Toledo and northwest Ohio residents need to instill in their children the understanding that a high school degree is no longer adequate to successfully navigate the working world, trustees of Owens Community College and The University of Toledo and Toledo Public Schools members agreed at a historic first joint board meeting Feb. 24 on UT’s Main Campus.
“We need to create a culture that says high school is not enough, that you need higher education to be successful,” said Owens Trustee John Moore.
The key to that culture, said TPS Superintendent John Foley, “is to instill in students the importance of college early on in their lives.”
By engaging students as young as kindergarten and coupling the expectation of a college degree with programs at Owens and UT that provide an opportunity to cover the cost of tuition, students will know the only barrier to a college degree is one’s own work ethic.
Thanking Owens and UT for the Owens Success program and the UT Guarantee program, TPS Board Member Lisa Sobecki spoke about the increasing number of families suddenly realizing the financial barrier had been removed or reduced, making college an obtainable goal for their children.
TPS School Board Member Bob Vasquez said that as stronger collaboration results in an increasing number of college graduates, northwest Ohio will be able to use that brainpower to fuel the sort of economic engine needed in the region.
Following excerpts from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s state of the state address, which called for overhauling the way the state educates children, UT Trustee Rick Stansley said the three boards needed to focus on transformational change.
“Having experienced both incremental and transformational change and seeing the goals the governor has laid out in his state of the state address, it is clear to me we need to be thinking big and identifying ways we can come together at a board level to move our institutions toward the vision the governor is proposing,” Stansley said.
One suggested change was the appointment of an education “czar” who would oversee the coordination of education efforts that spanned K-12 and higher education programs and institutions.
Discussions will continue in March at the subcommittee level and the three boards hope to reconvene in April.