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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Why Texas Letting Chaplains Be Counselors Is Dangerous

I’m a lifelong Texan. Regardless of its critical and evident flaws, I really like my state. If you transfer previous the flowery boys within the capitol (most of whom bought there by way of fastidiously gerrymandered voting maps, however that’s an article for one more day), Texas is crammed with largely great individuals, fast to ask you to their mesquite barbecues or provide help to transfer your automobile onto blocks throughout a flash flood.

I’m additionally a Christian, although I’m typically deeply annoyed with my Christian friends. Generally I believe such terrible issues about them that, to cite Christian author Anne Lamott, “I can’t even say them out loud as a result of they’d make Jesus need to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.” Nevertheless, I do know many members of clergy—together with two chaplains—and am fortunate that my church experiences have been largely constructive other than a disturbing incident in my ultra-conservative hometown.

Lastly, I’m additionally a former public faculty trainer and spent my profession in two totally different districts in Houston. I’ve seen the issues in our faculties up shut, method nearer than just about anybody within the capitol would dare to toe their treasured Luccheses.

And I can’t imagine that I’m having to write down about why Texas’ current passing of a invoice permitting chaplains to function faculty counselors is such a horrible thought.

However even when I can’t imagine it, I’m at the least very certified to supply the next critique on a call made in Texas to place “extra God” in faculties.

1. They aren’t certified to offer counseling companies to youngsters.

Faculty counselors in Texas are required to finish a Grasp’s in Counseling program from an accredited establishment, move a college counselor certification examination from the Texas State Board of Schooling, and have at the least two years of instructing expertise. In line with the American Faculty Counselor Affiliation, their coaching and place qualify them to offer “instruction, appraisal, and advisement and short-term counseling to college students and referral companies to college students and their households.” They know the warning indicators of melancholy, suicide, abuse, and neglect in youngsters. Counselors are additionally educated on consuming problems, bullying, substance abuse, and numerous different complicated points in addition to how to reply to them.

Chaplains, alternatively, are certified to offer “non secular care.”

2. They lack essential schooling for different elements of college counseling.

Between the experiential information acquired in instructing and the schooling of their counseling program, faculty counselors in Texas are uniquely certified to handle points youngsters are going through that relate to high school. They know finest practices for interventions for absenteeism. When college students have points within the classroom, faculty counselors know the way faculty works—on a “I’ve personally run this myself” degree, not a “I sat in school rooms for 12 years” degree. They know FERPA and IDEA in and out, plus NACAC, DAP, PIA, PEIMS, and a few hundred different acronyms that symbolize complicated programs and insurance policies.

However most critically, highschool counselors need to endure rigorous coaching for profession and school pathways to have the ability to present steering to college students and their households. They know whether or not to suggest Superior Placement, Worldwide Baccalaureate, Twin Enrollment, or Twin Credit score programs (and what would be the most suitable option primarily based on that pupil’s particular school targets and prior tutorial historical past). They know the best way to construct relationships with school representatives, the best way to create a highschool profile, and the best way to write the perfect letter of advice.

Chaplains should not have any of this coaching or information. Sure, arguably a number of the lower-stakes items are issues that could possibly be realized on a job, however the higher-stakes parts go away children weak to errors which have doubtlessly life-altering penalties. We can’t afford to let chaplains “determine it out as they go” on the subject of FERPA.

3. It’s a violation of the Institution Clause (separation of church and state).

You might recall that the Institution Clause of the First Modification not solely prohibits the federal government from establishing a faith, nevertheless it additionally prohibits the federal government from favoring sure religions (and favoring faith over non-religion). Because of this, faculties and their officers are required to be impartial on faith whereas finishing up their duties.

Texas shot itself within the foot with this one. Reducing counseling certification requirements to permit faith-based employees to function counselors is an egregious instance of favoring faith over non-religion.

Each time the spiritual proper fires up its “We want God again in faculties” speaking level, I’m at all times puzzled at their logic. Nobody is saying college students can’t pray in faculties (that will even be a First Modification violation) or going up and down the hallways spraying God deterrent*. In the event you imagine God is omnipotent, isn’t God already in faculties? Hasn’t God at all times been in faculties?

Fortunately, I suppose, for believers, God will proceed to be in faculties when we’ve utterly unqualified individuals offering counseling companies to our youngsters.

*aka Axe Physique Spray

Is your district hiring a chaplain as a counselor? File a criticism with the Division of Schooling’s Workplace of Civil Rights.

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