Does equity really make nothing equal for anyone?

January 17 – At least 13 high schools in northern Virginia have failed to notify students about earning national merit awards. The school districts include those in Prince William County, Fairfax County and Loudon County. 

It has been attributed to an accidental administrative oversight. 

Students were just not notified of their awards. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “Awfully disturbing and you’re messing with people’s lives and their future here.” 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “This story is becoming an outright scandal.” 

It was reported a few weeks ago when it sounded like it was limited to a school just in Prince William County, but now it has stretched to others. 

These are National Merit Certifications that a high school senior would be awarded. It’s a very coveted, prestigious award that is based on exam scores. 

Barkdoll said, “It’s very valuable to these kids when they’re applying for college admission. There’s where you might see some lawsuits out of this because these parents are pointing out ‘had we known my son or daughter received this award, certainly that would have been part of their college admissions application.’ Have they now been damaged by the school withholding that information?” 

Today’s Wall Street Journal uncovered that in Fairfax County in October, the school board had an outside consultant that provided a presentation at a board retreat that said they must strive for equal outcomes for every student without exception. 

Barkdoll suggested, “If this goes into court you can bet the parents are going to latch onto that presentation as evidence that this was a deliberate plot to not reveal to these students that they had won these awards. They didn’t want the ones that didn’t win to feel left out. This is the problem of course all around the country.” 

The bottom line here is if you have a student who took qualifying exams for the National Merit Scholarship designation, you need to call the school directly to see if your child was chosen for the award – because you may not hear otherwise. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “We have to start acknowledging the truth. Equity means equal outcomes for everybody. I know the schools all try to spin it in that we’re just looking at people’s individual situations to make sure they get equal access. No, no it’s not. That’s nonsense. When you look at the people who formulated these things, when you look at the sources for a lot of this policy that’s coming out, they’re pretty explicit that this means equal outcomes for everyone. Also they denigrate the idea of merit. They say merit is a cultural fabrication made by the powerful and the privileged and we should discount it. Those two things together means you’re going to get this kind of outcome.” 

The other layer of this situation is Thomas Johnson High School in Prince William County, Virginia, has been the number one high school in America for many years and used to be merit-based admission. 

Barkdoll said, “They had a court challenge to that a couple of years ago and a federal judge ruled that they had to eliminate merit-based entrance exams. Prior to that, about 75 percent of each entering class were Asian Americans. Now that they did away with the merit-based entrance exams, it’s a much more diverse makeup of the kids in that school, but it makes me wonder when they did away with the merit-based exams to get into the school, did they internally discuss well let’s just quit informing anyone if they got national merit scholar designation because we don’t want to offend all of the kids now that are not getting that?” 

“It’s absurd,” Jansen said. “It really goes to show you that this isn’t about actually making the so-called historically marginalized students succeed, it’s about destroying the system that exists and unfortunately they have nothing to replace it with that’s actually going to make kids learn. It just turns them into upset, angry little activists. It does not bring their life to a better conclusion.” 

Ryan asked, “It’s an op ed piece in the Wall Street Journal where they’re calling this the new racism, right?” 

Barkdoll confirmed, “Right. This is Bill McGurn. He writes a weekly column and he’s talking about how at least so far what we know in northern Virginia, what he’s saying affirmative action, that’s what they did when they eliminated that merit-based admissions requirement, it’s basically backfired on the high achievers. If you’re a high achieving student, regardless, you’re now not getting the recognition that you otherwise would have received.”