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Following the release of a study done by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Indiana has begun a conversation about school counseling, its role in the schools, its impact on students, and its vital importance to students’ success. With luck, other states will follow suit.

For those looking for jobs on the East coast, this might be of interest. “School district officials are looking for candidates to fill 18 counseling positions in Arlington schools to keep up with increased demands.”

I was saddened a few days ago to read about yet another school shooting, this one in Oregon. You can read the latest updates here

And in another example of adolescent violence, two girls in Wisconsin, allegedly inspired by a virtual (and fictional) character known as Slenderman, stabbed a friend of theirs twelve times.

Today’s news reports are filled with reports (video)of accidents caused by people who text and drive, but it seems like I don’t hear as much as I used to about the dangers of drinking and driving. This program, put together by the counseling department at Klahowya Secondary School in Silverdale, Washington serves as a powerful reminder to students headed for prom and graduation parties.

Many school counselors teach empathy as part of their standard curricula. Harvard wonders if a game simulation can help.

The students at Manhattan Country School, which is just 43 percent white, visit one another’s homes during the school day. What a creative way to help kids gain cultural understanding and teach them mutual acceptance.

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Most of my energy is directed toward finding a job right now, so updates might be a bit scattered for a while. Please accept my apologies.

There’s more bad news for victims of bullying. “A new U.S. study has found that victims of bullying have high levels of a protein in their bloodstream that is associated with fighting off an infection — and that it lingers even into early adulthood.” The article links to the original study for those interested in further reading. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there were more than 30,000 homeless children in rural America last year, but advocates believe the actual number is much higher.”  From NPR, a story about the problem of rural homelessness and one New York student who, after five months of living in the woods with her family, now has a real home—complete with warm shower. Kudos to the caring school counseling staff that helped make it happen.

While many parents and students are still wrestling with the interchangeability of the ACT and the SAT, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) released a study in February showing there is no perceptible difference in academic performance between students who do and do not submit ACT or SAT scores. Counselors who work with high school students should be aware of which schools are test-optional, especially in light of the number of students we work with who, though academically capable, struggle with standardized testing.

In light of the difficulties college graduates are having finding jobs and the mountains of debt they often struggle with, there are families who are starting to question the usefulness of going to college at all. If you’re working with a student who is asking this question, you should tell them that, “Yes, college is worth it, and it’s not even close. For all the struggles that many young college graduates face, a four-year-degree has probably never been more valuable.”

# 108



A Connecticut family has filed a lawsuit claiming a public school district, a trio of high school teachers and others engaged in a “predatory religious indoctrination” that left their daughters speaking a “bizarre new language.”  The named defendants in the case include three teachers and a school counselor. The article (from CNN) doesn’t link to the court documents, and few details are given. Still, if this is true, it’s highly disturbing.

I’m so used to thinking about school counseling in terms of the fifty states, that I’m ashamed to say I’ve never given much thought to students in outlying areas or the U.S. territories. That being the case, this was a real eye-opener. According to the article, “less than one in five Pacific Islanders who took the ACT met the scoring benchmarks in all four of the exam’s subject areas, which are English, Reading, Mathematics and Science. Another 11 percent met the benchmarks in three. 40 percent of Pacific Islanders met zero benchmarks.” That’s worrisome.

In juvenile courts across the country, children often face the full weight of the criminal justice system without the protection of a defense attorney.” According to the article, “Children may be unrepresented for a variety of reasons, including lack of access to a public defender or pressure from judges or prosecutors to waive their constitutional right to an attorney.” While this article focuses on the situation in Colorado, counselors working in other states need to know whether or not their students will be provided with appropriate legal representation should the need arise. 

# 107


There’s no denying that being a victim of bullying can leave lasting psychological and social scars. Victims are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and problems in developing healthy social connections for years after the experience. But according to a new study, it gets even worse—the people bullying them may actually experience health benefits from their ruthless behavior.” The article comes from Time magazine (and includes a link to the aforementioned study), but I found it via MetaFilter, and because I think MeFi’s comment thread on the subject is worth your time, you can find that here.

Sarah Cymbaluk of Fosston, Minnesota, is a frustrated mom who took matters into her own hands. After claiming that her daughter was repeatedly bullied on the school bus and the school did nothing about it, she posted a video on Facebook.” While I understand this parent’s frustration, I can’t help but think that this re-victimizes her child. The article doesn’t state the specific steps the mother took before resorting to social networks, but if the principal was unaware of the situation prior to its appearance in the media there were probably several alternatives that hadn’t yet been explored.

# 106



One result of the controversy over the writing of the DSM5 is a new emphasis on finding the medical and scientific roots of mental disorders. “Let’s not try to study each ‘disorder’ but rather, the neural systems themselves, and study how they become dysregulated,” says Bruce Cuthbert, who heads the NIMH’s program.

I dislike the term “Mama’s boy” because it’s nearly always used as a pejorative. I also have an instinctive, knee-jerk response to the implication that boys should not be encouraged to have close relationships with their mothers. The writer of this CNN opinion piece clearly agrees with me, and she cites several studies that support her case.

# 105


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Do you need some statistics about cyber bullying for a presentation or classroom guidance lesson? Here are eleven of them.

Rather than a bagged lunch, a Pennsylvania first-grader brought bags of heroin into school — giving some to at least one classmate before teachers caught him with a pocket full of drugs, authorities say.” This is simultaneously heartbreaking and infuriating.

More than 4 in 5 students graduating from college in the next few weeks do not have jobs lined up, and those majoring in supposedly hot fields such as engineering and technology are having no better luck.” Scary stuff.

And … following on the heals of a link to an article about upcoming college graduates not having jobs yet, there’s this one, wherein “the Nation’s Report Card said America’s high school seniors lack math and reading skills critical in an increasingly competitive global economy.”

Adding insult to injury, “subsidized student loans will get pricier this fall, thanks to Congress.”

# 104


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Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that “a state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions.” The ruling resulted from a constitutional challenge in Michigan against a voter-approved amendment that forbids the state’s public colleges to take race into account. The ruling does not, however, mean that affirmative action is dead. Federal officials advise that schools can still use affirmative action programs “as long as their state doesn’t ban such programs explicitly.”

In the category of studies that prove the obvious, “9 percent of high school kids who had been bullied in the past year carried a weapon to school, while 5 percent of kids who had not been bullied carried a weapon.”  There’s no link to the original study in the article, but there’s more detailed information here.

Title IX “requires colleges to investigate and resolve reports of sexual misconduct—including assault—whether or not the police are involved.” I imagine most readers of this blog work at the k-12 level, but it’s still important to understand the requirements of the law, especially for those of us working at the high school level.

University Heights High School is on St. Anns Avenue in the South Bronx, which is part of the poorest congressional district in America, according to the Census Bureau. Six miles away is the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, with its arched stone entrance and celebrities’ children and $43,000-a-year tuition. Eight years ago, as part of a program called Classroom Connections, students from the schools began exchanging letters, which eventually led to a small group from University Heights visiting Fieldston for a day.”

There are fewer pregnant teens than at any time since we started tracking the statistic, according to new data from the Guttmacher Institute. The teenage birthrate and abortion rate have also hit record lows, although the decline has been slightly less dramatic.” This is excellent news.



It’s been a while since I’ve linked to useful resources, so here are a few for you to check out.

Padlet lets you create interactive white boards in your computer’s browser. You can keep them private or share them. Add text, video, links, whatever. Do you need to share resources and tips with college-bound high school students and their parents? Do you have first-day-of-school suggestions for the families of incoming kindergarteners? Maybe you want to share guidance curricula and lesson plans with other counselors in your district. Padlet can help. You can see a gallery of existing boards here.

With ThingLink  you can “make your images come alive with music, video, text, images, shops and more.” ThingLink also has iOS and Android apps.

Data driven accountability has become one of the big watchwords in education, and school counselors need to be able to document their time, strategies, and effectiveness for their administrations. Infographics are a quick and powerful way of doing that, but they take time to create. Easel.ly can help. In the same vein, have a look at infogr.am.

Need icons for a report or presentation? Check out the Noun Project. Free access to downloadable public domain icons. They also have Creative Commons icons, which are free to use as long as you agree to include attribution in your project.

Using your own photos, you can create trading cards, jigsaw puzzles, badges, and much, much more at Big Huge Labs. Free membership. Cool stuff. What more could a busy, cash-strapped school counselor want?

# 103


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When photographer Jason Gardner visited a New York City public school to photograph some of the students and their families this week, he ended up taking one picture he wasn’t planning to — a shot of a poem, written by a first-grader, which has now gone viral.” Read the poem. You’ll see why.

A few days ago I linked to a study that indicated that bullying isn’t limited by socioeconomic status. Today I give you one that shows that it isn’t limited by popularity, either. “Researchers say that the more popular teenagers are, except for those at the very apex of the fragile high school hierarchy, the more likely they are to be bullied, perhaps a surprise to people who presumed outcasts were the exclusive targets.” The study (from the American Sociological Review, Vol 76, #1, 2/2011) behind the article is available online.

Every so often letters to the editor and/or opinion pieces written by school counselors appear in local papers around the country. These pieces rarely seem to garner much attention, and their comment trails are often either non-existent or filled with personal anecdotes from people whose own experiences with their school counselors were less than satisfactory. What people too often fail to understand is that school counselors are highly trained professionals who do the best they can despite limited resources and heavy demands on their time and skills. Those of you reading this know that already, but well-written pieces like this one can serve as reminders to the general public.

Not only are girls the better students in every subject tested, that has been the case for at least 100 years. Boys may very well be in crisis when it comes to the classroom, but if so, that’s the way it’s always been.” This is a fascinating article that turns some of the modern rhetoric about the relative academic status of boys and girls on its ear.

# 102



On average, the U.S. sends 2 million children to juvenile detention every year, 95 percent of whom have not committed a violent crime.” There’s a movement afoot in Congress to reverse this trend, remanding kids to counseling and community service instead of juvenile detention. I wholeheartedly support this movement, but I suspect any real change is going to be a long time coming, considering the current political climate in Washington.

In 16 years of teaching, nothing has disrupted my classroom more than Snapchat’s new update.” An object lesson in how technology can disrupt a classroom.