AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) in Fairfax County, Virginia – consistently ranked the number one high school in the country – is once again at the center of a controversy over so-called “equity” policies. And like the admissions scandal that rocked the school last year, it is Asian American students and families who are suffering the most from this latest salvo in the left’s war on merit.
Just before Christmas, Asra Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and the mother of a TJ student, penned a piece for City Journal exposing how TJ had been “withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s families.” Each year, a select few U.S. high school juniors are awarded recognition as National Merit Scholars according to their performance on the PSAT. The commendation is highly valued by college admissions offices and can help students earn scholarship money to continue their education.
The scandal has now grown to envelop more than a dozen other area high schools, raising questions about the legality of the schools’ actions and stirring parent outrage over apparent discrimination against high-achieving students.
As Nomani’s investigation revealed, TJ had purposefully not shared news of the award with students and their families as part of the school’s “equity” agenda, which promotes “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.” Because the National Merit Scholarship Corporation only notifies schools, and not parents, when a student earns the award, TJ administrators prevented hundreds of award recipients over five years from receiving the honor and credit they deserved. Because those students were not able to include the award on college admissions applications or compete for scholarships only available to award recipients, many likely missed out on potentially life-changing opportunities.
Brandon Kosatka, the director of student services at TJ, defended the decision by saying that “we want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements,” adding that he and school principal Ann Bonitatibus did not want to “hurt the feelings” of students who did not get the award.
This prompted Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares to launch a civil rights probe into the incident earlier this month. “To the extent that withholding of any of these awards at Thomas Jefferson High School was based on race, national origin or any other protected status under the Virginia Human Rights Act, that is unlawful,” Miyares said during a news conference. “If the law was broken, my office will both protect and vindicate the civil rights of Thomas Jefferson students and their [families].”
In a shocking new development in the case, since Miyares announced the investigation, 16 other Northern Virginia high schools have as of Thursday also confessed to withholding or delaying notification of National Merit awards to students. Although most of the schools blamed “accidental administrative oversight,” such a pattern raises immediate suspicion that the actual motive at these other Virginia schools was similar to the one explicitly stated by TJ administrators.
Following this latest round of revelations, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin also weighed in on the matter, calling for legislation requiring schools to inform parents about academic awards and telling one local news outlet that schools “have a maniacal focus on equal outcomes for all students at all costs.” Youngkin added that promoting “equal outcomes” will inevitably lead to tearing down high achievers, slamming school administrators for “systematically withhold[ing] accolades and a path to college admission and scholarships from high-performing students.”
TJ administrators had also come under fire last year for replacing the school’s merit-based entrance exam with a racial quota system, prompting a lawsuit from a group of parents in the district. A federal judge ruled in February that the new policy unfairly discriminates against Asian American students, as the quota system had caused their representation at TJ to fall dramatically from 73.05% to 54.36%. However, a subsequent appeal has allowed the new policy to remain in place while the court battle rages on.
As Nomani pointed out, Asian Americans were again disproportionately affected by this latest scandal: 77% of TJ’s National Merit Semifinalists over the past five years were of Asian descent.
For conservatives, the scandal only further underscores the disastrous consequences of the radical left’s takeover of the American education system. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on the TJ story, William McGurn points out that, particularly when it comes to Asian Americans, proponents of “equity” policies are in fact creating the very racial caste system they claim to be trying to tear down. “What makes Asian-American achievement so resented by our equity warriors is that it exposes as false the narrative about an irredeemably racist America where minorities can’t succeed,” McGurn writes. “This progressive disdain for Asian-Americans is amplified by a resentment of moms and dads who believe they should have a say in their kids’ educations.”
Meanwhile, the United States is falling further behind many other developed countries in student performance. Pandemic-related school closures have placed an entire generation of young people behind where they should be in subjects like reading and math. Now more than ever, schools would be wise to celebrate their high achievers as an example for other students to follow, rather than discounting and hiding their accomplishments in service of a wrong-headed ideological agenda.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.
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It would seem the lowest common denominator has finally risen to the top and is now running the school board. That IS the plan. Participation trophies galore!
I thought that a student turned in his own application and fees to take the SAT and thus is guaranteed that he receives the results directly to his home. When did we begin to sent
test results to the schools ?
What this amounts to is two criminals at the school stealing scholarship opportunities from students who have earned them.
Notification should be sent to parents as well since many schools are not honest enough to do it.
Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face….. If they are so worried about “equity for all”, perhaps the principal should make the same salary as the janitorial staff.?.? Idiots!!!!!!!!!!
This should be investigated as any crime would be. Those who are responsible for this should be charged with a crime and also be individually sued civilly and so should the school. They also should have their teachers license revoked and lose their pensions and other benefits.
Striving for excellence should not be punished. It needs to be applauded. Achieving National Merit recognition takes hard work and deserves to be celebrated.
What if the Virginia high schools did the same for sports?
No more state playoffs, no more high school state champion
No more records for most yards rushing, passing, points scored, etc.
No more keeping score in sports.
That way colleges would not be able to select any “student athletes” from Virginia.
Seams Virginia is going backwards with educated students.
What do you expect when we have a President who told us he was top in his college class, had a full scholarship, and held three advanced degrees? And does anyone believe noodle armed Joe could kick Corn Pops Arse?
If buy a plane ticket I hope the engineers and pilot are people who received merit awards in school. Not participation awards.
Being an aerospace engineer the past 40 years, qualification testing of parts and aircraft do a pretty good job of protecting the flying public. Providing airlines have mechanics that can read and understand manuals on how to repair the airplanes.
This is wrong in so many ways. Sure looks like institutionalized RACISM to me!!!!!! Smart kids, no matter what race are often looked down on by the less intelligent, called nerds, geeks, etc. Now the high school administrators are doing it? And they are picking out a race of people to persecute, too.
In the long run the schools are hurting themselves and their students. If merit is of no consequence, why would anybody go to this school and work hard?
Beyond the fact that they are actually working at not motivating students, they are dumbing down America!.
These people are SICK!!!!!!
We, as Americans, need to find out who is really behind all of this manipulation and take them down!!!
Absolutely despicable. Liberalism is a terminal mental disorder.
The woke fairyland is leading us to hell.
well if your white supremist it is.
oh wait you were already going to hell never mind lol
I attended a Fairfax county high school in the 60’s. Yea, I’m old.
We had a fine school wit.h great kids. It was a privilege. I remember
raising my schools flag on the Annandale High School flag poke and greasing it
the night we played Annandale in a big basketball game.
Its terrible to hear that this once fine school system, like all others, has
been taken over by the left
“Yeah I’m old”
no other type of Republican lol
Why the surprise? This present regime and some past regimes need to keep the sheep stupid. George Bush Sr. in his presidential acceptance speech opined; “We must usher in the New World Order.” Watched that speech. Since that time, I’ve become more acquainted with that term than I’d like. We the People must wake up to the reality that there are a whole lotta people in our nation determined to reduce it to a dictatorship…”homogenize” the sheep to fit the status quo. AOC made a remark some time ago that “Americans who don’t accept their rule (in so many words) should be sentenced to “re-education camps.” Yeah, heard and saw that one as well. The average “school” is a pathetic joke…deliberately. Lessons we as children were taught, at least in the 50’s and early 60’s still actually had practical applications and actual American history of our Founders and it’s the one that’s taken the biggest hit. They can’t have these recent and new generations know what this nation was founded on and the men who “pledged their lives, honors and fortunes” to establish the most unique free nation ever to exist in this world from the beginning. They fled from oppression in their homelands. I have no doubt they’re spinning in their graves at an America they can no longer even recognize.
More and more Americans are waking up, but it needs to go full out to stop the dismantling of our One and Only United States of America.
New World Order was also a term used during the 1930’s by the German National Socialist workers party (Nazi) to describe their planned taking over the future or Europe and the world.
You wrote a Great comment Denise ! I visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia several times , the first being in 1961 , with my parents , at age eleven. An appreciation of the importance of history is clear in your comment. Those of us who value the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights of the Constitution and the spirit of those who made freedom possible, we obviously see many things in a far different way than those who unfortunately have very little grasp of what the foundation of this country is all about. So, I do believe there is a responsibility involved to keep the Truth about history alive, and to keep a belief going that respects the importance of having a sense of purpose in this life, and living by a code of conduct, doing the best we can to encourage principles, ethics and standards that are needed to make for a sensible, orderly , honorable United States of America. Keeping in mind respect for the will of God
Let Freedom the watchword.
In the previous comment just made a minute ago, last sentence should read — Let Freedom be the watchword.
thought we weren’t supposed to use color for getting into or out of places???? why then, if you are black or hispanic it’s a breeze for you to get into schools based on your color??? it should be about intellect.. if a person doesn’t have it, then you shouldn’t waste time and money that’ is unfair
Big government should stay out of the decision making process of schools. It never ends well.
Preaching to the choir here to conservative Republicans. Need to get this news onto the left leaning outlets
Said it from the start. WOKE is for losers and the braindead that live in
Only the STUPID are WOKE.
“Only the stupid are woke”
Says the ones who live in constant poverty and death from lack of healthcare lol
they get help dont’ they – some just want to stay in the poverty zone. they can further their education then see where it takes them to a better school and life. you don’t just get to go from 1st grade to 12th over nite. we all must go by the rules, oh that’s right the left is an exception.
“They get help don’t they”
no they die in a 9 to 5 job bagging my groceries lol
the so called “woke” are asleep
woke: being aware of your nations past injustices
if you hate that then you are going to be asleep forever lol
Beyond incredible activity, to withhold such merits from students is lying! I’m sure those who “benefited” from illicit “awards” can’t understand why they “won” such an award nor understand that they didn’t succeed in life! What an injustice!