A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
~American Pie by Don McLean
Dr. Yohuru Williams, an education activist and professor of history at Fairfield University, composed a powerful essay about how Ohio’s governor, in league with his party’s majority in the General Assembly, had been targeting education budgets with deep cuts, precipitating a crisis similar to other states where cuts have forced districts to make impossible choices between hiring nurses, librarians or instructors in the music and the arts. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohuru-williams/the-day-the-music-died_3_b_6142628.html
Former state school board chair, Debe Terhar, admitted as much when she told the board that better state funding of schools would prevent the furor over the 5 of 8 rule. http://s.cleveland.com/4SBjSTG
Why are our public schools being starved to the point of having to make choices about vital services that students need and deserve? That can be answered with a four letter word: ALEC. https://www.thenation.com/article/alec-exposed-starving-public-schools/
ALEC is the acronym for the American Legislative Exchange Council, a clandestine organization of corporate members and lawmakers who believe in privatization of public entities, such as our nation’s public school systems. ALEC has a very powerful legislative impact in states like Ohio, where its members control the Statehouse. https://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/18/alec-owns-the-ohio-legislature/
ALEC’s education bills can be seen in current Ohio policies that mandate more vouchers, charter school expansion, extensive teacher evaluations, TFA teachers and BRIGHT principals, extra online classrooms, Common Core, additional high stakes testing, and obsessive amounts of data collection. http://www.publicschoolshakedown.org/how-alecs-duplicity-undermines-american-public-education-project
Everyone, especially educators, should take the time to learn about ALEC’s education agenda and how it affects public education in the United States. https://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Privatizing_Public_Education,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers
ALEC uses questionable research and pretentious rhetoric from its think-tanks to impact public perception. To drive its education agenda, it misleads people with nice-sounding words like reform, school choice, accountability, and local control.
The Buckeye Institute is a “think-tank” tied to ALEC and placed in Ohio to influence public opinion. The Buckeye Institute’s policy analyst, whose job is to defend and promote ALEC, wrote a 2015 op-ed that was published in a major Ohio newspaper the day before the state school board was scheduled to vote about the controversial elimination of the minimum staffing requirements. Not surprisingly, he agreed with sacking the 5 of 8 school staffing standard. http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/12/rule-assumes-columbus-knows-best/25671453/]
He called the 5 of 8:
*a worn-out rule
*a rigid staffing requirement
*a top-down mandate that favors and protects certain classes of employees at the expense of others
*an autocratic and outdated relic of Columbus-knows-best thinking
*the mindset of an education bureaucracy that has forced local officials to spend taxpayer dollars in ways that they would not otherwise choose and for programs and teachers
He concluded his opinion piece by saying, “Revoking the rigid staffing requirements artificially created by the 5 of 8 rule takes a good first step toward reclaiming local control and accountability in the education of our children.”
Unfortunately, the majority of the state BOE members did just that and voted to revoke the 5 of 8 rule in mid-April of 2015. No matter what false rhetoric was marketed by ALEC stakeholders, this course of action was not about reclaiming local control and accountability. Those were disingenuous words used to manipulate Ohioans into agreeing with this unreasonable and unnecessary initiative.
Eliminating the 5 of 8 minimum standards is enabling school districts to balance their depleted budgets by cutting licensed educators and contracting with private companies to provide the lost services- a calculated move to encourage privatization. Research from Policy Matters Ohio shows that the controversial elimination of the “5 of 8” rule has further strained the state’s already stressed public school system. https://www.policymattersohio.org/research-policy/quality-ohio/revenue-budget/k-12-education/number-of-ohios-vital-school-professionals-dwindling
The change in operating procedures has also compromised the “thorough and efficient education” standard in the Ohio Constitution, which was adopted to protect school children from substandard or non-existent educational programming.
More importantly to education profiteers, it has enabled ALEC to expedite its education task force goals of further diminishing teachers’ unions and privatizing public education in our state.
In response to the 5 of 8 controversy, Yohuru Williams penned an appropriate parody of McLean’s original song:
In the three places where the music was first to go
Philadelphia, Detroit and Ohio
They drove the teachers out and left the students low
The day the music died.
On Monday, April 13th, 2015, the music died in Ohio public schools- so did art, physical education, library/media services, nursing, guidance, and other important support services.
How sad that our children’s education and health continues to be at risk – all because of a network of greedy people who continue to put profits before kids.
NOW is the time to restore the “5 of 8” school staffing standard in Ohio public school districts!