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January 17, 2023

Youngkin Assails ‘Equity’ in Virginia Schools

The governor is pushing back against certain school districts’ headlong assault on high performance and individual excellence.

It all starts with the schools, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has made them his mission. Indeed, his commitment to reform the state’s schools, especially those in certain left-leaning counties, is largely why he was elected governor in a state that was once red but is now dominated by Beltway-dwelling Democrats.

“We need to get to the bottom of what appears to be an egregious, deliberate attempt to disadvantage high-performing students at one of the best schools in the country,” said Youngkin last week. “Parents and students deserve answers, and Attorney General Miyares will initiate a full investigation. I believe this failure may have caused material harm to those students and their parents, and that this failure may have violated the Virginia Human Rights Act.”

What’s this all about? Earlier this month, Attorney General Jason Miyares launched a civil rights probe to investigate allegations that Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the nation’s top-rated schools, had discriminated against certain of its students by failing to inform them of their recognition for national merit-based awards until after crucial college application deadlines had passed. These awards are earned by the top 3% of 1.5 million students who take the PSAT exam every year.

Since then, we’ve learned that this behavior wasn’t unique to one elite high school. In the name of “equity,” at least 13 schools from three different districts withheld information about these prestigious merit awards from students and their parents, who were thus unable to mention them in their college applications. In Fairfax County alone, seven high schools didn’t share the good news, as well as four in Loudoun County and two in Prince William County.

Imagine getting shut out by the college of your dreams and wondering whether it was because your application simply wasn’t as impressive as it could’ve been. Then imagine this having happened because you were racially targeted by your school system so as not to hurt the feelings of other students who didn’t rate one of these rare and prestigious awards.

“Equal outcomes for every student, without exceptions.” Believe it or not, that’s the newly adopted strategy for Fairfax schools. And all it cost them was a mere $455,000, which is what the school system paid “a controversial contractor, Mutiu Fagbayi, and his company, Performance Fact Inc., based in Oakland, Calif. … for ‘equity’ training that includes a controversial ‘Equity-centered Strategic Plan.’”

“In a devastating announcement for Fairfax County Public Schools,” reports the Fairfax Times, “Miyares announced twin civil rights investigations into, first, the withholding of National Merit Commended Student awards by TJ administrators and, second, a Fairfax County school admissions policy, put in place in December 2020, that a federal judge ruled discriminates illegally against Asian American students.”

Now for the denial: “To suggest a deliberate intent to withhold this information would be inaccurate and contrary to the values of FCPS,” said a Fairfax County mouthpiece who added that the district values “hard work and dedication.”

Uh-huh. That, it seems, was a lie. As the Fairfax Times reports, the principal of Thomas Jefferson High received a letter that made explicit the expectation that schools are to inform students and parents. “Please present the letters of commendation as soon as possible since it is the students’ only notification,” the letter said.

Incidentally, when you see the term “affirmative action,” think “race-based discrimination.” Similarly, when you see the terms “equal outcomes” and “equity” and the acronym “DEI,” think exactly the same thing: “race-based discrimination.”

Virginia, to borrow from Winston Churchill, has lately been producing more news than it can consume locally. Indeed, from the scandals involving critical race theory in its school curricula to the particular outrages in Loudoun County schools involving sexual assaults by a “gender-fluid” student and subsequent cover-ups by woke administrators, Virginia has become ground zero for school reform and parental rights.

Fair-minded Virginians — those who believe in both merit and equal opportunity — should be grateful that Glenn Youngkin is on the job.

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