Provide Funding for More School Counselors in Philadelphia and Throughout Pennsylvania

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This petition urges the State of Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, and other local governments to provide additional funding in order for the School District of Philadelphia and school districts throughout the State to hire more school counselors for public schools. The goal is to lower the school counselor to student ratio to 1 to 250, the ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), the professional association for school counselors.     

Background on the issue:

In the State of Pennsylvania, the average counselor to student ratio is 1 to 395.  In the Philadelphia public schools the average ratio is 1 to 392. Some schools have much higher ratios than this because smaller schools skew the average. Currently, the School District of Philadelphia provides at least one counselor for each school, and then allocates an additional counselor when the enrollment reaches 950 students. (You can see the District’s Counselor Allocation chart here on slide 12.)  

School counselors serve all students and work to support their academic, social/emotional, and postsecondary planning needs. These trained professionals are especially critical in schools where students are affected by poverty, trauma, institutionalized racism, unhealthy school buildings, and more.  School counselors help children use their inner strength to overcome the obstacles they face as a result of these challenging circumstances. We are a key component of the educational team, not an "extra" if the budget allows. We collaborate with and provide resources for students, families, teachers, administrators, nurses, school psychologists, and all school staff.  School Counselors at the elementary, middle, and/or high school levels:

  • lead individual and group counseling sessions for students on a variety of subjects;
  • make referrals when students need to utilize resources in the community;
  • facilitate student support meetings with families, teachers, and administrators;
  • help students learn to manage emotions and build interpersonal skills;
  • provide academic counseling and monitor student progress on the path to promotion and graduation;
  • teach classroom lessons on numerous topics such as anti-bullying and character education;
  • help students with career exploration;
  • guide students through postsecondary planning (college, trade school, military, work);
  • assist families with the college application and financial aid processes;
  • contact child welfare (Department of Human Services- DHS) to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect;
  • collaborate with team members and families on the development of Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) and 504 Plans to provide accommodations and support for students with additional learning and behavioral needs;
  • help students develop skills to improve organization, time management, and study skills;
  • assist all students in reaching their full potential!

Research has proven that lowering the school counselor to student ratio can:

  • increase graduation rates; 
  • increase college matriculation rates, especially for low-income, first-generation, and students of color;
  • improve attendance; 
  • improve student academic outcomes and behavior, especially for students in high-poverty schools.

That is why we are:

  • calling on the the the State of Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, and other local governments to increase funding for school counselors, and 
  • calling on the School District of Philadelphia and school districts throughout Pennsylvania to reduce the school counselor to student ratio to 1 to 250.

Our students have the drive and ability to reach their goals. If the State of Pennsylvania, City of Philadelphia, and other local governments grant this additional funding to the School District of Philadelphia and other school districts throughout the state, districts can facilitate their students’ success by hiring more school counselors to provide the academic, social/emotional, and postsecondary planning support that students need and deserve to fulfill their potential.
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You can also take action to help us reach our goals by:

  • speaking at School Board meetings to reiterate the importance of lowering the counselor to student ratio. Here’s the calendar for the School District of Philadelphia: https://www.philasd.org/schoolboard/

Here is an Advocacy Toolkit from PA Schools Work that has great tips to help you advocate for additional funding for school counselors and for a variety of resources that are needed in our schools.

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For more information about  PERSONAL STATEMENT, the film we screened at our event on MLK Day when we launched this campaign,

go to: www.personalstatementfilm.com