Allison Cole and Kellyn Moran

In his efforts to better secondary education, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has outlined plans in his executive budget to grant high school students more opportunities at obtaining college credit prior to graduation.

According to Amanda Wurst, deputy communications director for Strickland, his Post Secondary Enrollment Option would grant high school students throughout Ohio a greater option of receiving credit that would go toward both high school and college, by increasing funding for an already existing form of the program.

Wurst said this program will help students at both public and private high schools start college with credits and experience at that level.

Carole Johnson, internal communications coordinator for Miami University, said that with so much changing in the Ohio school system, Miami would have to take a look at the specific plans Strickland is proposing in order for her to fully comment on Miami’s view.

She also said it is difficult to comment, because right now, Strickland’s proposals are no more than just plans.

Johnson did however state that Miami does hold options for high school students to earn college credit.

“We have post secondary options in which the credit goes to both high school and college credit,” Johnson said.

In order for Strickland’s Post Secondary Enrollment Option program to be granted an additional $6.5 million, Wurst said recommendations would be made by the Partnership for Continued Learning, chaired by Strickland, to the Ohio Department of Education and the Board of Regents. The two groups will then view the recommendations and determine the eligibility requirements to participate.

Should Strickland’s budget also pass through the Ohio House and the Senate, Wurst said the program, as Strickland outlined it, would begin in the fiscal year of 2009 – meaning July 1, 2008.

In early April, the University of Dayton announced support of Strickland’s plan.

“University of Dayton was the first to publicly announce (support for the plan) but there have been other (colleges) that also support it,” Wurst said, but was unable to give specific names of other universities in support of the Post Secondary Enrollment Option plan.

She emphasized that education for K-12 and beyond is a priority for Strickland.

She said one goal he outlined in his State of the State address March 14 was to have 230,000 more Ohioans obtain a college degree within 10 years, ensuring that Ohioans are prepared for future jobs with the most highly educated workforce.

Wurst said Strickland wants to implement programs to help secondary education because he believes that higher education is critical to the future of Ohioans.

“The governor believes that in the future, jobs will go where the workforce is best educated,” Wurst said.

Wurst said that while programs like this are already in existence, there is reluctance on the part of school districts to participate in them, for reasons unknown to Wurst, that Strickland’s office hopes additional funding will alleviate.

Strickland hopes that the $6.5 million that the program will provide to districts will help encourage their participation.

According to Wurst, this would be just one policy of many that Strickland has for education in Ohio.

“There are two programs that the governor believes will be important in increasing the amount of Ohioans with a college degree,” Wurst said.

The second program regarding higher education that Strickland hopes to increase funding on is called Early College High Schools. This program was also outlined in his executive budget.

Strickland’s proposal for the Early College High Schools would increase funding for the program by $1.5 million for the fiscal year of 2009.

Through this program, Wurst said students would have the option of earning enough college credit to graduate high school with both a diploma and an associate’s degree. She said five or six programs like this already exist around Ohio.