Monday, December 26, 2022

"in the name of equity"

Commenter John from Daejeon sent me a link to the following article:

Top school principal hides students’ academic awards in name of ‘equity’

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. This episode has emerged amid the school district’s new strategy of “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.” 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.

An intrepid Thomas Jefferson parent, Shawna Yashar, a lawyer, uncovered the withholding of National Merit awards. Since starting as a freshman at the school in September 2019, her son, who is part Arab American, studied statistical analysis, literature reviews, and college-level science late into the night. This workload was necessary to keep him up to speed with the advanced studies at TJ, which US News & World Report ranks as America’s top school.

Last fall, along with about 1.5 million US high school juniors, the Yashar teen took the PSAT, which determines whether a student qualifies as a prestigious National Merit scholar. When it came time to submit his college applications this fall, he didn’t have a National Merit honor to report — but it wasn’t because he hadn’t earned the award. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a nonprofit based in Evanston, Illinois, had recognized him as a Commended Student in the top 3 percent nationwide — one of about 50,000 students earning that distinction. Principals usually celebrate National Merit scholars with special breakfastsaward ceremoniesYouTube videospress releases and social media announcements.

But TJ School officials had decided to withhold announcement of the award. Indeed, it turns out that the 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.

This is positively horrifying. It's a kick in the balls to any conservative who has ever affirmed that "equality of opportunity is not equality of outcome." The conservative ideal: give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed to the extent possible, but after that, it's up to individual effort to make it to the finish line and beyond—no help, no handouts. Obviously, TJ and the rest of that Virginia school district no longer believe in this ideal if they ever did. 

The school being talked about in the article, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (clumsily abbreviated TJHSST—more smoothly abbreviated as TJ), isn't too far from my hometown. It's a Fairfax County school, i.e., it's within the school district where I was educated. Watching from afar as my hometown rots like this is depressing. You can never go home, the proverb says, and I have less and less of a desire to.

The first priority should be to fire TJ Principal Bonitatibus. What a horrible creature. At the same time, there should be a grass-roots campaign, run by parents who care, to change the face of the Fairfax County school board and to put this injustice at the top of the list for redress. Anti-Asian racism is prevalent among leftists, and this is only one more example. What a nightmare. As we now know, the swamp is vast, deep, and local.


John Mac said...

Wow. That really is shocking. I'm totally on board with equality of opportunity, but the rest is up to the individual. And guess what? Some individuals are smarter, work harder, and have talents others don't have. Why shouldn't they succeed? Equity is discrimination against people with abilities. What next? Are we going to insist that professional sports be inclusive of people with no athletic skills? Every NBA team must have a token white or two in the starting lineup! Equity baby!

Kevin Kim said...

You'll get no argument from me.

Charles said...

A policy of equal outcomes no matter what isn't the liberal ideal, either. That is ridiculous.

Kevin Kim said...

It might not be a liberal ideal, but it's definitely a leftist one. You see it all the time, with anti-Asian quotas for university admission being a prominent example.