When I watched the national news last week, I could not believe my eyes. The most prestigious public high school in Fairfax County - now several additional FCPS schools as well - declined to notify scholars in a timely manner of exceptional achievement. As the product of a wonderful public school system in the Northeast, I planned to enroll my children in what used to be a solid school district with ceilingless learning opportunities, here in Fairfax County. Sadly, times have drastically changed and not for the better. Parents of future students are now reassessing whether or not it is even worth moving to Fairfax County for ‘the schools’. 

 I cannot imagine the heartache a student would face learning that she could have added such a significant achievement of National Merit Scholar Commendation to her college application resume had she learned the news at the appropriate timeframe that schools were made aware of such an achievement. Shouldn’t we be applauding excellence? Shouldn’t schools have great pride in the fact that their students have reached great heights instead of working to cover up and hush achievement? Shouldn’t we celebrate accomplishments, even if just one student receives an award? When I took advanced placement classes, I was in fact encouraged to work harder when I saw my peers achieve great goals. I didn’t feel sad or left out when I didn’t get a specific award or honor. I felt driven to set higher goals. That is the beauty of meritocracy. Equity, however, creates a Marxist-based false ceiling where no one is really encouraged to be the best she can be. 

Why on earth is FCPS’s newly minted superintendent remotely okay with such an egregious error and not taking action to fire the principal who tried to hide achievement of students under the false pretense of ensuring some students didn’t feel bad or left out? This is such a sad state of affairs. 

 However, there is hope as November 2023 is around the corner and the entire Fairfax County School Board is up for election. What is the primary role of the Fairfax County School Board? - to ensure students have a ceilingless learning environment to not just learn basic skills for college preparation but set high goals and achieve them and be applauded when doing so. The current school board has not done due diligence to hold our superintendent and school administrators accountable to the extent that our very own Attorney General now has stepped in to investigate grave and even perhaps intentional errors which have placed our children behind. Better believe it, parents like myself and many others will be working overtime to ensure that we get a new stellar group of school board members elected to protect the future of our children and uncap their potential. Enough is enough! 

 Elizabeth McCauley is a Fairfax County resident, mother of two and member of the Virginia MAVENS (Mothers for American Values, Education and NOVA Safety). 

(3) comments


Vote the current school board members out this November…….probably won’t happen because most on the board lean far to the left politically and are worried more about political points than teaching kids what they need to be successful in life……


The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) oversees the National Merit Scholarship Program through which the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) serves as entry to NMSC's scholarship program. Each year, 1.5 million high school students take the PSAT/NMSQT and 34,000 of these students receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their test scores. While their scores are commendable, none of these 34,000 students qualify for NMSC scholarships. Students access their NMSC online accounts for their test scores and, if applicable, their Letters of Commendation. NMSC also notifies these students through the students' high schools or, if home schooled, through their parents/guardians. While four FCPS high schools did not distribute the Letters of Commendation in a timely manner, students earning this distinction did not lose out on any NMSC scholarships (as these students did not qualify). Further, these students (and their parents) were able to learn of their Letters of Commendation through the NMSC website. While the expression, "Where there's smoke, there's fire," is universal, there is no fire at FCPS. Conflating this situation and suggesting the Board needs to be replaced is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.


Per the original article in the City Journal breaking this story:

On September 16 of this year, National Merit sent a letter to (principal Ann) Bonitatibus listing 240 students recognized as Commended Students or Semi-Finalists. The letter included these words in bold type: “Please present the letters of commendation as soon as possible since it is the students’ only notification.”

The spin from @downward_spiral ignores the fact that many students (roughly 1200) were not notified over the course of years, and that many did, in fact, lose out on admissions and scholarship.

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