Campus: CSU Northridge -- March 14, 2003

CSUN Professor Honored by Education Trust for Helping to Pioneer School Counseling Reform


Cal State Northridge was one of six universities nationwide recently recognized by the Education Trust for their role in transforming school counseling programs both in higher education and in K-12 schools.

In particular, the Education Trust, a non-profit educational organization based in Washington D.C., singled out educational psychology professor Charles Hanson for his new school counselor program that trains counselors to take a leadership role in their schools and to serve as advocates for the academic success of their students.

"Our goal is to close the achievement gap between children of color and poor students and their more privileged peers," Hanson said. "To receive this award from the Education Trust is an indication that we are heading in the right direction."

Education Trust officials said the six universities honored were at the forefront of school counseling reform efforts and have proven themselves to be pioneers in the field by fundamentally changing the way school counselors are prepared. Also honored were Indiana State University, Ohio State University, State University of West Georgia, University of Georgia and University of North Florida.

"School counselors are ideally positioned to create opportunities for all students to reach high academic goals, but have all too often been left out of education reform efforts," said Reese House, program specialist for the Education Trust. "The ongoing work of these universities ensures that future school counselors will be an integral part of closing the achievement gap that separates low-income and minority students from other students."

Hanson heads Transforming Leadership in Counseling for Student Success, a collaborative effort between CSUN and Los Angeles Unified School District. The project's goal is to restructure the school counselor training program at the university and the roles the counselors play once they are in K-12 schools from mental health facilitators to that of advocates for the students.

"Basically, we're talking about a major paradigm shift," Hanson said. "Traditionally, school counselors have been trained to serve as mental health facilitators in schools, basically mediating when students are having problems. Then when they get out there, they spend the majority of their time doing administrative work and programming students into classes. But school counselors are really the eyes and ears of a school. They, of all professionals in the school, know the students, the parents, teachers and administrators. And they know what students need to be successful.

"We are now providing them with the tools so they can serve an important leadership role in their schools and serve as advocates for kids to make sure they get a high-quality education."
Hanson said CSUN's faculty in Educational Psychology and Counseling and Special Education worked with school counselors, administrators, teachers and parents from local schools to change their curriculum to fulfill a new program mission. The mission emphasizes social justice, educational equity, leadership, advocacy, multiculturalism, parent and community involvement and the application of data and technology.

"We want to put counselors in schools who can develop comprehensive programs that will produce measurable results in student achievement," he said. "Our school counselors should be known not for what they do, but for the difference they make in the lives of all the students they serve. Our program accomplishes that."

The program also requires that students work in schools as soon as they enter the program and coordinate coursework with field experiences.

"This gives our graduate students an appreciation for what goes on in schools and what the real needs are for K-12 students if they are going to succeed," Hanson said. "Now the children will have someone representing their needs — their school counselor."

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler
(818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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