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    #247599 - 09/23/20 07:47 PM Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA
    Bostonian Offline

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2614
    Loc: MA
    Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards at America’s Best Public High School
    by Asra Q. Nomani and Glenn Miller
    September 23, 2020

    This week, a group of about 200 students, parents, alumni, and concerned local residents flooded the sidewalk in front of America’s number-one-ranked public high school—Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. This was no back-to-school event. It was a rally to save the soul of the school itself.

    The parents included Norma Muñoz, a Peruvian immigrant who told us she was there to “fight for TJ” (as the school is known locally). Other parents were from China, India, and South Korea. They stepped forward, one by one, to describe their families’ journeys—from marching in Tiananmen Square decades ago to arriving in the United States with only dollars in their pockets.

    “I came here for freedom,” said Yuyan Zhou, a Chinese-American woman who’s spent eight years as a TJ parent. “Moral courage is the only solution for this madness. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for your values. Fight for the future of our students!”

    And what is this “madness” Ms. Zhou describes? Since early June, a small but vocal group of TJ alumni have worked with activist school-board members, state education officials, politicians, and even TJ’s principal, to undermine the school’s selective admissions process. Their language consistently channels fashionable academic doctrines such as critical race theory (popularly known as CRT), which presuppose that all of society’s institutions are embedded with implicit forms of white supremacy.

    The result is a proposal to replace the existing race-blind, merit-based TJ admissions system of standardized tests, grade rankings, essays, and teacher recommendations with a process based on random selection from among applicants who have a core class GPA of 3.5 or greater (and are currently enrolled in algebra). Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Scott Brabrand has branded this proposed new system a “merit lottery.”

    Twenty years ago, 70 percent of TJ students were white. Today, 79 percent are minority, mostly from immigrant Asian families, many of whom fled persecution and economic privation. This shift in TJ’s student body has included a large drop in white students, who now account for only 19 percent of total admissions; while black and Hispanic admissions have remained relatively unchanged, at about two percent and three percent respectively. The activists seeking to eliminate TJ’s meritocratic admissions systems attribute this latter result to systemic racism.


    #247600 - 09/24/20 12:05 PM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Bostonian]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4587
    Thank you for sharing another compelling article, Bostonian.
    If I understand correctly, there are groups both in favor of lottery-based admissions, and opposed to the lottery.
    Some want admissions to be based on merit, others on demographic quotas.

    After reading the article, I was curious for more information, and clicked through the list of links to related articles.
    This one on educational equity especially caught my eye:

    Look Who’s Talking About Educational Equity
    by Lyell Asher
    August 12, 2020

    Who's talking about educational equity?
    College Presidents.
    This is some of what is being said...
    However well intentioned, these programs will likely increase inequities rather than reduce them, and push the nation’s colleges still closer to the low level of its public schools. The reason? As I have explained before, most of the college administrators who work in offices promoting “Diversity and Inclusion” and “Equity and Social Justice” and the like have been credentialed by the same dysfunctional institutions that have monopolized the training and licensure of K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grade) teachers, principals, and superintendents for 50 years—education schools.

    A century ago, Harvard president Lawrence Lowell described the university’s education school as “a kitten that ought to be drowned,” and in the decades since, successive studies have reached the same conclusion: Most of our training schools for K-12 teachers lack rigorous standards for admission, graduation, and research—but they’re filled to the brim with ideology.

    Worse still are ed school programs in leadership, from which most student-facing college administrators now take their degrees. As early as 1987, when the focus of these programs was almost entirely on K-12 administrators, the National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration recommended closing more than 300 of the nation’s 500 educational-leadership programs due to lackluster academic standards and professional irrelevance. Because these programs raked in tuition dollars, however, that advice was ignored.

    The roots of today's critical race theory (CRT) and approach to achieving equity were documented by Manning Johnson in 1958.
    In Chapter 7, pages 47-50 are focused on education. A brief snippet follows.
    Click to reveal..
    Experience shows that a student's success is determined by how much attention, time and effort he is willing to put into his studies.

    In New York, for example, many Negro Junior High and High School graduates are outrageously poor in spelling, writing, reading and mathematics. Yet they attended integrated schools.

    Even the report of the Public Education Association in 1955 admitted that Southern Negro children are on a level two grades higher than those in New York City schools.

    What is also important to remember is that the late Dr. George W. Carver, the outstanding Negro scientist, was born of slave parentage. He did not learn to read and write until he was twenty. He worked his way through school to become one of the world's greatest scientists. He didn't have the opportunities of young Negroes today.
    His whistle-blowing book can be accessed and read online.

    #247602 - 09/25/20 04:01 AM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1655
    DD's school is similar. Decades ago, mostly white, now about 80% Chinese, a few other asian groups and then white about 12%. Hunter, in NYC is about the same, Styvescant, where Harvard takes about 25 students out of 700, is about the same. All exam based admissions. In NYC, the elementary level gifted are choice based on scores, so that DD's school was all 99% percentile in score. The pace was a certain way. When we moved to Toronto in 4th grade, the gifted was just a class at the local school and I think anyone over 90% percentile and the class was much different. TJ is going to be a certain way because of the exam based entrance. If your kid cannot get in, he/she shouldn't be there. It will be too hard. Even with exam based admissions, but most of the kids come in 7th grade, the science and math are accelerated, some kids start to have some math issues by 9th grade if they are not at a certain level. There is no fall back lower math until data in 11th grade. Why don't parents see that if you lower the standards, the school loses its cache as a strong math/science school?

    Edited by Wren (09/25/20 04:02 AM)

    #247603 - 09/25/20 01:16 PM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Bostonian]
    pinewood1 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/25/19
    Posts: 41
    Trying to remedy inequality in STEM at that point is often too late; that's why BEAM exists. It provides math enrichment, support, and advising for low-income and underrepresented minority students so that they have the background to access better schools and colleges.

    I wish it was available in more areas.

    #247606 - 09/25/20 05:54 PM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: pinewood1]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4587
    AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program also intended to help students maximize their education.

    #247607 - 09/27/20 04:20 AM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: pinewood1]
    Eagle Mum Offline

    Registered: 02/24/20
    Posts: 99
    Loc: Australia
    Thanks for the BEAM link. I agree with you. In this digital era, it should be possible to cater for every student in every school, to learn at the appropriate pace for them. DS didn’t want to travel hours per day to attend one of the top selective schools, so we convinced our local school (which caters for students with a wide range of abilities) to implement digital resources which support individualised learning. It’s been great - if he were at the top selective school, I doubt he would be doing any better and he has plenty of free time to delve into any topic of interest to him (full disclosure - we’ve never supported the idea of coaching colleges but earlier this year, we did privately engage a postgrad maths scholar as an online tutor and he is now doing some third year Uni maths).

    ETA: Maths Online is available to schools in our Australian state at a cost of $12 per annum for each student. The STAR literacy program costs even less.

    #247608 - 09/27/20 07:04 AM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Eagle Mum]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3816
    Yes, thanks for bringing BEAM to our attention. I notice it is a collaborative project with AoPS and quite a number of big players in STEM industry, education and nonprofits.
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

    #247609 - 09/28/20 05:00 PM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Bostonian]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3290
    Loc: California
    This same thing came up 8 years ago! See link to this story: Thomas Jefferson HS and remediation.

    Also see this story in the Washington Post: Remediation at TJ HS

    They must have changed their admissions system back to test-only and now want to change it again (?).

    The thing that bothers me the most about the lottery approach to selective high schools is that it 1) takes away slots from kids who've earned them and 2) provides slots to a very few kids in the target groups while ignoring the vast majority of other kids in the same group. All the kids in a disadvantaged may be suffering from problems that can affect their achievement, but the majority of them seem to get ignored when the discussion focuses on schools with highly selective admissions.

    Personally, I prefer the idea of Middle College as a high school option. Middle College is a dual enrollment program, typically with a community college and typically free. Two of my kids took this route as part of the local school district. It has a ton of advantages: free college (one of mine got a free AS), being able to take college classes while still in an environment where people will help you adapt to the demands of college and etc. etc. Not to mention being taught by people who tend to be highly qualified.

    #247610 - 09/28/20 06:34 PM Re: Rallying to Protect Admissions Standards in VA [Re: Val]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3816
    I like the middle college/early college high school model a lot too. We have a similar option in my school, which is heavily populated with families without college experience, and many students who don't perceive themselves as academic. Any student 10th grade and up can elect to take a course, starting with one entry-level course paired with a support course, proceedinig potentially to a full course load of core academics in 11th and 12th grades (electives still at the high school), typically in a high school-aged cohort, which then results in an AA degree. There are DE coordinators at both the college and the high school tracking all of these students, and a support class run by the high school throughout the process.

    This has huge advantages especially for first-generation college students, who both don't have the benefit of prior college experience coming from their families, and also often don't have the financial resources to start college without working at the same time. Plus, in our state, an AA or AS degree from a CC, with a minimum GPA, guarantees admission with full transfer of credits to at least one of the state four years, typically at reduced tuition.
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...


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