State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) today sent a letter to state school board members, urging them to reconsider a plan to overturn state standards for school faculty ratios in art education, music education, physical education, guidance counseling, library sciences and physical and mental health.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear President Terhar,
It has come to my attention that the school board plans on voting to eliminate state standards that require school districts to maintain staffing ratios for elementary art education, music education, physical education, school counselors, librarians, school nurses and social workers.
These standards have been around in one form or another for over 45 years, and for good cause. Aside from a wealth of academic literature that suggests education in the arts supports the development and critical thinking ability of students, the presence of healthcare professionals, social workers and guidance counselors in our schools has become a fundamental part of meeting students’ and families’ educational needs in the 21st century.
Increasingly, districts have recognized the importance of social, emotional and physical well-being to a child’s ability to learn and excel in the classroom. Instead of making it easier for cash strapped schools—which many are after weathering state cuts to education over the last four years—to walk away from standards that invest in children in a holistic way, the state board has a responsibility to help districts meet these new challenges head-on.
As students and families are more reliant upon services at the local level, it would be counterproductive to move in a direction that undoes commonsense standards in the name of political philosophy.
The political philosophy behind local control is laudable, but unattainable unless the state, and indeed the board, are willing to finally work through the ultimate unfunded mandate in Ohio—public education for our children.
Please accept this letter as written testimony for your November 11 meeting.
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan, Ohio House District 58