Yesterday, in response to a reader in Ohio, I posted an “Ohio Alert,” warning that the State Board of Education in Ohio would soon consider eliminating teachers of art, music, and physical education, librarians, social workers, and nurses in elementary schools.
Several commenters on the blog have disputed the claim and said it was not true..
This article seems to offer a definitive explanation.
It is NOT TRUE that the vote will be taken this week. The state board will vote on this question in December. Forgive my error!
What will the vote be about?
Patrick O’Donnell of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:
The state board will vote in December, not this week as some have claimed, on whether to eliminate requirements that local districts have a certain number of elementary art, music or physical education teachers, school counselors, library media specialists, school nurses, social workers and “visiting teachers.”
Administrative code requires districts to have at least five of these eight positions per 1,000 students in what some call the “5 of 8″ rule. The state board is considering wiping out that rule and allowing districts to make staffing decisions on their own.
Tom Gunlock, the board’s vice chairman, said this morning that the proposed change isn’t to eliminate those positions, as some are charging, but to let districts make their own choices.
Should the state require districts to have these classes and services? Or is that a local decision? Tell us below.
“I’m sure they’ll do what’s right for their kids,” Gunlock said.
He added: “For years, people have been telling me about all these unfunded mandates and that we’re telling them what to do. They keep telling me they know more about what their kids need that we do, and I agree with them.”
Susan Yutzey, president of the Ohio Educational Library Media Association, is urging her members to oppose the change. In a presentation on the change posted online, Yutzey said she and other organizations are “concerned that local boards and administrators will see this as an opportunity to eliminate art, music, physical education, school counselors, library media specialists, school nurses and social workers.”
So, if we read Mr. Gunlock’s view correctly, the state will consider changing its requirement that elementary schools must fill five of these eight positions. Requiring that all elementary schools have teachers of the arts, nurses, librarians, physical education teachers, and social workers is “an unfunded mandate.” Schools facing budget cuts could get rid of the school nurse or the teachers of the arts or teachers of physical education or social workers or librarians. The choice would be theirs as the state code would no longer require that every school must fill at least five of these eight positions per 1,000 students.
If I were a parent of an elementary school age child in Ohio, I would be very alarmed that the state board is making these positions optional. For warning that the state board is even considering such a nonsensical “mandate relief,” I offer no apology.