Kasich Proposes New Initiatives For Dropout Prevention

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Kasich began his discussion of education by describing a teenager: unnamed, living somewhere in Ohio, who has lost all interest in school and is at risk of dropping out.  And he asked the crowd: how can we get her excited about learning?

“I don’t care what party you’re a member of,” he said.” We need an answer for her and 24,000 Ohioan who face the same decision and drop out every year.  24,000 kids who drop out every year, and they join a million adults who live in Ohio who don’t have a high school diploma.

Kasich said his administration would soon be sending the legislature proposals to identify and reach out to at-risk kids.  And he would ask local school districts to devise alternative paths to a high school diploma.

“And if that path takes some of them out the traditional classroom and into real life job training, so be it.  We have to have the courage to think outside of the box because we have to reach every student.”

One such outside the box idea he proposed is lowering the grade level at which kids could attend vocational school to the seventh grade, the theory being that by working in they could learn that math and English have real life practical applications.

Another, that he calls Community Connectors, would bring schools, community organizations, faith based groups, businesses and others together in a program to mentor those at risk of dropping out or trying to get back on a career track – paid for with a three to one match from state casino revenues.

And, Kasich said he wants to try expanding the missions of community colleges to help those who had dropped out years ago go back to school and catch up.

“They’re not going to go back to high school,” he said. “Let them go into our two year schools and we’re going to try this, slowly, to see if it will work.  They can go to our two year schools they can get their high school diploma, they can get credentials, they can get training, and then they can stand up straight again.”

Kasich tossed out other ideas for helping young people plot their educations and careers, for instance, an on-line road map of jobs and careers that can be accessed on a cell phone, and allowing students everywhere to earn credits toward a college degree while they are still in high school.

One of the biggest changes to come, Kasich said, involves funding for higher education. 

“Colleges and universities will not get any of these state dollars that has gone to them traditionally based on enrollment.  They will only get paid if students complete courses or students get degrees.”

Kasich also pledged give more attention to and raise standards for early childhood education, and to help veterans set and attain educational goals – including giving them college credit for training they received in the military.

He said all of these ideas will come to the legislature as a package sometime in the coming weeks.