Sunday, May 6, 2007

SCHOOL COUNSELORS SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE TO PARENTS

SCHOOL COUNSELORS SHOULD BE ACCOUNTABLE TO PARENTS
May 4, 2007 - HB 2136 by Rep. Kelly Hancock (R-Ft. Worth) addresses an important issue in Texas schools but it addresses it so timidly it has no more than symbolic value.

The bill requires some school districts report to their school boards the outside agencies to which school counselors refer students for various services. The report must include a list of these outside agencies and the number of times students were referred to each agency.

No argument there. Elected school board ought to know where their counselors are sending students for various services in the sensitive areas counselors deal with.

Unfortunately the bill has major loopholes that make it close to useless as a way to keep tabs on what school counselors are doing. One of these is the limited applicability. The legislation only applies to school districts with an enrollment of more than 5,500 students and whose counselors made at least 20 total referrals at the middle school, junior high school, and high school levels during the preceding school year

The other, and more serious defect, is that the information must be provided to the school board “in a manner that does not identify the specific students involved.”

If you’re a parent in a school district covered by this legislation, you could find out from the school board the number of students referred to outside agencies and which agencies they were. But you wouldn’t know the one thing you want to know – was your kid one of those referred and to which agency was he or she referred. Did a counselor sent your 13-year-old daughter to Planned Parenthood to get a contraceptive or an abortion. Or did he send you son to Out Youth Austin who will help him find out whether he is gay or not and how to enjoy it if he is.

Rep. Hancock’s heart may be in the right place but his bill is totally inadequate. What is needed is legislation requiring a counselor to contact the parent before he refers the student to an outside agency and obtain the parent’s permission – in writing.

Hb 2136 has passed the House and is in the Texas Senate where it faces opposition from the Texas Federation of Teachers, a union whose membership includes counselors. Their complaint is that the bill, if passed, would deter kids from seeking counseling. That is a damning admission that counselors are referring kids to agencies that they don’t want anyone to know about. It is also further evidence that public school teachers will resist any suggestion that the children they deal with every day are not their own that parents have the right and the responsibility to raise them -- and that includes providing guidance on personal issues. It would be a welcome outcome if Hancock’s legislation did have the effect of deterring kids from going to school counselors instead of their parents for help with personal problems.

Despite its weaknesses the Senate should pass Hancock’s bill as a first step. The ideal legislation would bar school personnel from counseling children on anything but academic matters. It is one thing for an educator to advise a student on what electives he should choose to advance his career objectives. It is something else for a stranger to send someone else’s daughter to Planned Parenthood to arrange an abortion. .

Public school educators are forever claiming they want parents involved in the education of their children. Their opposition to this bill – mild as it is -- reveals they don’t even want parents involved in parenting their children.

Central Texas legislators supporting the b ill were Republican Reps. Mike Krusee and Harvey Hildebran. Reps. Valinda Bolton, Robbie Cook, Donna Howard, Elliot Naushtat, Mark Strama, Patrick Rose and Dawna Dukes – all Democrats – opposed the measure.

Bob Ward

1 comment:

Freedom's Truth said...

Thanks for highlighting this important issue and for pointing out that, in the name of 'education', our liberal Democrat politicians and their allied special interests are putting parents in the 'back of the bus'.

I am also interested in finding out if these same legislators voted against austistic children and their parents.