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September 8th, 2008
Spotlight on Ohio: Schools in the Nation's Swing State

As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.

It’s a political truism – one with evidence in more than half a century of Presidential contests. Since 1960, every elected President has won the state. But Ohio’s political history is not why we chose it as the main location for “WHERE WE STAND.” Instead, we chose it because – as much as one state can – it seemed to best represent the American educational experience. Ohio is the most densely populated state in the Midwest, and its geographic diversity – which ranges from the more affluent suburbs of Columbus to the rural, economically-strained swathes of Appalachia – makes for an extremely varied school system.

In addition, Ohio’s political and educational leaders are putting a major emphasis on improving that system. Specifically, they want to prepare Ohio’s students to compete in a global economy.

According to the Ohio Board of Education, “The future of Ohio’s economy depends on the ability to develop a world-class work force and changes are needed within the (K-12) education system to be successful in this endeavor.”

It’s an aggressive approach to education – but one that’s producing results. In the past 20 years, the state’s schools have risen from a ranking in the middle of the nation, to 7th. Student test scores have improved by 25 percent, and the number of fourth-graders who passed the state reading test has almost doubled to 80 percent.

OHIO – Quick Facts:
It has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the country: 7.2%, compared to the national average 5.7% (July 2008)
Number of local school districts: 614
Number of schools: 4,012
Number of students: 1,839,683
Number of charter schools: 316

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