There has been some concern expressed here over the district letting the Career Counselors go at the high schools. Now, we have more concerns over the possible letting go of elementary counselors.
I don't know how many elementaries have counselors or even what their role is exactly (although I can guess). According to one school's webpage (Concord), the counselor can meet students individually to help them with feelings and concerns or can meet in small groups or provide classroom guidance with lessons on coping, peer relationships, problem solving, etc. as well as providing anti-bullying lessons. The other thing in the mix is that the district also has Family Support Workers who generally work at a couple of schools to support families who have issues about providing clothing, food, school materials for their student as well as families in crisis. A few schools have both but again, I am not sure how this gets decided.
I've seen in some responses to education stories in the Times the line "well, back in our day, we didn't have all these counselors,etc." and basically that schools are spending too much on these kinds of positions. To me the reality is that we live in a complex world where some children have some real challenges. Without support at school, things could be worse for these kids, both physically and mentally. Is it a parents' duty to take responsibility for their child's support and well-being? Yes, it is but the reality is that not everyone is equipped to do this. Public schools take all comers and we can ignore the child who clearly seems ill-equipped for school or we, as a society, can do something so that child does succeed.
We can cut counselors but it will likely hurt kids in many unseen ways.
This brings me to an article in the NY Times about a survey of high school graduates (over the last 12 years) that says that most believe that their guidance counselor provided little meaningful advice to them about college or careers. This was a survey sponsored by the Gates Foundation to find out about low high school and college completion rates.
These students are probably telling the truth and they probably didn't get much advice.
The elephant in the room? The ratio for many of our high schools (and indeed, throughout the country) is about 350-400 to 1. Take that in. You have 400 bright-eyed students to guide on class selection (a huge amount of time), college advice (and that may be more than ever given the high schools no longer have career counselors) and testing (both state and college tests). Add to that students who seek them out for personal issues (bullying, worry over grades, drug/alcohol issues). (Most high schools do have a Teen Health Center with a counselor but that person? Probably also overwhelmed with a huge number of students to help.)
Kids need help especially in high school. The difference some attention can make to a student making a good decision for their future is just huge. Without our counselors, I don't know what would happen. It can just be about teachers, a secretary, a librarian and a principal in order to provide an education to a child but for more success for more students, we need our counselors.