Why Texas Letting Chaplains Be Counselors Is Dangerous
I’m a lifelong Texan. Regardless of its critical and evident flaws, I like my state. Whenever you transfer previous the flamboyant boys within the capitol (most of whom bought there by way of carefully gerrymandered voting maps, however that’s an article for one more day), Texas is crammed with principally fantastic folks, fast to ask you to their mesquite barbecues or enable you to transfer your automobile onto blocks throughout a flash flood.
I’m additionally a Christian, although I’m usually deeply pissed off with my Christian friends. Typically I feel 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 principally optimistic other than a disturbing incident in my ultra-conservative hometown.
Lastly, I’m additionally a former public faculty instructor and spent my profession in two completely different districts in Houston. I’ve seen the issues in our faculties up shut, manner nearer than just about anybody within the capitol would dare to toe their valuable Luccheses.
And I can’t imagine that I’m having to put in writing about why Texas’ latest passing of a invoice permitting chaplains to function faculty counselors is such a horrible concept.
However even when I can’t imagine it, I’m at the very least very certified to supply the next critique on a choice made in Texas to place “extra God” in faculties.
1. They aren’t certified to offer counseling companies to kids.
School counselors in Texas are required to finish a Grasp’s in Counseling program from an accredited establishment, cross a college counselor certification examination from the Texas State Board of Training, and have at the very least two years of educating expertise. In response to the American School Counselor Association, 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 despair, suicide, abuse, and neglect in kids. Counselors are additionally educated on consuming problems, bullying, substance abuse, and numerous different complicated points in addition to how to answer them.
Chaplains, alternatively, are certified to offer “spiritual care.”
2. They lack essential training for different points of college counseling.
Between the experiential data acquired in educating and the training of their counseling program, faculty counselors in Texas are uniquely certified to deal with points kids are going through that relate to high school. They know greatest practices for interventions for absenteeism. When college students have points within the classroom, faculty counselors understand how faculty works—on a “I’ve personally run this myself” stage, not a “I sat in lecture rooms for 12 years” stage. They know FERPA and IDEA in and out, plus NACAC, DAP, PIA, PEIMS, and a few hundred different acronyms that characterize complicated techniques and insurance policies.
However most critically, highschool counselors must endure rigorous coaching for profession and school pathways to have the ability to present steerage to college students and their households. They know whether or not to advocate Superior Placement, Worldwide Baccalaureate, Twin Enrollment, or Twin Credit score programs (and what would be the most suitable option based mostly on that pupil’s particular school objectives and prior tutorial historical past). They know how one can construct relationships with school representatives, how one can create a highschool profile, and how one can write the most effective letter of advice.
Chaplains shouldn’t have any of this coaching or data. Sure, arguably a number of the lower-stakes items are issues that could possibly be realized on a job, however the higher-stakes parts depart youngsters 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).
Chances are you’ll recall that the Establishment Clause of the First Modification not solely prohibits the federal government from establishing a faith, but it surely additionally prohibits the federal government from favoring sure religions (and favoring faith over non-religion). Consequently, 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. Decreasing counseling certification requirements to permit faith-based staff to function counselors is an egregious instance of favoring faith over non-religion.
Each time the non secular proper fires up its “We want God again in faculties” speaking level, I’m at all times puzzled at their logic. Nobody is saying students can’t pray in schools (that may even be a First Modification violation) or going up and down the hallways spraying God deterrent*. When 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 fully unqualified folks offering counseling companies to our kids.
*aka Axe Physique Spray
Is your district hiring a chaplain as a counselor? File a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
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