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4 Questions 4 Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
At the outset of the new 2009-10 school year, ACAeNews for School Counselors is pleased to present the views of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on the current and emerging role of the professional school counselor and the needs of students, families, schools, and communities. We thank Secretary Duncan for responding to ACA!
1. In your view how important is the role of the professional school counselor in the promotion of academic achievement and helping students achieve their full educational and career potential?
All of us who care deeply about children have a vital role to play in helping them achieve, so we need to make sure that all of them have a connection with an adult at the school. Counselors play a vital role in opening up options, raising students' expectations for themselves, and encouraging students to reach for goals. The counselor can be the person who notices if they do not come to school, or show up for class, someone who they can talk to if they have concerns, or who presses them if they are in danger of failing.
I spent seven years running the Chicago Public Schools - where I learned some important lessons. To help students find their way and make these essential connections, I added post-secondary counselors to schools. They helped students navigate both the high school and college enrollment process. We had a strong Jobs for America partnership, where school-based counselors would help at risk students connect to programs and internships to provide them with the necessary skills to be successful after graduation. As part of the transition to eighth and ninth grade, we had a summer program that included a rigorous counseling component to better prepare the students both academically and socially for their new environment.
Navigating the many options open to students is hard. Often students are not aware of what is available to them both at their school, from their district, or in their community. This is where counselors can step up to help them, understand them, and be there for them.
2. School counselors today are achieving an expanded identity in the provision of school-based mental health services. What are your thoughts on this new identity?
In Chicago, we set up 150 community schools open 12 hours a day offering classes to adults and students. We provided mental health counseling for students and families. Our school personnel, our school guidance counselors and our teachers worked extra hours, and many of them took on that responsibility because they were committed to the school's success. Schools must support the social and emotional needs of students and engage the whole family -- and this may mean an expanded identity for not only school counselors, but also for all of the people who work with students. I am in favor of rewarding all school personnel who go the extra mile because without them many of our students will fall through the cracks, just get by, or drop out.
Students remember the teacher or counselor who inspires them---all of us do. It stays with us forever. The counselors and other educators who commit those everyday acts of kindness and love and never ask for anything in return are the people who can help us turnaround our most troubled students and underserved schools. The people who counsel troubled teens, take phone calls at night, and reach into their pockets for lunch money for children who are too ashamed to ask---those are the people who deserve to be recognized; they make all the difference in students' lives.
3. How can schools do a more effective job of addressing the needs of the underserved in America, individuals who all too often become the underrepresented in higher education and in many other elements of our society? How can counselors be more effective here?
One of my greatest concerns is finding a way to fix chronically under-performing schools. There are 5,000 schools - roughly five percent of the total - that have failed to make progress year after year. In some of them, the leadership has been replaced, but it has not made a difference. Many good teachers have left and too few good teachers have replaced them. Many dedicated parents and ambitious students also have left and found other options. The social and physical conditions around some of these schools are horrific. They are often unsafe, underfunded, and challenged in so many ways that the situation can feel hopeless. Is it any wonder that students in these schools fail to graduate, do not attempt to go on to higher education, or cannot make it through college? This is a national problem -- urban, rural, and suburban.
There has to be a way to fix these schools. We must hold administrators, teachers, and other school personnel accountable, demand change and, where necessary, compel it. They have a moral obligation to do the right thing for children in these schools - no matter how painful and unpleasant.
I closed about 60 schools in Chicago - some for low enrollment - and some explicitly because they were failing academically. We reopened about a dozen of these schools with new leadership and staff. Some are run by the district, and some are run by the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit partner. Today, these schools are doing much better. Our first two turnarounds have more than tripled the percentage of kids meeting standards in five years. One elementary school saw a five point jump in the percentage of students meeting standards in the first year, and another reduced absences by five days per student in the first year.
Turnarounds aren't easy. Closing down and starting over requires you to build trust with parents, teachers, and everyone involved with the school, but it's the right thing to do.
In schools like these, the students need extra personal attention. This is the place where good counselors can really help our most underserved populations. They can be engaged, collaborate with teachers, and make kids and the classroom the focus. They can help change the school culture.
I have seen it work in many schools all over America, so I have hope that with enough effort and determination, and the right people, we can do a more effective job of addressing the needs of all students.
4. Where do you stand on support for research into evidenced-based school counseling practices and assisting school counselors in their quest for relevant professional development and training experiences?
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Department will be asking states for assurances that they will be using data; they will be asked to collect, publish, analyze and act on basic information regarding the quality of classroom teachers, annual student improvements, college readiness, the effectiveness of state standards and assessments, progress on removing charter caps and interventions in turning around underperforming schools. If schools are going to be successful in improving student achievement, then states, districts, schools, teachers, and counselors need to develop data-driven effective practices that will help their students succeed.
Our schools have many challenges, but we have to tell the truth about what is wrong and what will help them. We need to be open and honest about the challenges and the barriers. If we agree that children need more time -- then we must give it to them. If we agree that teachers need more support, then we must give it to them. If we agree that school personnel need assistance and training in order to be successful with students, then they must get it.
We must recognize and reward the people who make a difference in our schools. We must work together to fix our schools.
Arne Duncan is the ninth U.S. Secretary of Education. In his confirmation hearings, Duncan called education "the most pressing issue facing America," adding that "preparing young people for success in life is not just a moral obligation of society" but also an "economic imperative." "Education is also the civil rights issue of our generation," he said, "the only sure path out of poverty and the only way to achieve a more equal and just society."
Prior to his appointment, Duncan served as the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, a position to which he was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley, from June 2001 through December 2008, becoming the longest-serving big-city education superintendent in the country. Prior to that post, Duncan ran the non-profit education foundation Ariel Education Initiative (1992-1998), which helped fund a college education for a class of inner-city children under the I Have A Dream program. He was part of a team that later started a new public elementary school built around a financial literacy curriculum, the Ariel Community Academy, which today ranks among the top elementary schools in Chicago.
The Greater the College Competition, the Greater the Parent Attentiveness
A dramatic rise in the amount of time spent by college-educated parents on childcare beginning in the mid 1990s and their motivations for doing it are the subject of research conducted by Garey and Valerie Ramey, economists at the University of California at San Diego. The Rug Rat Race, a June report of their findings suggests that increased parent attention coincides with the increased rivalry for college slots at the nation's more prestigious and competitive colleges. What the authors call "cohort crowding" has caused parents to compete more aggressively for college slots by spending increasing amounts of time on college preparation.
Worth Reading: Eight Perspectives on Stimulus Spending for Education
How do Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, author Jonathan Kozol, and five other opinionated Americans think federal stimulus dollars for education should be spent? Edutopia magazine captured their ideas, along with articles on the potential impact of massive education spending and policies that will undergird the infusion of cash, in its upcoming August/September edition. Catch a glimpse of their views at the Edutopia website.
Adult Learners Focus of New Job Training by Obama Administration
In an essay in the July 12, 2009 edition of The Washington Post, President Barack Obama included adult learners in his administration's focus for improved education. Citing the need for a workforce with knowledge and skills offered at the associate degree level, the president set a goal of leading the world in all college degrees awarded by the year 2020. He further indicated that his administration would work to make college more affordable and improve the network of community colleges where he believed much of this adult learning could occur.
Fed Grants for Safer and Healthier Learning Environments Awarded
More than $32.8 million in grants have been awarded to 18 states and the District of Columbia as part of a joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Justice to support schools in creating safer and healthier learning environments. The highly competitive Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative attracted 422 grant applications nationally. Under the initiative, school districts, in partnership with local public mental health agencies, law-enforcement, and juvenile justice entities, must implement a comprehensive, community-wide plan that focuses on the following elements:
A complete list of 2009 grantees and their abstracts can be found at
www.ed.gov/programs/dvpsafeschools/awards.html. For more information on the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative, visit
Dropout Indicators Evident in Middle School
A new report by a principal research scientist in the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the Johns Hopkins University examines the American middle school with hopes of determining if the seeds of the dropout phenomenon are in evidence there. Focusing on Philadelphia middle schools, researchers were able to pinpoint the time in middle school when students can be seen to have "fallen off the path to high school graduation."
The report states that sixth graders who failed math or English/reading, or attended school less than 80 percent of the time, or received an unsatisfactory behavior grade in a core course, had a 10 to 20 percent chance of graduating on time. Interventions by counselors, social workers, and tutors are included among the remedies offered, especially for those students with the most pronounced characteristics.
Sign of the Times: One Third of Teens Play "Mature or Adults Only" Games
The Pew Internet and American Life Project has validated what most educators and parents have suspected for some time: video gaming is pervasive in the lives of American teens -- young teens and older teens, girls and boys, and teens from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Although the most popular video games played by teens today span a variety of genres and ratings, including both games with violent and nonviolent content, about one third of teenagers who play video games report that at least one of their three favorite games is rated "Mature or Adults only."
School Counseling Sessions at ACA Conference
More than 35 Education Sessions at the ACA 2010 Conference & Exposition are specifically designed for school counselors. In addition, there are three Pre-conference Learning Institutes for school counselors. Click here to view the School Counseling presentation titles.
In addition, ACA will again offer the School Counselor Academy at the Conference, whereby you can earn a frameable certificate that acknowledges your in-depth professional development and specific expertise in school counseling. There is no cost for the program, which will require you to attend at least six full sessions within the School Counselor track.
Register by Monday, November 30 to save!
ACA Podcast Examines Solution-Focused Counseling in Schools
In ACA Podcast program HT005, speaker and author John J. Murphy takes the listener through his pragmatic best-selling book
The ACA Podcast library now has 12 titles available and is growing. ACA members can access the Murphy podcast and other programs at no charge at
Quotable Quotes of Notable People: William Glasser on Learning
"We learn 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, 80% of what we experience and 95% of what we teach others."
William Glasser, M.D., educator and developer of reality therapy and choice theory
Child and Teen Internet Safety: What Did You Tell Us?
A National Institute of Health study released in June offers more definitive findings about cyber bullying. Children and teens in grades 6 through 10 reported the following experiences:
ACA Publishes Two Activity-Focused Career Counseling Resources for Teens
Strengths-Based Career Development for School Guidance and Counseling Programs
This publication is the first of its kind and a must-read for school counselors, teachers, administrators, and other educational personnel committed to fully integrating strengths-based career development content and career guidance activities into their schools' comprehensive guidance and counseling programs. Drs. Gysbers and Lapan give step-by-step instructions on how to achieve full integration using a holistic, strengths-based career development model that unites the academic, career, and personal-social domains of comprehensive guidance and counseling programs. The goal is to engage, energize, and prepare students to develop proactive, resilient, and adaptive approaches to the present as well as their personally valued futures.
Part I provides a historical overview of the theoretical foundation for comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs. Part II contains an organizational framework and evidence-based activities for delivering career guidance to all students, Pre-K to12. Part III offers a plan for designing, delivering, evaluating, and advocating for strengths-based career development in schools.
Published by Counseling Outfitters, LLC
More Than a Job! Helping Your Teenagers Find Success and Satisfaction in Their Future Careers
Motivating teenagers to become actively engaged in their own career development is not always easy, but this book makes it fun. Written for parents, school counselors, and private practitioners, More Than a Job! provides an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan to help adolescents prepare for their future educational and career goals. Lapan's TEAM (Targets, Examples, Assessments, Mutual Actions) approach uses a series of exercises and activities for teens and adults to do together that identify strengths and areas of concern, foster clear communication and interpersonal skills, enhance self-confidence, and increase resiliency and independence in adolescents so that they are able to work toward successful and rewarding careers. These exercises not only promote serious career exploration through behavioral targets and goal formation, they also build a trusting, supportive, and caring working alliance between teenagers and adults. Real-life examples and assessment instruments are included to further enhance career planning.
2008 | 125 pgs
Childhood Health Issues Lead to Physical and Mental Health Consequences for Adult
"A scientific consensus is emerging that the origins of adult disease are often found among the developmental and biological disruptions occurring during the early years of life." Those were the words of Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff and his Harvard University colleagues, writing about childhood and adolescent health in a June edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Referencing both physical and mental health concerns, Shonkoff and colleagues discuss the evidence that adverse experiences and exposures in early childhood are linked to poor health and illness in adulthood and review the implications of understanding the biology of early adversity for disease prevention and health promotion.
Inside JCD: Fall 2009 Articles of Interest to School Counselors
The fall 2009 edition of ACA's Journal of Counseling & Development contains a number of articles that counselors in educational settings may wish to read and study. Watch your mailbox mid to late September for the issue.
Examining Ethnicity and Fears of Children and Adolescents in the United States: Differences Between White, African American and Hispanic Populations
An Examination of Burnout Among School Counselors: Guided by Stress-Strain-Coping Theory
Counseling Expectations Among Students in an Opportunity Program: Dispositional and Cultural Influences
Responding to the Crisis in Children's Mental Health: Potential Roles for the Counseling Profession
Websites You Can Use: Tools for Counselor, Student and Parent Use
School counselors will find the following websites useful in their professional work and as resources to students and parents engaged in various academic, educational and career pursuits.
1. KidsHealth. Looking for health information about kids and teens that is free of "doctor speak," try KidsHealth, the most-visited site on the Internet about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. One of the things that make KidsHealth special is that it's really three sites in one, with sections for parents, children, and teens.
2. Education Trust College Results Online. Students ask! Parents ask! You are curious. The College Results Online web pages of Education Trust allow you to examine the overall graduation rates of colleges, learn about institutional records at graduating diverse groups of students, and compare the graduation rates of similar institutions.
Fast Facts: "Back to School" Numbers from Uncle Sam
The Census Bureau has released the new numbers to coincide with the start of the 2009-2010 academic year -- statistics that reflect a population that is growing in diversity and in its desire to continue on to postsecondary education. Specific projections include:
About ACAeNews for School Counselors
ACAeNews for School Counselors is one of four new electronic newsletters that are published three times each year each by the American Counseling Association for the benefit of members working in these unique settings. It is disseminated as an opt-in subscription enewsletter and is a free benefit of ACA membership.
The other three special focus enewsletters are:
Any reference to a product, service or activity or listing of a web site in this publication does not imply endorsement by ACA. Any views and opinions are those of the sponsoring organization and may or may not be shared by ACA.
Direct comments, questions and submissions to Frank Burtnett. All submissions will be subject to review by ACA for accuracy, timeliness and relevance to the readership and may be edited.
Lynn E. Linde, President
Richard Yep, CAE, Executive Director
Debra Bass, Director of Marketing and Communications
Frank Burtnett, NCC, NCCC, ACAeNews Editor
Don Kenneally, Internet Development / Production
ACA Website: www.counseling.org
Copyright 2009, American Counseling Association, 5999 Stevenson Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Telephone: 703/823-9800. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce anything contained in this newsletter as long as the American Counseling Association is identified as the original source of the information
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