Virginia Administrators Under Fire at Elite High School for Reportedly Delaying Academic Recognitions in the Interest of “Equity”

We previously discussed the lowering of admission standards at Virginia’s elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology to achieve diversity goals. Now the school is again under fire for waiting roughly a month to distribute National Merit certificates in the name of equity. The decision meant that students could not report the awards on their college applications before the passage of the October 31 deadline.

Journalist and advocate Asra Nomani alleges that the delay was due to Thomas Jefferson’s equity efforts, and its new “equal outcomes for every student, without exception” strategy. She also alleges that the most impacted (due to their higher percentage among recipients) were Asian students — an analogous claim to the alleged anti-Asian discrimination in the two Supreme Court admissions cases now pending.

Nomani’s report appeared in the New York Post.

Nomani claims that Thomas Jefferson’s principal, Ann Bonitaibus, told a concerned parent in an email that the school had received the National Merit certificates in mid-October, and that she had signed them within 48 hours.

However, the awards were not distributed by teachers until November 14. She claims that Brandon Kosatka, the director of student services, admitted on a call with another parent that the delay was based on a desire “to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements.”

Nomani revealed emails from parents objecting to equity concerns overriding academic achievement when these students needed to include the recognition in their college applications. Whatever the reason for the delay, these students missed an important credential for inclusion in applications to highly competitive colleges.

Bonitatibus has pushed for equity-based policies at Thomas Jefferson and to move away from its tradition of focusing solely on academic achievement. That tradition had made the school the number one ranked high school in the nation.

The new policies have led to an effort to limit the number of Asian Americans to achieve racial diversity.”

It is possible to achieve diversity in these programs without racial discrimination or criteria, but it is not as easy — or as fast — as just leveling down entry standards or delaying recognitions. We can focus on underperforming public schools to better prepare minority students. However, with continuing dismal performances of public educators in major cities, that’s not a welcomed approach for many in education. It’s easier to reduce entry standards than it is to elevate performance rates.

What is striking about these controversies is that neither parents nor the public appear to support the new policies. Thomas Jefferson has always been a point of pride for many of us in Fairfax County, even if your kids did not go to the school. It was meant to be a school that was reserved for brilliant students who are able to take extremely advanced courses and perform university-level research.

The policies under Bonitatibus should be the subject of outside review in how they are impacting a school that has long been the gold standard nationally. Public schools are subject to public standards set with the input of the board and the parents. The parental input has clearly not carried much weight with Bonitatibus. It is time for a more public debate over the future of “TJ.”

224 thoughts on “Virginia Administrators Under Fire at Elite High School for Reportedly Delaying Academic Recognitions in the Interest of “Equity””

  1. John, That is because telescopic vision impedes your ability to think about how human nature will react to those things you believe to be logical solutions. The solutions are logical, and something to strive for, but if you take human nature out of the equation, you will fail every time.

  2. Dear TJ parents and alumni:

    Contrary to common sense, we’ve decided we don’t want our graduates going to elite schools. Additionally, we want our alumni to feel alienated from the school so they don’t give us much money in the future. Ideally, we’d like them not to give us any money at all.

    Yours, -T.J. Administration (sent from an insane asylum)

    1. I hope these idiots who imposed their distorted values on the children are punisher with extreme prejudice and loss of all teaching credentials.

  3. Harvard and TJST

    Since some question the practical importance of academic ideas, I’d like to point out briefly that this story is an excellent illustration of their life-and-death consequences.

    Egalitariansim (which pushes for an equality of results) was championed by then-Harvard professor John Rawls, in an infamous book published some 50 years ago. Bonitatibus and Kosatka (and countless others throughout the culture) are egalitarianism’s faithful disciples. They are the carriers of that noxious idea into our cultural institutions.

    1. Rawls is a bit more complex. He was NOT an advocate of egalitarianism.

      “According to Rawls, in a fair society all individuals must possess the following:

      Rights and liberties (including the right to vote, the right to hold public office, free speech, free thought, and fair legal treatment)

      Power and opportunities

      Income and wealth sufficient for a good quality of life (Not everyone needs to be rich, but everyone must have enough money to live a
      comfortable life.)

      The conditions necessary for self-respect

      “For these conditions to occur, the people behind the Veil of Ignorance must figure out how to achieve what Rawls regards as the two key components of justice:

      Everyone must have the best possible life which does not cause harm to others.\

      Everyone must be able to improve their position, and any inequalities must be present solely if they benefit everyone.

      Rawls “veil of ignorance” is not fundimentally different from the legal principle of blind justice.

      The fundimental problem with Rawls is that he beleive that it is within the ability of govenrment and that it is the role of government to use force to accomplish his goals.

      There were debates between Rawls and Nozick who was the epitomy of libertarian thought at the time.
      Rawls had to cede significant ground in nearly all of those debates.

      Ultimately But for his reliance on government force Rawls is fairly libertarian.

      Possibly the largest Rawlsian flaw – one we continue to see from those on the left is this nonsense that justice is an output.

      That and that he conceived the term “social justice” which is an oxymoron. Justice is individual. Groups have no rights independent of the individual rights of members.

  4. In our hyper-feminized society we have adopted the attitude of many a newly-minted wife that we can change traits in people to make them more suitable to us. It never works and we just give up and modify our standards to accomodate theirs. Then we slowly build resentment as the experiment in change fails and results in the inevitable explosive divorce. The best course is to let people be who they are. Help when it is asked for and move on with your own life which should be enough to occupy most anyone. Dims are perpetual busybodies- helping when it’s not asked for, ignoring the lessons in human behavior we’ve learned for centuries and generally just putting their aspirations on the backs of people who don’t share their pollyannish goals. They are the very defintion of a compassionate tyrant.

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