Minnesota’s school counselor crisis: we can do better
To the Editor:
The school counselors at Coon Rapids High School have had a rough year. They have had one student crisis after another, without adequate time to simply listen to our students. These school counselors shared their stories with me recently to help illustrate a long-standing and embarrassing statistic: Minnesota’s school counselor ratio sits at 748 students to every one counselor; a ratio that makes us the second worst state in the nation.
The average ratio in the United States is 450:1; but the American School Counselor Association recommends an even lower ratio: just 250:1. Changing the status quo has been an uphill battle in Minnesota. Legislators have carried bills to increase funding for school counselors for years. Last year we finally saw a small victory with the investment of $12 million in one-time funding in the form of matching grants to schools who hired additional support staff. This is still inadequate to meet the needs of all students.
But to seriously address the ratio of students-to-counselors, some states have passed legislation mandating a ratio, and I’d like to add Minnesota to that category. I am the proud chief author of a bill to set Minnesota’s maximum school counselor to student ratio at 400:1. This will bring more counselors into each school district, allowing more students to meet with them to discuss a wide variety of issues; issues that right now are frequently going unaddressed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder. That means that in a class of 25, five of them could be struggling with some very grown-up issues – anxiety, depression or even substance abuse. Our kids are in crisis, and our schools simply aren’t equipped to handle all of their problems adequately.
As legislators, we need to address this issue with more voracity than in past years. I am committed to doing right by Minnesota’s future leaders, and I am hopeful my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me.
Sen. Jerry Newton
Dog bite was not discrimination
To the Editor:
The dog bite Choua Xiong suffered was an unfortunate accident, not discrimination. The police officer had no way of knowing if the person in the shed was armed and dangerous or not. If Choua Xiong had shouted anything back, the police officer would have realized she was an elderly woman who didn’t speak English.
I have no problem with immigrants coming to America legally. In fact, we are all products of immigrants except for the Native Americans. Our official language in the U.S.A. is English, which immigrants need to learn enough to communicate when they arrive. We cannot expect our police officers to be multi-lingual.
Science and history have much to teach us
To the Editor:
Everyone has an opinion on today’s many issues; some express them and some don’t. I would challenge us all to put science and history together. The presentation where this is easy to access is at YouTube as part of the PBS “RACE – Power of an Illusion” series.
There are three one-hour segments. It is from 2013, so it is not focused on current politics.
We all have much to learn from new science and our history.
People quick to blame police
To the Editor:
I would like to comment about the article “Woman, 81, bitten by K-9.” Your article indicated many people were upset by the event. The Coon Rapids Police Department has received a lot of negative comments. Another publication mentioned a Hmong group was demanding more training for police officers. Your paper mentioned attorneys are already involved.
I think everyone is unhappy with how this entire event played out. I disagree with the implied impression that the police officers acted improperly. Consider the circumstances. The officers responded to a call about a prowler in a frightened lady’s backyard. It was early morning – still dark outside. They saw somebody in dark clothing with a flashlight go into a shed next door. That person turned off the flashlight when she heard the police officers. The police officers repeatedly demanded she step out of the shed. After many requests they sent the dog in.
The officers had no idea who they were facing. The individual in the shed could have had a gun and was just waiting to shoot the officer. It might have been a dangerous person high on drugs. They certainly had no idea that it was an elderly lady.
I wanted to respond because today it seems too many people want to blame the police before they know the details. I think the police have a very difficult job. I would like to suggest to your readers that they consider applying for the Coon Rapids Citizen’s Police Academy. If they gat a chance to attend they will gain insight on how difficult police work can be. I, for one, appreciate those officers. I will always consider their side before pointing fingers of blame.
Harland A. Wyvell
Give Trump a chance
To the Editor:
I just finished reading the letters to the editor from Friday, Feb. 10. I would like to congratulate Steve Johnson, Coon Rapids, for his letter “Change needs to be done in a civilized way,” and Marge Miller, Coon Rapids, for her letter, “Trump is putting Americans first.”
It is about time that we can read something that has so much common sense. I am really tired of the rudeness, sarcasm and downright defamation of the character of other Americans. How can we be a united country when we have so many bitter and evil-spirited ones among us?
It is about time the we give President Trump a chance. We did with previous presidents.
Spring Lake Park