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Let Me Show You What I Do: Advocacy in Action How to Advocate for School Counseling Programs at the State, District, and Building Levels During an Unprecedented.

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Presentation on theme: "Let Me Show You What I Do: Advocacy in Action How to Advocate for School Counseling Programs at the State, District, and Building Levels During an Unprecedented."— Presentation transcript:

1 Let Me Show You What I Do: Advocacy in Action How to Advocate for School Counseling Programs at the State, District, and Building Levels During an Unprecedented K-12 Funding Opportunity

2 What is Advocacy and why is it so Important?

3 ASCA’s Vision The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is the foundation that expands the image and influence of professional school counselors through advocacy, leadership, collaboration and systemic change. ASCA empowers professional school counselors with the knowledge, skills, linkages and resources to promote student success in the school, the home, the community and the world. (

4 WSCA’s Vision School counselors will be seen as valued members of the educational community at the same level as other educational professionals.

5 WSCA’s Vision WSCA Advocacy Committee (formerly Govt. Relations) We work with the executive board to set a yearly advocacy agenda, track and respond to issues of interest/concern, and provide training for other counselors, counselor educators and graduate students. Legislative Liaison (since 2010) Purpose: Work with the Advocacy Committee members to advocate for school counselors and students by educating legislative and education policymakers and other stakeholders about best practices in school counseling.

6 What does our Legislative Liaison do? Works with the Advocacy Committee to…. Attend WSCA Board meetings and provide updates & recaps and suggestions for future advocacy efforts Track bills of interest and provide info./updates for the WSCA website Meet with key lawmakers and other stakeholders when needed, often with a Counselor Assist with the WSCA Day on the Hill Testify, or help other counselors testify, when needed

7 What has WSCA done for you? The Advocacy Committee, with the WSCA Board, drafted a strategic 5-year advocacy plan ( see WSCA website under Advocacy ). Annual Day on the Hill Meetings w/ Legislators and Legislative Aides to advocate for school counselors and students. Testified at the REQUEST of the Taskforce on Career & Tech Ed. Opportunities about how counselors support student achievement through comprehensive guidance. Tracked bills, signed in with “support” or “support with concerns”, and testified where appropriate. Met with lawmakers to adjust bill language as needed. Advocacy training offered during the WSCA Conference & Day on the Hill.

8 School Counselor Advocacy at the State Level

9 Why Advocate at the State Level?  The McCleary Decision!  Legislators have the ultimate say on funding for K-12 education!  Few lawmakers or other education advocates/stakeholders truly know what school counselors do and how vital their role is.  Legislators are beginning to understand that students need comprehensive advising, especially at the high school level. There is less perceived need for middle school and elementary counselors especially, which is why educating them on the benefits/results of a K-12 COMPREHENSIVE GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING PROGRAM is so vital.

10 Ways You can Advocate Legislators have hectic schedules but they especially want to hear from their own constituents, so to get your voice heard, try the following: Face-to-face meetings Make an appointment to visit them or invite them to your school Attend a District Day or Town Hall meeting ~ introduce yourself or ask a question Facebook or Twitter Post on your legislators’ FB or Twitter feeds and see if they respond. Emails and Letters Send letters to your legislators! Send emails to the address listed on Ask the lawmaker to vote “yes” or “no” on a specific bill and explain why.. General Strategies Be brief Bring more facts than opinions, and refer to specific bills when possible Be helpful ~ offer yourself as a resource

11 A Call to Action: The 2015 WSCA “Day on the Hill” WSCA needs You! 2015 will be THE YEAR to stand up for School Counselors. We MUST bring statewide representation to the hill to advocate …. The Squeaky Wheel really DOES get the “oil”

12 Day on the Hill

13 School Counselor Advocacy at the District Level

14 Why Advocate at the District Level?  Whatever additional allocation we get from the State will be sent to districts and there is NO MANDATE THAT THE $ BE SPENT ON COUNSELORS! Ultimately, your district (board/admin.) will decide how to spend any additional $ allocated for school counselors….  Lack of knowledge or misconceptions about the important role of a comprehensive K-12 guidance and counseling program.  Decisions made by school boards and districts can greatly impact our day-to-day job duties.  Many real-life success stories of jobs/programs saved by district personnel or school boards.

15 Let’s take a moment to share….. What’s happening currently in your district regarding budgets, role of the counselor, duties, current advocacy, etc….. What are some things that you have been doing, or what can/will you do in the future to advocate for school counselors and/or your program?

16 Ideas for Advocating Within Your School District  Publicize your successes/achievements at parent, administrative, and school board meetings, and in building, district and community newsletters.  Use a needs assessment to determine interventions & then report results (use data to illustrate).  Start a PLC with fellow counselors at the same and different levels, and/or ask for district facilitation.  Develop a strategic plan with long and short-term goals (tie it to your building and/or district plan!).

17 District Advocacy Ideas (cont.)  Ask your school board to develop a policy statement that supports school counseling.  Make sure counselors are part of SIP’s and District Strategic Plans (get on those committees!).  Encourage your fellow counselors to become involved in the local and state educators union.  Find a champion (parent, student, teacher, admin., district staff, and/or board member ) to help you with “marketing”.

18 District Advocacy Ideas (cont.)  Other Resources When Advocating (ASCA Website) Advantages of Employing School Counselors ASCA Position Statement-The Professional School Counselor and Comprehensive School Counseling Programs ASCA Role Statement: The School Counselor See ASCA Website for other additional handouts and resources.

19 Writing an Editorial Have a timely news hook. Editors need a reason why your viewpoint should be given attention right now. Make a strong point. You only have 600 to 800 words. Make your points clearly and persuasively. Use short paragraphs. Make sure there’s a space between each paragraph. Avoid complex sentences. Avoid jargon. Simple language ensures that all readers, even non-experts, can understand your point. For example, don't use acronyms or "policy wonk" language. "Humanize" your article. Illustrations, anecdotes, and personal stories about your school district help explain and bring complicated issues to life. Make a specific recommendation. This is an opinion piece. State your opinion on how to improve matters. Draw the reader in, but get to the point. Your first paragraph should draw the reader in by using a dramatic vignette or a well-stated argument. If you choose to open with an anecdote or other device, make sure you quickly get to the point. End with a bang. Your final paragraph is as important as your opening paragraph. Be sure to summarize your argument in one strong final paragraph.

20 Writing a Letter to the Editor Be specific and timely. The starting point should be an article or other item appearing in a specific newspaper within the last few days. It is best to submit within a day or two of article or item being published. Cite the article. Be sure to mention the title, date, and page of the article you're responding to in one of your first two sentences. For example "Dear editor, Your recent coverage of the issue of education ("School district looks at funding," September 11, 2012) was an insightful piece...“ Make one clear argument. You only have 150 – 200 words so make a strong argument. Be very brief. Generally, 150 to 200 words in a few paragraphs are ideal. If you can't contain the letter to that length, consider writing an op-ed instead.

21 A Story of Success A School Counseling Team Asking For An Additional School Counselor What Are The Chances Of Success? We were a school of 1800 with 4 counselors and, with a caseload of 450:1, we were unable to be truly effective. How did we advocate for, and receive, a 5 th counselor? Talk to your neighbor & take a guess…..

22 How Data Played a Part in our Successful District-level Advocacy Counselor Case Loads: A Presentation to our Principal Olympia High School In 1995, 1345 Students 1345/4= 336 Students per Counselor Olympia High School in 2006, 1800 Students 1800/4 = 450 Students per Counselor Note: Since 1995, the Culminating Project, High School and Beyond Plan, and WASL/HSPE have been added to the existing graduation requirements that counselors must track. Other High Schools In Our Area Data based on phone calls conducted February 10th, 2006 to district offices: Student Head Counts (students per counselor), May 2005: Capital 1469/4 = 367 River Ridge 1120/3 = 373 Avanti 132/1 = 132Shelton H.S. 10-12th 977/3 = 325 Yelm 1340/4 = 335Choice H.S. 143/1 = Counselor BHHS 1000/3 = 333*** These were all high schools in our Tumwater 1004/3 – 334 area (within 20 miles)!

23 Visual Representation

24 Additional Data in this Case Counselors also presented data that showed a rise in the # of credit deficient students and decrease in the # of on-time graduates over the past decade, which they attributed in part to a lack of connection and guidance between students and their counselors (as a result of high caseloads). Once we showed this information to our building principal and earned his support, we then presented to the school’s Site Team (where we earned the support of a very strong parent advocate!) and to the School Board. Having both a parent advocate and strong data to support our position helped us reach our goal of hiring a 5 th counseling position for Olympia High School.

25 Types of Data that can Help Process – “What you did for whom” Evidence that event occurred How activity was conducted Number of events, people participating, and products developed Did the program follow the prescribed practice? Perception - “What others think, know or demonstrate” Measures competency achieved, knowledge gained or attitudes beliefs of students Pre-post Competency achievement Surveys Evaluations Measures what students are perceived to have gained in knowledge Results - “So WHAT” data Hard data Proof your program has (or has not) positively impacted students ability to utilize the knowledge, attitudes and skills to effect behavior Attendance Behavior Academic achievement Graduation rates Trish Hatch, Ph.D. August, 2004 Learn to use results data so that you can answer the question: “How are students different because of the school counseling program?”

26 School Counselor Advocacy at the Building Level

27 Why Advocate at the Building Level?  Not all administrators & staff members know what school counselors do and how vital their role is to the overall climate, social/emotional health and academic achievement of the school.  Your principal has the final say on who to hire, programming, curriculum, and where the money goes within the school.  Decisions on the role of the school’s counseling program, the # of school counselors in the building, and your duties can be heavily influenced by your administrators.  Counseling jobs/programs have been created and/or saved by building principals who were supportive of school counseling.  Working collaboratively with school administrators can help make your job easier while helping counselors be more effective!

28 Ideas for Advocating Within Your School Building  Find a champion in your school! It can be an administrator, a teacher, a parent, or other staff member.  Establish a close working relationship with your administrative team. Utilize the ASCA Counselor - Principal Audit. Prioritize good communication!  Make sure that the counseling program’s long term and short term goals become part of the school’s strategic plan.  Work to achieve your goals and then explain your goals/successes/achievements at a department head or all staff meeting.

29 Changing our High School and Beyond Plan – A Building-level Advocacy Effort Most of our previous HS&B plan was a pencil & paper version delivered by staff through an Advisory system The plan itself and individual lessons were static The staff & students were not engaged Counselors discovered a more individualized, differentiated, electronic option using the Career Cruising website Sharing our plan (to have Counselors deliver the lessons in computer labs) with admin. earned their buy-in. We then proposed the new model to staff, which reduced their frustration/anxiety with Advisory because we proposed using the “experts” (us!) as curriculum providers. Our new HS&B plan has already been more well received by staff (who are now “off the hook”!) and students (who now receive an individualized, dynamic way to explore post-high school options)

30 Final Thought Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

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