Supporting counselors

To the Journal editor:

Can you imagine being responsible for over 700 students a day? This is what counselors in Michigan’s school systems have to face on a given day.

Children are considered to be a vulnerable population. They rely on others to take care of them. They thrive on learning and looking up to older adults. In the Michigan schools, teachers and staff take care students and watch over them during the day. I had the opportunity to witness this when I was an AmeriCorps volunteer in a local elementary school.

I saw first hand how children rely on and need a caring adult to support them throughout the school day. School counselors are one source of support to serve kids.

In Michigan the K-12 ratio of students to a counselor is overwhelming and overworking counselors. This leads to counselors being overworked, as well as students falling through the cracks.

According to the National Association on Mental Illness, 20 percent of youth ages 13-18 have a mental illness. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children ages 10-24. Ninety percent of those kids are diagnosed with a mental illness. It is more important than ever to have additional counselors in schools.

As of 2015, there is one counselor for every 729 students in the state of Michigan. A new bill is being introduced to reduce this number. House Bill 4054 will reduce the number to one counselor to every 450 students. Having this bill pass will greatly reduce the burden on school counselors to better serve children.

At this time, I am hoping you support this bill in the House of Representatives. I feel that the success of students in our schools hinges on this bill passing.

Please contact the Committee Chair, Pamela Hornberger at 517.373.0135 and P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514 or PeamelaHornberger@house.mi.gov and urge her to support House Bill 4054.