An education committee shot down the Arkansas Department of Education's plan to change the standards for counselors in schools.
The change would have expanded the pool of qualified candidates, from those holding a masters in school Counseling, to clinical, marriage and family, and appraisal counselors.
Opponents say only those with experience and training in school counseling were up to the task, and students would suffer if applicants from other disciplines were allowed in schools.
Republican Senator Kim Hendren backed the idea of allowing other counselors to join school ranks.
"If they don't do the job correctly they need to be adjusted or they need to find another line of work," Hendren said. "That's America. That's the way we do it."
But Democratic Senator Joyce Elliott says there's a reason why schools require a masters in school counseling.
"I think we're at a time in education history when we need to be much more thoughtful about why
we are making changes to education in which we don't have a bona fide reason to do so," Elliott said. "I think we need to treat it as if it's something that's so important that our kids need to have the best. And we can't do that by constantly lowering standards and diluting what it means to be a part of that profession."
Hendren say it's no surprise counselors opposed the proposed change.
"I've been in politics for 35 or 40 years, and that's what people in the slot always say. Frankly, that dog doesn't hunt in Arkansas. It's not working in public schools now," Hendren said.
The Arkansas School Counselor Association opposed the rule change. The organization says having a clinical psychologist work in a school was similar to having a neurosurgeon be your primary care doctor; the training is too focused and specialized, says ASCA, and fails to meet all the needs students have.