Last year 3,121 students applied for this year’s freshman class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Four hundred and eighty were accepted. Of those, 66% were Asian, 25.6% were White, 3.1% were Hispanic and 3.8% multi-racial and 1% Black.
Fairfax county public schools have spent tens of millions of dollars over the last 15 years on programs targeted to increase the number of Blacks at TJ and only 5 were accepted for the current freshman class.
Up until 1998 the TJ admission’s office practiced affirmative action and simply admitted Black students who they felt might succeed although they did not have the scores, grades, and recommendations to qualify. More qualified students were displaced and not admitted. That year FCPS was sued for the practice. Parents won and FCPS was forced to admit 32 students over the summer who had been displaced by the affirmative action program. FCPS administrators were very unhappy that they could no longer practice affirmative action to admit Black students to TJ. Since that time they have tried at least 10 different programs, some beginning in kindergarten, to increase the number of Blacks admitted to TJ, without practicing blatant affirmative action and risking another lawsuit. They have also increased the size of TJ, hoping to expand the pool of Black students. One of the FCPS programs included tutoring by the best math and English teachers in the county, for 3 years, for Black and Hispanic students in 5th, 6th, and 7th grades. Another program, Young Scholars, begins in Kindergarten and includes special classes with a month long summer program for those special minorities. It is designed to get more Black students into gifted programs and TJ. (The program admits a few poor white and Asian children so FCPS doesn’t face another lawsuit but the goal is more Blacks into GT programs and TJ.) The program continues through 8th grade in elementary schools across the county with high Black populations. It’s costly and it hasn’t worked. Nothing has worked. The percentage of Asians admitted to TJ has steadily increased while the percentage of Whites and Blacks has decreased. Only 5 Black students were admitted for the current school year, the lowest number yet. FCPS educrats cannot find a program that works. Yet the answer is so simple.
The easiest way for TJHSST to increase the number of Blacks who are admitted is to change the way FCPS teaches math, science, and English, beginning in Kindergarten. Rather than moving to more and more foolish ‘fun’ math, teach real math to all students. Prepare all students to take Algebra in middle in school. Teach real science. Teach real English, with writing, spelling and grammar. Get rid of the silly “Everyday Math”, “Math Investigations” and “Whole Language”. Teach phonics and spelling. Rather than do that, FCPS has adopted easier and easier math, science, and English programs so that every student can feel good about themselves, even if they learn nothing. The result has been middle and upper income families pay for outside tutors for their children, or do a combination of public school with home schooling after school so that their children can learn real math and real English rather these dumbed down versions now taught in Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties. Children whose families do not the ability and/or income to have their children taught outside of school are at a severe disadvantage. The more schools dumb down education programs the more poor children are unable to compete in high school and college. And still the educrats scratch their heads over the racial gaps in education.
All statistics for the current freshman at TJHSST can be found here.