I’ve had this problem lately. After coming of age in the middle of Republican dominance, having to read about GOP legislative victories over bad policy, the trampling of civil liberties, and the prosecution of inept wars, the political events of 2008 and 2009 still seem like something of a dream to me. This week, as I was reading the Youngstown Vindicator, a regional newspaper covering my hometown, I saw another surprise — an education policy that is innovative and progressive!

The governor wants to expand the school year by 20 days to an average of 200 days over the next 10 years.

Strickland … is also calling for the end of “the outdated practice of giving our most impressionable students only a half-day of learning. Ohio will now require universal all-day kindergarten.” The governor also called for the end of the Ohio graduation test and replace it with the ACT college entrance test and “three additional measures.”

Those measures are: statewide ‘end of course’ exams, complete a service learning project, and submit a senior project.

“Students will, of course, continue to learn the timeless core subjects like math and science that are critical to their success,” he said at today’s State of the State address. “But we will also add new topics including global awareness and life skills to the curriculum. And we will use teaching methods that foster creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, media literacy, leadership and productivity, cultural awareness, adaptability and accountability.”

Strickland said his proposed two-year budget will increase the state’s share of the cost of school funding and reduce the reliance on property tax.

Governor Strickland is also aiming to improve the quality of teachers in the classroom in Ohio with an innovative residency program.

…“Just as future doctors begin their careers under the watchful eye of an experienced colleague, we will give our new teachers the benefit of thoughtful guidance from an accomplished senior teacher. After a four-year residency, successful candidates will earn their professional teaching license.”

Since August, I’ve been discussing the need for elementary and high school curriculum to go beyond the trendy math and hard sciences that not-so-qualified teachers try to teach. And now here comes Strickland with policy that would educate students as if they’re — surprise! — future citizens of a country that is facing sustained competition. Understanding global languages and culture is going to be more important than ever as we move forward. It’s not just about jobs, and Strickland seems to recognize that here.