Attorney General Mike DeWine Discusses Ohio's Opportunity Gap

Dec 10, 2015

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says Ohio's 'unfinished business' involves at-risk kids
Credit ANNIE WU / WCPN

  Invoking the words of President John F. Kennedy, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spoke at the City Club of Cleveland Wednesday about the “unfinished business” of Ohio. For Ohio Public Radio,  WCPN's Annie Wu reports.

That “unfinished business,” according to DeWine, is the problem of at-risk kids, not just in urban areas but in every county in Ohio.

'I'm good in math. I think I can be a cashier.' Today, ... she says, 'I'm good in math. I want to be a CFO.'

“There exists in this state today a very significant gap. It’s a chasm really. It’s a gap in opportunity.”

DeWine blamed problems of poverty, crime, and educational disparities for holding some kids back from achieving the American Dream. He pointed to the Breakthrough charter schools in Cleveland as an example of a public institution that’s trying to change the trajectory of economically disadvantaged kids. And he told the story of a girl enrolled in the work study program at a Christo Rey Jesuit High School in Columbus.

“When she first went to the school they asked her, ‘What do you want to be?’ She says, ‘You know, I’m good in math. I think I can be a cashier.’ Today, after being in this for a couple of years, being part of the work study, you ask her, ‘What do you want to be?’ She says, ‘I’m good in math. I want to be a CFO.’”

DeWine said government plays a role in helping at-risk kids but he had few specific ideas. Instead he emphasized the importance of private individual efforts.

DeWine also discussed national security, saying he does not believe people on the terror watch list should be able to legally buy guns.

“There’s no reason for terrorists, anyone who’s on that kind of list to have a gun. Absolutely no reason at all. Legally. I can also tell you however that they’re gonna get a gun. In California they have fairly restrictive gun laws. It didn’t stop that tragedy from taking place.”

The former Republican senator said he had not read an amendment voted down in the Senate last week that would have prevented people on the terror watch list from buying firearms. The proposal followed a shooting in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 people. The two shooters purchased their weapons legally.