Advocacy is a term that can be used so broadly we might not even realize how regularly we serve as advocates. We, as school counselors, can advocate for individual students, underrepresented student groups, campus practices, district policy evaluation, or legislative changes. One of the most important advocacy efforts we can pursue is for the role of the school counselor on your campus or in your district. Through intentional, comprehensive programming we can continue to define our role to best serve all students across Pennsylvania!
The ASCA National Model has been developed to provide us with the framework we need to advocate for our roles as school counselors. By creating and implementing a comprehensive program, you will be able to serve all students and validate the role you serve. Take time now to review or create your vision and mission statements that align with the campus mission. This alignment is significant as you create partnerships with your administration and staff.
Outline your specific goals and share with anyone who will listen. Stakeholders love to know what is happening in their school. Create or continue your counseling advisory council. Involve students, teachers, staff, parents, community members to be part of your counseling program. Be proud of the difference you make and share with all parties. Show how what you are doing aligns with campus goals and the needs of all stakeholders. These members can then serve as educated ambassadors for your program across the community.
We may think we simply do not have time to take on advocacy. I challenge you to think differently. Your time and energy in counseling program advocacy pays dividends for multiple entities across your school community. Advocate for yourself. Advocate for your program. You will find that these advocacy efforts will result in ultimate advocacy for all students. You are worth it, school counselors are worth it, and all of the students we serve are worth it!
by Wes Upton the director of advocacy for the Lone Star State School Counselor Association.
Lobby Your State Legislator
3 Ways to Lobby Your State Legislator
Be Informed: Know the issues and your lawmakers. Know where they stand and how the legislative decision making process works in Pennsylvania. Use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media to gain insight oh where legislators stand on the issues. Your success in navigating the competitive world of policymaking rests equally upon know-how and knowledge.
Contact Your Lawmaker: A study by the nonprofit Congressional Management Foundation foud that 97 percent of congressional staffers agree that in-person visits from constituents influenced their lawmakers most. However, making phone calls, writing letters, and sending emails to legislators is also effective. The study found that even these personalized communication methods were more likely to change a member's mind than a professional lobbyist's efforts.
Be Persuasive, Personable, and Patient: Tell your story in a manner that is professional and upbeat, and remain calm. Losing your cool means losing your case! Once you have made your "ask" regarding a specific issue, stay in touch. Keep policymakers and their assigned staff representative - if you know who that person is - abreast of the issues that concern you. Political decision making can be lengthy. Don't get discouraged.
courtesy of the National Education Association
Pennsylvania School Counselor Staffing Report
On behalf of PSCA, the Pennsylvania School Counselor Staffing Report can be used for School Counselor Advocacy. This report is designed to educate and empower school counselors across Pennsylvania as they advocate for the investment in school counseling positions and programs in our K-12 education system. It will serve as an annual reference point for the numbers and ratios of school counselors employed in Pennsylvania.
We call upon our membership to advocate for PA House Bill 662, an amendment to the Public School Code of 1949 that would establish clear guidelines and definitions for school counseling services for all students in the state. This bill would ensure that school counselors spend the majority of their time (at least 80%) delivering support to students tailored to their individual needs, including academic, career, and social-emotional challenges.
As per this bill, each school entity in Pennsylvania would be required to develop and implement a comprehensive school counseling plan that is reviewed annually and updated as needed. The plan must align with best practices and be delivered by certified school counselors.
We urge PSCA members to advocate for the passage of this bill, which would provide a clear scope of practice so that students, schools, and communities can know what services they can expect from their school counselors. This would also reduce the amount of noncounseling tasks and responsibilities that often get in the way of school counselors supporting students effectively and efficiently.
Let us work together to ensure that all students in Pennsylvania receive the support they need to succeed in their academic, career, and personal lives. We urge PSCA members to join us in advocating for PA House Bill 662 to become a reality!