Letter to the Editor

June 24, 2016
By

Concerned and disappointed

I know that we can all agree that there has been one time or another where we have struggled and that we may have needed the help of a professional. In the public school system, the adjustment counselor is there to help children when they need it.

It has come to my attention that the City of Everett has decided to let go of all the adjustment counselors due to budget cuts. I would like to express both my deep concern and disappointment in the course of action. Losing these valuable members of staff will have devastating effects on the student body population whose needs have clearly not been kept in mind in making this decision.

I would like to first talk about my own personal experience with adjustment counselors as a student. Having to move eight times within 12 years of my primary and secondary school experience often left me as the outsider in my new school. I was also undiagnosed with ADHD.  I know that without the help of my adjustment counselors that I would never have been able to graduate or had the success that I have been so lucky to obtain.

I finished my Master’s Degree in education in 1999 and have been fortunate enough to teach English as a Second language for the past 17 years.  My years of teaching and educational background allows me to see the urgency of this situation.

Being successful at school is not just an academic issue. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs says that first a child needs food and safety to reach self-actualization and therefore, learn.  Safety doesn’t mean just physical safety; it means emotional safety, which very often these caring and hardworking adjustment counselors provide.

As examples, Everett is a city of mixed socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. These children need help adjusting to a new country, culture, and school system. Adjustment counselors often are the only ones who advocate for children with special needs or who struggle economically and may be food insecure. When a child loses a parent or experiences a tragedy, sometimes other children don’t know what to say, but the adjustment counselor is there to help children understand these difficult emotional issues. With issues such as drug overdoses, bullying, and gun/gang violence, sometimes the adjustment counselor is the ONLY person a student can talk to with whom they feel safe because of fear or embarrassment. How can we take away these vital resources for our children/students?

I strongly urge Everett Public schools to reconsider how they address their budget cuts for the health and well-being of all the children in Everett, and keep these adjustment counselors in place.  This conversation should not end with this post.

It’s time to take stand. Please share this message. Contact your principal or the superintendent. Let’s keep the adjustment counselors in Everett Public Schools.

Robin M. Babcock