Why Lower The Bar?

Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County, Virginia is renowned for its advanced studies in Math, Science, and Technology. Its students are the best of the best, national merit scholars, top internships, cutting edge research, these kids are our future. Every year thousands try for enrollment in this magnet school, only hundreds make it. The curriculum is intense and fast paced. Students are admitted based on aptitude, interest, and ability to pursue the subject matter in college. Now the school board and some of the parents of Fairfax County want to make admission contingent on race or at the very least geography. They feel not enough African American and Latino students are admitted to the school; therefore, the students who currently attend are being educated in a vacuum. These parents are advocating the school’s current racially blind admission policy should be circumvented to allow a better ethnic and social breakdown of the school. I can’t think of anything more ridiculous or harmful.

Why do I care? I have never lived in Virginia and I don’t plan to, but to make a school adopt racially biased admission policies regardless of who it favors is insane. This school is for the smartest kids in the nation regardless of race, creed or religion. Yes, I am white; Yes, I went to private schools all of my life; No, I am not, nor will I ever be smart enough to attend Thomas Jefferson High. But I do find myself asking, “would you really want to go if you couldn’t meet the admission standards and your classmates could”?

I agree, something should be done to open up the school to a more ethnically diverse student body, but the solution is not to allow students with less academic ability into the school. The solution is to improve the education available to middle and grade school students to create a better, more diverse crop of students for tomorrow. You can’t raise children in mediocre schools with poorly paid teachers for 9 years and then drop them into a high tech learning enviroment and get results.

Regardless of the education the students receive, there will always be the natural ability factor, some people have it in math and science and some people don’t. It is simply a fact of life, no race or admission policy will ever change that, but we can improve the number of students with that natural ability who are taught to develop and use their skills fully by improving our school system as a whole. Education starts from your first day on earth, not when turn 14. The sooner we realize that the better our children’s world will be. We must continue to raise the bar, not lower it to serve the under-educated among us.

One Response to “Why Lower The Bar?”

  1. drublood Says:

    OK –

    So those who are “good” at schools, tests, what have you deserve to be sent to better schools? And those who have not had the opportunities (a better word would be PRIVILEGE) to gain those advantages should stay where they are and be disallowed from advancing?

    Sounds like social darwinism to me. Perhaps you should read a bit more about white privilege. You can start at http://www.whiteprivilege.com. It sounds like you might have a good deal of unlearning to do.