Thursday, January 17

Inadequate counseling a persistent problem in NYC schools

In Insideschools' most recent college advice column, our counselor noted that guidance counselors in many high schools are responsible for so many students that they often are unable to give each kid the attention he or she deserves. I recently heard from a father who said the same situation persists in middle schools as well. Kids applying to high school or college don't get adequate support, nor do kids who need help solving personal or family problems.

Why doesn't this issue get more attention? Possibly, it's because the situation hasn't changed much in decades. Check out a 1990 New York Times article on the subject, "Trying Times for Guidance Counselors." The article describes a system that is underfunded by the state, where guidance counselors can just barely stay on top of paperwork, much less grapple with the individual and very adult challenges of their students. If that doesn't sound familiar, perhaps this will:

''Our kids are feeling totally alienated and not connected,'' said Caesar Previdi, the principal of Martin Luther King Jr. High School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. ''The schools have gone too far in the direction of judging kids on the basis of test scores and grades. In the schools we should not be ducking our responsiblity to support the family if and when thqe family is crippled.''
Some things never change.

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