On April 22, Dr. Erin Mason, assistant professor of school counseling for Georgia State University announced a “White School Counselors” group for June & July of 2022. The purpose of the weekly sessions are to provide a space for white-only counselors to “Explore your racial identity, privilege, and commit to more antiracist practices.”
Erin’s fellow facilitator is Maegan Mellick, an elementary school counselor at Atlanta Public Schools.
The core curriculum for the June & July sessions is an adapted version of the “Antiracism Everyday White Folks Workbook” by Rebecca Grodner. This workbook instructs educators on stereotyping strategies to isolate “white” or “colored” behavior in students. Specifically, Grodner cites behaviors and character traits like objectivity, paternalism, objectivity, sense of urgency, and either/or thinking as “White Supremacy Culture”.
Educators working through this curriculum are prodded to discourage these attributes in students by accusing them (or their parents) of fostering racist tendencies and aggressions—to be replaced with that which is “appropriate” for black or brown students.
Some might find irony in a white-only group of counselors discussing what is and isn’t appropriate behavior for students of color, though it appears to be lost on Mason and Mellick.
While Mason claims the sessions revolve around a commitment “to doing antiracist and justice-oriented work” as school counselors, she has criticized “justice” concerning actions in disciplinary and behavioral situations in which a black or Hispanic student is reprimanded or punished for an infraction. Specifically, she claims that white students are spoken to quietly, while black students are “taken down publicly, violently, attack on body, screamed at,” as a key example of inequity.
In describing her perceived need for these segregated affinity sessions, Erin stated “The learning can never stop for white folx.”
Mason’s past statements provide insight into her launching the segregated group sessions. She claims that white educators don’t consider context, particularly in racial situations—resulting in systemic racism in education. She encourages teachers to instruct with empirically false historical materials like the 1619 Project,
Other concerns from Atlanta parents include her encouraging teachers, counselors, and administrators to hide sexual and/or sensitive information from parents—claiming that students who aren’t validated or affirmed in their home are at a greater risk of suicide.
Maegen encourages her elementary students to be “kid activists everywhere”, in a reading list that includes books like Kamala Harris: Rooted in Justice and Say Something. On her personal website, Maegan posts pictures of elementary students she has awarded “SEL Students of the Month”. Themes for the awards include Positive Self-Concept, Diversity, Acceptance, and Advocacy.
One concerned parent from Morningside Elementary School in Atlanta told Chalkboard Review, “No counselor is going to tell my child he’s not acting black enough.”
No non-discriminatory sessions for counselors have been announced as of yet, though open signup for “white counselors” can be found here.
Atlanta Public Schools and Georgia State University have refused to comment at this time.