I am writing today regarding the change in admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County from an entrance exam to a lottery. There are many steps FCPS can and should take to ensure there are fewer disparities in achievement when measuring among different races/backgrounds/economic and family situations. But to punish the highest achieving students and throw out a system based on individual merit in favor of a scheme clearly designed to ensure more of a particular racial group and less of another “over-represented” racial group are admitted to TJ is a bad and immoral policy. Given that TJ was specifically focused as its reason for being on the educating the highest achieving individually merited students, the policy change is especially inappropriate. 

If school board decisions are taken specifically to advantage one racial group or to disadvantage another racial group in service of some other societal or cultural goal, how is that different from the shameful history of Massive Resistance we saw here in Virginia barely a half century ago? The parallels in thinking and policy are disturbingly clear here. Fairfax County can do better then this, and it must.

Bran Mahoney

Annandale, VA

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