School Counseling: Challenges and Barriers (Pt. 2)
It is now only two days before the July 28th event and its time to share some history. On May 2014, I was incredibly honored to be invited, with a few national leaders, to come to the White House for a Listening and Learning Conversation about School Counseling. We were asked to provide thoughtful contributions regarding the challenges and barriers faced by school counselors today. In my previous blog I provided these responses.
Continue to Promote the “Appropriate” Role of the “Professional” School Counselor
On Friday, May 2, 2014 when the First Lady said, “…supporting high school counselors who can help more kids get into college,” school counselors were legitimized as central to the work of preparing all students for college and career. Schools are political systems, where power and influence determine how finite resources are distributed when establishing the institution’s policies, procedures, structures, and routines.
The College Opportunity and the #ReachHigher initiative can support the work of school counselors by helping the profession strengthen its ability to obtain the resources, authority, rights, and responsibilities currently afforded to more privileged professionals in schools. Continuing to use “school counselor specific language” at the national level will contribute to cultural pressures calling for the inclusion of school counselors in the creation of the structural elements such as college and career readiness agendas, blueprints, legislation, and federal funding. When experts in school counseling are part of influencing policy-making teams, and in the decision-making process, the profession is legitimized, which in turn supports the College Opportunity agenda.
Revise, Create and Support Policies, Legislation, and Federal Funding Legitimizing School Counselors
- Revise blueprints and other documents that perpetuate the marginalization of school counseling at the national level. Send a message of inclusion so school counselors’ benefit from the same opportunities afforded other educators.
- Revise administrative regulations for federally-funded programs that mention teachers and/or administratorsto include school counselors. Alternatively, consider the more inclusive term “educators”.
- Create a cadre of professional experts in school counseling to provide support for the aforementioned.
- Create a checks and balance system to ensure federally funded programs hold districts accountable for hiring “highly qualified” credentialed school counselor personnel. Require SEA’s and LEA’s to be accountable for monitoring of misassignment of credentials.
- Collaborate with affiliate organization, institutions and field experts in policy creation and training. Include experts in school counseling and appropriate organizations and in conversations impacting K-12 education where school counselors have experience, expertise, opinions, or solutions to support student needs.
- Improve reporting requirements on federal grants to gather quality data on the impact of school counseling
- Support funding for research on the impact of school counseling programs when supported at reasonable ratios by highly qualified teams of diverse school counselors promoting college and career readiness.
- Provide funds for the US Department of Education to focuses on this work. Accordingly, require states to have one person responsible for this work – it matters!
Require Certification and Oversight of College Access Advising by Credentialed School Counselors
Scaffold the progression of services provided by appropriately trained and certificated or licensed college/career readiness experts; a pipeline or continuum approach to increasingly appropriate responsibilities tied to appropriate training of service providers. Create and support policies that ensure advisement programs are performing under the umbrella of the school counseling programs and not in separate silos of overlapping work.
- Support school counselor and administrator leadership academies and certificate programs
- Revise administrator standards to require coursework on how to lead school counseling programs
- Recommend universities create doctoral programs that focus on school counselors and leadership
- Support or create opportunities for sharing innovations and successes from institution to institution
- Promote research on the impact of school counselors as the stewards of college/career readiness
- Consider requiring 60 units (48+12 specialty areas for college/career readiness, school safety or mental health etc.)
- Recommend/promote clarity within the school counseling profession regarding job expectations
- Recommend/promote clarity within the school counseling profession regarding job evaluations
- Evaluate impact of school counseling programs on students outcomes
- Gather leaders for the purpose of very serious conversations about all of the above
No student or parent, particularly those in marginalized or protective groups should have to “hope” that the local board of education will “choose” to allocate funds for school counselors. It is incumbent all of us, as national leaders and advocates, organizations, and entities invited to this room who care about this cause for students to send the message: We are shifting our language. We are setting the example for what ALL students deserve to receive. School counseling programs and services must be a ‘right,’ a civil right, not a privilege for every single student, particularly those who need and deserve to receive more… much more.