Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia, is one of the most elite public schools in the country. In 2019, U.S. News and World Report ranked it as America’s best overall high school.
It also educates a substantial racial minority population: 70 percent of TJ’s students are Asian-Americans—many of them children of immigrants.
You might think progressive education officials would celebrate this. Instead, they have decided to jettison the school’s famously tough admissions test in favor of a “holistic” (i.e., subjective and arbitrary) system that will permit officials to reject Asian-American students in favor of less-deserving students who belong to other racial categories.
The Washington Post reports:
Under the new rules, Fairfax will first identify all eighth-graders who meet certain academic criteria: those who achieve an unweighted GPA of at least 3.5 while taking Algebra I or a higher-level math class, in addition to math and science honors courses and either an English or social studies honors course.
Qualified eighth-graders will be invited to complete a math or science problem-solving essay, as well as a “Student Portrait Sheet.” Fairfax staffers will review these, taking into account “experience factors” including whether students are low-income, have special needs or come from households that do not speak English.
Ultimately, 550 middle-schoolers will receive offers each year to attend the prestigious STEM school, which is often ranked the No. 1 public high school in the nation. In a bid to ensure geographical diversity, a certain number of seats will be allotted to every middle school in Fairfax County, to be filled by eighth-graders at that school who meet criteria.
The cap on how many students can enter TJ from each middle school is arguably the most impactful: There are three middle schools with predominantly Asian-American student populations that typically account for a sizable proportion of TJ’s admissions. Limiting the number of admissions letters available to the students at these schools will in effect artificially limit the Asian-American applicant pool.