An academic high school hides National Merit outcomes in the name of equity
Proving yet again that leftists desire a society with equality of outcome (imposed from the top down) to equality of opportunity, administrators at a STEM-centric high school have been hiding National Merit award notifications because it was unfair that some students received them and others didn't. The fact that those who received the awards — mostly Asian students — earned them was irrelevant to the hyper-woke administrators.
Fairfax County, Virginia is a very Democrat-heavy region, having given Joe Biden almost 70% of its votes in the 2020 election. It's an affluent part of suburban D.C. with a growing Asian population (over 20%). It's also right next door to Loudoun County, which earned the dubious distinction of hiding the fact that, at one of its high schools, a boy in a dress raped a girl in the girls' bathroom. The Board of Supervisors then arrested the girl's father when he complained and transferred the boy to another school, where he assaulted another girl (no doubt thinking he was immune to consequences).
Image: Thomas Jefferson High School entrance sign. Public domain.
Fairfax County is also home to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHS). It's a magnet school that requires students to have an academic record of accomplishment as a prerequisite for admission. In other words, like Garrison Keillor's fictional Lake Wobegon, it's an institution in which all the children are "above average."
Some parents at TJHS were recently shocked to learn that, once their children enter the school, the school instantly loses its commitment to having students who are "above average." Instead, the school is aligned with the district's commitment to making sure no students stand out above any other students. That's not an inference. It's an explicit policy coming straight from the school superintendent: "equal outcomes for every student, without exception."
The only way to achieve that goal, of course, is to lower standards. You cannot make people who were born with lower brain wattage or with admirable skill sets that trend in a non-academic direction suddenly earn As in school. However, you can assure that academically gifted students never get As. Or you can do what TJHS did, which is to fake it 'til you make it:
School administrators, for instance, have implemented an "equitable grading" policy that eliminates zeros, gives students a grade of 50 percent just for showing up, and assigns a cryptic code of "NTI" for assignments not turned in. It's a race to the bottom.
As part of this "lowest common denominator" initiative, TJHS has, for years, withheld from students the fact that they earned National Merit awards based upon their PSAT scores. This is the kind of information that students can use to gain access to scholarships, and that looks good on a college admission application:
For years, two administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) have been withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school's families, most of them Asian, thus denying students the right to use those awards to boost their college-admission prospects and earn scholarships.
[T]he principal, Ann Bonitatibus, and the director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, have been withholding this information from families and the public for years, affecting the lives of at least 1,200 students over the principal's tenure of five years. Recognition by National Merit opens the door to millions of dollars in college scholarships and 800 Special Scholarships from corporate sponsors.
Nor was this the kind of oversight that occurs because the school believed that the students had already received the information directly:
On September 16 of this year, National Merit sent a letter to Bonitatibus listing 240 students recognized as Commended Students or Semi-Finalists. The letter included these words in bold type: "Please present the letters of commendation as soon as possible since it is the students' only notification."
In other words, in pursuit of the mandate that all outcomes must be equal, the principal, Ann Bonitatibus, and the director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, deliberately withheld information that could have enabled lower-income, high-achieving students to obtain scholarships.
These types of actions must have consequences. Suing the school districts never changes these things because, if the litigation is successful, it merely means the taxpayers are on the hook for the verdict. Instead, the people involved need to be named, shamed, and fired. Even better, they should be required to reimburse the district for a percentage of their salaries, given that they failed to earn that money. Because leftists never face personal consequences, they keep engaging in the same unethical behavior.
Ironically, Kurt Vonnegut, before he became a flaming leftist, wrote a wonderful short story called "Harrison Bergeron." In it, he imagines a world of complete equality that is achieved only by handicapping anyone of accomplishment. You won't be surprised to learn that it ends badly. After all, as Cambodia's experiment with communism under Pol Pot proved, the only way to ensure complete equality is to rid the country of those who have achieved more than others.
The fastest way to achieve perfect "lowest common denominator" status is to kill the ones who rise above that baseline. The administrators at TJHS either do not know this or think that's a fine way to run a school and, eventually, a country.