February 4th-8th was National School Counseling Week. According to the American School Counselors Association, California currently ranks worst in the nation at providing public students with access to school counselors, with only one counselor per 1,014 students.
According to a survey conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates and The California Endowment, when asked whether hiring a school counselor or a police officer would be more effective at preventing violence, voters chose counselors by a margin of more than two to one (67% to 26%).
Many Sacramento City Unified School District schools have Small Learning Communities (SLCs) and each SLC is assigned a counselor. Sizes of SLCs may vary.
Luther Burbank High School has seven counselors for each SLC as well as the coordinator of the College and Career Center, who also serves as someone the students can go to if they need help.
Burbank counselors were not surprised that California was ranked worst when it comes to school counselors.
“We’re very fortunate to have all of the counselors we have.” says Emily Catlett, a counselor for the Law and Social Justice SLC. “Some schools only have three or four.”
John F. Kennedy High School, just west of Burbank High School, only has four counselors.
No matter how many counselors a school has, they have to be accessible to students.
“Our doors are open to all students before, during and after school.” says John F. Kennedy counselor David Drotts. “Many students just drop in to talk about what’s going on in their lives and with school, even nervousness about finals, college or whatever else may be going on.”
Students also feel the same.
“Sometimes we just need someone to talk to.” says Ashley Bennet, a Burbank student. “Releasing all of that stress to someone whose job it is to help you makes a big difference.”
Students also chimed in regarding whether they would rather have more counselors and mental health services or more police officers cameras and metal detectors on campus.
“Police give us physical safety.” says Jonathan Tucker, a Burbank student. “But most of us get nervous if there are too many police officers on campus. We think something is wrong.”
“You see all these movies where there’s intense security at school, metal detectors, cameras, police officers everywhere. I wouldn’t want that. We’re in school, not prison,” says Tucker.
Students and counselors feel the same way as California voters, More mental health and preventative services are a vital part to keeping students comfortable and safe in school and are greatly needed.