There are many things Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their legislative allies should be doing for children instead of attacking their schools and teachers with repeated lies about critical race theory and “pornographic” books.
Near the top of our state’s neglect list is a mental health crisis among public school students, which has worsened during the pandemic. A report (see below) by the Hopeful Futures Campaign, a coalition of national organizations working to improve mental health supports in America’s schools, gives an idea how serious the problem in Texas is.
Among the state’s 5 million-plus public school students, 363,000 suffer from major depression, and 255,000 of those do not receive treatment.
And what is state government doing about it? Not nearly enough.
The ratio of school psychologists to students in Texas schools is one to 4,962. Mental health experts recommend one school psychologist for every 500 students.
The ratio of school social workers to students is one to 13,604, which is not even in the same universe as the recommended ratio of one social worker to 250 kids.
The ratio of school counselors to students in our schools is one to 423, almost double the recommended ratio of one to 250 students. And many of those counselors spend all or most of their time on wasteful STAAR testing.
Overall, Texas’ ranking among the states for youth mental health services has fallen steeply during the pandemic from 28th in 2020 to 41st this year.
About 60 percent of the children enrolled in Texas public schools are low-income, which means the schools are about their only source of help, meager as it is, for mental health services.
Abbott, Patrick et al are neglecting an important part of their responsibilities – the support of public education. Instead, they are trying to destroy it, seeking the reelection support of voters who don’t know any better than to believe their lies. And their attacks keep adding to the stress of these vulnerable students and their teachers.
Lives are at stake, but they don’t care.