Op-Ed on School Guidance Counseling

Guidance Counseling Op-Ed

The Council on Black Minnesotans stands with Governor Dayton’s educational approach and call for “Unity of Purpose.” 

Governor Dayton highlighted the need to make necessary investments in education in his 2014 State of the State remarks. He provided examples of successful initiatives the state has taken to address the achievement gap and drew attention to several areas of opportunities. 

One such area he highlighted was school-based Guidance Counseling. 

Governor Dayton stated that “[o]ur schools need more guidance counselors, who are specially trained in career guidance, to help junior high and high school students better understand what their opportunities are and how to prepare for them.” 

This is particularly relevant because The Council on Black Minnesotans (COBM) research show since 2000, Minnesota has rated at best 48th out of 50 states in its students to counselor ratio. This translates to just under 600 students per guidance counselor. The recommended ratio is 250 per counselor.

COBM put forth comprehensive community driven solutions to address the guidance counseling deficiency in Minnesota schools. House File 2130 & Senate File 2792, whose chief authors in the Minnesota Legislature were Representative Moran and Senator Wiger, requires school districts with student to guidance counselor ratios above the national ratio to submit a plan by the 2015-2016 school-year detailing its action plan to reach the nationally recommended ratio. (Representatives Jason Isaacson, Sheldon Johnson, Linda Slocum and John Ward signed on as co-authors in the House while Senator Alice Johnson served as the only co-author in the Senate.) The bill also required the commissioner of education and the commissioner of higher education to create a task force to research and develop recommendations on increasing diversity among teachers and school counselors to reflect the current and forecasted diversity of students within the state. 

COBM believe if these legislative initiatives couple with our legislative recommendation HF2133/SF2724 that requires the Commissioner of Education, in collaboration with the President of the University of Minnesota and the chancellor of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, to create a task force to research the establishment and the operational approach of an endowment to cover the tuition of any public school student who gains admission to a public higher educational institution in Minnesota, Minnesota would establish the winning formula to eradicate education achievement disparities.

For many students a college education is just not possible, not because they lack the capacity but because they cannot afford it. Many also lack the in home and school base guidance necessary to navigate the competitive admission requirements. This realization stymies the academic success in junior and senior high school.

COBM believes the Governor’s “Unity of Purpose” in education and our proposed legislation creates a cycle of increased economic growth; eliminates cycles of poverty; grows Minnesota’s talent base; grows community wealth; meets business workforce needs; keeps our public higher education institutions stable; and grows Minnesota’s tax base.

Other states have implemented varying methods for providing funding for 4 years of post-secondary education. In Georgia, there is the Georgia Hope Scholarship program. The scholarship, funded by lottery ticket sales, provides money to assist students, who have demonstrated academic achievement, with their educational costs of attending a HOPE-eligible college in Georgia. Since its inception, SAT scores have risen by 40 points and the enrollment of black students at Georgia’s colleges and universities have increased by 70%.

In Kalamazoo Michigan, there is the Kalamazoo promise. This scholarship, funded by private endowment provides scholarships for students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public School and enroll at any public State of Michigan university or community college. Researchers studying the impact of the Kalamazoo promise have found statistically and substantively significant improvement in student achievement and behavior.

In Minnesota, there is the Power of You. This program provides funding for two years of college at Minneapolis Community and Technical College or St Paul Technical College for students who graduate from a Minneapolis Public School or Saint Paul Public School and live in Minneapolis or St Paul. This opportunity has open doors for many students.

Despite the need that exists in Minnesota and the proven benefits of these solutions, HF2133 & SF2792 has only received a hearing from Representative Carlos Mariani, Chair of the Education Policy Committee, in the House but has been substantively ignored otherwise. COBM stands with Governor Dayton’s call for Unity of Purpose in education because it takes a giant step in eradicating the academic achievement gap and increase access to higher education for all.

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