This letter is primarily directed to Montana residents, although concerned out-of-state individuals may also participate or use this information to advocate for children’s mental health in your state or province.
As many of you may know, Montana State Superintendent of Schools Elsie Arntzen has recommended the elimination of the state requirement that Montana Public Schools have a required minimum number of 1 school counselor for every 400 students. Obviously, this number is already too high; the national recommendation is for 1 school counselor for every 250 students. During this time of urgent student mental health needs, we need more school counselors, not fewer.
I just wrote and sent my letter to the Montana Board of Public Education in support of retaining the school counselor to student ratio in Montana Public Schools. Please join me. Email your letter to support retaining (or increasing) the current school counselor to student ratio to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public comment period ends on November 4th, so please launch your emails soon!
If you’re not sure what to write, but you believe school counselors are important for supporting student mental health, then just write something simple like, “Please support Montana students and their mental health by retaining or increasing the current school counselor to student ratio in Montana Schools.”
If you want to write something longer, the Montana School Counselor Association has provided the following bullet points to guide public comment.
- Keep your talking points clear and concise. Make sure to state that you are in support of keeping the school counselor to student ratio
- It’s ok to provide a few talking points, less may be more. If you’re not sure what to write, you could simply send a statement asking them to retain the School Counselor to Student ratio
- Professional and polite messages are received better
- Provide examples as to why the ratio is important. Share your experiences within your school (maintain confidentiality), about your program, the multiple hats that you wear, any changes you have experienced over recent years, data that supports increased student needs, etc
- We acknowledge that there is a shortage of school counselors in Montana. Eliminating the ratio will not solve the shortage of school counselors, but could exacerbate the shortage, especially when tough budget decisions need to be made
- Students could miss out on the proactive and responsive services our communities have come to expect from us including A) attendance and graduation rates, B) school climate and bullying prevention, C) social and emotional learning, and D) students having a professionally trained safe person to talk with
Thanks for considering this and for doing all you can to support children’s mental health and well-being.