HB 749: Recruiting and retaining school psychologists

The need is greater now than ever:

North Carolina has 780 school psychologists serving one million five hundred thousand public school students.

North Carolina's ratio of school psychologists to students is currently 1 school psychologist for every 1,943 students, and the nationally recommended ratio of school psychologists to students is 1 school psychologist for every 500 students.

If you read my comment Sunday you would know that 1 in 5 (20%) Americans have a diagnosable mental health condition. That's 388 at-risk students per school psychologist, under our current horrifically understaffed system. Not fixing this would be criminally negligent, as it endangers the safety of all students (and faculty). It's also costly as hell, because many of those kids won't become a "productive" member of society and will clash with the justice system on a regular basis. In other words, for those of you who are empathy-deficient, not spending the money to fix this is a false economy. And this is why it's so important to tackle this on the state level:

Robust education investments are necessary to ensure a successful public education system. The vast majority of public K-12 spending in the United States - around 92 percent - comes from state and local sources. Approximately 8% of education funds come from federal programs, with Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act representing the two largest federal education programs. State funds generally support salaries of staff members, school operations and state-specific priorities while the federal programs are targeted for various types of students, schools and communities. These programs help address education needs and inequities that are often not able to be met by the state or local jurisdiction. Although some federal programs do allow for the hiring of school personnel, most personnel decisions are within jurisdiction of the state and/or local government.

Quite simply, students cannot learn without principal leadership, high quality teachers, access to school psychologists and other specialized instructional support personnel, comprehensive learning supports, sound infrastructure, and current and evidence based materials in their classrooms. Enrollment in our public schools has increased by more than 5 million children since 2005, and projections indicate that the number of children in our public education system will continue to increase. Despite increased enrollment, and the expansion of services and supports provided by schools, overall investment in education is only marginally higher than 2005 funding levels. Unfortunately, due to cuts at the local, state and federal level, schools have been forced to reduce or eliminate personnel, scale back the availability of support services, and reduce or eliminate instruction in physical education, the arts, and other subjects that contribute to a well-rounded curriculum. Creating a strong public education that meets the needs of all students requires significant investments at the local, state, and federal level.

We can't rely on the Federal government to fix this, and we can't leave it up to local governments to "supplement" these positions.