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June 17, 2008
Section: Editorials

Reform for real

Gov. Ted Strickland is open to exploring alternatives to the Ohio Graduation Test. This is good news in Stark County, and new evidence that Strickland is determined to take more control of Ohio's public schools.
For years, retired Judge W. Donald Reader, chairman of the board of the Stark Education Partnership, has urged the Ohio Department of Education to dump the Ohio Graduation Test and substitute the ACT, a widely used college entrance exam. Reader made his case again when Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut visited Stark County in late May. Now Fingerhut's boss, the governor, has told a student group he wants to explore alternatives to the graduation test "as part of the education reform process."

Though Strickland's most recent predecessors liked to call themselves Ohio's "education governor," they deserved neither ultimate credit nor blame for schools' successes and failures. Strickland wants to be accountable for both. He wants the authority to name a Cabinet-level education director with overall responsibility for primary and secondary education. The state superintendent and State Board of Education would become advisers, a situation that will send Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman packing before the end of the year.

Reader told Fingerhut that the state education bureaucracy's response to his pleading for permission to use the ACT as a graduation test was this: Apply for a waiver. But we won't give it to you.

Strickland's idea looks better and better.

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