all, mechanisms for poor families will need to be created that will provide support so low-income children will not fall between the cracks. These approaches will not just need resources from the school districts, but also from community organizations and volunteers.

Ohio CORE puts a tall order on all of us. Whether you agree or not that Ohio CORE will fix our failing education system, the Legislature has mandated that our schools will make it happen. I urge you to learn more about Ohio CORE and to voice your opinion on its merit now. Do not wait until 2014 our children have already waited too long for us to get involved in shaping the future of education in Ohio.