December 3, 2013, by Dan Roberts

Education in Ohio: The ‘Back Roads’ to Success, Part 2

Part II

A continuation and conclusion of Dan Roberts' blog post from November 25, 2013.


Some may argue that the Common Core curriculum that mandates the majority of our education today comes at the expense of the arts. An alarming decline in high school fine and performing arts courses is sweeping through the state. Many districts simply cannot afford to provide courses that are not connected to data that identifies proficiency in math, reading or writing. Columbus College of Art and Design, a college that has produced renowned animators, artists and designers has already adapted to this educational trend of concentrating only on the so-called “academic subjects.” Meghan Havens works for CCAD as a Campus Experience Coordinator, Admissions. Meghan shared how the college is moving away from the traditional high quality portfolio needed for acceptance into the college. “We have the student show us how they are creative. We evaluate on potential and grade point average. Students should have some form of drawing experience.” Havens further expressed her opinion on the importance the arts. “Learning math and science is important but people will always be interested in design. It is very practical. Advertising graphic design, web design and mobile phone apps are examples. Art is our culture!”

A central Ohio community college administrator recently stated to me that there are not enough advanced placement courses offered at the high school level. There has become a greater emphasis on outcomes and less on the process of finding the answer. Creativity and problem solving skills are in decline he observed. Remedial courses at the college level have become all too common. Partnering with public schools to better prepare students for college is a first and very vital step. It is important that students use what financial aid they are given to take courses related to their desired field of study and not remedial courses.

Educators have never really been given enough credit for preparing students for the “real world.” Quite frankly, there just isn’t enough time to cover every essential life-skill taught in the limited time given to educate the students. There are 180 school days a year. Take away an occasional snow day or two, professional training days that send kids home and teachers into learning situations, and this number is reduced closer to 170. The incredible complexity of being prepared for college, the work force or the military isn’t something education alone can accomplish. As the African proverb states, “It takes an entire village to educate one child.” While I will succinctly state the responsibility to prepare a child for post high school life is everyone’s, it is most certainly the parents’ role to be an integral part of their child’s education.  We also need to place responsibility on the child. The greatest teachers and loving parents do not necessarily guarantee success; we are too often not expecting enough of the child.

I have seen a wide expanse of this great state visiting all counties that border the Ohio River and those that extend back to our state’s capital in Columbus. Its geography is beautiful and varied just as are the school districts that dot its landscape. It is also in great need of an economic boost which will have a positive effect due to careful and insightful planning by a great many persons with a highly vested interest.

School facilities are my focus but I care also about academics—the real core of what we teach in America’s public schools. The stone sign located in front of the Southern Local School District in Perry County embodies a philosophy shared by many: Education is the foundation of the community.

The back roads of Ohio, with its small school districts steeped in great pride, still lead to places of higher learning.