In an article for the Sunday edition of The Denver Post, Jeremy Meyer writes how the economy is putting additional strain on students and their families in the Denver Public Schools and how that is increasing the pressure on school staffs to perform jobs that are outside their expertise.
All of this comes at a time when that same economy is pinching DPS budgets in a way that eliminates counseling positions, social work positions and psychologist positions.
Obviously these reductions do not bode well for anyone. However, isn’t there a saying about how necessity is maternal and innovation is its offspring? It all sounds existential to me. But, this may be the epitome of it.
I think it is past time to admit that school counseling , as it is presently constructed, cannot work. The mere thought of one human being having the ability to help 300-400 students navigate the educational pipeline is crazy. And it does not work, especially for students from low-income families. Counselors are there, in theory, to provide guidance to students in trouble and help them with access to college. The numbers do not reflect much success.
This is not to bash counselors. Most are wonderful people who spend enormous time and energy to help kids. They are just in impossible situations. So let’s change the situation. Instead of the traditional four-to-five member counseling staffs per high school (or one counselor for every 500-700 kids in a middle school) trying to provide comprehensive service to all students, have schools go back to the old “home room” where a teacher has a much better chance of connecting with 20-35 students. Scheduling can mostly be handled through technology anyway. With the money saved on staffing of counselors, a second or third psychologist/sociologist can be added to school staffs. Then add college lessons encompassing everything a student should know about college through a core class to be taught once or twice a month, beginning in the 9th grade. The results could not be worse, money would be saved, and students would have the one-on-one approach that they need.
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