Ohio finally almost sorta kinda received some relatively decent news yesterday.
The performance index score trend, which gauges the composite test scores of all students in Ohio public education, ticked up to 92.9 in the 08-09 school year from 92.3 in 07-08.
A 0.6% improvement! The good news for Ohio? If Ohio's unemployment rate improves at the same rate as Ohio education, unemployment will return to the levels they were at the beginning of Strickland's term in approximately 80 years.
The bad news? Ohio's graduation rate decreased by 2.3%. Why is that significant? Well, if Ohio ever wants to field an educated workforce - one that was able to actually get into college - we need to graduate students from high school. I don't care how many school districts are rated 'excellent' or 'super-duper', those ratings are arbitrary and are up to each state to determine. What matters is how many students are actually furthering their education - and that can't happen if students aren't graduating. With that being said and to be fair, Ohio's graduation rate is actually above the national average.
But it's near impossible to credit or blame Ted Strickland for any of these numbers for the mere fact that the Governor never even proposed any plan to reform education until well over halfway into his term and after the 08-09 school year.
Education Governor, my foot.
And yet Strickland wants to maintain the focus of Ohioans on reforming education.
Well, actually 664,000 reasons.
That's the number of people out of work in Ohio.
The Buckeye State has suffered a 108% jump in unemployment since Ted Strickland became Governor.
A recent poll from Rasmussen said nearly 8 in 10 Americans knew someone out of work and looking for employment. Since Ohio's unemployment rate is almost 20% higher than the national average, it's safe to assume Rasmussen's poll result would be even higher if his sample was just Ohio.
Make no mistake; jobs will be the number one issue in the 2010 Ohio Gubernatorial Election. And it won't even be close.
But that won't stop Ted Strickand from continuing his education whistlestop tour through Ohio, and it won't stop him from taking credit for Ohio test scores, and it won't stop the teacher unions from spending gobs of cash they have to focus the debate on education in an effort to keep Strickland in their back pocket. All in an effort to divert attention from the #1 issue facing Ohioans today.
They'll be wasting their time.
At the end of the day, what matters to Ohioans isn't what a political commercial tells them to care about, what matters is what's going on in their household, in their community, and among their friends and family.
And they'll see Ohio is suffering. They'll see it's been going on for far too long.
And they'll want a change.