Ohio MEA Responds to State Board of Education Action on Operating Standards

On Tuesday, December 9th, the Ohio State Board of Education passed an initial approval to amend the Ohio operating standards for Ohio schools with regards to the employment of Educational Service Personnel, (ESPs) and what is commonly termed the “5 of 8” rule.  Included in the definition of ESPs are elementary music educators; consequently, the vote has received a great deal of media attention, especially regarding its effect on music and arts education at the elementary level.  The Ohio Music Education Association has worked diligently to obtain a positive outcome for music students in Ohio.  A brief overview of the policy issue in question and the statement from OMEA follows.

The state school board has authority only over rulemaking, or the implementation of laws passed by the Ohio legislature.  The law that provided a financial incentive for schools to employ a minimum of five educational service providers out of eight categories per 1,000 students in Ohio (the “5 of 8” rule) was repealed more than five years ago, leaving the rule in Ohio Administrative Code weakened.

Although the amended rule would remain essentially unfunded, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and OMEA worked successfully with the state board on a compromise to keep the rule, so as to retain some protection for elementary music education in the state Operating Standards. Further, the amended rule supports music education with new language that asks school districts to report data on employing ESP’s (which has not been done before), as well as language that requires ESPs to be credentialed in their respective fields (also new).

OMEA continues to pursue legislative support to expand access to music education at the elementary and upper grade levels.  NAfME stands with the Ohio Music Education Association to realize the goal of securing music education as a core academic subject in Ohio education law.  We are confident in the leadership and strategy that OMEA continues to demonstrate with regard to protecting and expanding access to music education for all Ohio students.

 For additional information please contact advocacy@nafme.org. Thank you!

 From the Ohio Music Educators Association and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education:

On December 9, 2014, the State Board of Education approved, by a 14-5 vote, an “Intent to Adopt Resolution” regarding revised Administrative Code Rules 3301-35-01 through 10, entitled Operating Standards for Ohio Schools and Districts in Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. The intent to adopt resolution starts the formal approval process to add, change, or rescind administrative code rules.  The process includes a hearing and approval by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR), approval by the Common Sense Review Commission, a public hearing conducted by the State Board of Education, and State Board approval of an adopt resolution.  As far as we know the State Board expects to consider a final adopt resolution in February or March 2015.

In the weeks leading up to this vote, the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE) worked with members of the State Board of Education to develop a “compromise amendment” to address our most serious concerns with revised Rule 3301-35-05 (A)(3) Educational Service Personnel; Rule 3301-35-01 (B)(13) Definitions-Educational Service Personnel, that had been passed out of Committee to the full board. In addition to significant changes to the content of the revised rules, we also asked for a new section to direct the State Board’s Accountability Committee to develop a method to report on the state report card the total number of educational service personnel employed in each area by district, school, and state and per 1000 or less students. The amendment the OAAE helped to craft with SBE members Ron Rudduck, Mike Collins, and other SBE members, and with input from numerous statewide stakeholder groups, was approved on December 9, 2014, before the Intent To Adopt resolution was approved.

In developing the amendment the OAAE set as its goals:

  • To restore the original purpose of educational service personnel from the 1983 Operating Standards, which was to encourage boards of education to employ licensed educators with expertise and skills to provide instruction and support to meet the needs of students.
  • To further the process for creating the best conditions for learning in Ohio’s schools.
  • To increase accountability and transparency regarding the employment of educational service personnel.  

The OAAE believes the compromise amendment is a significant improvement over the revised rules 3301-35-05(A)(3) and 3301-35-01(B)(13) that had been passed out of Committee and were likely to be adopted. The amendment did not perfect Rules 1 and 5, but it did improve them. 

Here are what the OAAE believes are the most important things to consider regarding Rules 1 and 5 as they now stand, with the amendment in place: 

  • There is now reference to specific licensure for subjects to which teachers are assigned.
  • There is now specific language directing that “districts shall employ” educational service personnel
  • While the new Rule 5 has the same relative weakness as the original Rule 5, which directed boards of education to employ ESP in 5 of 8 areas, but without financial incentive or practical strength to ensure compliance, it now adds a new, specific direction to the ODE to report data regarding each area included in the definition of educational service personnel annually, on the school report card, by school, district, and state.
  • This data reporting provision will provide stakeholders important information to track employment of educational service personnel. We feel this in particular provides a strength these rules did not have even before the revision process, and an accountability piece that may prove to be extremely helpful. 

What the OAAE found through this process is that there were SBE members on both side of the issue that were willing to work constructively with us, with each other, and with other stakeholders.  We commend all who were involved in the dialogue, and we believe there was tremendous value in the process. We hope that this experience will lead to better cooperation and open communication among all sides in the future. We believe that is important, and will be helpful for future discussions about strengthening education in all subject areas in Ohio schools.

 Please read the attached full-length statement for specific language changes in the rule:

OAAE Statement regarding SBE Dec 9 2014 Revised Operating Standards Amendment and Intent To Adopt

Shannon Kelly, Director of Advocacy, December 12, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)