Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris last week offered four recommendations she and others believe will improve student achievement throughout the state.

Columbus City Schools superintendent Gene Harris last week offered four recommendations she and others believe will improve student achievement throughout the state.

Harris, as part of the Public-Private Collaborative Commission, presented the recommendations to the Columbus Board of Education, and said she will forward information onto the legislature.

The report, titled "Supporting Student Success: A New Learning Day in Ohio," was undertaken at the behest of Gov. Ted Strickland. Members were asked to make the recommendations in response to the creation of the Ohio Core Curriculum, which raised student expectations for graduation.

The crux of the report was changing how the community and schools work together to create a culture of learning.

"The commission is not necessarily talking about a longer school day," said Jerry Jurgensen, co-chair of the commission and CEO of Nationwide. "Spending more time doing the same thing that isn't working isn't going to help."

He added: "We can no longer tolerate an industrial-age school model that was designed for an economic and social environment that no longer exists."

The recommendation were:

Create a new culture of learning so communities share responsibility for student performance.

Meet the learning needs of all students by creating a system of extended, accelerated and connected learning.

Make dropout prevention, early intervention and recovery a priority.

Build strategic bridges with families and communities.

"Ohio must embrace a new vision that includes a whole day for learning," Jurgensen said. "We must buy into a new culture of learning and have the political will to make it happen."

Jurgensen said he believes the main focus of the recommendations is a shift in accountability.

"We need to shift the accountability for our children's education to the community and leave the responsibly for doing it with our schools," he said. "Improvement in student achievement will not be achieved without authentic community engagement."

Jurgensen said that state government cannot accomplish local responsibility.

Jurgensen said a top-down solution from the state will not work.

"Ohio's new learning day belongs to local schools, neighborhoods and communities," he said.

To this end, the commission recommended the state design a campaign to promote the benefits of postsecondary education.

"It's amazing to me that we actually have to make an argument in this day and age on the importance of a college degree," Jurgensen said.

Harris said of the four recommendations the most important one in terms of Columbus was developing new school leaders.

"I think we are on the way to doing that, but there is still work that needs to be done," she said.

Board member W. Carlton Weddington, who was elected to the state legislature last month, asked how the commission would engage state legislators to promote the recommendations.

"This is either the second or third of these commissions that I've had the opportunity to work on," Jurgensen said, "which means that twice I've handed a set of recommendations to the state legislature and they have hardly seen the light of day."

Jurgensen said commission members purposely keep the recommendations short, in the hopes of avoiding any political pit falls.

dcross@thisweeknews.com