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Fight: Two GOP Governors Go to War Against Twisted 'DEI' Social Engineering

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

There's (another) education-related scandal unfolding in Northern Virginia, where high school students at multiple schools have discovered that their National Merit awards were withheld, prior to filling out college applications.  What started at one prominent school in the area has now spread to others, which could expand the state's civil rights investigation.  Gov. Glenn Youngkin urged Attorney General Jason Miyares to open the probe after it was revealed that notices of achievement were delivered very late to pupils at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, reportedly thanks to the appalling prioritization of protecting the feelings of students who didn't earn the accolade:


Shawna Yashar recently discovered her son was not told he was among the nation's top 3% of students. The parent said they were told that teachers dropped certificates unceremoniously on students' desks about a month past special deadlines for National Merit Scholars...Yashar said that when she confronted the Director of Student Services Brandon Kosatka about it by phone, he allegedly told her that student leaders underplayed the recognition because they didn't want to hurt the feelings of other students who weren't being honored. Fairfax County Public Schools recently adopted a new strategy: "Equal outcomes for every student, without exceptions." 

Adopting a mission statement in pursuit of "equal outcomes" for all students is not just misguided; it's striving for an impossibility, and pursuing a paradigm that does a grotesque disservice to kids.  Seeking equality of outcomes, versus equality of opportunity, is morally wrong and profoundly unfair.  It amounts to discouraging, or even demonizing, excellence.  That this disgrace was embraced and approved as an official slogan is a very disturbing reflection on the values of the adults who made that decision, up and down the line.  The school district put out a statement in response to the firestorm, claiming that accidental "human error" appears to have been responsible for this supposed oversight.  Why would it be an "error"?  Under their "equal outcomes" fixation, wouldn't they celebrate this forced egalitarianism, in the form of depriving unequal students of an ostensibly unfair advantage, due to unequal achievement?  And if it was an oversight, why did it apparently happen elsewhere, too?


While Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Michelle Reid claims the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology withheld National Merit awards from students in a “one-time human error,” parents at two [other] local high schools got a Friday and Saturday night surprise.  The revelations are emerging after school district principals scrambled to a meeting Wednesday afternoon with the superintendent, after Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced a civil rights investigation into the controversy. Just like at TJHSST, the new revelations appear to impact many Asian American students – one focus of the investigation. In an email, obtained by the Fairfax County Times, Langley High School Principal Kim Greer pressed send on a mea culpa at 9:29:30 p.m. on Friday night, confusing, agitating and angering parents and students already on edge during the tumultuous college admissions season.  Greer told parents that she was “delighted” to let them know that “your student was designated a Commended Student by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.” She then immediately followed up by saying, “I must apologize that certificates were not distributed to these Langley High School students in the usual way this past fall.”


Parents are understandably livid:

The TJ rot spreads…,” one local parent said in an email. In McLean, down Georgetown Pike from CIA headquarters, Langley is a school, like TJHSST, with many high-achieving students...A Langley father, who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of retaliation from the school district, said Virginia Tech recently rejected his son’s application for early admission and the family was shocked to open the principal’s email – in the middle of the night – with the news that their son was a Commended Student. “School district officials are deliberately sabotaging our kids’ lives in the name of ‘equity,’” the father said. “It’s cruel, if not evil. Think about the despondency that they are creating.” On Saturday, Langley parents had already begun filing complaints with Miyares’ office. The Langley father said he wants to see the Langley principal fired for cause for undermining students...“The apology is empty,” he said. “We are feeling a cascade of emotions. We trusted the school system with our son’s life, and they betrayed our trust.” The principals at Langley and Westfield used nearly identical language that school staff “will be contacting colleges” where students had applied. The Langley principal added: “Our intention is to ensure college admissions departments know that your student was the recipient of this important award.” This, however, overlooks the fact that college admissions officers have already made life-changing decisions – including rejections – based on incomplete information from students, missing this important award.

But at least it's all very "equitable" and "fair" to the lower-performing students.  Either this is what was intended on this twisted equity push, or it was a "one time" incident arising from "human error" (that just so happened to occur across multiple campuses).  This looks like an indefensible, incoherent mess because it is one, and thank goodness that the Youngkin administration -- which is very much not in the pocket of woke educational bureaucrats -- is applying meaningful external pressure to help right this wrong.  Right-thinking leaders either lower the boom and halt this sort of unjust nonsense, or it grows even more pervasive and insidious.  This is righteous and needed

Such decisiveness is required elsewhere, in order to prevent additional metastasizing madness.  Think, for instance, about how sick this is:

It's woke to rig a system against achievement and merit in order to foster more equal outcomes -- but it's apparently also woke to punish a would-be hire or candidate for tenure for wanting to treat everyone equally.  Equality is actually an enemy of 'equity.'  Equity is pro-discrimination, anti-equality bigotry swaddled in terms like 'restorative justice:'


A growing number of universities, such as UCLA, where Gordon Klein ran into trouble, now consider their faculty members’ contributions to DEI as a criterion for hiring, promotion, and tenure. UC Berkeley’s rubric for evaluating DEI contributions, which is used by universities around the country, dictates a low score for a candidate who professes a desire to “treat everyone the same.”  Diversity statements—short essays on job candidates’ past efforts and future plans to advance DEI—have long been in vogue for hiring. And according to the American Association of University Professors’ 2022 survey of tenure practices, 45.6 percent of large institutions surveyed had DEI criteria for tenure, and 35.5 percent were considering adding them. Only 18 percent didn’t have and weren’t considering them. To boost faculty diversity (explicit racial preferences in hiring are illegal), many universities are resorting to a practice known as “cluster hiring”—that is, hiring multiple professors at once, across multiple departments. To increase the likelihood of hiring minority faculty members, cluster hiring initiatives often assess candidates’ contributions to DEI as the first criterion. 

The first criterion. Decline is a choice, and many of our identity-obsessed elite institutions are choosing it.  It won't peter out on its own; there are far too many people invested in the new power structure.  This task requires proactive work to dismantle systemic discrimination, and conservative leaders should be expected to do what they can to wage this battle thoughtfully and effectively.  We're seeing how Youngkin is pushing back in Virginia.  Another governor is making moves on this front, too:


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is mandating that all state universities report expenditures and resources used for campus activities that relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion and critical race theory initiatives.  Press Secretary Bryan Griffin shared a memorandum of Governor DeSantis’ Dec. 28 request on Wednesday...The memo mandated that each Florida College System and State University System institution provide a "comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities related to" DEI and CRT. As part of the request, each institution must also detail costs and expenditures related to each program or activity. 

At a bare minimum, taxpayers should know how much of their money is being poured into these ideological initiatives. DeSantis also made quite a statement with the appointment of a well-known anti-woke warrior, detested by the Left, to a relevant board in Florida:

I'll leave you with Rufo spiking the football after forcing factual corrections to yet another legacy media hit piece against him:


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