This may seem like a weird question since school counselors seem like the nicest, most kid-centered staff members in a school. And many of them are. After all, they got into counseling to help kids solve problems, improve their grades, and go to college.
But, while that might have been the majority thirty years ago, it started to change about 20 years ago. I know; I watched it happen during my last ten years of teaching.
I’m not sure why it started, but I know that some of the counselors I worked with started spending inordinate amounts of time rewarding students not for good behavior or strong academics but for acting out in class. As an example, in one school, they had hired a new staff member whose main job was to follow ten to fifteen kids deemed “at risk” through their school year. She was called a “counselor/social worker.” The kids she worked with were consistently truant, failing, in trouble with the law, or in constant trouble at school. One I knew was a renowned community drug dealer.
It was a noble idea, I guess, except that this counselor didn’t really attack the problems these kids had. Most of the time, she took them out of class, gave them pizza or snacks, talked with them, and then sent them on to the next class. They avoided doing work in class and weren’t pushed to strive academically. They actually got a big “attaboy” for ANY tiny example of good behavior they exhibited throughout the day but were never held accountable for the bad. Several of the students told me that they understood if they just “did their time” in school, they would graduate without doing one single thing. But they sure did like the pizza and talking to the counselor!
I don’t blame the counselor. She had her directives to follow. Honestly, with 15 to 20 kids on her workload of a 30-hour work week, there was no way she was going to accomplish anything other than delivering a “feel good” program that could check a box on some central office administrator’s to-do list.
An example of the “new” version of a school counselor.
How did this happen?
Like most education, the goals shifted somewhere in the 90s and early 2000s. During this time, we started to see the educational establishment shift its focus away from academics and into educating “the whole child” via something called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was a famous psychologist who believed in “Humanism,” which focused more on WHY people did what they did rather than on WHAT they did. In other words, he thought any act was motivated by some need all humans had. in 1943, he published his first book, and Maslow’s Hierarchy was created. It puts human needs in priority order. The idea was that unless each need was met in order, a person could not move forward in their lives and certainly not in learning. The responsibility for someone’s behavior and accomplishment was taken away from the individual and handed over to others. It created victimhood.
This idea was the initiation fo the “self-esteem” movement in schools. I remember it well as we were told that all children needed to feel self-esteem for anything they did. It was the beginning of the “everyone gets a trophy” movement in youth sports as well. It’s why schools eliminated Valedictorians, class rankings, and even grades. No one wanted kids to have low self-esteem. In Maslow’s hierarchy, happiness is king, and accomplishment is not crucial, “self-actualization” is.
Did I mention that Maslow was one of the first to coin the phrase “social and economic justice”? Are you seeing how the pieces are coming together?
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As the years progressed, this movement morphed its way into all the social fragility among many of our young people. Add the claims of systemic racism, white privilege, fluid gender, safe spaces, speech as hurtful, identity politics, etc., and you have the foundation of a new kind of counseling based on anything but academics or actual self-improvement.
You think your child is getting advice about college in the counselor’s office, but he/she might be getting something more.
Alvin Liu, a self-described political refugee from California and President of “Courage is a Habit” (courageisahabit.org), put together the document below:
If you read nothing else on this blog today, you have to read this document. I will include separate links further down in the blog. The American School Counselor Association is the association that a majority of school guidance counselors belong to. Much like both the NEA and AFT for teachers, they started out as a way to help teachers/counselors become the promoter of progressive, Marxist ideas in the classroom.
This document which is an inside look at the national conference of the American School Counselor Association, details the main themes school counselors are trained in. While ASCA promotes a generic mission and vision about supporting membership and helping them be more professional and ethical, if one digs deeper and looks at topics covered in their national convention and online training, this mission is quite different.
Remember, the indoctrination of our children begins with the training given to the people who work with them.
For example, their Standards in Practice pages have many interesting topics and statements that make it clear that their mission goes beyond professionalism and ethics. For example, this is their document on “Eliminating Racism and Bias in Schools: The School Counselor’s Role:”
Notice a couple of things here. First off, we get that blanket “systemic racism” charge, but in the case of the ASCA, the racism is only against Asian Americans and Black Americans. And only people of color suffer from poverty. I guess counselors should only deal with those groups.
Even more disturbing are some of the breakout sessions that were recorded by Liu’s staff. Here are some short clips:
This speaker describes Counselors as “manipulators:”
Counselors promoting CRT Lens:
Counselor hiding birth control from a parent:
And listen to the utter disdain for parents in this speaker:
Did I mention this is training for school guidance counselors?
More from this conference:
It’s interesting that counselors should be in favor of telling students who are uncomfortable with transgender students to “deal with it.” Not very compassionate toward the normal kid, is it?
So, what do parents do? This is Liu’s advice:
As with anything else in government schools, parents have to take control of what is going on with their children in school. There are plenty of great professional counselors in our schools, and most of them would never ascribe to what is being promoted at the national conference.
Parents are the guardrails for the lives of their children. We need to apply that responsibility to every aspect of government school programs.
These aren’t your parents or even your counselors anymore.