Spinning Windmills and Movie Reels for Michigan?

Give Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm credit for truthfulness. Her State of the State speech included this statement: "Any honest assessment of our state’s economy has got to recognize that things are likely to get worse before they get better."

As for some of the specifics in the address, Granholm appears to have adopted the "promise everything and see what sticks" approach. A few examples from this Detroit News summary:

  • Following the lead of several people currently in power in Washington, she is denouncing coal. A potential moratorium on new coal-fired plants and a "45 by 20" plan that calls for a 45% reduction in fossil fuels by 2020 sounds nice, but doesn’t pass the realism test.
  • As for no utility shutoffs, a one-year freeze on car insurance rates and no home foreclosures without 90-day notices. These are great for consumers to hear, but can businesses survive and thrive with those restrictions?
  • In education, "Promise Zones" to help provide college tuition for the needy and "Algebra for All" to better prepare teachers offer hope for improvement.
  • And, if the green energy industry doesn’t help the auto woes, there is state money proposed for an $86 million animation movie studio in Detroit, and a $54 million movie studio in Detroit. What?

Sure, Indiana might compete with our neighbors to the north in some business aspects. But in looking beyond state borders, a stronger Michigan would likely mean a stronger region to the benefit of all.

The economic hole is a deep one. Good luck! You’re going to need it.

More Time in the Classroom: An Idea Whose Time has Come

The words that are uttered in State of the State addresses do not always become reality, but it was hard to ignore the "call for a longer school year" this week from Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

School reform measures are popular in discussion, although many don’t receive the implementation they deserve. Charter schools, vouchers, scholarship tax credits and performance pay for teachers do, at least, get to the table in the talks. But what about spending more time at task? Hardly, if ever mentioned.

Indiana (and most of the rest of the country’s) school day was set up at about the same time as our state’s local government structure. The 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school day — allowing students to work on the farm both before and after classes, as well as during the summer months — was fine when agriculture was king. Today, science and math are among the keys to a productive future and young people from other countries are eating our proverbial school lunch when it comes to those subjects.

The 180 days that Indiana students are required to attend school is among the lowest in the country and pales in comparison to many around the world. A longer school day? Maybe. A traditional school year that doesn’t end in late May or early June? Why not? It’s at least time to explore the ideas.

For more on Strickland’s education plans in Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer offers a summary.