Sunday, June 19, 2011

Are guidance counselors facing burnout?

At most local high schools, counselors used to check in with students to make sure they were taking the right classes and had the grades they'd need to graduate on time. It's not that simple anymore. High school counselors across the country face growing caseloads. At the same time, students need their help more than ever -- whether it's applying to college or meeting more complex graduation requirements.

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of about 250 to 1, but it's nearly twice that at many high schools. In addition, counselors have to help students with a growing array of personal struggles. Many are homeless or living in poverty. More experience mental illness or have more complex medical or developmental disorders. Details from the Seattle Times.


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4 comments:

Rose said...

They have got to put the school counselors and social workers back in the schools. These kids have more social service issues than ever before and they don't handle the problems well. How can you work on home work when your stomach is growling from hunger and you haven;t seen your crack or meth mouth mother in days?

SAHM of Color said...

Unfortunately social workers are also understaffed and underpaid in most cities. My mother has a degree in Psychology and has yet to find a job as a social worker paying a lottle more than minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

Classrooms are overloaded, some classes sit two students to a desk, we immediately think of the teacher but who is really guiding these children with their future. More counselors are necessary for the future of our society. They may be the only person some children have to speak with.

Maryann

Deb Sistrunk said...

Rose: You make some very valid points. Life for kids is not as simple as it used to be.

In many schools, there are so few guidance counselors and social workers. I don't know how they do their jobs. A former counselor my daughter had inspired me to post on this topic. He was a great resource for the kids, but he always looked very tired. Even my daughter noticed his fatigue. She'd say, "Mom, Mr. P looks so tired. I'm worried about him."

I know all public schools have budget issues, but I really wish they would hire more counselors - for the very reasons that you mention.

SAHM of color: I am aware of the salaries of social workers and their caseload. I think that it's a disgrace that we don't do a better job of compensating social workers. I had an opportunity years ago to work in the field. But I didn't take the job because the salary wouldn't sustain my family, plus it meant that I'd be on call during nights and weekends.

Maryann: Your last sentence truly makes the case for placing more counselors in our schools. In the proper setting, guidance counselors can make a strong, positive impact on our kids. A great deal of credit for my success academically and professionally goes to a high school counselor who cared.