California's Shameful Record on School Counselors

I'm spending the morning at Gov-elect Jerry Brown's budget and education summit at UCLA. More than an hour in, the event has consisted of long recitation of sad facts about California's fiscal predicament, and how it impacts schools.

Even in a sea of bad numbers, one statistic jumped out at me: the scandalously low number of counselors in California schools. The state's public schools have 809 students for every counselor -- yes, you read that right. That's the most in the country, and nearly double the number in Florida and New York and more three times the number in Texas.

Why do counselors matter? In short, it's about college and other post-secondary education. School counselors are supposed to get to know students and advise them on how to get the courses and grades they need to be college eligible. Good counselors also can help high school students come up with ways to pay for college.

This is crucial since California desperately needs to boost the number of college graduates it is producing. (The state is projected to be one million short of the number of college graduates it needs to fulfill its economic needs by Public Policy Institute of California). But with so few counselors in California schools, many students who aren't sophisticated about college aren't getting the advice they need to get to college and pay for it.

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