Ethics Villains: Fairfax Virginia High Schools, And Why Isn’t The News Media Treating This As The Major Scandal It Is? [Corrected]

Let’s start with a memorable quote from that eloquent villain, Auric Goldfinger: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

This is enemy action against motivated and talented students, responsible and trusting parents, and core American values. It should be reported as such and responded to with the vigor and relentlessness the attack warrants, but the news media is burying the story, because they are enemies as well.

Happenstance: My fault. I reported this story as the last item in the Ethics Alarms Christmas Eve ethics outrage collection, here, pretty much guaranteeing that even fewer people would see it than usual. It should have been a full post. I wrote,

City-Journal reports that at Thomas Jefferson High in Fairfax, Virginia, two administrators have been withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s students awarded them, most of them Asian. This denied those students the chance to use those awards to boost their college-admission prospects and earn scholarships. The author believes that this was intentional, a part of “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.”The school’s leadership is acting as if it was just an oversight—for at least three years. Read the article. [Pointer: Mark Metcalf]

Well, hey, that’s just one DEI-obsessed principal, and she’s apologized and maybe will get fired, so all is well, right? Wrong:

Coincidence? The Fairfax Times reports that while Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid claimed the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld National Merit awards from students in a “one-time human error,” Langley High School Principal Kim Greer sent an email to parents apologizing for doing the same thing:

Dear Langley High School Families,

As a follow up to our conversation, I am delighted to let you know that your student was designated a Commended Student by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. I must apologize that certificates were not distributed to these Langley High School students in the usual way this past fall. I am deeply sorry for the mistake…

But it wasn’t a coincidence, but rather…

Enemy Action: Over this past weekend, a third Northern Virginian high school, this one in Chatilly, Va., sent out a notice to parents and students, reading,

Dear Westfield High School Staff, Students and Families,

Last month, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) was made aware that there had been a delay in sharing National Merit Scholarship Corporation recognition with students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) designated as Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

FCPS and TJHSST are now the subject of a Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General investigation into this delay. As part of our own internal investigation and review of our own practices, it has come to light that Westfield High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were also not notified by the school.

The email is a lie. This wasn’t an accident or an oversight. This was a deliberate effort to handicap and hold back superior students, all most all of them white and Asian-American, in order to advance the “diversity-equity-inclusion” agenda. The City-Journal had reported in December that Brandon Kosatka, the student services administrator at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, had admitted that a decision had been made by authorities to withhold notice of the awards the awards to avoid “hurting the feelings” of other students! Kosatka admitted that the decision to withhold the information from parents and inform the students in a low-key way was intentional. “We want to recognize students for who they are as individuals, not focus on their achievements,” he told her, claiming that he and the principal didn’t want to “hurt” the feelings of students who didn’t get the award. A National Merit spokeswoman said that the organization’s officials “leave this honor exclusively to the high school officials” to announce.

THAT has to change, obviously.

The schools now say staff will be reaching out to colleges the students had applied for in order to correct the record for award winning students, but that will come too late for students who applied for early admission. And let’s be clear: they are doing this because they were caught. Students pay to take the National Merit Scholarship tests. What was done to them was a deliberate infliction of official Marxist policy: Everyone is the same, ‘the nail that sticks out will be hammered down.’ It is pure DEI, which is the current policy of the Department of Education. That is why the new media is under-reporting what should be a top-of-the-fold, “BREAKING NEWS!” story.

A Langley High father, who the Fairfax News said “spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retaliation from the school district”—and that’s a story all by itself!— said that Virginia Tech recently rejected his son’s application for early admission. The family was shocked to read the principal’s email explaining that news of his honor had been withheld. “School district officials are deliberately sabotaging our kids’ lives in the name of ‘equity,’” the father said. “It’s cruel, if not evil. Think about the despondency that they are creating….The apology is empty. We are feeling a cascade of emotions. We trusted the school system with our son’s life, and they betrayed our trust.”

To which John McClane reasonably replies,

The father was naive and uninformed. Nobody should trust the public schools today. and nobody can rely on the news media to keep them informed of what is happening. The real question that must be answered is “What can we do about it?”

20 thoughts on “Ethics Villains: Fairfax Virginia High Schools, And Why Isn’t The News Media Treating This As The Major Scandal It Is? [Corrected]

  1. I thought about whether my high school would ever do this.

    I would think that my school would want as many high-achieving students as it could get to promote the school.

    Then, I remembered. I went to an inner-city Catholic High School flanked by a number of suburban Catholic High Schools. Of course, they would never want to handicap their students. Proof of a quality education would appeal to parents willing to pay for education.

    Public Schools have no such incentive.

    -Jut

    • Having gone to Catholic schools through high school (and then law school, come to think of it, but by then on my own and my wife’s nickel), I’ve often thought having our parents care enough about our well-being to shell out cash for our education had a very positive effect on our school experience. I think there was an unstated belief, even when we were young teenagers, that this school thing was important, and we shouldn’t screw it up. As was the case going to college and having my parents pay for it. “This is expensive, don’t squander it,” seemed to be an underlying assumption. I wonder sometimes whether kids on scholarship don’t get an “I’m owed this” attitude, as do athletic prodigies.

      • I went to college on a full ride scholarship. I felt driven to do well. Many kids who had people paying seemed to me to take college for granted, as party time. I had fun, but focused on getting mostly good grades and my degree.

        The parents pay for everything kids eventually seemed to generally get degrees with only a few exceptions.

        But there were lefty of scholarship students who partied hard and lost their scholarships. Most of the ones I knew never made anything of themselves Education or career-wise.

  2. The last line needs to be broadcast from the rooftops “What are you going to do about it?”

    I ask this question constantly, the answer is usually nothing… I ask weekly, why are there any kids left in public schools? Why have parents not risen and removed evil from the school boards, administration and teaching staff? Why do people stand by and do nothing. Have they forgotten that Evil triumphs when good men do nothing? Where are the American values of standing up and being counted?

    • Because I agree with you all the way, I spent an extra 45 minutes to try to get WordPress to format the post right. The thing just wouldn’t post as I set it up to. I can’t get rid of those huge spaces. I kept having to fix the type shade, which kept going to gray. It still isn’t right. I apologize. This an important issue, and the post is a mess.

  3. 1. Totally outrageous.The National Merit Scholarship board should report directly to those taking the test. Leave the schools out of it. These kids pay to take the test, do take it, and it should be considered a contract between the testor and the testee. Period.

    2. Another example of Woke philosophy taking our culture and our nation down. We are not all the same, do not have the same capabilities and interests. Potential employers are not looking for average employees. As my Dad said years ago when Virginia was considering a “pass/fail” grading system: “The world is NOT pass/fail. Why teach children that is? And doing the minimum did not get this country to where it is today.” (Full disclosure: my father was an intellectual snob, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong.)

    3. How do parents sign up to take this kind of responsibility away from the schools? What’s the law on this? How about a nice civil suit against the schools?

    4. The school culture and its chosen teachers are not going anywhere. At least not any time soon…

    5. Aaargh!

  4. The father was naive and uninformed. Nobody should trust the public schools today.

    From your lips to God’s ears.

    Seriously, this needs close criminal investigation, and indictments if there are any applicable laws broken. Generally, I’d just settle for the dismissal of the parties involved in this absurd decision, but at this point, examples must be set that are unambiguous, and unions interfering with the consequences should share them.

    I’m not asking for people to go to jail for years, but this potentially damaged the future prospects of innocent students. That is directly contrary to the rational statement of a school’s mission, and substituting social justice issues for the straightforward purpose of the school should be a crime. No matter what I think of Critical Race Theory and it’s derivatives, such political dogma must not be allowed supplant the legitimate and ethical mission of schools, which is classical education. CRT doesn’t have to be suppressed, but it must not be allowed to replace real education or dictate the value of classical educational goals.

    This isn’t the canary in the coal mine, it is a bunch of deceased miners. It is an outrageous scandal and should be treated with the kind of seriousness such an unethical set of actions and policies requires. Anyone complicit to all but a very minor degree should receive opprobrium and consequences.

    This outrage might be legitimately described as “evil” without being hyperbole.

    • If any white-collar crime deserves jail time, this one does.

      How many 18-year-olds were cheated out of scholarships or even admission to the school of their choice because of the indefensible actions of these schools? How much was the trajectory of their life altered compared to someone whose life savings were stolen from them? Definitely comparable.

  5. And here is ANOTHER reason to be added to the long list of reasons why I homeschool.

    Most of them come down to “I don’t trust the schools with my kids or their educations.”

  6. It’s appears that our K-12, college and employers are actively trying to dumb-down everything down to the lowest common denominator of “average” so no one can be perceived as exceptional.

    We were warned about dumbing-down the system and the shift towards communist/socialist tendencies by Charlotte Iserbyt but she was tarred as a lunatic conspiracy theorist but her seem to be coming to pass. Here are a few related

    “Anyone interested in the truth will be shocked by the way American social engineers have systematically gone about destroying the intellect of millions of American children for the purpose of leading the American people into a socialist world government controlled by behavioral and social scientist.”

    “The American people are underwriting the destruction of their own freedom and way of life by lavishly financing through federal grants the very social scientist who are undermining out national sovereignty and preparing our children to become the dumbed-down vassals of the new world order. It reminds one of how the Nazis charged their victims train fare to their own doom.”

    There has been a “gradual transformation of our once academically successful education system into one devoted to training children to become compliant human resources to be used by government and industry for their own purposes. This is how fascist-socialist societies train their children to become servants of their government masers. The successful implementation of this new philosophy of education will spell the end of the American dream of individual freedom and opportunity.”

    “Social engineers use a deliberately created education “crisis” to move their agenda forward by offering radical reforms that are sold to the public as fixing the crisis – which they never do. These new reforms simply set the stage for he next crisis, which provides the pretext for the next move forward. This is the dialectical process at work, a process our behavior engineers have learned to use very effectively. Its success depends on the ability of the “change agents” to continually deceive the public which tends to believe anything the experts tell them.”

  7. > “What can we do about it?”

    My answer involves ropes and lampposts, or at the very least tar and feathers.

    The quote from Mencken applies here: “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

  8. “What can we do about it?”
    I condensed this from a rather longish first draft that I decided had waxed way too verbose:
    1. Become informed about what your local school system is doing. Seek out information from all resources at your disposal. Get your facts straight.
    2. Organize. Find or start a group of like-minded citizens to watchdog your local school system. Decide on issues and “lines in the sand.” Be very open and public about your intent and actions.
    3. Attend school board meetings. A delegation from our group attends every meeting and rallies a bigger “show of interest” turnout if anything of particular concern is on the agenda to be discussed or voted on. Insist on transparency. Be polite and courteous, but insistent when you need to be.
    4. Understand their lines of authority. We always work through the school board members and the Director of Education rather than contacting a school principal directly about any issues at a school. The Director and principals are always very responsive to board members’ questions, and the board members have so far been responsive to our group’s areas of interest. This has worked out well to date.
    5. Get involved in school board elections. Attend candidate forums. Ask candidates directly about your concerns. Get to know their positions and intentions as well as you can before supporting them or voting for them. Above all, be an informed voter, vote, and encourage others to do likewise.
    6. Enlist the support of those controlling the purse strings if it is not the school board. In my county. our legislative body has to approve the school system’s budget. (The school system has no taxing authority here.) The schools would have a hard time sneaking any DIE consultants’ fees past that group during budget hearings. Members of our group attend most of their meetings as well, and all of the budget hearings.
    Get up, get out, and get busy!
    These days, I am growing more concerned about what is going on in post-secondary education. No matter how good a job our schools (or homeschoolers) do at the local level, sending the kids to the university system seems a sure-fire path toward a godless socialist indoctrination. That decision is a long way down the road with my young grandsons, but still concerning to a Christian conservative grandpa!

  9. I think it’s clear by now that we’ve passed the point where the public school system could have been reformed or salvaged. There was a point, perhaps a generation ago, when it might have been saved, but the rot runs too deep now. The old guard of dedicated teachers have been all but purged, replaced by a toxic mixture of ideological fanatics and half-assed clock-watchers, both of which are aggressively protected by corrupt unions.

    This nonsense with the National Merit Scholar awards illustrates the problem perfectly. Three different schools (that we know of so far – I’m certain we’ll hear of more) all behaved the exact same way. The actions taken were very specific and unique, and clearly contrary to the mission of a school, such that it’s unlikely that all three schools just spontaneously came up with the idea at the same time. This idea must have been conceived and communicated among many school administrators, and not a single person broke ranks and notified the students, parents, or the press. That’s a level of institutional decay that’s all but impossible to recover from.

    We have an educational system in which less than a third of students are grade-level proficient at reading, and only a quarter are proficient at math. That’s a horrific failure. It’s an utter betrayal of the public trust. The only solution is total demolition of the rotten institution, and starting over with something new. It’s probably not necessary to actually raze the school buildings and salt the earth where they once stood, but I wouldn’t push back on anyone who insisted on it.

  10. You know, when I was in high school I was a National Merit semifinalist. I didn’t quite make the cut to get a scholarship (which my parents would really have appreciated) but still. It probably was a factor in my being able to get a $300 per quarter student loan, which certainly helped out (and yes, we repaid it. Where’s my loan forgiveness, eh?)

    Michigan State University sent people all the way out to western Massachusetts to recruit National Merit scholars. I think it is safe to say that I would not have gone there if they had not done so. I don’t know where I would have ended up, but that absolutely changed my entire life.

    Withholding notification of those awards? I have no words.

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