1.6 Million Students Go to Schools That Employ Cops But No Counselors

Jun 07 2016

1.6 Million Students Go to Schools That Employ Cops But No Counselors

June 7th, 2016

High school counselors are charged with helping students work through academic or emotional problems. They might be the first line of defense if a student is struggling with depression, anxiety, abuse or other trauma—all factors that might lead to or exacerbate problematic use of drugs. Counselors are also supposed to guide the college application process, helping kids figure out how to get in, pay for school—or whether college is right for them and what kind of continuing education best fits their needs. Naturally, this has been deemed an expendable position in many places—it’s one of the first jobs to go when public schools face budget cuts, the Washington Post points out.

On-campus cops are doing solid, though!

This morning, the US Education Department released a collection of data drawn from 2013-2014 surveys of nearly every single one of the nation’s 95,000 public schools. The results are part of the Civil Rights Data Collection, a survey done every other school year to measure access and equity in the public school system. The data show that 850,000 high school students didn’t have access to a school counselor. Meanwhile, 1.6 million (k – 12th grade) students attended a school that employed a law enforcement officer but no counselor.

In fact, 24 percent of elementary schools and 42 percent of high schools had a law enforcement officer on staff. Among high schools in with more than 75 percent of students were black or Latino, more than half had an officer patrolling campus.

Critics of law enforcement presence on school grounds point out that officers are more likely to escalate situations that could be de-escalated. Videos of officers seemingly over-reacting and using excessive violence against children and teenagers surface routinely. It also leads to suspensions and even criminal charges for seemingly normal teen misbehavior, which can be expensive and needlessly suck young kids into the criminal justice system.

As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out, there was an almost 40 percent jump in the number of school resource officers between 1997 and 2007, according to the US Department of Justice.

“The vast majority of these arrests are for nonviolent offenses. In most cases, the students are simply being disruptive,” notes  Marilyn Elias, a SPLC contributor. “And a recent US Department of Education study found that more than 70 percent of students arrested in school-related incidents or referred to law enforcement are black or Hispanic. Zero-tolerance policies, which set one-size-fits-all punishments for a variety of behaviors, have fed these trends.”

  • Justcallme Bee

    Question for the author of the article. How many hours, minutes, and seconds have YOU personally spent in the classroom, on a school board, or contributing toward the PTA before you wrote this article? Better yet, how many interviews did you conduct before writing and publishing your op-Ed piece? Wouldn’t a good journalist put in some footwork before writing an article? Or are you just someone who lucked up and got a blog with some traffic and called yourself a writer / journalist? Yes I am questioning your credentials. Do you even have children? This article is insulting to those educators who spend countless hours mentoring/ parenting/ and educating our youth.

    • ManWithThe100PoundBrain

      What the article points out is that school counselors are often deemed expendable and school counseling positions are often “the first jobs to go when public schools face budget cuts.” That is true. The article also points out that “the data show that 850,000 high school students didn’t have access to a school counselor.”

      To me, that is the main point of the article. The rest of article is related to a topic that is part of a growing concern which is how schools rely heavily on suspending students and the relationship between suspensions and the eventual incarceration of students. Restorative Justice is one of the strategies that more and more schools are using to in attempting to reduce the vicious cycle of “school to jail.” It is refreshing to me to see someone acknowledge role that school counselors can contribute to the problem–something that is often ignored and overlooked by non-school counselors.

      As someone that has spent 22 years in public education, seven years of which as a school counselor, I find this to be very frustrating.

    • Lamont Douglas

      I Respectfully disagree. What article are you reading. I truly appreciate ever teacher who impacts the lives of children but wouldn’t you agree that not only would a teachers job be easier but a child’s school experience would be greater and more effective if counselors and/or social workers were present in the process

  • Izzi

    As a Hispanic student of immigrant parents, the time my school counselor spent with me showing me the ropes of getting into college and finding summer programs in engineering were game changing. I hope more of our school tax dollars find their way back towards school counselors, as it is an investment in our nation’s future that is well worth making.

  • ManWithThe100PoundBrain

    I’ve spent 22 years working in public education as a coach, teacher and school counselor. I spent 15 years in the classroom as a social studies teacher and seven years as a school counselor. As a school counselor, I often feel that administrators and teachers do not fully understand the role of the counselor which is something that is well supported in the literature. Perhaps what is worse than not fully understanding what the role of the school counselor really is, is when principals and teachers think they do know when they really rely heavily on inappropriate and outdated stereotypes. Teachers often say that people that don’t teach really don’t know what it is like to be a teacher or what teachers actually do in order to accomplish all of their responsibilities. One thing for sure is that the average person on the street has a better understanding of the teaching profession than principals, teachers or people in general have of the school counseling profession. If the role of the school counselor were better understood by non-counselors, there would be more school counselors in schools and they would actually be doing the things they are intended to do instead of the quasi-administrative and clerical duties they are often are assigned–things that having nothing at all do to with school counselor roles or the standards and benchmarks of school counselor programs.

    School counselors are often left to advocate for themselves and their profession but their concerns often fall on deaf ears. Even when school counselors are present in schools, they are often improperly deployed and have caseloads and student-to-counselor ratios that are far too large–double, triple or even worse than the recommended maximum of 250:1. School counselors are undoubtedly the most misused human resource in schools as they are often assigned duties that have absolutely nothing to do with their graduate school training or school counseling roles and programs. School counselors and school counseling programs and curriculum, standards and benchmarks are research based and when properly implemented, can improve grades, test scores, attendance and climate and culture.

    As for the presence of police in schools, it can prove beneficial if done properly. School Resource Officers can and often do improve the relationships between police and students and their families in urban settings.

    • ManWithThe100PoundBrain- I agree. I have also had the experience that parents and school staff think that you can magically address the behaviors of youth in your first meeting. Which goes back to what you are saying that, there is not an understanding of the role.

      This is also one of the reasons that the school-to-prison pipeline exists. With an increase in School Counselors and Social Workers. Students can have more of the supports they need to succeed. It is also important that School Safety be part of the school meetings and work with support staff to understand how to work with and positively impact our youth.

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  • reginat1956@yahoo.com

    Black and Hispanic students, are the ones that end up in the cycle of the school to prison pipeline……Cops have no business in schools……They need to be some where preventing or solving crimes, not dragging young girls out of class, with brute force, or beating a young boys in halls like they are grown men, nor choking them out……..OUTRAGEOUS……….:-/