by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Arlington, Virginia, is widely considered the best high school for math and science in the region. It is the No. 1 ranked high school by the U.S. News and World Report in the entire nation.
“That place is so difficult and so rigorous, that you’re just beaten,” says Asra Nomani, the mother of a Thomas Jefferson student and the leader of the Coalition for TJ, an education advocacy group for the high school. “You don’t even know if you’re going to make it, like as a family, because your child is slogging so much.”
It’s not a school made for just anyone. But the Fairfax County School Board believes that the school needs to diversify at all costs, even at the cost of excellence.
On Monday, the school board decided that it was going to drastically change the admissions process to Thomas Jefferson to force more black and Hispanic students in the school, which is 70% Asian American.
Fairfax officials are proposing two systems: either “holistic evaluation” that gives preferences for being black or Hispanic, or a lottery for admission for anyone with a 3.5 grade point average.
The previous system, which was reliant on grades and test scores, relies on methods that supporters say perpetuate “privilege,” such as standardized exams that can be test-prepped.
Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni called test prep the equivalent of “performance-enhancing drugs.” …
… These are vast exaggerations that only serve to undermine the nation’s best public school, the home of future scientists and engineers that will invent the next great discoveries. …
… [S]olving these problems requires addressing them at every level of education.
But the liberal chattering class doesn’t want to hear this logic. They would rather dispense with the idea of meritocracy in general.