President's Letter: Celebrating School Counseling & Supporting Students
February has easily become one of my favorite months in the year…and it's not because of Valentine's Day. National School Counseling Week 2019 (#NSCW19) is February 4-8, 2019. The week, sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), is a perfect time to reflect on your school counseling program, highlight student data, and advocate for our profession and the impact school counselors have in helping students succeed. As I began to prepare for this week, I thought about how advocacy has played such a big role for school counseling in California.
According to a recent report from Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health (kidsdata.org), the student-to-school counselor ratio in California is 622:1, the lowest ratios ever recorded for our state. We have seen a significant decrease in our ratios, especially in the last five years. In 2013-14, student-to-counselor ratio was 822:1. These statistics made me wonder what school counselors think are the reason behind these improvements. I asked, and here is what some school counselors across the state think were contributing factors.
Alma Lopez, district school counselor coordinator in Livingston, Calif., thinks the decrease in ratios may be a result of school counselors sharing quantitative and qualitative data with stakeholders. She suggests that decision makers are informed about the unique contributions school counselors have on student success. Lopez said, for her particular district, “When we share data, many school leaders understand better our role and support us in doing the crucial work of school counseling.”
Ashley Kruger, elementary school counselor in Murrieta Valley Unified, shares, “I think that teachers, families and other stakeholders are understanding the link between academic progress and social/emotional well-being”.
The decrease in student-to-school counselor ratios obviously correlates to an increase in the school counseling workforce, with nearly 10,000 school counselors currently employed in California schools. That's around 10 percent of our nation's school counselors! This means we have the capacity to advocate more and see an even greater decrease in those student-to-counselor ratios in the next five years.
Dr. Loretta Whitson, executive director of CASC, believes the work of CASC has contributed to the growth in the number of school counselors. “Communicating the message of school counseling to California decision makers cannot be understated as a significant element in creating pathways for districts to hire more counselors,” she said.
Dr. Yurida Nava, CASC president-elect, also has a positive outlook on the next few years for school counseling profession. She said, “The political strength of our state association is so strong right now and I don't see it going any other direction than forward.”
I wholeheartedly agree with these school counseling leaders and cannot say enough about the honor of being president of CASC during these fruitful years. Dr. Whitson's accompanying article highlights some specifics related to the political climate resulting from the recent election. CASC will continue to keep you informed of all the inner workings we are doing behind the scenes to support you.
Remember, National School Counseling Week 2019 is a great time to highlight the gains in the school counseling profession to your local district stakeholders! I have such hope for the future; for even more school counselors working in our schools, for an increase in data-driven school counseling programs, and for more understanding of our roles and our important contribution in helping students become citizens of the world. Every student deserves access to a school counselor.
Contact Amy Dauble-Madigan, CASC president and a school counselor with Culver City Unified School District, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
February has easily become one of my favorite months in the year…and it's not because of Valentine's Day. National School Counseling Week 2019 (#NSCW19) is February 4-8, 2019.