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Melissa Reeves (right), a consulting school psychologist in Rock Hill, ., spends lunchtime with students. Unwieldy Ratios
There are roughly 37,000 full- and part-time school psychologists in the United States, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. The . Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average job growth (about 11 percent) in the field over the next decade.
In hard budgetary times, however, school psychologists often are regarded as something of an educational luxury, a comparatively pricey staff position. The national association recommends one psychologist per 500 to 700 students, though actual ratios are closer to one per 2,000 or more students nationwide.
What about relying on the school counselor? The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250 students per counselor, but the average ratio is 457:1, based on 2008-09 data, the latest available. Only five states were operating at or above that recommended level: Louisiana (238:1), Mississippi (234:1), New Hampshire (233:1), Vermont (207:1) and Wyoming (197:1). California topped the list at 814 students per counselor.
Even then, many experts argue school counselors are not really the complete answer. Their primary job is to ensure every student has the tools — psychological and otherwise — to be successful in school and in life. They may be ideally situated to act as sentinels for students’ mental health. “They know teachers and kids better than anybody,” says Peggy Hines, director of the National Center for Transforming School Counseling. But they may lack the time, training and resources to delve deeply into each and every student’s problems.
“Twenty percent of students take up 80 percent of a school counselor’s time,” Hines says. “For a kid with mental health issues, a school counselor might have just a few sessions, each just a few minutes long, to try to work things out.”
Clinics on Campus
A more promising answer is a coordinated, collaborative series of steps leading, ultimately, to professional psychological services outside of the educational system. It’s a middle path that can work with broad support and on-going effort, says William Dikel, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based psychiatrist and 25-year consultant to school districts and policymakers on mental health issues. He’s seen both ends of the spectrum, from full-service districts to no-service districts.
“There are districts that hire social workers, do psychological assessments and treatment plans, even bill Medicaid,” he says. “And there are districts that don’t want to hear ‘mental health’ and ‘school’ in the same sentence, who think the former is really somebody else’s job.”
Both approaches are problematic, according to Dikel. In a recent policy paper for the National School Boards Association’s Council of School Attorneys, Dikel said school staffs that provide diagnostic and treatment services must recognize “that their records containing sensitive student and family information become part of the educational record. Schools cannot get malpractice coverage, and their existing coverage may not be sufficient to protect them from liability.”
Conversely, schools that completely avoid addressing mental health issues still deal with the indirect costs, which he defines as “time-consuming visits to the principal’s office, educational failure and one-to-one aides and other educational interventions that would have been more successful had the student been receiving effective mental health services.”
Dikel adds: “Every school classroom has at least one kid with a mental health disorder. Many of these children end up in special education. They may be emotionally disturbed. They are typically undertreated, inappropriately treated or not treated at all. The result is generally incredibly poor outcomes — high dropout rates, high arrest rates, poor educations and job histories.”
The optimal course falls in between. “The best approach is for schools to stay out of the mental health business of diagnosing and treating but play a crucial role in the continuum of collaborative services that includes parents, medical and mental health providers, community agencies and county services,” he says.
Specifically, Dikel recommends schools adopt mental health procedures and guidelines that help build connections to community mental health services for students, but protect schools and personnel from liability risks. These include defined roles for school staff and an effective system of collaboration with external mental health service providers.
As an example, Dikel cites a consultation request from the special education director of a 5,000-student school district. The director had noticed a disproportionately high number of students were being referred to restrictive Setting 4 placements in which they receive services at a separate facility. A file review revealed that 85 percent of the students had received psychiatric diagnoses in the past, but only 5 percent were receiving any mental health treatment.
“The director set up space in several schools for a colocated community mental health clinic to provide services. Many students received treatment for the mental health disorders that were causing their severe emotional and behavioral problems and, as a result, they were able to return to less restrictive programming, which resulted in a savings of more than $800,000 per year for the district.”
Short of treating students with psychological problems, teachers can contribute in other ways.
“They can talk to parents. They can collect information and observations that can be helpful to clinicians. They can accommodate and modify classrooms to be more environmentally friendly for kids with issues. Depending on the problem, they can alter the way teaching is done to be more helpful.”
Ellie leaves Gringotts with far more than she might have. The goblins send send her off, already plotting. Change is coming. A storm is building. There will be profit and battle in the coming days.
· As of May 20, 2014, certain online functionality offered through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is no longer accessible. The discontinued services include ...
Several representatives of school boards, teachers and other staff spoke against the bill in legislative hearings, arguing guns would make schools more dangerous.
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Additionally, three individuals—Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza—are identified as founding members of the official #BlackLivesMatter Organization, which has numerous chapters across the country. Mckesson is also regularly identified by major media outlets as a national spokesman and leader of the organization. On its official website, BLM describes itself as “a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of black life” that seeks to “(re)build the black liberation movement.”