facebook linkedin twitter

Bill Aims to Boost Hiring of School Social Workers, Counselors

June 22, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck

The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, a bill recently reintroduced by members of the Senate and House, aims to increase the presence of social workers, counselors and other personnel to support marginalized students.

“Our legislation is pretty simple. It says that federal dollars from here on out will be used to hire those support workers, counselors, in particular, instead of police officers,” Sen. Chris Murphy told reporters last week. 

Murphy reintroduced the bill on June 17 along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and Sen. Tina Smith. 

The bill would provide $5 billion in grant money for districts to hire counselors, social workers and other behavioral health personnel and implement services in schools that create positive and safe climates for all students.

Since 1999, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion to support the increased presence of police in schools. This legislation would prohibit federal funds supporting the hiring, maintaining or training of police officers in K-12 schools and instead divert that funding toward uses related to school safety within applicable grant programs.

Research provided by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that counselors, social workers, psychologists and other trained professionals improve social and educational outcomes for kids in schools, while police involvement in schools leads to the criminalization of students, particularly students of color and students with disabilities.

“Nationally, students with disabilities are arrested at a rate nearly three times higher than their non-disabled peers,” Murphy said. “Black students on a national basis are arrested at a rate three times that of white students.”

Of the 87,000 students restrained during the 2015–2016 school year, 71% received special education services, and 11% of students restrained were Black.

Those living with disabilities, Native Americans, Latinos and LGBTQ students are also more likely than their peers to attend schools with police officers on campus. They are also more likely to be referred to law enforcement or arrested while in school.

“Schools should be safe havens for healing and learning, but Black, brown, LGBTQ, and students with disabilities are often met with criminalization. I reintroduced the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act because they need social workers and counselors, not more police,” said Pressley on her Twitter feed

According to the ACLU, no research to date has found evidence of school resource officers making schools safer. However, school resource officers have been shown to increase the likelihood that children will be arrested while on campus.

The ACLU research also shows that schools with a designated law enforcement officer on duty arrested students at 5 times the rate of comparable schools without such an officer.

Murphy said the bill will not prohibit schools from hiring police officers and would not prohibit states and local municipalities from investing in police officers either. It would only redirect federal dollars toward hiring counselors instead of police. 

According to additional research from the ACLU, 90% of students currently attend public schools where the number of counselors, social workers, nurses and psychologists does not meet recommended professional standards.

Professional standards recommend at least one counselor and one social worker for every 250 students and at least one nurse and one psychologist for every 750 students.

However, currently, 1,700,000 students attend schools with police but not one counselor,  6,000,000 students attend schools with police but no school psychologists and 10,000,000 students attend schools with police but no social workers.

“When we put an officer in a school, we’re sending a message that our children require surveillance. When we put a counselor in a school, we’re sending a message that our children deserve nurturing and support,” Rep. Bowman said in a statement

The bill would also require each local educational agency receiving a grant to prepare and submit a report to the Secretary containing information about how the grant funds were used and the number of students who were arrested by or referred to law enforcement officers in the previous year, compared to the number arrested or referred during the term of the grant. 

The agency would also have to detail the reasons for arrest and the demographic data of students referred to or arrested by law enforcement officers separated by race, ethnicity, age, gender, sex and sexual orientation, status as a child with a disability, and socioeconomic status.

Polling by Data for Progress found that approximately 57% of the public supports decreasing police in schools and instead investing in behavioral, mental health and emotional support for students.

Advocacy groups including the ACLU, Children’s Defense Fund, the NAACP and the National Education Association have endorsed the legislation. 

While the bill aims to redirect funds for policing, few cities have taken steps to remove police entirely from schools.

In early May, the City Council of Alexandria, Virginia, voted to end a School Resource Officer program which was started nearly three decades ago. This vote pulled all police officers out of school hallways stationed inside T.C. Williams High School, Francis Hammond Middle School and George Washington Middle School.

The plan, proposed by City Councilman Mo Seifeldein, is to reallocate $789,909 the School Resource Officer funding to add mental health resources to Alexandria City Public Schools and support staffing to the Teen Wellness Center, but the proposal requires an implementation plan from police and Alexandria City Public Schools, which will be presented to the Council by July. In Washington, D.C., the Police Reform Commission released a report  indicating police be removed from schools by this fall, but city officials, such as D.C. police Chief Robert J. Contee III, rejected the commission’s report on the basis that it does not reflect the needs of D.C. residents.

Mental Health

October 15, 2021
by Reece Nations
Texas Removes LGBTQ Youth Suicide Hotline After Primary Challenger Goads Abbott

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has taken down a webpage that offered resources to... Read More

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has taken down a webpage that offered resources to LGBTQ youth after criticism was leveled at Gov. Greg Abbott by a primary challenger for its inclusion. Former Texas state Sen. Don Huffines, who announced his... Read More

October 7, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Eating Within Consistent 10-Hour Window Reduces Risk of Chronic Diseases

Researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Salk Institute conducted a review of time-restricted eating that shows... Read More

Researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine and Salk Institute conducted a review of time-restricted eating that shows eating within an 8-10-hour window can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.  “Just like to be productive we plan our... Read More

October 6, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
Mental Health Practices Are Changing in Work Places

A new report from Mind Share Partners, a non-profit changing the culture of workplace mental health, finds that there has... Read More

A new report from Mind Share Partners, a non-profit changing the culture of workplace mental health, finds that there has been an increase in employees leaving jobs for mental health reasons, and companies are taking new steps to address employee's mental health. As a follow-up to... Read More

COVID-Related Attacks Prompt Hospital to Issue Panic Buttons

Nurses and hundreds of other staff members will soon begin wearing panic buttons at a Missouri hospital where assaults on... Read More

Nurses and hundreds of other staff members will soon begin wearing panic buttons at a Missouri hospital where assaults on workers tripled after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cox Medical Center Branson is using grant money to add buttons to identification badges worn by up... Read More

Is John Hinckley, Who Shot Reagan, No Longer a Threat?

Lawyers are scheduled to meet in federal court on Monday to discuss whether John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried... Read More

Lawyers are scheduled to meet in federal court on Monday to discuss whether John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, should be freed from court-imposed restrictions including overseeing his medical care and keeping up with his computer passwords. Since Hinckley, 66,... Read More

September 22, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck
OSHA Will Issue Federal Heat Standard for U.S. Workplaces 

WASHINGTON -- Extreme heat has played a role in worsening health outcomes, especially for minority communities and for construction and... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Extreme heat has played a role in worsening health outcomes, especially for minority communities and for construction and farm workers at risk of heat stroke.  In response to rising temperatures due to climate change, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is set to issue... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top