School Choice Ohio is pleased to introduce intern Marjorie Yano. Marjorie is a third-year law student at The Ohio State University.
Last week, we heard Governor Strickland deliver the State of the State address (full text here) and President Obama present the State of the Union (full text here). In both addresses our government leaders reflected on the challenges of 2009 and the promises of 2010. Both men acknowledged the importance of education, but lacked an emphasis on education reform and school choice as an important tool to move the state and country out of the current economic recession and into a brighter future.
The State of the State address given by Governor Strickland, was hopeful for Ohio’s future, but not surprisingly lacked any talk of support for increased school choice or further education reform. As we posted on Twitter during our live blog of the speech: “We still have a long way to go toward quality education in Ohio. Not hearing much in terms of new education proposals.”
Whether it’s establishing Ohio at the forefront of the clean energy revolution, revitalizing our manufacturing and small business sectors, or reinvigorating our cities as centers of commerce (all initiatives mentioned by the Governor), Ohio must continue to support and improve its education systems. The Governor recognized the importance of education improvement and recognized accomplishments in Ohio over the past year, but the Governor’s address lacked much mention of the future of Ohio’s schools – or the possibility of expanded school choice options for Ohio’s families.
Last week marked the deadline for submissions for our annual School Choice Essay Contest. Ohio families wrote in to share about lives that have been changed through school choice. They are tales of transformation and of students who, thanks to the opportunities afforded through the EdChoice and Autism Scholarship programs, are now on their way to a happy and successful future.
If Ohio is to continue to move towards a productive future and better educational system, we cannot rest on our laurels – and school choice must be part of the next stage of discussions and plans.
As for President Obama’s State of the Union, the future of education policy was discussed in more specific terms. Although much of his speech reflected on the struggling economy, stalled health care reform, and continuing national security concerns, the President was optimistic about the future of the country, closing his address by stating that “The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. … Let’s seize this moment – to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.”
In reaching this brighter tomorrow, the President specifically mentioned the need to “invest in the skills and education of our people” and that “the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education.” Making brief mention of K-12 education (but no specific mention of school choice), President Obama noted the upcoming renewal and reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB) – and encouraged nation-wide adoption of educational reforms in the coming year. We hope the school choice elements of NCLB, now elusive for parents, will be strengthened and improved.
Although neither the Governor nor the President focused on the challenges facing education in America, I hope the mere mention of the need for education reform will spark debate in our legislatures, with an understanding that school choice provides paths for children to learn, grow, and become the driving force in the rebuilding of our country.
- Majorie Yano