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“The American dream won!” Virginia Anti-Asian School Admission Scheme Halted By Federal Judge

“The American dream won!” Virginia Anti-Asian School Admission Scheme Halted By Federal Judge

“We won! You won! Our families stood up with moral courage against racism.”

We have covered numerous schemes by admissions offices to lower Asian enrollment through various subterfuges centered on deemphasizing or eliminating the weight given to standardized testing. The schemes never come right out and admit what they are doing, they usually couch it in vague soft factors and gibberish about “equity”.

We’ve seen in in higher education with the Harvard case accepted for review by the Supreme Court, and in K-12 with the Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan” that so far has survived court challenge, and is on appeal.

We also covered the Lawsuit Alleging Anti-Asian Discrimination In Admissions Change At Top-Ranked Virginia High School,  Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ”) .

The Pacific Legal case page has more details, including a copy of the Complaint on behalf of Plaintiff Coalition for TJ (Coalition):

1. Plaintiff Coalition for TJ (Coalition) brings this civil rights lawsuit for declaratory
and injunctive relief to vindicate the rights of Asian-American public school children in and around
Fairfax County, Virginia, to compete on an equal footing for admission to the nationally-ranked
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) without regard to their race.

2. TJ is an Academic-Year Governor’s School administered by Fairfax County Public
Schools (FCPS). This action concerns FCPS’ recently-implemented overhaul of the TJ admissions
process, which eliminated the long-standing race-neutral standardized admissions test. The
Coalition alleges that these changes were specifically intended to reduce the percentage of AsianAmerican students who enroll in TJ, with the ultimate goal of racially balancing the school
according to the racial demographics of Fairfax County.

* * *

5. Overwhelming public evidence exists that the new TJ admissions process was
adopted with the purpose of disadvantaging Asian-American students and reducing AsianAmerican enrollment at TJ. As such, these changes violate the Equal Protection Clause.

There were a variety of litigation developments, including denial of a preliminary injunction because the new school year was too close in time, but the case wound its way through the court to the summary judgment stage. Summary judgment is where the court can grant judgement as a matter of law where the material facts are not in dispute, so no trial would be needed.

And that’s just what the federal court just did. From the Pacific Legal press release:

Today, a federal judge ruled that Fairfax County school officials violated the law by changing admissions requirements at the nation’s top public school to deliberately reduce the number of Asian-American students enrolled.

Last March, a coalition of parents, students, alumni, and community members filed a lawsuit challenging admissions changes at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).

“This is a monumental win for parents and students here in Fairfax County, but also for equal treatment in education across the country,” said PLF attorney Erin Wilcox. “We hope this ruling sends the message that government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity.”

Until last year, admission to TJ was race-blind and merit-based; requirements included a standardized test, grade-point average, completion of certain math classes, and teacher recommendations. Last year, the Fairfax County Public Schools’ board and superintendent adopted an admissions policy aimed at balancing the racial groups at TJ by eliminating the admissions test, guaranteeing seats for 1.5 percent of each middle school’s eighth grade class, and awarding bonus points for various factors such as attendance at a middle school previously underrepresented at TJ. The intended result: dramatically reducing the number of Asian-American students admitted to TJ.

Pacific Legal Foundation represents the Coalition for TJ free of charge. Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division. Judge Hilton granted the Coalition’s motion for summary judgment, giving them a win in the case.

From the Decision:

Here, no dispute of material fact exists regarding any of  the Arlington Heights factors, nor as to the ultimate question that the Board acted with discriminatory intent. Under Arlington Heights, disparate impact is the starting point for determining whether the Board acted with discriminatory intent. The Board’s overhaul of TJ admissions has had, and will have, a substantial disparate impact on Asian American applicants to TJ.

A comparison of publicly available data for the Class of 2025 with earlier classes tells much of the story. As depicted in the table below, the number and proportion of Asian-American students offered admission to TJ fell following the challenged changes….

It is clear that Asian-American students are disproportionately harmed by the Board’s decision to overhaul TJ admissions. Currently and in the future, Asian-American applicants are disproportionately deprived of a level playing field in competing for both allocated and unallocated seats. Placing the Board’s actions in historical context leaves little doubt that its decision to overhaul the TJ admissions process was racially motivated….

The impetus to overhaul TJ admissions came from several sources, all of which confirm that the Board and high-level FCPS actors set out to increase and decrease the representation of certain racial groups at TJ to align with districtwide enrollment data. Board members promised action on TJ admissions that would specifically address the school’s racial makeup. After the summer state task force, FCPS officials scrambled to meet a perceived deadline from Richmond to overhaul admissions with race in mind….


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Thank you, a small step in the right direction. Now we need racist Affirmative Action to be eradicated.

    henrybowman in reply to JohnSmith100. | February 26, 2022 at 2:30 am

    I always wondered how AA survived the equal protection clause in the first place.

      Stuytown in reply to henrybowman. | February 26, 2022 at 4:01 am

      The idea is that affirmative action is a remedy for a wrong. It was originally applicable only to blacks. I don’t know if that is still true.

        JohnSmith100 in reply to Stuytown. | February 26, 2022 at 8:13 am

        No amount of thumb on the scale can fix an average IQ of 85. Even when the individual’s IQ is higher, thumb on the scale cannot fix bad parenting and culture.

        Dimsdale in reply to Stuytown. | February 26, 2022 at 12:26 pm

        And remedy or problem based on race is simply racist.

        Dems are real good at being racist.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to henrybowman. | February 26, 2022 at 6:38 am

      Like with so many laws, it was ignored.
      Violence Against Women Act.

      Enhanced penalties for assault on LEOs.

      The mirror image of this: race-based hiring quotas.

      There were two phases of admission tests and they reduced it to only one not “no test”. So entrance testing has always been part of the TJ admissions process. Mind you the material tested by middle school students is high school content they never saw before so this is a study for the test scenario. The math test was one question. My white daughter wouldn’t have been able to get accepted to TJ (80% Asian) had they not allowed a slot for each middle school in the area still chosen by application merit by school. Many Asian kids come from a few middle schools prompting the fear of cheating on the entrance exam by IT selling the test. There’s nothing genius about having a homogenous cultural support group with the test before testing. The federal judge made a mistake.

Subotai Bahadur | February 25, 2022 at 8:01 pm

Since the decision was in a Federal District Court, I would be far from surprised if Attorney General Merrick Garland did not appeal to the Circuit Court level claiming that “equity” outweighs “equality” and that objective standards are inequitable. Such is the current regime.

Subotai Bahadur

    Right. As Yogi once put it, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

    If the percentage of blacks at the various exam schools across the country is not in line with the respective population percentage, is that not an expression of freedom? Black culture does not appreciate academic achievement in the same manner as Asian culture.

    Black culture has chosen other priorities. For this freedom to choose, blacks should be content. If blacks wish their children to gain admittance to the TJ type of school without AA or other thumb-on-the-scale tricks, black parents will need to make different choices.

    But that’s a matter of choice. Presently blacks have chosen to go in a different direction.

Dolce Far Niente | February 25, 2022 at 11:32 pm

The depressing subtext is that black students are incapable of succeeding scholastically on their own merits, and white liberals prefer make another racial group suffer for the failings of the favored group.

And it is true that black urban culture places no value on academic achievement, so there is virtually no chance that black youth will succeed where their parents didn’t, assuming that there were parents at home.

The moms and dads who married and kept their marriages intact, made the kids do their homework and emphasized working hard must be more estranged from their own “mainstream” culture than deplorables are.

    The most ironic thing is that the failings of their favored group (for today) is due precisely to the self same leftist programs like AA that lower standards. You can’t excel living up to lowered or no standards. The left has destroyed the very people they pretend to want to help.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch. In physics or life.

TJ was created in the 1980s to be a “magnet school” of sufficient quality to be attractive to good students. As many FCPS high schools declined and fell subject to gang problems, TJ earned a national reputation and attracted corporate support. It has its own supercomputer and other great science facilities. The question not addressed is where would these students attend if TJ was not available to them? Some may stay in FCPS and others may go to Catholic or private schools. Arlington County buys seats at TJ for a few of its most promising students. Those kids would return to high schools in Arlington.

TJ admissions have important spill over effects. Cornell and other elite schools actively recruit TJ students to establish an “admission pipeline” from TJ into those colleges. If TJ’s quality would be seriously compromised, the number of TJ graduates admitted to those selective colleges would decline, resulting in fewer Asian-Americans entering as freshmen.

I think that this whole debate can be summarized as “Merit matters.” Let’s celebrate this victory, celebrate the intellectual achievement of the TJ students, and celebrate a vistory for equal opportunity.

If they want more blacks in this magnet high school, the district should do a better job of educating them while they’re in elementary school. They should also work to instill the values of a good education in the community.

Don’t lower the bar, raise the achievement.

    The left has owned academia for more than fifty years. Who can they blame now?

    Look in the mirror, socialists. Of course, this was the plan. That’s why their kids go to private schools.

A community free of diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), inequity, and Rainbow of selective, opportunistic exclusion. One step backward for progress and “=” rights and rites. One step forward for conservation of a equal rights, constitutional rights, without affirmative discrimination by color, sex, etc. Good for them.