Celebrating Black Lives Matter at School Week and National School Counseling Week


This week is both National School Counseling Week and Black Lives Matter at School Week and the two go hand-in-hand.

NACAC believes school counselors have an important and often under-acknowledged role to play in moving toward the goal of equity in education.

One of NACAC’s core values is that our institutional and individual members strive to eliminate from the education system bias based on race, ethnicity, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, political affiliation, national origin, or disability. We view this as fundamental to our responsibility as educators.

However, the stark reality is that inequities do exist, and are often strongly associated with race and ethnicity.

For example:

High student-to-counselor ratios
School counselors in schools serving large numbers of racial and ethnic minority students face ratios well above the current national ratio of 464:1. According to the Education Trust, a high school counselor who serves predominantly students of color has to serve 34 more students every year than a school counselor who serves fewer students of color, and 27 states are shortchanging either their students of color, students from low-income families, or both. And since black students are more likely than their white peers to cite a school counselor’s involvement in changing their college-going perceptions, such shortages present steep barriers to students of color.

Inequitable access to education resources and college preparatory coursework
Evidence of racial gaps in access to school resources is plentiful. Persistent racial and ethnic gaps exist in dual enrollment and college preparatory coursework (AP and IB), which is the foundation for NACAC’s policy priority in support of equitable funding for schools to ensure that all students have access to coursework that will prepare them for education beyond high school.

Implicit bias and cultural fluency
There is a substantial and growing body of research documenting individual implicit bias across all industries and facets of American life. College admission counseling professionals, including school counselors, have identified implicit bias and other, more overt, forms of bias as a critical obstacle to serving all students well. As such, NACAC recently created a resource for practitioners wishing to learn more about cultural fluency and bias, and urges school leaders and policymakers to consider the effects of bias on the educational system.

Interaction with a school counselor has statistically significant, positive effects on college-going behavior and ensuring equitable access to school counseling and other critical resources—particularly for racial/ethnic minority students—is an immediate concern to be addressed by policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels.

David Hawkins is NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy. You can reach him at dhawkins@nacacnet.org.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Black Lives Matter at School Week and National School Counseling Week”

  1. Thank you David for this piece. YOu give us a lot of resources and an overview of what we need to know more about in order to serve students well. As is often the case, however, some of the studies pretend that Asian students do not exist. For example, the dat gathered for the stats about access to AP courses breaks things out by White, Black, and Hispanic, but not Asian. This in itself seem racist and speaks to the way Asians are often left out because their stats undermine the typical narrative of haves and have nots in terms of course work, academic performance, and testing. Pretending they don’t matter in discussion about access is, to me, a bias that shows that at least some educators do not feel Asians, particularly low income Asians, need to receive help and resources.

    1. We want to acknowledge your comment publicly, Parke, and note two important points of follow up: (1) we will write to ProPublica to ask them if they will include graphics for Asian-American students on the landing page of their resource, and (2) for those interested in this resource, Asian-American student data is included in the resource itself, along with the other racial/ethnic groups included in the underlying U.S. Department of Education data.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *