It's no surprise that Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and nearly every other governor in the country have a hand out for a hand out from Washington. Democrats want to spend $825 billion on all kinds of programs from roads and energy efficiency to welfare and education. States have real pressing needs to pay for all these items and not enough money to do it. Strickland, looking at least a $7 billion budget deficit has asked for $5 billion from the federal government. Whatever Ohio gets, presumably, a billion or so will go to education.
The question is whether the feds will use the bank bailout philosophy or the auto bailout philosophy in handing out the money. With the banks, it was shovel it out the door and ask questions later. With the auto execs, it was run them through the ringer a few times and demand a realistic plan. The later method is probably the best way to treat state aid.???? This awful economic mess arrives when Ohio education is at a crossroads--either to make it stronger, more academically focused and accountable or, perhaps to turn back against meaningful reform. President-Elect Obama has already indicated he's into education reform. Obama, who was in Ohio Friday to talk up his stimulus plans, likes charter schools, accountability, standards and better-trained teachers. Congressional Democrats already have rolled out an ambitious plan of educational spending that includes tens of billions for education. Unfortunately, this plan seems to simply throw money at a problem. Ohio's governor owes too much to labor unions for us to believe that he will think any differently. Union-backed education reform means simply spending more money, not changing the system and Strickland mainly has been focused on how the state will pay for education. And that brings us back to the federal bailout. Federal money should be tied to results, such as better teachers, strengthening accountability mechanisms and getting good teachers and principals into schools. Maybe it also should be tied to No Child Left Behind goals. The idea, however, that it will simply go to perpetuating an education system littered with broken programs that work more for the benefit of adults than children is scary.