Ann Bonitatibus, Asra Nomani, Brandon Kosatka, equality of opportunity, equality of outcome, equity, Fabio Zuluaga, Fairfax County Schools, gifted and talented, Harry Jackson, National Merit Scholars, Plymouth Plantation, Thomas Jefferson High School of Science And Technology
One of the primary differences between Normal Americans and D/S/Cs, AKA woke cracktivists, is Normal Americans want everyone, particularly our children, to have equality of opportunity. Every American should have the same opportunities to succeed or fail. However, success or failure largely depends on the individual, on their willingness to work hard, and of course, on their abilities, because while Normal Americans want everyone to be equal under the law, they recognize not everyone has the same intelligence, motivation, and ability. D/S/Cs, however, want equality of outcome. Regardless of intelligence, motivation, ability—merit—everyone should get the same outcome, reap the same rewards whether they have earned them or not. Circa 2023, this is commonly known as “equity.”
This is, of course, socialism. The pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation tried it, and it nearly killed them all. Under their socialist system, many were unwilling to work, but expected to reap the fruits of other’s labor. As a result, many starved to death or were taken by diseases. It was only when the land was divided under individual ownership and people realized if they didn’t work, they didn’t eat, they began to thrive. Governor Bradford recorded this:
So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family.
[I]t made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
In K-12 education, this battle—a low-grade version of it—has been fought for decades over gifted and talented classes. They exist because actually enlightened educators understand some kids are simply smarter than others. They learn faster, retain more of what they learn, are intellectually curious, self-motivated and high achievers. If they are not intellectually challenged, their potential is not only wasted, many become disciplinary problems, drop out of school, and fall prey to all the other destructive diversions available to kids. In other words, they are meritorious, and strive to be better, know more, accomplish more, than their peers.
I taught those classes. During my time in the classroom, in our mid-sized Texas school, kids were admitted to those classes only with the recommendation of their 9th grade English teachers as they entered GT classes in the 10th grade. Kids could take the classes without that recommendation, but only after an interview with their prospective 10th grade teacher. Some, with very hard work, managed to pass–GT/AP kids are expected to excel–and surely learned more than they would have in a “regular” English class. I did everything I could to help and encourage those kids. Others wanted in GT classes because they had friends in those classes, or a boy or girl friend, or sought status. Those kids were almost always transferred back to a regular English class within six weeks because they were failing, or on the ragged edge of failing. They just couldn’t keep up.
Not long after I retired, that requirement was abolished. Anyone could take a GT class, and it was virtually impossible to remove them no matter how badly they were failing. It’s good I retired. I would have made some people very deserving of discomfort very uncomfortable, because that is not only child abuse, it defrauds the public and damages respect for public education.
GT classes have always been controversial. Prior to the explosion of woke, anti-merit lunacy, there were always people who wanted to do away with them because their mere existence made some kids—and their parents—feel bad. Circa 2023, nothing is more important than feelz. As I’ve so often written, no one sheds a tear over 5’4”, 135 pound Johnny, who will never make the varsity football team. No one cares about his feelings because we’re talking sports, and that’s really important. We recognize not everyone is physically capable of playing varsity football. That’s just common sense. But many virtue signal over slacker Johnny who wants GT classes on his transcript, but hasn’t studied since 3rd grade, and isn’t willing to work now. The mere idea some people aren’t as smart and hard working as others is…it’s…it’s…not equitable!
Now, the Fairfax County—Virginia–schools, particularly the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, have invented a new way to crush merit, harm smart kids and dumb down America, as Asra Q. Nomani at City Journal reports:
For years, two administrators at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) have been withholding notifications of National Merit awards from the school’s families, most of them Asian, thus denying students the right to use those awards to boost their college-admission prospects and earn scholarships. This episode has emerged amid 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.
Cracktivists commonly justify 50% for nothing by arguing if a student falls behind, if they aren’t given credit for doing nothing, they’ll never be able to catch up. This, of course, only teaches doing nothing will be rewarded. Why work when sloth yields the same results?
An intrepid Thomas Jefferson parent, Shawna Yashar, a lawyer, uncovered the withholding of National Merit awards. Since starting as a freshman at the school in September 2019, her son, who is part Arab American, studied statistical analysis, literature reviews, and college-level science late into the night. This workload was necessary to keep him up to speed with the advanced studies at TJ, which U.S. News & World Report ranks as America’s top school.
Yeah. Not any more.
Last fall, along with about 1.5 million U.S. high school juniors, the Yashar teen took the PSAT, which determines whether a student qualifies as a prestigious National Merit scholar. When it came time to submit his college applications this fall, he didn’t have a National Merit honor to report—but it wasn’t because he hadn’t earned the award. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a nonprofit based in Evanston, Illinois, had recognized him as a Commended Student in the top 3 percent nationwide—one of about 50,000 students earning that distinction. Principals usually celebrate National Merit scholars with special breakfasts, award ceremonies, YouTube videos, press releases, and social media announcements.
But not at TJ. School officials had decided to withhold announcement of the award. Indeed, it turns out that the principal, Ann Bonitatibus, and the director of student services, Brandon Kosatka, have been withholding this information from families and the public for years, affecting the lives of at least 1,200 students over the principal’s tenure of five years. Recognition by National Merit opens the door to millions of dollars in college scholarships and 800 Special Scholarships from corporate sponsors.
Keep this—they’ve cheated kids for years—in mind as you continue to read, gentle readers.
I learned—two years after the fact—that National Merit had recognized my son, a graduate of TJ’s Class of 2021, as a Commended Student in a September 10, 2020, letter that National Merit sent to Bonitatibus. But the principal, who lobbied that fall to nix the school’s merit-based admission test to increase ‘diversity,’ never told us about it. Parents from earlier years told me that she also didn’t tell them about any Commended Student awards. One former student said he learned he had won the award through a random email from the school to a school-district email account that students rarely check; the principal neither told his parents nor made a public announcement.
On September 16 of this year, National Merit sent a letter to 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.’
National Merit hadn’t included enough stamps on the package, but nevertheless it got to Bonitatibus by mid-October—before the October 31 deadline for early acceptance to select colleges. In an email, Bonitatibus told Yashar that she had signed the certificates ‘within 48 hours.’ But homeroom teachers didn’t distribute the awards until Monday, November 14, after the early-application deadlines had passed. Teachers dropped the certificates unceremoniously on students’ desks.
Note Bonitatibus only handed out the award notifications after she was caught, and after she ensured kids would be denied scholarships for their hard work. This, gentle readers, is equality of outcome—equity.
In a call with Yashar, 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.
But they did want to hurt the finances and futures of kids who actually worked hard and earned scholarships and admission to top colleges. Do our achievements not define us, demonstrate who we are “as individuals?” Not at Bonitatibus’ school.
Kosatka and Bonitatibus didn’t respond to requests for comment. In a rare admission, Fabio Zuluaga, an assistant superintendent at Fairfax County Public Schools, told me that the school system has erred not telling students, the public, and families about awards: ‘It was a mistake to be honest.’ Zuluaga said it also isn’t enough just to hand over a certificate. ‘We have to do something special,’ he said. ‘A commendation sends a very strong message to the kid, right? Your work is meaningful. If you work hard in life, there are good benefits from that.’
Yuh think? As one might imagine, this has generated considerable backlash, though Lamestream Media outlets, as always, have tried to hide it. Obviously smarting from the backlash, the school district has tried to lie their way out of it, as Mary Rooke at The Daily Caller, reports:
An FCPS spokesperson told the Daily Caller in a statement that the contract with the equity firm and the delay in announcing the National Merit Commended Students and Semifinalists awards were not connected and promising it ‘was a one-time human error in the fall of 2022 only.’
More on the “equity firm” shortly.
‘Once the issue regarding the fall 2022 notifications came to light, counselors sent emails and made follow-up calls to each college where these students had applied and informed them of the National Merit Scholarship Commendations,’ the FCPS spokesperson said. ‘To suggest a deliberate intent to withhold this information would be inaccurate and contrary to the values of FCPS.’
On the contrary, it’s entirely accurate and accurately reflects the “values of FCPS.” That’s why they’re so desperately backpedaling.
‘FCPS understands the hard work and dedication of each and every student who competes for college acceptance and scholarship opportunities. We are continuing to look into this matter and will take any necessary steps to ensure consistency in appropriate and timely notification of National Merit recognitions going forward,’ the spokesperson added.
The school sent letters and called colleges where students affected by the incident applied to notify their admission departments of the student’s National Merit award, according to a Dec. 12 email sent by Kosatka, the outlet reported.
How can we know they’re lying? Nomani’s article makes it clear this was not a one-time mistake. In order to do this, the mandate to hide kid’s results would have had to come down from on high–the principal if not higher administrators. They would have to tell assistant principals, other building administrators and counselors–at minimum–to stop doing what they’d done for years: recognize the academic accomplishments of those kids, and instead, hide them. When teachers asked why they weren’t recognizing the kids, they would have been told to shut up.
More, Parents with years of experience in the school district know this had been going on for years because it affected their children for years. Kosatka also admitted it was no mistake, but intentional policy. Kosatka’s admission to a parent isn’t the only evidence.
Counselors supposedly contacted all the colleges. That’s a particularly stupid lie. That would be possible only if every student involved had worked directly though school counselors in applying to each and every college, and those counselors kept continuously updated files on each student. In the age of Internet applications, that’s no longer necessary, and even if an individual student worked through counselors to apply to a few colleges, it’s a certainty that student would not need, or want, to work with counselors to apply to every college. Counselors would have no way of knowing every college to which merit scholars applied, nor considering the school district didn’t care about the kids and suppressed knowledge of their achievement, why would counselors know or care? It’s likely some counselors tried to contact some colleges, but remember, it was already too late, and it’s certain those colleges already made admission decisions and had no incentive to make late admissions, particularly if those students were not members of the right, preferred, racial or gender victim groups, which matters much more than merit these days. There’s another compelling reason to believe the school district is lying:
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) officials paid $455,000 for data collection and analysis from a California equity contractor as Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHS) administrators allegedly hid National Merit Commended Students and Semifinalists awards, a report said.
TJHS Principal Ann Bonitatibus and the Director of Student Services Brandon Kosatka allegedly withheld important merit awards from students while FCPS gave Performance Fact Inc. a contract to collect and analyze student data to develop district goals, including “Equity-centered Strategic Planning,” according to the Fairfax Times.
The school district, which spent nearly half a million dollars on “equity-centered strategic planning” would have us believe the fruits of those taxpayer dollars had nothing to do with destroying merit and imposing “equity” on the children under their “care?”
Unlike at Plymouth Plantation, no one brutalized by socialism is likely to immediately starve at Thomas Jefferson High School, but their lives have been damaged in other ways, damage that will extend far into the future. Bonitatibus and Kosatka, and every other administrator, principal, counselor and teacher who bought into their expensive “equity-centered strategic planning” are poor examples of human beings, should be nowhere near school children, and are, arguably, evil. At the very least, they wholeheartedly embraced an evil ideology, an ideology that has produced hundreds of millions of deaths, and untold human misery, even though its adherents always argue it hasn’t been properly tried yet. They, you see, gentle readers, unlike every socialist/communist before them, are intellectually and morally superior. They alone will finally get it right, and all will experience wondrous equity, just like the merit scholar at TJHS.
Regarding the intellectual and moral superiority of the TJHS self-imagined elite, the hard working, capable, meritorious children and parents of the Fairfax County Public Schools would beg to differ.
UPDATE, 01-03-22, 1130 MT: How do we know the school district is lying about this being a “one-time mistake?” This way:
Virginia parents expressed their outrage at the decision which one father argued was motivated by trying to avoid ‘hurt feelings’ of other students.
‘This was not a one-time error,’ said father Harry Jackson on ‘Fox & Friends’ Monday.
‘This is actually a systemic pattern of injustice that’s been occurring since 2017, where students have been withheld those honors from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, where they have not been notified.’
Let’s see—2017, that’s five years of one-time mistakes. As I noted, this kind of change in standard operating procedure would have to come from the top and would involve principals, assistant principals, counselors, and many teachers. It would be impossible for this to be a one-time mistake made by one or two people. The school district, caught red-handed, is scurrying for the underside of the fridge like cockroaches caught in the open when the kitchen light comes on.
Mike a.k.a. Proof said:
“Do you want fries with that?”
This concludes the English proficiency portion of your exam.
They are straight up evil. No arguably about it. 🤬
Elections ALWAYS have consequences, both intended and unintended. This is especially true of local school boards who set policy.
Mike McDaniel said:
What’s interesting about local elections is a mere handful of votes can change things. During my career, our district wanted a wasteful bond issue passed. Mrs. Manor and I voted against it and it lost by two votes. Next time around, substantial changes were made, we voted for it, and it passed by two votes.
Zaarin7 is spot on. I was involved in my kids’ school district during a period of some interesting school-to-business initiatives and working with grant money. But that was the 80’s and early 90’s. If I were involved now… I’d likely be one of those screaming parents at the meetings, albeit my “screaming” would not be for the same reasons others might be screaming about.
All politics is local.
Elmer Fudd said:
It will be interesting to see the consequences if Asian Americans ever figure out who their real enemies are and start voting accordingly.
Somewhere, at one of the conferences that school
administrators eternally attend, this notion of not
recognizing the true achievers for some unknown but
assuredly bizarre reason must be been propagated.
Several years ago our school’s only National Merit
Scholar was not mentioned in the school. In more
recent years none of the students who had been
awarded various awards by the College Board were
never mentioned in the high school. Crickets.
Your experience, Mike, with GT classes parallels what
has been happening in all the advanced classes here at
Podunk HS: filling advanced classes with students so
that the school looks good on paper, and, in all classes,
pressuring teachers through indirect means to pass
students regardless of merit. A high school degree is toilet
Public ed has mostly been lost to the bureaucrats and
private parties who make careers and money from
the taxpayer’s dollar.
Mike McDaniel said:
You may be correct, but conferences pushing that specific woke tactic aren’t actually necessary. We’re dealing with people across the country with the same beliefs, following the same scripts. Suppressing merit in all its forms is a logical consequence. It’s like the media. They all think alike. It’s not necessary for them to meet every morning to decide how they’re going to screw America; they all know. Even so, many of them do just that to make sure everyone is on the same narrative page. I’m sure that’s much like what’s happening in education.
I retired just in time.