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Ohio Students Talk Education Policy with Lawmakers at Statehouse

There's a lot of activity at the Ohio Statehouse this week. Some of it involves students from the Ohio College Access Network and the Ohio Student Education Policy Institute (OSEPI).  They are testifying before the Senate Finance Committee - presenting their recommendations regarding Ohio education policy. Senator Chris Widener says it's the second year the group has appeared before Widener’s committee.

He says "They work in a collaborative effort with several universities around the state: (OU)  Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, Ohio State, Washington State Community College were some that were represented yesterday and they take up a process to work together in collaborative look at some policy issues current and relevant to the legislature and they came in last year, and this is their second time in this year, and presented a couple of really interesting proposals.”

Widener serves in Ohio's 10th Senate District, which includes Clark, Greene and Madison counties. He is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  Widener quoted a report that said roughly 53% of students graduating from college aren't finding jobs in their chosen field.  Widener says some of that is due to the degrees students are choosing – but lawmakers are working on the broader issue.

He adds, “The legislature and the administration right now are spending a great deal of time trying to refocus efforts at particularly the community college level at getting out and working with industry starting with what jobs are open and available.  You know in the state of Ohio there are 92,000 jobs on Ohio means jobs website where employers have actually posted employment opportunities but yet we have several hundred thousand people on unemployment, so we obviously have a mismatch."

Regarding talk of student loans taking place, Republican Senator Chris Widener says he agrees with some economists who say the amount of student debt right now could lead to a situation similar to the foreclosure crises.