[Susan notes: NOTE: The Business Roundtable also supports the Achievement Alliance.
Nancy Rader brings up an issue that few mention, the neglect of the social service safety net.]
Submitted to To state legislators but not published
The purpose of this email is to provide further evidence of the misguided
efforts ot NCLB and its complete lack of understanding of what children
need. The focus this time is on counseling, a term which is widely used
without much understanding of what it means. It is implied that
counseling can do more than it has in the past to help children in
school. Having been trained as a counselor before I was trained as a
school psychologist, I have been concerned to track down just how anyone
arrived at this conclusion.
There is an organization called The Achievement Alliance, which appears
to be one of the artificial organizations formed by the corporate world
to give the impression of "grass roots" support--- in this case, for
One component of the Achievement Alliance is The Educational Trust, which
advocates something called "transforming school counselor preparation
programs".They list UMass among the schools providing such [dubious]
training, which proposes to develop skills in advocacy, leadership (sic)
, teaming (?), collaboration, counseling, consultation, and use of data.
(You can find the details on the web. )
In my opinion, legislators need to be aware that this is a complete
crock, and the money spent on it benefits only its promoters, not our
kids. What is needed is more people skilled in understanding child
psychology and how children learn, not more people prepared to do
"teaming" and "'leadership", etc. The great majority of our school
counselors already have all they can do just to keep up with the daily
first aid requests that come through the door, plus doing as much
colllege / vocational counseling as possible. In contrast, the program
being promoted is a mile wide and an inch deep, just the opposite of
what is needed. Anything worthwhile in the proposed program is already
being taught by any program worth its salt.
I was fortunate in that my basic counseling course was taught by Bill
Perry, then head of the Bureau of Study Counsel at Harvard. We were
taught the non-directive technique of Carl Rogers, which empowers the
client --- the opposite of this new unfortunate emphasis on leadership. I
suspect that Perry would be just as disheartened by this current trend as
I am. To anyone well trained in the field, it is clear that this program
is just another Bush charade , meaningless if not dangerously
destructive, which impresses only those who are conditioned to admire
corporate buzz words. Once more, we are fixing problems which dont need
to be fixed, ignoring the real problems, and as usual, the promoters
have not a clue what they are talking about.
To repeat, I dont see how legislators can understand what is wrong with
NCLB and its underlying philosophy unless they are familiar with this
kind of detail. Otherwise it is no wonder that they are snowed by glossy
PR efforts .
In particular, as a Massachusetts taxpayer, I am chagrined that my tax
dollare are being misused to support this program at UMass. I hope you
will do everything possible to stop this and see that funds are directed
to more urgent priorities, such as improved teacher training and
restoring the tattered social service safety net.