Every day, through occasional political firestorms, in spite of low pay and challenges that would make Job short of temper, teachers face classrooms with students of affluence and of poverty, students with active, engaged parents and those with virtually no parental help at all, those from leafy neighborhoods and those from the mean streets. And day after day, the teachers turn the pages of those students lives and give them knowledge.
With a goal of helping those teachers and primarily helping those students, a nonprofit group, America’s Promise Alliance, is running its GradNation campaign to raise the nation’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.
Daylong discussions were held recently in Raleigh on that very subject and on how to get students to college.
It’s a good topic and an ambitious one, and in this case the students themselves weren’t hesitant to say what they thought. Their dreams of college education are admirable, as is their determination to help others realize the dream.
One major factor they mentioned was that students need more guidance counselors.
The national association that represents counselors recommends at least one counselor for every 250 students. That seems modest, considering that teachers and counselors in these times help students with all sorts of problems, from dysfunctional parents to troubled siblings to substance abuse problems to medication regulation. The duties of school administrators are broader and more complex than ever.
In Wake County, the ratio is one counselor for every 391 students. Be it resolved for the Wake school board and county commissioners: That must change, and it must change immediately.
A counselor can give hope and ambition to a student who never anticipated an opportunity to go to college. A counselor can intervene with a student having serious emotional problems. Consider the student at the summit who is planning to be a trauma surgeon for soldiers. She was guided in that direction, she said, because a counselor had time to talk with her about it.
It’s great that this summit focused on a higher graduation rate. Clearly, having more counselors could aid that goal.
Wake County’s leaders need to address something solid from this summit, something that will make a difference, and that’s adding counselors as soon as possible.