Age-old tensions, debates still relevant

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 23, 2014

The flap over a proposal to change state-school-board requirements for schools to hire art and music teachers, librarians and other specialized staff members highlights an age-old tension in educational policy: local control vs. setting minimum standards for all Ohio children.

Also included is another common debate: whether to focus resources on reading and math above all else, because they are fundamental, or to include instruction in the arts, because research suggests such exposure enhances children’s ability to learn in all areas.

At issue before the state Board of Education is whether Ohio should retain a rule that requires a minimum number of elementary-level specialists according to enrollment…

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A proposal to eliminate that rule has generated a furious protest from teachers and others who say it will give school boards, especially those in cash-strapped districts, a green light to eliminate those types of positions…

State law requires public-school curriculum to include physical education and “the fine arts, including music,” but includes no specifics about how much and in what grades. Those who believe that children need art and music instruction to be well-rounded say that children in poor districts, where boards are most likely to cut positions if they’re free to do so, will face an even greater disadvantage.

Ohioans can participate in this debate in two ways: They can lobby the state school board for or against the rule change until its scheduled vote in December. After that, if the rule is abolished, they’ll be able to express their concerns about specialized services to their local school boards, where the decisions will be made.


The Columbus Dispatch