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BOWLING GREEN -- Calling himself someone who shakes things up, and likes doing it, Gov. John Kasich promised a big emphasis on education policy, during a speech tonight to the Wood County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner.
"We need significant, dramatic change in the way we do education," Mr. Kasich said. He said his plan, which he said is still not defined, will include introducing children and older students early in their educations to the idea of employment.
"I believe that early on - we’re doing it now - we need to introduce our young people to occupations, to jobs that exist and give them a sense of what’s out there,” Mr. Kasich said. He also vowed to restore vocational education.
And he said he wants to increase the role of businesses and faith-based organizations in the schools, "because many of our at-risk kids don't see a future, many of our at-risk kids don't have self confidence. I've seen it work in places where a combination of business and education and faith-based programs can change lives."
"We are going to push this, I don't care what it's going to take," he said. He said he’s already pushed through a third-grade reading guarantee to require a child to read at the third-grade level to be promoted to fourth grade.
Mr. Kasich, a Republican now kicking off his campaign for re-election this fall, said his late mother instilled in him the desire to make change.
"My mother would say, Johnny, you shake it up, and I've done that," he said. He said his philosophy as governor is to not play favorites and to not be partisan.
"This is a business where we do the right thing. You don't put your finger in the air and today they cheer you and tomorrow they take you out and tar and feather you," he said.
He expressed confidence, but not to the bragging level, about the state's economy. Democrats have increasingly pointed out that the job growth that characterized the start of his administration has leveled off.
"We're up 160,000 jobs. We were down 350,000 private sector jobs, so we're up jobs now. We're about halfway back. That's not good enough but we're going in the right direction, you all feel better, right?, about what's happening," he said, then reeled off a list of companies that have opened or expanded locations.
In discussing his recent budget, Mr. Kasich said his policies have resulted in tax cuts that benefit small businesses and let families make their own decisions, and a surplus of $1.4 billion, which he linked to the recent announcement of a Chinese investment in a former General Motors plant in Dayton that is expected to generate 800 jobs.
"Businesses that think about expansion go to the places where they are not going to be surprised," he said.
About 200 people attended the banquet, which raises money for the local party.
Before that, he exchanged small talk and conversation about state government policy in a half-hour stop with supporters at Coffee Amici coffee house in Findlay.
In response to a woman who said she works in a pain management clinic, Mr. Kasich said, "we're very into that, our anti-drug campaign."
Mr. Kasich inquired of Tracy Althaus where she worked and she told him at the Findlay Sears store, but that the store is closing.
"I'm sorry to hear that," Mr.Kasich said.
"It will be okay," said Ms. Althaus, 51. "I just graduated from Owens Community College." She said she received a degree in emergency management planning, and hopes to find a job, possibly in flood mitigation.
Mr. Kasich and running mate Mary Taylor are expected to face Democrat Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and his newly named running mate Sharen Neuhardt.
Contact Tom Troy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6058.