Ohio’s Constitution needs complete review

Published 9:03 am Friday, January 13, 2012

Every 20 years, Ohio voters decide whether to authorize a citizens’ convention that would update the state constitution or even write a new one.

The next opportunity to revisit Ohio’s fundamental law will come this November. Ohioans should prepare themselves to take advantage of it.

The last time voters invoked the option was in 1912. That year, a constitutional convention approved such useful measures as the initiative and referendum, which enable voters to enact laws directly and to affirm or repeal laws passed by the General Assembly.

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Over the past century, though, Ohioans have repeatedly rejected statewide conventions in favor of various blue- ribbon panels that proposed constitutional changes to lawmakers and ultimately to voters. There is such a body this year — the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, composed of 12 state legislators and 20 other Ohioans whom the lawmakers will appoint.

The panel will be in business for the next decade. Commissioners deserve every opportunity to pursue the thorough reforms that Ohio’s constitution, enacted in 1851, needs. But if they show an unwillingness or inability this year to do that job, then voters will have to take the process into their own hands.

The current constitution is larded with obsolete language and special-interest provisions. It needs a top-to-bottom review of the powers and duties it defines for state government, not just patching and tweaking. …

The (Toledo) Blade


Pre-school vital to ensure no children ‘left behind’

Kindergarten really isn’t the beginning of a youngster’s education. Children begin learning from birth, at home and through avenues other than formal education.

That means some are better prepared than others to begin school. Those who enter kindergarten and first grade without adequate preparation too often fall behind classmates and never catch up.

During the past decade or so, educators have come to understand their work needs to begin before kindergarten, sometimes as early as age 3 in pre-school programs.

Ohio has a reasonably widespread network of such facilities, certified by the state Department of Education.

But state officials, encouraged by the private sector, want to do better. As a result, the state applied for and is to receive a $70 million federal grant to improve programs that prepare children for kindergarten. …

The idea behind Ohio’s grant proposal is to improve the quality of pre-school offerings and to develop better methods of evaluating whether children are ready for kindergarten. …

Too many Ohio children are “left behind” before they ever enroll in kindergarten or first grade. Changing that, with or without federal grant help, should be a priority.

The (Warren) Tribune Chronicle