Ohio’s State Board of Education voted today to remove the requirement that districts employ education specialists in order to “give local districts flexibility” from “unfunded mandates”.

Instead of taking a stand for the value of nurses, counselors, social workers, library media specialists and the arts in education and pushing back against the Kasich administration’s funding cuts and increased testing mandates, the School Board voted to eliminate the “5 of 8” rule from Ohio Administrative Code, setting the stage for the further decimation of these services in our schools.

It is appalling that the majority of the current members of Ohio’s School Board don’t recognize the value of the positions in our schools.  Every single one of these highly-qualified and specially-trained professional positions are not only vital to the education of the whole child, but in many instances are crucial to the survival of children.  The notion that these positions should only be available to those children in communities that can afford them is akin to educational malpractice on the state level.

Instead of Ohio’s Board members shrugging their shoulders and throwing up their hands and blaming school funding, this was an opportunity for the State Board to say, “Enough is enough!”  At some point, the Board needs to stop taking direction from the General Assembly and act like the independent body they are supposed to be.

Today, the State School Board opted to lower the bar in order to accommodate Governor Kasich and the GOP majority in Ohio’s General Assembly who continue to under-fund schools while passing a seemingly endless stream of unfunded mandates like OTES, OPES, the Third Grade Reading Guarantee, the Resident Educator Program, diagnostic testing in the primary grades, the new Kindergarten Assessment, and the latest and greatest version of standardized testing via PARCC that will soon require schools to have all the latest technology simply to administer more tests. Instead, Ohio’s School Board members could have taken this opportunity to draw a line in the sand and raise the bar on what a meaningful educational environment truly looks like for all of Ohio’s children.

They could have listened.  They plugged their ears.

They could have stood strong.  They cowered.

They could have held the line.  They retreated.

They could have fought for children.  They surrendered to politics.

 

At this point I need to admit something.  I (Greg) was wrong.  To be blunt, I royally [screwed] up.  In an article I wrote leading up to the elections, I recommended that you vote for School Board Candidate Ron Rudduck based on his extensive knowledge of Ohio’s messed up history of school funding.  I erroneously thought that such knowledge would ave benefited us all in circumstances exactly like this that are a direct result of that screwed up funding process.  I now wholeheartedly regret that recommendation and apologize to you, our readers.  Instead of using his knowledge and experience to push back against a legislature that isn’t meeting the needs of our students, Rudduck has been at the forefront of pushing the elimination of the “5 of 8” rule with statements defending his action that simply make no sense.

Here’s one of Rudduck’s statements: “I’ll tell you the truth, a lot of the superintendents I talk to, especially the young ones, didn’t even know there was a rule called the 5 of 8.  So it leads you to believe it wasn’t involved in their decision making to begin with.”

Paraphrasing: “Some people in positions of highest authority are completely ignorant of the laws for which they are to be held accountable, so we can go ahead and get rid of them.”

The true story:  You can be damn sure that the teachers and the unions that represent them in negotiating contracts are aware of the requirements.

Here’s another Rudduck zinger: “It happens a lot when districts fail levies, unfortunately, the first positions that are cut are these education service personnel positions.”

Paraphrasing: “Since schools are overly reliant on local tax dollars due to the absence of an equitable public school funding model at the state level, I do expect that many of these specialist positions will end up getting cut.”

The true story: Since schools are overly reliant on local tax dollars due to the absence of an equitable public school funding model at the state level, I do expect that many of these specialist positions will end up getting cut.

 

Finally, if you sense that I’m a bit ticked off, it’s because the elimination of this requirement is personal.  My youngest son is:

  • Type-1 diabetic and insulin-dependent since 4th grade (a school nurse has never been optional)
  • Has played either strings or percussion since 4th grade, and is now in marching band & orchestra
  • Had an outstanding, licensed, professional art teacher in elementary school that fostered his love of the visual arts
  • Has had guidance counselors throughout his years of schooling who have been integral in coordinating intervention/enrichment services and will benefit from having guidance counselors at the high school level to assist him in looking at post-secondary education

And finally….

  • Despite being identified as gifted in every core subject area over the years (based on test scores, of course), he is tired of wasting school time on standardized tests, has told me he “hates Common Core” because it messed up his math classes, quickly adjusted to high school because of his previous musical experience and welcome acceptance into the marching band community, and has become increasingly independent at managing his diabetes with the daily encouragement of nurturing school nurses in elementary, middle, and now high school.
  • And personally, my senior year of high school consisted of six music courses (men’s glee, marching/concert band, senior choir, handbell choir, jazz band, and ensemble) and only three core subject courses.  And damn if I don’t use that ability to work collaboratively in a group while managing my independent responsibilities on a daily basis…

Don’t tell me these specialists should be optional.

Don’t tell me these specialists will only exist when a community can afford them.

Don’t tell me about living in the “right” Zip Code.

Don’t…just don’t.

 
  • Sarah Thornbery

    It is not mentioned in your article, but library media specialists are also impacted by this. We have lost over 700 positions even with this rule. We are desperately needed to help learn the research process.

  • anastasjoy

    This is so malignant I don’t even know what to say. Thanks for keeping us up to date, Greg, even if it’s news we’d rather not hear. It’s outrageous that the most affluent kids from the homes where parents can provide so much will continued to have all the services and enrichment they might need while the kids whose communities offer little will receive even less in school. That’s going to turn the income and opportunity gap into a chasm. I get sick of hearing the “reformers” natter on about “low expectations.” “Expecting” never produced results when you “expected” those results without giving kids tools to succeed. This is going to take away some important tools from many kids. By the way, does the legislature have any hearings scheduled on addressing DeRolph? ……..

  • sufferingsuccatash

    No surprise here that the BOE continues the systematic neglect of children. The infant mortality rate in Ohio is third world and the infant mortality rate for Black children is the highest in the country. This catastrophe in public health has been exacerbated by the Ohio Republican Party focus on destroying the state wide system of women’s health care and installing a political shill as head of the ODH in lieu of a healthcare professional. The only focus that children receive from the state Republican party is in doling the money intended for their health and education to private sector cronies.

  • dmoore2222

    Oh, this will surely make companies flock to Ohio to continue the Kasich economic miracle. Sheeez!

  • RJKIN

    Greg, I greatly appreciate that you admit your error and, yeppers, it was a big one (please refer to my comments when you endorsed Rudduck). Rudduck was endorsed by, among others, you, OEA, and the new Republican Speaker of the House Rosenberger. The money generated as a result of those endorsements (a 10 to 1 ratio favoring Rudduck) sealed the election for Rudduck – 53.6% vs. Kinnamon – 46.4%. Neither OEA or Plunderbund contacted or interviewed Rudduck’s opponent and I remain critical of that. We suffer from an apathetic electorate. Of those who do vote, a large percentage of them don’t take or have the time to study and/or meet the candidates. They rely on trusted groups and individuals’ endorsements and this time it did not serve them well. The most important point, however, should not be lost. Questioning and critical thinking is what the future generation must have to survive in the world today and tomorrow. As we watch as public education is dismantled in Ohio and we witness the separation of the haves and have nots and simultaneously know that knowledge is power, I fear we are on the cusp of losing much more than our school nurses and art programs. We can do better and we just got an education in that.

  • gregmild

    Thank you. I have added that in. I apologize for the omission.

  • Sarah Thornbery

    Thank you! 🙂

  • Think.

    I wondered about Rudduck, when I heard daily radio advertisements for him right before the election- the ads were paid for by Republicans.

  • India_Actual

    Inflammatory language like, “Ohio is third world…” is silly and only hurts the argument.

    The Ohio infant mortality rate is 7.7 per 1,000.

    I looked up three “random” (nothing is truly random) 3rd world country rates: Madagascar, Malawia, and Ethiopia. The three of them averaged roughly 60 deaths per 1,000. I couldn’t find a calculated average for all 3rd world countries. Feel free to do so and post the results.

    7.7 versus 60…

  • sufferingsuccatash

    The statement was hyperbolic. Ohio has high infant mortality levels within the US. Only Mississippi and Alabama exceed Ohio in the overall rate and Ohio has the highest Black infant mortality rate of the 50 states. Considering the state’s overall wealth and the wealth that Kasich returned to the 1% vis-à-vis tax cuts and assorted policies specifically enacted to reward that elite class, the infant mortality rate of 7.7/1000 is abominable. It behooves one to question the priorities and motivations of a governor who constantly grandstands on his unique divinity while ignoring women’s health and public education. That is the crux of this clearly quantifiable catastrophe in children’s healthcare—-hyperbole aside.

  • Alex

    Pfff you liberals need to cool it

  • Ron Thornbury

    The next step for the rule is JACARR review. Is including stakeholder input in the rule part of that review? Board member Collins asked for a summary of input. Has anyone seen it? Rudduck’s committee entertained a lot of stakeholder comments. Board member Oakar said soliciting and incorporating feedback are not the same thing. If the JACARR review does involve incorporating stakeholder input then maybe there is a problem eliminating the 5/8 rule.

  • ???

    Why is the answer to any problem any government funded entity has is more money? Why should schools get a blank check to spend however they want but we as tax paying citizens are not allowed to ask for results? For the longest time, schools spent and spent and spent and we got a whole lot on nothing in exchange. My children are home schooled, where’s my $7,500 or even half that to educate my children? I promise, with that money, they would get a far better education than they do now (which even without it is far better than they would get at 90+% of public schools out there).

    If you ask why I don’t send my child to public school, my answer is simple… I like to have a say in what they’re learning and be able to really allow them to have their dreams and skills encouraged and assisted rather that subverted by a body politic and or school board that has no interest in listening to any of my grievances.

  • ITaughtITawAPuttyTat

    Pass a levy… Seems to me the increased taxes are consistently shot down by voters in most areas.. Yet you want to sit here pissing and moaning about how the government isn’t providing enough funding… DUH, who funds government? Then some of you have the audacity to stand on a soapbox and crow about the republicans this and that, when the democrats are just a guilty.. My advice? Quit being sheeple.

  • Michael Mcclure

    Union drive !!!!!!
    l

  • Hanhnibal

    Ah, yes, because our children don’t need a well-rounded education, right?

  • Hanhnibal

    There are many low-income areas where the property owners can’t afford another levy. They didn’t get a big Kasich state tax cut. Why should kids in those districts have to do without?

  • Alex

    Actually they don’t

  • Hanhnibal

    Then I hope you have no children.

  • Alex

    I don’t and when I am old enough to have them I would never send them to a public school in the first place.

  • Hanhnibal

    Obviously your education has been in vain.

  • Alex

    The public school system is broken and doesn’t need more money you liberal fool. They need new tactics like eliminating the teachers unions and getting rid of liberal arts subjects. More money will not help, but better teachers and better classes that actually prepare us for college.

  • Hanhnibal

    Interesting that you think you can get better teachers for less money.

  • Alex

    Well they don’t need more money if they are not spending it on effective teachers. In fact the Cleveland public school district has a higher average salary per teacher than most public schools in Cleveland’s suburbs by a significant amount. However Cleveland’s suburbs trounce the Cleveland public school district in academic achievement. More money does not mean better results. Are you familiar with the law of diminishing returns?

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