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Texas Senate
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.: District 27
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Press Release
November 21, 2013
Contact: Daniel Collins
General Counsel & Press Secretary
Senator Lucio accepts highest honor from Texas professional counselors

AUSTIN — Today (Thursday), Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) accepted the Texas Counseling Association's Presidential Award, the highest honor given from the association which represents Texas professional counselors. TCA recognized the Senator for his advocacy on behalf of increasing access to counseling programs in Texas public schools.

"Access to quality counseling increases students' chances of pursuing some sort of post-secondary education. If students feel safe in their schools, know their education is relevant to their future, have confidence in their abilities and self-worth, and have career, college, and financial aid information made readily available, they're almost certainly assured to seek higher education," Senator Lucio said when accepting the award.

During the 83rd Texas Legislative Session in 2013, Sen. Lucio passed three bills supporting public school counselors and licensed professional counselors (LPCs) serving public school children. School counselors provide information on course selections, advise students on college readiness and financial aid, and provide links between student needs and community resources. LPCs ensure our most at-risk students struggling with grief, anxiety and related disorders, and abuse have access to appropriate individualized services.

Senate Bill 715 "cleans-up" the Texas Education code by making all references to certified "school counselors" consistent. Before passage, the Code used inconsistent terms, such as "counselors," "guidance counselors," or "high school counselors." These terms were both inconsistent with State Board of Educator Certification (the state body which certifies school counselors) nomenclature, and complicated the hiring of LPCs. Sen. Lucio successfully amended Senate Bill 715 to include another of his bills, Senate Bill 925, which adds LPCs to the list of professionals school districts may hire. The additional resources provided by LPCs are especially critical in districts with high student-to-school counselor ratios, in rural communities, and in small school districts. Finally, Sen. Lucio passed Senate Bill 913, which would align Texas LPCs' certification standards with national norms by providing that applicants for an LPC license may take licensing exams no more than three times before they must sit out or take additional coursework.

TCA announced their decision to honor Senator Lucio with the Presidential Award in June 2013. He accepted the award this morning during a speech to more than 2,000 Texas professional counselors at TCA's 57th Annual Professional Growth Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Senator Lucio's prepared acceptance speech is attached.