New research from Policy Matters Ohio shows last year’s controversial elimination of the “5 of 8” rule further strains the state’s already stressed public school system.
Until 2015, the State Board of Education required each district to staff full-time educators for at least five of the following eight positions: visual arts, music, physical education, counselors, librarians, nurses, social workers and visiting teachers.
“Scrapping the 5 of 8 rule dealt a blow to Ohio’s schools, especially those serving low-income children, rural schools, and students of color,” said state policy fellow and report author Victoria Jackson. “Studies show that all children benefit from a well-rounded education incorporating the arts and physical activity. And many students – especially those living in distressed communities – need the mental and physical health care provided by school nurses and social workers.”
According to the report, the loss of the “5 of 8 rule” will only hasten an already troubling trend. Budget cuts, decreases in student enrollment and weak standards led to the loss of 3,269 “5 of 8” educators between the 2005-06 and 2014-15 school years. When adjusted for declining enrollment, Ohio lost 12.3 percent of art, music and PE teachers during that time. The number of librarians throughout the state dropped by 39.7 percent.
“We are losing educators who enrich our kids’ lives, make them healthier and prepare them for the world beyond secondary school,” Jackson said. “Not only do we need adequate school funding, but we need strong minimum standards that ensure Ohio’s students receive a quality and holistic education.”