Staff-To-Student Ratios: Separating Fact From Fiction
"After you separate the fact from the fiction, OPI’s recommended rule changes aren’t the end of education, but the beginning of putting control of a child's education back in the hands of the parents and local communities responsible for raising them."
Last week Montana’s Office of Public Instruction recommended changes to school accreditation standards aimed at providing Montana schools more local control and greater flexibility. Among other things, the changes would eliminate state mandated staff-to-student ratio rules for school librarians and school counselors.
School unions were quick to call the staff-to-student ratio changes nothing short of catastrophe. We’d like to set the record straight on some of the most outlandish claims about OPI’s rule changes:
Fiction: OPI will eliminate guaranteed access to library or counseling services.
Fact: The recommended language says each school “must provide” guaranteed access to library and counseling services.
See the relevant recommended requirements for library services and counseling below:
ARM 10.55.710 revisions: “Each school system must provide library media and information services aligned with the content standards in ARM 10.53.1201 through a licensed and endorsed library media specialist.”
ARM 10.55.905 revisions: “Each school system must provide a school counseling program for (P-12) students through an endorsed school counselor or Class 6 specialist”
As you can see, nowhere in the recommended language does it say these services are optional for schools to provide. Claims that OPI’s rule changes will eliminate guaranteed access to library or counseling services are false, period.
Fiction: OPI’s recommended rules will cut library and counselor staff positions.
Fact: OPI’s recommended rules restore local control by allowing schools more flexibility to meet the needs of students.
The recommended rules do NOT force school boards to do anything. As Superintendent Arntzen points out, the recommended rules allow schools to provide as many counselors or librarians as they feel are needed.
The recommended rules would allow schools to provide library and counseling services either by employing or contracting with one directly. Schools are also given the option of cooperating with other schools to provide these services. It’s up to schools to determine what type of arrangement best suits the needs of their students, the state is not dictating anything.
Fiction: OPI’s recommended rules will lead to worse youth mental health outcomes and access.
Fact: Government ratio requirements appear to have little bearing on mental health outcomes and access.
7 of the top 10 states with the best youth mental health outcomes and access do not mandate a specific staff-to-student ratio in schools.
After you separate the fact from the fiction, OPI’s recommended rule changes aren’t the end of education, but the beginning of putting control of a child’s education back in the hands of the parents and local communities responsible for raising them.
Read the full suggested rule changes for yourself HERE.