MASON, Mich. — Parents in the Mason Public School District are not satisfied with its' diversity committee, so they started their own.
“Our schools feed into our children who are growing into community members and so this cycle just continues unless we really create change," said Katelyne Thomas, a former Mason Public School District teacher.
After Thomas’ resignation in February, because she wasn't permitted to teach material provided by the organization Black Lives Matter at School, the Equity Task Force of Mason, a Facebook group urging the district to expand its diversity curriculum, has gained more than 90 members.
Thomas joined forces with Rhiannon Klein, another Mason parent, to lead the group.
Klein says parents in the community have been receptive to the group.
“They want this in the schools," she said. "They want to be able to know that their children are being taught about social justice issues.”
The group’s efforts have even caught the attention of Mason city officials.
“When a teacher retires because she would like to see more for her classroom and for her instruction, I think that is exactly where city council members can step up and we can support those teachers and educators in a way gives them a voice,” said Rita Vogel, a Mason City Council member.
For Thomas, Mason’s problem with diversity goes beyond the classroom.
“My family has experienced some comments in public places within Mason targeted at being in an interracial marriage and having biracial kids," said Thomas." There is some very clear racism that’s happening and I think that we’re kind of seeing our group as a starting point.”
Thomas and Klein have gone to the Mason Public School District to request the repeal of a board policy that bans teachers from including controversial topics in their lessons, which is what prompted Thomas to resign.
The duo is also asking to see the existing Mason Public School District diversity committee’s three to five year action plan and to implement curriculum curated by the Black Lives Matter when school resumes in the fall.
“These children are our future and if we would like to create a future where every life is valued, then we have to start now,” said Klein.
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