ISSUE: As you may know the federal government is currently working under a Continuing Resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 2011 (FY11) funding until Friday, April 8. The House Majority has recently passed major cuts to education and is in negotiations with the Senate to make further cuts in order to keep the government running. A new short-term or long-term CR must be passed by April 8 to keep the government functioning.
Key congressional offices have made us aware that the elimination of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP), a federally funded, competitive grant program, is a very possible reality in this next round of negotiations. While we certainly don't won't this program eliminated, if it were to be cut it would not be the end of the profession as we know it. In fact, most school counselors out there won't even know that the federal funding has been cut. A majority of school counselors are funded through district/county and state funding.
Some school counselors are funded through federal dollars, and you would probably know if you were one of them. (Some people are funded or half of their position is funded through Title 1 dollars, for instance). Even fewer are funded through ESSCP, and you would definitely know if you fall into this category. ESSCP is a competitive grant program that your district would have had to apply for and win. It is a three-year continuation grant (meaning if your district won the grant two years ago then you still need this program to be funded for the third year). NEA estimates, that if the ESSCP were completely eliminated, approximately 675 counseling jobs would be cut, and those aren't all school counselors as school social workers and school psychologists can be hired from that program as well. To put it in perspective there were approximately 105,000 school counselors in the 2008-2009 school year. That said, we don't want to see one school counseling job lost so it is important that we work together to fight the elimination of the ESSCP.
ACTION NEEDED: We are asking you to call or e-mail your House and Senate members today with the following message:
"As a constituent of Representative/Senator ___________, I am calling/writing because I understand that negotiations are being made to pass a FY 11 budget and that the elimination of several education programs are at stake, including the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP). I would like to request you, as my elected official, preserve the ESSCP and other education programs. Programs such as the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program are vital for our students, especially in time of economic hardship. These cuts will have a negative impact on our students."
Steps for Reaching Members of Congress: If you don't know who your members of Congress are, go to http://www.contactingthecongress.org/, enter your ZIP code, and the names of your elected representatives with phone numbers and hyperlinks will appear.
If you know your members of Congress you can call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask for your member's office. When you call, make sure to give your name and identify yourself as a constituent; you may need to give your home address (city/town). If you are unable to get through via phone, please go to your member's Web site (which can be found at http://www.contactingthecongress.org/) and opt to send an e-mail. Be sure to let them know that you are an educator and these cuts will have a negative impact on your work and the education of children in his/her district. Personal stories are the most meaningful.
Please widely circulate this message and encourage all educators in your building to call/e-mail their elected officials. This is timely matter; please act today! If you have any questions or have difficulty finding your elected official please e-mail Amanda Fitzgerald.