March 14, 2018

Educators for Excellence-Boston Reacts to the Passage of Bill S.2325 as a Missed Opportunity to Revamp School Finance

March 14 (Boston) — On March 9, the Senate advanced Bill S.2325, a redraft of bill S.223 and 18 other bills that proposed changes to the Massachusetts school’s foundation budget. S.2325 calls for improvements to funding levels for some areas in the foundation budget, but omitted allotments for school guidance counselors and psychologists.

“As an educator, counselor and an aunt of a nine-year-old child who has experienced severe trauma in his young life, it’s a sad and disappointing day when our legislators continue to believe that our children’s health and well-being are not a priority in our country,” said Rosalinda Midence, a counselor at Charlestown High and E4E-Boston member. “It is a struggle for my students day after day when they come to me for social and emotional support, and my time is so limited. As a counselor and advocate, I will continue to fight until change is made to support our children.”

The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor. Currently, Massachusetts had nearly twice that ratio, at 423 students per counselor. In Boston, the counselor-to-student ratio is even higher, with one counselor per 1,272 students. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends one psychologist for every 700 students and it is currently one per 981 in the state.

“Somewhere between half to two thirds of school-aged children have experienced significant trauma, and it impacts their ability to focus on learning or worse, causes them to withdraw or act out in way that leads to suspensions,” said Brandy Fluker-Oakley, Executive Director of E4E-Boston. “The improvements made in Bill S.2325 are admirable, but missed the opportunity to completely revamp school finance in Massachusetts to make sure that all schools have the critical supports of counselors and psychologists to help all students reach their full potential. Our teachers will continue to advocate for increased funding for mental health professionals as the bill makes its way through the Ways and Means Committee.”

E4E-Boston, a teacher-led organization, has been at the forefront of this issue through its campaign, Schools that Heal, where 290 teachers signed a petition that urged the Governor and the State Legislature to support students coping with trauma by including funding for school counselors and psychologists in the state budget.