House Bill to Boost Effectiveness of School Counselors

Washington state lawmakers hope a new bill can help schools spot and deal with troubled students before a tragedy occurs.  Dan Frizzell from he Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

In the wake of yet another school shooting, there’s increased interest in a bill introduced by a school counselor who also serves as a state representative.  Sponsored by Lillian Ortiz-Self, a Democrat from Mukilteo, the bill aims to strengthen the roles of counselors, psychologists, and social workers in public schools.  These professionals are trained to recognize danger signs and work with students and their families.  Problem is, according to Ortiz-Self, these positions are stretched thin and often forced to spend more time on paperwork and other duties than the work they’ve chosen. She says they’re also too busy to spend time collaborating and sharing notes, which can allow problems to slip through the cracks.

ORTIZ-SELF: “Our kids are in school seven to eight hours a day and they’re hurting, and they don’t leave their hurt at the door. They work in the door with that and we have to have the tools at our disposal to be able to meet that need, and that’s what I hope this bill will help us get closer to.” 

The bill was OK’d by the House last week, a few days before the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, and now awaits action in the Senate.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.