MN students in good hands; too bad there’s not enough of them


by Joe Sheeran | September 4, 2009 • As part of our statewide tour unveiling Minnesota 2020’s latest report, Minnesota’s School Counseling Crunch, we met many hardworking, dedicated and professional school counselors, who see what they do as a vocation, not just a career, and certainly not just a job.counselors-1

While their duties are complex, ranging from helping students with academic, social and mental health issues, their message was simple:  “If counselors don’t get more help, Minnesota students will suffer.”

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Often times these stories show us how much further we need to go to have the progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

The report shows that because of budget cuts, counselors are performing more non-counseling duties, such as hall monitoring and test administration.  Add to that a growing need for counseling services in the last two years, and you can see a crisis is brewing.

At least three times, in different parts of the state, we heard almost the same story.  A child comes to his or her counselor because the student’s parents got into a fight. The student is upset and wants to talk with someone he or she trusts.  Unfortunately, the counselor is forced to put the student off because there’s a state-mandated test that counselor must administer at that very moment.

As each counselor recounted these stories, you can clearly see the disappointment and frustration on all of their faces, one even broke into tears.

What’s more troubling is the number of students who need counseling but don’t even realize they have access to these services in school.

Because the average Minnesota counselor is responsible for about 800 students, compared to the national average, 476-to-1, they’re left in a reactionary mode.  Counselors have little time to initiate proactive assemblies that could help students avoid many mental health, social and academic issues in the first place.

These good people are smart professionals with big hearts and well-trained to help Minnesota students succeed.  Children and teenagers who do reach a counselor are well served.  In order for Minnesota to remain a leader in education, we must ensure that all students have access to these critical educational resources.