Editor’s note: This column was published June 21.
by Asra Q. Nomani
Today, a diverse coalition of seven organizations representing parents and students from the Hindu, Jewish and Chinese communities, as well as others, filed an amicus brief — aptly named a brief by friends — supporting the families of Coalition for TJ as they fight to end the anti-Asian racism in Fairfax County Public Schools’ new admissions process to one of America’s top high schools, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, or TJ.
In February, in a lawsuit, Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board, U.S. federal judge Claude Hilton ruled the new admissions policy is “patently unconstitutional” because it discriminates against Asian students in an obvious effort to increase the number of Black and Hispanic students at the school. The school board removed a race-blind, merit-based exam to the school in December 2020 and replaced it, in a “rushed” process, the judge ruled, with a subjective admissions process.
Fairfax County Public Schools, dubbed #UnFairfax by parents, is filing an appeal in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Pacific Legal Foundation, representing the Coalition for TJ, has filed its arguments why the ruling is correct. Oral arguments are expected in September. Fourth Circuit judges already indicated they are biased toward the school system, allowing them to continue the unconstitutional admissions process this past spring. If the Coalition for TJ loses the appeal, it will likely appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will next fall hear a similar case alleging anti-Asian bias by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Why does all of this matter? This case raises questions about whether Asian families can expect equality under the law in America, as school systems pursue “equity” plans that discriminate against Asian students. Continue reading
by Asra Q. Nomani
FAIRFAX, Va. – On Friday, May 27, local father Brett Byrnes, a former military officer, dashed over to his second grade daughter’s elementary school, Greenbriar East Elementary School. The school nurse had just called to say she was out of his second-grade daughter’s dosage of Adderall, a prescription drug used to treat ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Weeks earlier, he had counted out the pills with the school health aide, Jennifer Carpenter, to make sure there was enough medicine to last through the last day of the school year, Friday, June 10. For nine months, since October, the Byrnes parents had been writing back-and-forth with Carpenter, telling her their daughter was reporting that she wasn’t getting her medicine regularly.
She kept reassuring them everything was fine, just hectic with her “kiddos.”
What they uncovered – by being caring, diligent, persistent parents who questioned the system – is that Carpenter had been allegedly stealing their daughter’s Adderall – a stimulant – and giving her Claritin, an over-the-counter medication used for allergies. Continue reading
by Asra Nomani
For months now, parents and community members have been hearing distressing stories about how educrats failed students in their rush to fill the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Class of 2025 through lower academic admissions standards hastily implemented in December 2020.
The school started a new remedial Algebra 1 after-school program and the school is seeing Class of 2025 students dropping out at an alarming rate, by most accounts because they weren’t prepared academically for the rigorous coursework.
My data analysis: Record numbers of freshmen students fleeing TJ
For example, in data that I pulled from the school district’s official website, the school district reported that of the 550 students admitted in the Class of 2025, the school started off — first of all — with only 541 students in September 2021.
One student from the Class of 2025 left the school in October. Two students left in November. Another four students left in December. One more departed in January, with two more leaving in February and then another two more saying goodbye to TJ in March, bringing the Class of 2025 to 529 students.
That’s 12 students who dropped out of the school to return to their base school, most likely. The number may not seem large but consider that only one student dropped out the entire year before from the Class of 2024.
by Asra Q. Nomani
In June 2021, a reporter for Politico, Maggie Severns, reached out to interview me about the activism in northern Virginia around the governor’s race. Connecting with her over our common roots in West Virginia, I invited her to an event at an Indian restaurant hosted that night by the Coalition for TJ and the American Hindu Coalition, two local groups with Asian immigrants as members.
In a long interview, I told her that the story in northern Virginia belies stereotypes. Many of us are Asian, immigrant parents with long history as Democrats but the war on merit education — particularly in our community at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology — had turned so many parents off, they were hosting a meet-and-greet with Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin. Staff for the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe, had asked for a sizable donation in exchange for a meeting, while Youngkin hadn’t asked for any quid pro quo.
I spent a lot of time trying to bring the stories of our parents to life. But almost a year later, it didn’t matter, as Maggie pens a piece for a new media outlet, Grid.News, filled with stereotypes and caricatures that the Fairfax County school board and activists within TJ Alumni Action Group have long been throwing at our families and students. Continue reading