Counseling along the border: Proposed Texas House bill pushes more help for Valley children

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Texas Rep. Armando ‘Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) teamed up with high school students in the Valley to create a proposal to add additional certified counselors to schools in the region.

Martinez introduced House Bill 4023 on Tuesday during the Public Education Committee in Austin; it calls for a ‘life skill counselor pilot program’ for schools in all 14 counties along the southern border of Texas.

High school senior Santiago Carbajal said there is a desperate need for life skills and mental health counselors in public schools.

Carbajal said counselors in the Valley have about 500 students assigned to them, while the National School Counselor Associated recommends a ratio of one to 250.

“What we want to do is bring in a life skills counselor that will actually take care of counseling,” Carbajal said.

The senior is part of the South Texas Youth Congress, a group of non-partisan high school students along the U.S.-Mexico border working on getting that need addressed by lawmakers.

“It’s very important that we talk about this,” Martinez said. “Because this collaborates with administrators, counselors, social workers, mental health professionals, [and] local law enforcement agencies to address student mental health needs.”

HB 4023 remains a proposal; it is up for a vote before the Public Education Committee next week. If approved, the bill will move to the House for debate.


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