, , , , , , , , , , , ,

In the last article in this series, I noted around seven of the Fairfax County Public School’s about 25 high schools admitted to concealing National Merit Scholar awards.   I expected it to quickly become worse. It’s worse; there are now eight Fairfax County high schools admitting it, and nine high schools from surrounding school districts. To find every article in this series, enter “fairfax county schools” in the SMM home page search bar. By all means, read the whole series, but take your blood pressure meds first.

The count just keeps growing.

Marshall High School Principal Jeremy Litz just sent parents an email, telling them that ‘it has come to light that Marshall High School students designated as Commended Students this past fall were notified later than we would have hoped.’

This brings to 17 the number of high schools in Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County that have admitted to withholding awards. Many other Fairfax County high schools haven’t yet released the results of their reviews.

Is this a racial issue? Yes.  Woke is all about race.  Next question?

This list is of schools that failed to notify ‘commended students.’ The demographics of that group doesn’t seem to be available yet but the Fairfax Times investigated and found that 75% of the National Merit semifinalists (one notch above commended students) are Asian. So it’s likely that the majority of commended students are also Asian despite Asians making up about 20% of Fairfax County.

I’ve previously noted the FCSD recently spend about a half million on woke indoctrination, which they imposed district-wide. Here’s a small part of that racist waste of taxpayer money:

As reported, the school district and local agencies have spent at least $513,500 on two controversial contracts with proponents of policies that parents groups and community members allege lead to the kind of discrimination alleged in the withholding of the National Merit awards. Since August 2020, Fairfax County Public Schools, the Reston Community Center and the Fairfax County Public Library have spent $58,500 for three hours and 40 minutes of talks, most of them virtual, with author Ibram X. Kendi, who has written, ‘The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.’

Kendi is a contemporary racist and race hustler. Julia Ross is a professional educator. She doesn’t teach in the FCPS:

Ross is the principal of Professional Tutoring, LLC in Burke, Va., and said she grows more frustrated the more schools she sees reveal they have made this crucial mistake.

‘It is incredibly frustrating because it is one of the things we ask the students,’ Ross said. ‘When you look at TJ [Thomas Jefferson High School For Science And Technology], about 50% of their junior class and senior class would have been commended or was commended, but they weren’t commended on time. That’s another huge number, so it’s expected. Students are evaluated for college admission in their graduating cohort, so they’re going to compare these students against other TJ kids of this year and, to some extent, by prior years by saying, ‘Well this kid wasn’t commended.’ It’s very important you’re keeping up with the Joneses in college admission.’

Ross, sadly, still thinks hard work, accomplishment and merit matter. On 01-10-23, FCPS Superintendent Michelle Reid had some parent meetings. It didn’t go well—for Reid:

On Tuesday evening, Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid met with parents who learned Langley and Westfield high schools also didn’t notify students of their national merit recognition — missing important college scholarships and admissions deadlines.

Ahead of the meetings, Reid told parents, ‘As we continue our division-wide review into these matters, we remain committed to being transparent with the key findings.’

Suuuuure they are.

Reid met parents at Langley High School at 6 p.m. and she is met with parents at Westfield High School at 7:30 p.m.

‘It’s one of two things, it’s either malicious or gross negligence,’ one parent said.

For more than an hour, parents at Langley High questioned Reid.

‘I mean, this is going to effect college admissions, it’s going to effect scholarships, it’s huge and it could cost a family tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money,’ another parent said. ‘It’s huge!’

‘I probably have to be careful about how much I say because we’re in the middle still of this review,’ Reid said. ‘But what I would say is that in each case, it’s my understanding, that the principal signed certificates, passed those on to staff who distribute them. It is correct that the principal doesn’t personally necessarily distribute those.’

We in English education have a professional term for this: lying by omission. Any competent investigation is going to show this was a district wide policy, not merely a “one-time human error” that has amazingly occurred over multiple years and in eight high schools thus far.  It’s so contagious it has spread to other school districts!  The Fairfax County Parent’s Association, in a letter, is not amused. Some excerpts:

*In its letter, the parents’ group asked state and local leaders, ‘How dare you tell students that their hard work doesn’t matter? How dare you pretend that students who manage to be in the top 3% academically among seniors nationwide have not achieved an accomplishment of which they should be enormously proud? How dare you tell these students – most of whom do not come from wealth – that it doesn’t matter whether they are able to note this achievement on college applications, or applications for academic scholarships that could help pay for college?’

*’Student success should be celebrated, not hidden. The fact that Fairfax County Public Schools purposefully withheld commendations that could alter the trajectory of students’ futures is unconscionable,’ said Christy Hudson, a local mother and board member of the Fairfax County Parents Association. ‘Parents assume principals and school administrators have their children’s best interests at heart, and this clearly proves otherwise. What the school district has done is shameful.’

*’This is not one school making a ‘one-time mistake’ by not notifying or delaying notification,’ the group said in its letter. “This is a pattern that speaks to a school system focused on creating an illusion of equity by either punishing students who worked hard to achieve high academic performance and recognition, or one that has so little regard for academic achievement that it cannot be bothered to prioritize it. As schools race to issue almost-identical press releases clearly coordinated by FCPS central administration, families must wonder if that coordination also speaks to an effort to downplay, or ignore, the achievements in the first place to push high-achieving students to the side in the pursuit of the equal outcomes ‘equity’ narrative.’

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is not amused either:

*’There clearly is a real suggestion that their civil rights have been violated. And we need to understand what’s at the heart of this,’ Youngkin said on ‘American Reports’ Wednesday.

*’There clearly has been an effort to bring down the standards for our students in Virginia to stop celebrating excellence. And this is counter to everything we believe,’ Youngkin said. ‘This nation was built on the idea of building a better future, of striving and achieving. And here we have what appears to be three of three large school districts in Virginia who have been systematically withholding information about excellence. This is so counter to everything that we believe.’

*’We have schools that lowered expectations. Virginia used to have the highest standards for treatment. And now we have had the lowest. We’re putting them back. But sadly, Virginia students met those expectations,’ he said. ‘Second of all, they pushed parents out of their students’ lives. And third, there has been a consistent cover-up in the relentless pursuit of equity.’

Good. Faster, please.

*Gov. Youngkin criticized the ‘absolutely atrocious’ effort from Virginia school districts to ‘bring down the standards’ of excellence for students in the name of equity, calling for more transparency within schools over expenditures like Fairfax’s equity consultant.

‘There should be full transparency in these kinds of expenditures, particularly when they’re teaching and training a methodology and a belief system that is so counter to excellence, so counter to making sure that students are allowed to achieve and do their best,’ he said. ‘Again, it is such an anathema to everything we believe.’

*’Excellence in education should be celebrated, not withheld from students.’

No kidding. Lt. Governor Sears is likewise not amused:

Sears further stated, ‘I’ve got to tell you, we don’t like to play these political games, but folks, we’ve got to call a spade a spade. These are ultra-leftist Democrats who are doing this because you know that they always know what’s best for the rest of us, except they don’t live by these kind of rules. I guarantee that if it had been their child who had earned these awards and maybe we ought to investigate if they had children who had earned these awards, did they keep them from getting these awards, their own children, or did they pass them through and it’s all the rest of us who suffered?’

Final Thoughts: In my classroom in a medium sized Texas high school, I had, among other things, a “Noteworthy Writing Board.” On it, I posted writing that was perfectly done. To earn a place there, kids had to do multiple re-writes of assignments. Every one of those papers earned not only 100%, but 25 extra credit points. Every day, when kids entered the room, they immediately ran to the board to see whose work was displayed. It encouraged kids to do the actual work of writing, which always includes proofreading, editing and multiple drafts. It also encouraged kids who would not normally put in that kind of work to actually try. Oh yes: they got stickers too.  They really loved those and proudly displayed them to everyone, in and out of class.  In other words, I ruthlessly exploited human nature to encourage achievement. That was far from the only way I encouraged and rewarded achievement in small and large ways, but it was one of the most effective, and for the kids, exciting.

You don’t suppose this is a large part of the problem, do you?

As I’ve previously written, FCPS educrats are backpedaling and issuing non-apology apologies not because they think they did anything wrong, but because they got caught. They are very much like the news media; they all think alike. They don’t need to get together every morning to decide how they’re going to screw kids and parents on the path to maximum woke. They all know what to do. They feel no remorse; they’re just afraid of consequences. If they get none, they’ll go about their business of deception and destruction, but be sneakier about it.

This case goes beyond that. This is a “school district” that has voluntarily spent more than a half million dollars to impose wokeness—that means equity—on every thing they think, say and do, and on everyone. When equity becomes the central driving philosophy of any organization, merit is defenestrated. Accomplishment is out the window and only the perpetuation and growth of wokeness–power–matters. It’s no wonder they wouldn’t want to acknowledge academic excellence: it’s not equitable!

What is most likely, and what the state Attorney General’s investigation will surely prove, is withholding NMS awards from students and parents was a district-wide policy in furtherance of their woke/equity agenda. It’s no surprise to educrats; they mandated it. Any pious claim about cooperating with and being fully transparent about investigations into what they mandated is a pathetic and laughable lie. But what about Loudon County and Prince William County? The same policy—and lies–will be discovered there, because they all think alike and they’re all woke.

Why have only eight of FCPS’s 25 high schools thus far admitted their deception? Some of them appear to be remedial/alternative high schools.  If so, they probably wouldn’t have many, if any, merit scholars.  I’m sure the Superintendent, and the district’s lawyers, have told the rest to shut up and admit nothing. In so doing, they’ll continue to lie to students and parents that earned academic honors, but that’s a small price to pay to achieve equity, to ensure uniformly, equitably low levels of achievement, isn’t it?

And what of racism? The Harvard case currently before the Supreme Court is defacto evidence of anti-Asian racism. Culture, gentle readers, matters. Asian cultures characteristically emphasize family, honor, sincerity, achievement in academics and success in life. Small wonder Asian kids routinely do better than many other cultures. Any woke/equity system exalts the opposite of those qualities necessary for individual and societal success, so the inevitable result of those policies is racially imposed and discriminatory “equal” outcomes. These are clear violations of state and federal anti-racial discrimination laws, they’re anti-education, anti-American and blatantly immoral–arguably, evil.

I’ve often written American education is in trouble, but not everywhere. Things are bad in blue states, and the relentless long march of D/S/Cs through our schools reaches into red states too, but they have not completely corrupted those schools—yet. In states that still care about America and actual education, there are steps that can, and need to be, taken.

Beyond electing sane people to school boards and firing woke lunatics, legislatures can write laws prohibiting CRT and any other vestige of wokeness, including racism. Carefully written, they do not infringe on the First Amendment. I never imagined I had a constitutional right to say anything in class. One of the marks of adulthood is self-restraint and morality. I never imagined it was my job to politically or sexually indoctrinate kids. I certainly never imagined it was my job to inform my kids of my sexual preferences, bland though they might be. I was a teacher. I had far more important things to occupy my precious and ever-dwindling class time, things like actually teaching English.

To be effective, those laws must, at the very least, create financially painful, personal civil causes of action for parents and others deprived of their rights. Even where the actions of educrats and “educators” like those in the FCPS are not strictly illegal, every state has an educator’s certification board. The rules of those boards must require cooperation with investigations. Educators can refuse to cooperate, but doing so must result in automatic revocation of their teaching and/or administrator’s certificates.

In this Virginia case, anyone found to have knowingly deprived students and parents of the benefits of their accomplishments and/or rights must also have their certificates revoked. Such people should not be anywhere near children.

I’ll be sending a letter to Governor Youngkin, AG Miyares, and Lt. Gov. Sears. I’ll post their responses—if any—when received.