Ms. LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ of California. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act.
With the No Child Left Behind Act dramatically increasing the pressure on teachers and administrators to improve test scores, too often we forget that students' academic success is also dependent on a number of other factors. For example, as students transition into adulthood, they experience social, emotional and behavioral needs that if unmet, impede academic success.
These diverse needs often cannot be met by already over-burdened teachers. Students need school counselors, school social workers and school psychologists. Yet, in low income neighborhoods, students lack these essential resources. Nationwide, the average student to counselor ratio is 475 to 1, nearly double the suggested 250 to 1 ratio. In California, the ratio is a dismal 920 to 1, the worst in the nation.
To help improve student performance and increase graduation rates, this bill would authorize funding to form partnerships between under-served school districts and higher education institutions that train school counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists. By increasing school support staff, we can address children's out-of-the-classroom needs so that when they're in the classroom, they can be safe, engaged, and achieving their full potential. The students of low-income neighborhoods deserve the same opportunities as others for a productive learning environment.
Today's children are the economic engine of our future. We must make certain all children have the opportunity to develop academically and socially, and all schools have the resources to achieve this goal. Academic success does not come when children are hungry, bullied, traumatized, or depressed. We need more personnel to help address and alleviate these issues so that all children, no matter what their economic situation is, can focus on math, reading, and science. This is why I urge my colleagues to invest in our children and our future by supporting the Increased Student Achievement Through Increased Student Support Act.