Addressing Minnesota’s School Counselor Crisis

St. Paul, Minn. – A bill to increase the number of counselors and cap the counselor to student ratio for Minnesota’s students was introduced on Thursday by Senator Jerry Newton (DFL – Coon Rapids). The legislation, S.F. 431, addresses the persistent challenges faced by thousands of students in Minnesota who are unable to get necessary counseling support.

“This legislation is a vital step in ensuring our students have support services available to them if they are experiencing personal and emotional turmoil, so they have somewhere to turn if they face a mental health crisis,” said Sen. Newton.  “The shortage of these support services affects thousands of students in not only their class work, but in their home lives and can prevent them from reaching their full potential. More school counselors will have a tremendous positive effect on our students.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children nationwide shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression or even substance abuse. While the average counselor to student ratio in the United States is 450-to-1, Minnesota’s ratio is 748-to-1, one of the worst ratios in the nation. This bill mandates a ratio of 400-to-1 and would increase funding for school counselor aid, bringing more counselors into each school district, allowing more students to meet with them to discuss a wide variety of issues; issues that right now are frequently going un-addressed.

 

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Jerry Newton is a state senator who represents Blaine, Coon Rapids, and Spring Lake Park. He is the Ranking Member of the Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee and a member of the following committees: Family Care and Aging; and Higher Education Finance and Policy. Sen. Newton is also a member of the Legislative Permanent School Fund Commission and the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission. A high-resolution photo of Sen. Newton is available for download here.

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