School Counselor Legislation Proposed in WA

Current Events & News, High School Success, Legislation | 01/21/2020

Katie Gustainis
Marketing & Communications Director, Stand for Children Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 21, 2020

Contact: Katie Gustainis, (940) 390-3039, kgustainis@stand.org

Legislation to Improve Support for Washington Students by Increasing Access to School Counselors Proposed to Lawmakers   

The Washington School Counselors Association and Stand for Children Washington back legislation that will uphold a comprehensive counseling program and the funding to support it

Olympia, WA – A bill that will expand and improve counseling services for students has been introduced in the state legislature’s House and Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committees. HB 2699, sponsored by Representative Monica Stonier, and SB 6480, sponsored by Senator Mark Mullet, give students better access to school counselors, an increasingly important part of identifying and supporting the best pathways for individual student success. As of 2017, the latest data available, there is only one counselor to every 499 Washington students, far under the recommended ratio to provide adequate support to kids.

“We know that access to a highly-trained and specialized adult can be the difference between success and struggle for students,” said Nita Hill, Advocacy Chair of the Washington School Counselors Association. “Our goal is to highlight that individual attention focused on a student’s specific challenges and opportunities is within reach in our education system and we should do all we can to give Washington students what they need to thrive.”

In roles distinct from teachers in a classroom setting or administrators, school counselors are experts working with students and families to achieve their academic goals, in determining career and college pathways, and in their social and personal development. Growing student populations in Washington, and the diverse nature of student backgrounds and circumstances, elevates the need for more trained, caring adults in schools.

HB 2699 and SB 6480 strengthen students support and school counseling in two specific ways.    

  1. First, HB 2699/SB 6480 protect funding so that money designated for counselors is actually being used to put counselors in schools, and
  2. Second, HB 2699/SB 6480 require districts to adopt a nationally recommended comprehensive school counseling program that ensures counselors spend at least 80% of their time in direct service and support of students.

 

“School counselors are a too-often missing link between a student’s unique learning style and the realities of test scores, graduation requirements, application fees and a long list of conditions kids and families face as they try to get to graduation day,” said Libuse Binder, Stand for Children Washington’s Executive Director. “The passage of HB 2699/SB 6480 will improve chances for students because more highly-trained and specialized adults will be looking out for their well-being.”

Washington School Counselors Association (WSCA)

The WSCA represents certificated Professional School Counselors who work in public and private schools at all levels. WSCA works to develop Professional School Counselors expertise by providing leadership and professional development that promotes positive student outcomes in the areas of Academic Support, Career Planning, and Personal/Social Development, thereby enhancing achievement for every student.

Stand for Children Washington

Stand for Children Washington is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under‑tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. To fulfill our mission, we organize parents and community members to speak up and demand excellent schools for their children. We work closely with state legislators to shape education policy and with school districts to implement programming that will benefit every kid. We ensure that the policies we fight for reach classrooms and directly support students by supporting school districts with guidance and tools to implement successful strategies.

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