The schools chancellor says one of her priorities is increasing the number of guidance counselors in city schools, but it turns out, the Department of Education doesn't know which schools have an abundance of guidance counselors and which schools have none at all. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Wondering how many guidance counselors there are per student in city schools? Don't ask the Department of Education.
Lois Herrera, DOE: "No, it's not something that we have calculated on a regular basis. That might be a really helpful measure for us, but we haven't looked at the ratio in the past."
Daniel Dromm, City Council: "Would you agree that in many elementary schools, the ratio is a thousand to one?"
Herrera: "Since we haven't calculated it, I couldn't say."
That's the head of the DOE's new office on guidance and counseling, testifying before the City Council. The Council is considering a bill that would at least require the DOE to calculate—and report—on the number of guidance counselors in each school.
Counselors aren't required at all in elementary schools, and middle and high schools are required to have just one—whether the school serves 400 or 4,000.
Fort Hamilton High School has 4,000 students. Senior Yuxuan Liu says there's just two college counselors.
"I'm a new immigrant. I cannot get the support from my home because my parents cannot speak English. So I have to resort to the school. But a school like this, only a few counselor who are like available to help the students," Liu says.
Elsewhere though, like at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, administrators have made major investments in counseling. For the 700 students, there are three guidance counselors, up to eight graduate-level counseling interns, two social workers and several dedicated community volunteers.
A brand new college advising office, with laptops and a library, was donated by CapitalOne.
"That is largely the exception. I think for the most part the kids who need this support and advocacy the most are the kids who get it the least. And I think that is a real challenge, I think it's real problem but also a real opportunity for growth," says Joshua Steckel, college counselor at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies.
The first step remains figuring out, and starting to keep track of, how many guidance counselors there actually are at each school—and how many students each one is responsible for seeing.