Ohio's Local P-16 Councils
are Emerging as a National Model
A little-understood but vital trend developing in communities throughout Ohio...could serve as a national model of the transformations needed to respond to the new shape of our economy.- Dennis McGrath
Does Ohio already have community-based models that are capable of responding to the rapidly changing demands of a new economy? Yes, says Dennis McGrath, Professor of Sociology at the Community College of Philadelphia and Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Educational Alliances. His new publication for the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Convergence as Strategy and as Model: Linking P-16 Education Reform and Economic Development, draws upon lessons from four Ohio communities.
What in the past, he states, were standalone activities and isolated programs are being drawn together by local preschool through college (P-16) councils into a model of well-planned, coordinated, community-wide strategies that integrate education reform and economic development. The featured efforts in the report are the Stark County P-16 Compact; Southern State Community College and Southern Ohio Center of Excellence; EDvention, Dayton's regional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiative; and Strive of Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky.
These local P-16s and others throughout the state are utilizing a strategic approach that forms networks of organizations linked by bonds of collaboration and interdependent action. He credits Dr. Adrienne O'Neill of the Stark Education Partnership for originating the term "convergence" to describe these activities. Convergence, according to McGrath, represents a vital effort to reposition our communities to face the challenges of the 21st-century economy.
McGrath maintains that by bringing everyone to the table and coordinating the efforts of many groups in the community, P-16 Councils are obtaining results that no single institution could obtain on its own. Yet, the potential of such community based efforts to meet the new challenges of a knowledge-based economy can only be fully realized if there are corresponding changes in public policy.