After many organizations and government entities have toiled for many years at the local, state, and national level, the power of the White House has finally been used to spread the word about the importance of professional school counseling and its impact on college and career readiness for students in the United States.
ACA began working on school counseling legislation more than forty years ago not just because it was of interest to our members who worked as professional school counselors, but because of the impact that elementary and secondary school counseling could have on the lives of students. We know that working with the “whole child” in terms of academic, social, behavioral, and career issues has been proven to increase the likelihood of success in life.
Attending the White House’s College Opportunity Agenda Convening on Strengthening School Counseling and College Advising explored challenges and possible solutions to meet student’s needs on college and career readiness. To me, this was a very visible signal that both the President and the First Lady really do understand that school counseling can be the linchpin for disadvantaged and first generation college students to succeed and become productive citizens.
I was amazed to see so many local, state, and national groups and agencies come together to work on the tough challenges we face in addressing the issues of college and career readiness.
The American Counseling Association stands ready to assist the US Department of Education and the White House as they tackle issues on which our organization has been grappling with for more than four decades.
-Richard Yep, CAE, FASAE
Chief Executive Officer
This is an exciting time for Professional School Counselors. Outside of the rewarding career of helping children successfully remove barriers to their academic, college, career, and social/ emotional development, school counselors have a new advocate: The First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama.
Mrs. Obama spoke at the 2014 ASCA Conference, commending school counselors for their hard work and dedication, and invited them to be a part of her Reach Higher initiative. Aligned with President Obama’s North Star goal, which aims for the United States to have the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, the First Lady’s’ Reach Higher initiative has made school counseling a key part of her work helping students successfully achieve their postsecondary educational goals.
Similar to when Congress passed the National Defense Education Act in response to Sputnik and called on school counselors to help fill the math and science gap, the First Lady is relying on school counselors to be key stakeholders in preparing ALL students for successful matriculation into postsecondary training or educational programs.
The First Lady has engaged school counselors in this work through three new efforts:
The purpose of ACA's School Counselor Connection page is to provide school counselors with college and career advising tools and resources. Please use the information provided to leverage your school counseling programs. To find out more about the First Lady’s speech click here.
- Professional Development: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released guidance to district and school administrators that they can and should use their budgets to provide quality and relevant professional development to school counselors.
- Partnership: In 2014, the White House partnered with Harvard University and San Diego State University to offer national convening’s that examined pre-service training, professional development, and policies related to school counseling. Through this work, ACA and other national organizations committed to the formation of a collaborative council that works to build effective delivery of counseling and advisement for postsecondary preparation. During the December 4th, 2014 College Opportunity Summit, new commitments were made under the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, including increasing school counselor training and partnerships with community stakeholders.
- Recognition: The 2015 School Counselor of the Year was honored by the First Lady in a formal ceremony at the White House.
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