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06/27/2018 | Organizing for Education Justice

Urban Youth Collaborative Wins $4 Million for Guidance Counselors and Social Workers

Last week, Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council unveiled this year’s final budget which included a $4 million initiative to bring more guidance counselors and social workers into New York City schools. For years, CPD partner Urban Youth Collaborative has been leading the fight to ensure that more guidance counselors and social workers are hired to support young people. When the initiative was announced, Chair of the Education Committee Council Member Treyger acknowledged UYC’s advocacy, stating: “Our students, including @UYC_YouthPower, have been advocating for more social workers and guidance counselors. Your voices were heard. There’s $2 million for guidance counselors and $2 million for Bridging the Gap social workers.”

In April 2017, through a report co-authored with CPD, UYC released the Young People’s School Justice Agenda – a vision for safe, supportive, and inclusive schools developed by youth leaders organizing to transform their schools and communities. Their agenda centered supportive approaches to improving school climate. These approaches are proven to be more effective at helping students address the root causes of conflict and reducing school infractions, thus actually creating safer schools than punitive policies such as suspensions and policing.

UYC continued its advocacy by releasing a Policy Brief with CPD to support their calls. That brief showed that guidance counselors and social workers provide critical services to create safe and supportive schools. The current ratio of students to full-time guidance counselors is 1:407. As a point of comparison, the ratio of students to New York Police Department School Safety Division personnel is 1:207. Students attending middle schools with comprehensive counseling programs reported feeling safer in their schools, better relationships between students and teachers, greater satisfaction of students with the education they were receiving in their schools, and earning higher grades. Read more about UYC’s work in an op-ed here.

Young people organizing with UYC expressed a vision for their future filled with hope. Their vision prioritized deep investment in guidance counselors and social workers. While there is still far more work to do and progress to achieve, this $4 million investment in young people’s priorities is a critical step forward for all New York City young people and is a testament to the fundamental importance of sustained and strategic youth organizing to transform our schools and education system.