Heather Marcus’ testimony transcript from the SRC meeting of March 16th.

 

Heather Marcus

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Hello. My name is Heather Marcus. I work as a school counselor at Masterman where I serve around 400 students in grades five through twelve.

Today I thought I’d start with a quote:

“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

That was said by Mark Twain in 1897, and many people feel that it still holds true today. But obviously it doesn’t apply to the SRC for two reasons: 1) You’re not an elected school board under local control, you’re an appointed body. And 2) I don’t think you’re idiots. I think some of you are very calculated people who are intentionally trying to starve the public schools of resources, cause churn, and privatize the District, as Dr. Hite was instructed at the Broad Academy. I do hope the two new members, Dr. McGinley and Ms. Wilkerson, want to support our public school students. Time will tell.

Today I’d like to share a few of my concerns:

1.  One of the resources our students desperately need is more counselors. We’re often reminded that the district has restored at least one counselor to every school. So, a school with 200 students and a school with 1,000 students could both have one counselor. That makes no sense. You need to understand that counselors require manageable caseloads to properly address our students’ varied needs.

2. Last fall you requested public opinion about the proposed calendars for the next two years. I filled out your survey and my concerns were ignored so I wanted to go on the record today. I explained that four schools, Masterman, Hill Freedman, Carver, and GAMP, house middle and high schools, and each fall those counselors are assisting eighth graders with the high school selection process while simultaneously helping seniors with the college application process. Early Decision college applications are due on November 1 every year, and the high school applications are generally due by mid-November. You proposed that during the 2018-2019 school year the high school application due date would be moved two weeks earlier, to November 2. That’s one day after Early Decision college applications are due. I’m begging you to leave the high school application due date at mid-November so eighth graders and seniors at these four schools have more time to get help from their counselors with these important processes and decisions, the outcomes of which will have a great impact on their futures.

3. This one makes me livid. I’ve pointed it out repeatedly when I’ve spoken at SRC meetings over the last several years, yet you do nothing to change it. Counselors are not mentioned even once in your Action Plan for the district. The District has goals of having all students read on grade level and graduate college and career ready. We all work as a team to make those things happen. Show some respect for counselors’ expertise and include us in your Action Plan!!!

4. Supporting students is like putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle. Each office at 440, such as College and Career Readiness, Prevention and Intervention, Truancy, CTE, etc., oversees one piece of that puzzle. Counselors put all of those pieces together to form a full picture when working directly with students. That’s a tremendous job. There are numerous offices at 440 because of the comprehensive planning that’s necessary, yet there aren’t enough counselors in the schools to properly execute their directives. Unfortunately, our students are the ones who suffer.

In conclusion, I’d prefer a school board full of oblivious idiots rather than a group of people who are deliberately trying to privatize the schools at all costs, even if our public school children suffer in the process. Ms. Wilkerson and Dr. McGinley, I implore you to listen to my concerns and do everything in your power to provide resources and support for school counselors, our students and our public schools.