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Funding tweaks, online school changes part of DeWine education plan

Mike DeWine on Friday discussed his 17-point education plan as part of his campaign for governor, focusing on issues of less testing, more career tech options, better technology and improved college affordability.

DeWine’s plan calls for more equity in school funding, to direct state resources toward children in need. He said history shows that poor kids need more resources. In Ohio, a governor suggests a school funding plan, but legislators have the final say, and they changed John Kasich’s past few proposals.

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“It’s always a challenge when you’re talking about money,” DeWine said. “I’ve yet to find a school district that thought they were being treated fairly. I understand the challenge and Jon Husted understands the challenge, but I’ve also been pretty good in my career at pulling people together.”

DeWine, 71, has been Ohio’s attorney general for the past 8 years after serving a combined 20 years in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Cedarville resident is the Republican candidate for governor, with former Kettering resident and current Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted as his running mate.

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They’re running against Democrat Richard Cordray, 59, of Grove City, who was director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the past five years and previously served as Ohio attorney general, treasurer and solicitor general. His running mate is former U.S. Congresswoman Betty Sutton.

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DeWine’s education plan calls for reducing the number of required student tests, but doesn’t identify which type or how many should be eliminated. It also doesn’t offer details on how the school funding changes would work. DeWine called the plan “a list of aspirational goals.”

There are some new suggestions. DeWine calls for new state funding to help colleges produce more computer science teachers, plus a new tax incentive for businesses that hire students, to push more teenagers into varied work experiences.

He also proposes tying part of state funding for colleges and universities to “post-graduate job attainment,” arguing that schools may need to spend more money on job placement efforts for students.

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DeWine has taken criticism along with other Republicans for taking campaign contributions from the ECOT online charter school, while it overbilled the state for years and produced bad academic results.

DeWine argued that the attorney general is the state’s lawyer, and when complaints were brought to his office, he acted. He said Cordray was attorney general for two years before him and took no action on ECOT.

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Now DeWine is proposing that online charter schools only receive state funding if students complete courses and show competency via testing. DeWine said online charters should be an option, but it is questionable whether those schools would operate while fronting costs with no guarantee of reimbursement.

Education topics

** DeWine said Ohio should increase resources for early-childhood education.

** He is open to discussion of changes to Ohio’s state takeover model for struggling K-12 schools.

** DeWine didn’t comment specifically on Ohio’s graduation-rule controversy, but leaned toward a need for multiple pathways to help students find their passion.

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** He finds the current state report card system hard to understand, but argues the most important measure should be student growth over time — a metric that some Ohio educators don’t trust.

Cordray’s campaign did not directly comment on DeWine’s education plan, referring instead to responses from others. Ohio Democratic Party spokeswoman Robyn Patterson said DeWine’s voting record has “prioritized tax cuts for the wealthy over the needs of our students.”

Cordray’s campaign has not yet released a full K-12 education plan. He has talked about the need to better fund and organize the state’s many agencies that deal with early-childhood education. And he wants to strengthen vocational training, partnering with colleges, unions and manufacturers to grow apprenticeship programs.

2017 STORY: Ohio schools ranked exactly average nationally

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