Sunday, November 9, 2014

[More Update] Ohio Gunning for Specialists

My first teaching job was in Ohio (Lorain High School); I have some fondness for our nearby neighbors. So it has been alarming to watch Ohio transform fairly rapidly into a state that is openly hostile to public education and public school teachers.

This morning comes word that the Ohio State Board of Education will vote this Tuesday [ per this article on ], the vote will come in December] today on some revision to the school code. The most significant revision reportedly under consideration is one that would end state requirements for elementary specialists. [I've written a reaction to the new article over here]

Currently, school code states that for every thousand elementary students, schools must have in place five of the following eight specialists: art, music, counselor, school nurse, librarian/media specialist, visiting teacher, social worker, or phys ed.

The revision would eliminate the section that includes that language. What would be left is this definition of staff:

Educational service personnel are credentialed staff with the knowledge, skills and expertise to support the educational, instructional, health, mental health, and college/career readiness needs of students.

The appeal for districts is obvious. Let's have one music teacher for 10,000 students. Let's have no music teacher at all. Great. Let me mention that this article also came across my screen this morning: "Youngstown kids second poorest in nation" Do we really need to argue that the poorest, most vulnerable students are the ones who most need these sorts of services and enrichment? Is there somebody in Ohio prepared, seriously, to argue that nurses and music and art and phys ed are unnecessary luxuries, and kids should just pack up their grit and do without?

I would love to tell you more about this, like what the justification for the move might actually be (other than giving districts more leeway to slash personnel), but the whole business appears to be occurring with a double helping of speed and stealth. There's a slide presentation about the move available here and that comes with contact information. The issue is burning up twitter under the hashtag #ohio5of8.

So take some time to fire off emails, hit the twitter, do what you can to, at least, make some noise so that folks in Ohio see what's happening, because then maybe they'll make some noise and maybe the Ohio Board will think twice before making this stupid move.

Who does this? Who jumps up and says, "You know what our students need? Less! Our students need less! Let's take a stand and do what we can to make it easier to give them less!" Who the hell does that? Apparently the Ohio State Board of Education does that. Tell them it's not okay.


I heard this evening from Greg at Plunderbund, an Ohio-focused site. Greg had a couple of observations to make that are perhaps good news for a portion of this issue, but still troubling for others. His reading of the code is that the arts and phys ed are not in danger, but the same may not be true for the other support services

If you look on page 108 of the Board Book, Volume 5 (, you'll see that it still requires that all curriculum required by Ohio Revised Code shall still be provided by school districts.

As such, if you then look at ORC 3313.60 (, you'll see that physical education and the arts are explicitly required.

In addition, earlier in the changes to OAC (page 99 of the Board Book), it does clearly define all of the "Educational Service Personnel".

Now, something to look into is the issue of nurses, counselors, social workers and the possible impact of these changes on those positions.  I haven't had time to research the other requirements for those roles in our schools.  Focusing research on these jobs might be more important than looking at the arts & phys ed. which are not going anywhere.

[More update: Per the article, the board's vice-chairman says that the board is not eliminating the positions. They're just saying that local schools don't have to have them.]

[Update: Here's a handy guide to names, regions, and emails for board members


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "You know what our students need? Less! Our students need less! Let's take a stand and do what we can to make it easier to give them less!"

    Answer: private equity investors.

  3. Thanks for highlighting the Ohio situation. Hey, we wouldn't want to burden our schools with "unfunded mandates"...we've already burdened them with CC$$, SLO's, OTES and more! #ohio5of8