The Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) has taken a BOLD step!
The work of counselors in every school needs to be recognized, model school counseling programs need to be supported, assigned tasks need to be relevant to the state frameworks, and the number of students school counselors serve needs to align more with ASCA recommendations. School counselors’ training, experience, and focus on student achievement, preparation for the rigors of lifelong learning and career success needs to be supported in policy at the District and state levels of government. In keeping with the ASCA model and Florida School Counseling Frameworks, FSCA is ramping up its leadership and advocacy role. School counselors’ jobs should be protected and recognized for the success of their efforts in developing responsive programs and increasing student performance and not be easily cut to balance a budget.
In its annual accountability evaluation, FSCA’s Governing Board recognized that it has achieved most of its’ mission and key strategic goals: supporting relevant professional development, creating a cost-efficient structure for the organization’s management, and facilitating effective communication mechanisms through the website and quarterly newsletter; but the board has not adequately created a structure for its advocacy efforts. While we have an excellent advocacy platform, the FSCA leadership is eager to "get to the next level." We actively researched advocacy models around the country. We could continue relying on our great website and relevant professional development opportunities, but we feel it is time to enhance our advocacy efforts and move FSCA to be more than a member service organization. We believe that our next step is to make our advocacy role around the state and especially in Tallahassee priority one.
The Exciting News...
To provide experience and expertise in the area of political advocacy, we have entered into a contract with Capitol Strategies Consulting, Inc. who will be working for Florida school counselors to advocate more effectively and to help write, pass and enact “model legislation” that draws from the ASCA National Model, Florida Frameworks, and successful legislation from around the country. We believe that student success depends upon exposure to effective school counseling programs that require:
• Every school should have at least a full time certified, professional school counselor;
• Counselors must be expected and allowed to do the job for which they are trained;
• Schools and districts must attempt to follow the national model’s ratio of 1:250 for ALL students to benefit from well-planned and accountable school counseling programs;
• School Counselor should be the term for what we do in the 21st century, the title guidance counselor detracts from our contemporary knowledge, skills and accomplishments;
• Counselors must be evaluated on the work they are trained to do and the measurable differences they make with students.
This Will Take Work and Funding...
We know this is a long term commitment and may take several years to accomplish. However, we have already identified key legislative champions who are willing to help craft legislation and move it through the process of voting and ratification. We believe that this initiative will benefit students in all educational settings by providing the leadership needed for setting standards for school counseling programs and school counselor roles.
In November during Convention, more than 50 of our members/leaders met at the Delegate Assembly and unanimously voted to increase dues by 50%, effective January 1, 2012 to support the advocacy efforts and the mission of the organization. The largest increase is to professional members which will cost $15 more per year. All agreed this will be a critical investment in our own professional future and the success of our students. This is our first increase in over twenty years and all extra dues will be earmarked towards our advocacy efforts.
Watch our website as we update and roll-out our new Advocacy page. Please sign-up for legislative alerts, and get to know your local delegation when they are home from Tallahassee. Let them know school counselors support student success every day.
Renew your membership, invite a colleague to join, join an existing chapter or create a new chapter of FSCA if none is available in your area. Remember that numbers matter in Tallahassee. Don’t wait for others to lead; step forward, lead and advocate for our students and your professional future.
Christopher B. Smith
Florida School Counselor Association