Advocacy is a theme that runs throughout the vision, mission, work plan, and organizational structure of the Florida School Counselor Association. For instance, the FSCA mission guides us in all that we do and continually reminds us of our purpose:
The Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) expands the image and influence of professional school counselors through advocacy, leadership, collaboration and systemic change at the state level. FSCA 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.
The five FSCA goals also include advocacy throughout, both for students and for the profession, as a central theme:
Timely, relevant information exists that supports professional school counselors and student advocacy.
Legislative policy exists that supports professional school counselors and child advocacy.
Leaders at local and state levels champion and lead change initiatives.
The advocacy committee, one of a few standing FSCA committees (see http://www.fla-schoolcounselor.org/legislation.htm) continues to provide the leadership and platform that is clear in it’s purpose:
The goal of the FSCA advocacy platform is to address the needs of all students, to promote professional excellence for school counselors, and to advocate for closing the achievement gap between groups of students in our state.
This is no coincidence because advocacy is a core and central component for any professional association. You should know that the Florida School Counselor Association is uniquely positioned to advocate for school counselors in our state. First, FSCA is the only professional association/organization that has its sole focus on school counseling. It’s all we think about and it’s all we do. This acute focus has helped FSCA to stay on track to becoming a more effective and influential advocate in our state. It also turns out that being highly focused has resulted in FSCA being able to provide school counselors with more highly relevant and useful professional development, networking opportunities, information, resources, and tools.
Also, FSCA is unique in that we are the official division of the American School Counselor Association. Such an association with ASCA means that FSCA benefits from the combined strengths of both organizations. Over the years, FSCA has benefitted by attending the national Delegate Assembly, collaborated on the development of important position statements and documents affecting Florida school counselors, attended the national leadership development institute, attended national advocacy and public policy training, and received timely resources and guidance. This is important because when ASCA helps us do our job better, FSCA helps you do your job better.
However, FSCA cannot do it alone. We continue to seek out other organizations with common purpose in which to collaborate and partner. And of course, we need members to stand behind and stand up for each other and for the profession. One way to do this is to get the word out about the importance of advocacy and especially about membership. When you join FSCA, you provide the support and confidence we need to more strongly advocate in Tallahassee, among all the school districts, and among all our stake holders. You can advocate in a big way by recruiting just one more school counselor to become a FSCA member. The FSCA membership has grown over 100% per year over the last three years (almost at 1000 now) although we need even greater participation to help meet some very rigorous professional goals.
Another way to advocate is to use the resources and tools available on the FSCA web site to help advocate by writing, calling, and presenting to school Board Members and our law makers in both Florida and in Washington, D.C.
As president of the Florida School Counselor Association, I am very proud of our progress although not satisfied. Until every child can effectively participate in a comprehensive school counseling program, FSCA will not rest. We will continue to advocate and follow the important vision and mission, especially advocating for the difference we make in the lives of children. With your help, we can do this in an even bigger and better way.
Chris Smith, M.Ed..