This article won’t come as any surprise to professional school counselors working in the field. Still, it’s nice to see growing awareness of the many ways in which professional school counselors are either under-utilized or inappropriately utilized.
This opinion piece in The New York Times was written by Robert Bardwell, high school counselor in Massachusetts. His points, that school counselors are spread too thin to be effective, that they are often overlooked in federal legislation, and that, utilized properly, school counselors can help improve graduation and college attendance rates, are valid and important. The comment trail, while frustrating in the number of people who either never met with their counselors or who found their (or their children’s) counselors less than helpful, does more to prove Mr. Bardwell’s points than to disprove them.
The increase in school violence has led, especially since Sandy Hook, to increased scrutiny of school security. Many schools are hiring more armed security (or resource officers). The NRA suggests that trained teachers should be allowed to have firearms. But resource officers aren’t necessarily the answer. And arming teachers seems like a really, really bad idea. One solution that doesn’t seem to be getting much press, though, is investment in well-trained professional school counselors.
It’s still a popular perception that a school counselor’s primary role is to help students get into college. Leaders in the profession are working hard to help the public understand that school counseling is really so much more.
And, since we’re on the subject, here’s an article in The Washington Post that discusses the nationwide shortage of school counselors, a state of affairs that isn’t due to a lack of trained professionals as much as it is to lack of funding and understanding of the positive impact a school counselor can have on a student’s academic, social, and emotional development.