COLUMBUS – November 11, 2014 – Ohio Education Association (OEA) Vice President Scott DiMauro testified today at the State Board of Education hearing on the 5 of 8 rule in the Ohio Operating Standards.
OEA is gravely concerned with the Board’s proposal to eliminate the requirement of services outlined in Section 5 of Ohio Operating Standards, specifically that “Educational service personnel shall be assigned to at least five of the eight following areas: counselor, library media specialist, school nurse, visiting teacher, social worker and elementary art, music and physical education.”
Following are highlights from DiMauro’s testimony:
When the Board votes on the recommendations of the Operating Standards Committee, we ask that you keep this language in Rule 5 for the following reasons:
- Removing the Current Rule 5 language would have the immediate effect of further reducing the educational opportunities that are available to boys and girls in Ohio’s schools.
- Current Rule 5 language already provides significant flexibility to local school districts; there is no compelling reason to change it.
- Without rules requiring Ohio’s schools to provide specific services that meet the needs of the whole child (including school counseling, nursing, library media support, social work, and elementary art, music and physical education instruction), school districts will have the incentive to focus personnel and other resources only on tested subjects.
- Maintaining the 5 of 8 rule demonstrates that the State Board of Education is committed to equal educational opportunity for all of Ohio’s students. If the 5 of 8 rule were eliminated from the Operating Standards, children from low-wealth communities—those who need these services the most —would be the most likely to be deprived of the support they need for a well-rounded education.
The State of Ohio has a constitutional responsibility to provide quality educational opportunities to every student regardless of where they live and go to school in the state. The State Board’s role is essential to underpin the assurance of adequate opportunities by establishing minimum program and personnel specifications.
The 5 of 8 rule was established to make sure that ALL students had minimum access to essential educational programs and services that ALL students need. The original rule was written to allow a certain degree of local flexibility because the local school district had to provide at least five of the programs and services to its students. Ideally, every school student in Ohio would have access to all eight programs and services but previous State Boards wanted to allow for some flexibility. The current rule also provides safeguards tied to student enrollment to acknowledge that smaller districts may not have the same ability as larger districts to hire personnel in all of these specialized service areas.
OEA believes the proposed change to Rule 5 goes far beyond the scope of the committee’s charge. Eliminating the 5 of 8 rule will have a direct and negative impact on tens of thousands of Ohio schoolchildren, including many in low-wealth districts where the need for a broad-range of school-based support for children is most acute. A substantive change such as this one must be driven by evidence, and there simply is no evidence that the current rule is broken.
The Ohio Education Association (ohea.org) represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio’s public schools, colleges and universities.
CONTACT: Michele Prater
614-227-3071; cell 614-378-0469