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Friday, March 31, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionEditorial: Court ruling on TJ admissions strikes blow for fairness

Editorial: Court ruling on TJ admissions strikes blow for fairness

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It seems we in Sun Gazette-land have been proved right now that a federal judge has overturned Fairfax County’s affirmative-action admissions policy for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, which impacted all participating jurisdictions, including Arlington.

Apparently Fairfax County School Board members and staff were tripped up by their own e-mails and texts to one another, which helped to convince U.S. District Court Judge Claude Hilton that the intent behind the policy change violated the U.S. Constitution. The judge ruled in favor of those challenging the enacted-in-2020 admissions policy, ordering school leaders to go back to a more fair-for-all, merit-based admissions policy.

As anyone who followed this saga well knows (even those who will not admit it to themselves), school leaders were embarrassed that such a large percentage of students gaining admission to TJ through the competitive exam were Asian. So they cobbled together a new policy to try and change the composition.

Such a move sounds pretty discriminatory on its face, we said in multiple editorials over the years, and it seems the judge agreed.


The ruling is a black eye for the existing School Board members and (departing) superintendent, who threw their wokeness behind the admissions-policy change, only to see it go kaboom in their faces late last week.

Achievement should be the goal of the public-education system. Alas, today’s crop of school leaders seems to see it as a dirty word to be eradicated at all costs, crucified on the altar of the almighty, if purposely nebulous, concept of equity.

Free advice to school leaders all across our region: Instead of defending to the last taxpayer dollar a discriminatory (and veering uncomfortably close to racist) policy, why not work to ensure that all students, starting in elementary school, have the tools they require for maximum success, so that when it comes time for them to take the TJ entrance exam, all are on a relatively even footing?

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