Micromanaging school administration….

HB 589 seems well intentioned.  It would require schools to adopt a policy “that requires a school counselor to spend at least 80% of the school counselor’s work time on duties that are components of a counseling program developed under T.E.C. 33.005.”  Sounds good? It’s all about letting the counselors be counselors, rather than test administrators.   Just to be clear about that, the bill goes on to say that “time spent in administering assessment instruments or providing other assistance in connection with assessment instruments, except time spent in interpreting data from assessment instruments, is not considered time spent on counseling.”  There is an exception from the 80% rule for districts in which the board determines that “staffing needs” require an exception. 

Similar bills were introduced last session. The Senate passed its version, but the one in the House died before passage.  This bill is well intentioned, and designed to address the critical need for schools to address the mental health of students with properly qualified staff.  Let the counselors counsel!  But it’s the wrong solution coming from the wrong people.

The law is a blunt instrument.  It’s not the best way to address allocation of staff time.  We have administrators with that responsibility who have a much better grasp on how staff time should be allocated.  This bill, if enacted into law, would create paperwork and produce employee grievances.  It would limit the authority of the principal to assign duties to staff.  It would focus energy and time on process rather than results.

There is a simpler solution, and it’s one that is in the wheelhouse of our legislators. They could allocate more money for school counselors, social workers, psychologists and others who can address student mental health.   If they are concerned that school counselor time is being wasted on STAAR, they could waive STAAR, at least for this year of heightened student, parent, and teacher stress. 


Tomorrow: the rudder that steers the ship….