Educators for Excellence-Boston Urges Legislators to Devote Resources to Student Mental Health
June 13 (Boston) — Members of Educators for Excellence-Boston (E4E-Boston), a teacher-led organization, hosted a policy roundtable today at the State House that brought together a few dozen teachers, legislators and policy staff to discuss “An Act Promoting Trauma-Informed Supports in Schools.” Introduced by Rep. Chynah Tyler, this legislation would establish standardized student-to-school counselor ratios in Massachusetts and require all schools to have transparent mental health plans.
"It is long past time for Massachusetts to provide students with equitable access to mental health staff,” said E4E-Boston member Nina Leuzzi, Dean of School Culture at Bridge Boston School. “Research shows that when student trauma is left unaddressed, students are unable to achieve their full potential. I have a five-year-old student who has witnessed domestic violence, often goes to bed hungry and has to cope with more trauma than any kindergartener should. We still expect him to learn and to be ready for school, but he carries this stress with him every day. With this legislation in place, Massachusetts could serve as a leader in creating safe, trauma-informed campuses that support students like mine across our state.”
“I am so proud of our educators for sharing their stories about how a lack of adequate mental health staff impacts their classrooms,” said Raina Aronowitz, Interim Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-Boston. “I urge the Joint Education Committee and other legislators to continue to listen to educators across the state who are unified in asking for more resources to be devoted to student mental health.”
While experts recommend having one counselor for every 250 students, Massachusetts has an average of one counselor for every 423 students, according to the most recent report by the American School Counselor Association. In 2017, E4E-Boston members recommended improving this ratio in Schools that Heal, their paper dedicated to making student mental health a priority. Following the paper’s release, E4E-Boston educators regularly delivered testimony, met with legislators, and spoke with other education stakeholders, resulting in $2.4 million in additional funding for nurses, social workers and school psychologists. On June 12, the Boston Teachers Union ratified a new contract that includes 23 additional counselors. According to Boston Public Schools, the ratio will now be one counselor for every 200 students, starting with the 2019-2020 school year.