Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recently Nathan Mains, President of Communities in Schools of PA, asked the question - can you name the country with the following education problems?
  • One in five ninth graders fail to graduate from high school.
  • Two in five minority students fail to graduate on time.
  • 170 students drop out every day.
Somalia? Afghanistan? The answer isn't a country at all, the answer is Pennsylvania! We rank in the bottom 10 of all states in graduation rates. Shocking, isn't it?

If we don't make a concerted effort to improve our schools, our students will continue to be at risk. Did you know that the achievement gap between groups is widening? Students who drop out of school are more likely to be incarcerated - 75 % of inmates do not have a high school diploma. Dropouts are four times more likely to be unemployed.

So what can we do? We can convey our expectations that all our students will graduate. We can support teachers so all students are prepared for some form of post-secondary education. We can find new ways to collaborate with parents to help them help their students. Elementary level counselors can place the same emphasis on academic and career standards that we tend to place on personal/social standards. Middle level counselors can work with students to develop career portfolios, focusing on future goals. We can work towards making our schools a safe place for all students. "School counselors not only play a significant role in school improvement efforts; they also hold the heart of the school in their daily work with students, teachers and parents." (Vicki Phillips, Transforming School counseling, 2007)

I believe that school counselors can bring about the changes that will help students be ready for the world of work in addition to helping them gain the necessary skills to make positive contributions to society. If we don't believe that our professional can make a difference, why should our stakeholders?

1 comment:

  1. Ok how about if we started a 12 year plan to completely reverse these statistics. I am working with a preschool program in Philadelphia with ASPIRA of PA. We are presently teaching low income 3 and 4 year olds how to read at a first grade level in both English and Spanish, we are teaching them how to count to 100 in E&S, we are teaching them social development skills, we are teaching them about Presidents, insects, composers, world leaders, time money and much more. We are also teaching them yoga on a weekly basis. No funding, no big grants, just a huge commitment to do something somewhere.

    Feel free to contact me @ 484-744-1868 Robert Toporek