• Racial Discrimination (For a Good Cause!) is OK at America’s Best High School

    March 6, 2024

    Posted in: Democracy

    Racial discrimination (if for a good cause you understand!) is OK at one of America’s best high schools. Other schools can be expected to follow suit.

    The Supreme Court declined certiorari (it will not hear the case) in Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board, where a group of parents and students at the magnet Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology  (known to all as T.J.) in Virginia, sued to revoke a new admissions policy they claimed discriminated against Asians and whites. The Court’s denial left in place a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirming the policy. The declination is in contrast to the Court’s earlier rejection of affirmative action,  Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard, and of race as a primary admissions factor.

    So what’s been going on at T.J.? Asian and white parents have been fighting over how many black students should be allowed in. Until summer of 2020, the only way into prestigious T.J. for residents was to pass a rigorous series of entrance exams. Following the death of George Floyd, T.J. officials became concerned about their low number of black students and changed admissions standards. The tests were gone, replaced by a holistic review that included “experience factors, eligibility for free or reduced price meals, students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, special education students, or students who are currently attending underrepresented middle schools.”

    The results were as intended: Without the entrance tests, the black student population grew to 7 percent from 1 percent of the class, while the number of Asian students fell to 54 percent from 73 percent. The number of white students also fell, but no one seemed to care that they accounted for only 22 percent of admissions, despite being 65 percent of the county population. A group of mostly Asian parents objected to the new plan and started the Coalition for T.J. Instead of seeing the weighting of experience factors as a way to level the playing field for underrepresented groups, they saw racism against Asian students. The experience factors were just a work-around for straight up race-based decisions, a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    The problem is T.J. lies in a racially and economically diverse place. There are a lot of middle and lower class whites, a fair number of middle class Asians and a poor black minority. The school seems to think that if their matriculated population looks any different, it has to be discrimination. So out with the standardized tests and in with experience factors that could be tweaked to achieve the desired racial mix. Stakes were high as T.J. is a feeder school into the Ivies. So parents fought back. The Coalition for T.J. sued the school system to reverse the admission process changes, which they allege were meant to diminish the number of Asian students. That qualifies as discrimination based on race.

    In May 2023, after action in District Court, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of the new admissions process, finding T.J. had not discriminated against Asian  students in its admissions policies. Too bad for the Asians, there’s only so many seats available at T.J. The court found T.J.’s new admission policy was race neutral and was not a proxy for race-based decisions. T.J. was able to make racially-motivated decisions without appearing legally to make racially-motivated decisions.

    One factor T.J. would rely on was an applicant’s public middle school zip code, a good indicator of race in a divided Fairfax county. Zip code was to become one proxy for race, a work-around to Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard which supposedly outlawed race alone as a primary admissions factor. Schools like T.J. may use race as an admissions criterion as long as it is not the only basis for a decision, with the implied so long as the goal is diversity (supposedly good on its face) and not whitewashing. It is this policy the Supreme Court this month refused to review.

    Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented from the most recent non-decison. Alito wrote “what the Fourth Circuit majority held, in essence, is that intentional racial discrimination is constitutional so long as it is not too severe. This reasoning is indefensible, and it cries out for correction… the ‘core purpose’ of the Equal Protection Clause is ‘doing away with all governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.’”

    The District Court faithfully employed this framework. In addition to noting that the record contains direct evidence of racial intent, the court noted the stark change effected by the new policy, the unusual decision-making process that led to the change, and the fact that the change bore ‘more heavily on’ Asian Americans than members of other groups. The Fourth Circuit panel majority, by contrast, completely distorted the meaning of disparate impact. Even though the new policy bore ‘more heavily’ on Asian- American applicants (because it diminished their chances of admission while improving the chances of every other racial group), the panel majority held that there was no disparate impact because they were still overrepresented in the T.J. student body… Accordingly, the new admissions policy bore more heavily on Asian-American applicants.”

    “The holding,” wrote Alito, “effectively licenses official actors to discriminate against any racial group with impunity as long as that group continues to perform at a higher rate than other groups.”

    The dean of UC Berkeley School of Law and the general counsel for the University of Michigan have openly advocated for schools to emulate T.J.’s new admissions model. “Just as T.J. offers a road map for other selective schools to skirt the Equal Protection Clause,” warned Alito, “so too does the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning offer a road map for other federal courts to provide cover. The Fourth Circuit’s reasoning is a virus that may spread if not promptly eliminated.”
    It is unclear why the conservative Supreme Court refused to take up the question of T.J.’s racially-motivated admissions policy, especially after effectively shutting down “affirmative action” per se in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard. One Harvard Law professor wrote it was “naïve” to believe that the courts would allow race-neutral strategies designed to promote diversity to survive. Two things, however, are clear: T.J. will continue to discriminate against Asian (and white) students in its admissions process, and racial proxies, such as zip code, will be favored by schools and universities seeking a way around Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard. One step forward, two steps back for an education system based on merit, not skin color.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      1. Why would anyone want to be associated with a school named after a rapist slave holder? Or are you okay with his skin color discrimination?

      2. Believe it or not, there are actually other great schools in Fairfax County. I lived there for ten years and have many friends who lived in Fairfax County who didn’t go to that school named after a rapist slave holder and got accepted at many Ivy League universities.

      3. This country is on the verge of white nationists running the government. Why don’t you write about that issue?

      03/6/24 10:31 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      Once again Peter plays the racecard discrimination to keep the peons’ attention away from a much bigger issue: the ruling class legacy priority in college admissions. Yes, Virginia, even there.

      Legacy admissions are often a component of the nation’s most elite schools and top-rated institutions, including Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. Virginia Tech leaders announced the day after the SCOTUS ruling it would eliminate legacy as an admissions factor.

      But not so much. The following week, the University of Virginia announced it “modified” its admissions process by no longer asking applicants to identify themselves as relatives of alumni. Applicants have the option of completing an essay question about their “personal or historic connection with UVA.”

      What a fucking joke. But who expected Ivy UVA to really change?

      03/9/24 10:26 AM | Comment Link

    • Wes said...

      3

      Thanks for the articles Peter.

      03/9/24 1:45 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      4

      Bauer: Did you have children who attended schools in
      the discussed zone? Where did your children attend school?

      03/10/24 5:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      JP,

      I lived near TJ High in Annandale for ten years BEFORE I got married. Moved South before the traffic got crazy. Check out the US News ranking for Fairfax County high schools. Several are ranked in Top Five in Virginia.

      03/10/24 10:46 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Harvard’s Legacy of Lies

      Harvard College swears it does not discriminate against applicants from any group in its admissions processes.

      “We will continue to vigorously defend the right of Harvard, and other colleges and universities, to seek the educational benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, from its capacity for academic excellence to its ability to help create a campus community that gives each student the opportunity to learn from peers with a wide variety of academic interests, perspectives, and talents.”

      Really, Harvard? A 2019 analysis found 43% of Harvard’s white admissions were legacy students, recruited athletes, children of faculty and staff or applicants affiliated with donors.

      03/10/24 10:59 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      Breaking News: Annandale’s Thomas Jefferson High has been renamed Elon Musk High, effectively replacing one racist name with another after Mush Mouth endowed 100 annual scholarships to Florida universities which have fired all DEI officials.

      Meanwhile, a government anti-discrimination agency in the United States is taking legal action against Elon Musk’s Tesla, accusing the company of allowing the “pervasive racial harassment” of Black workers at its flagship California car factory, and taking retaliatory action against those who complained.

      The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal body, said Black workers had routinely endured stereotyping, racial insults and hostility since at least 2015.

      The electric car company “subjected Black employees at its manufacturing facilities in Fremont, California … to severe or pervasive racial harassment and created and maintained a hostile work environment because of their race,” the lawsuit said.

      “The racial misconduct was frequent, ongoing, inappropriate, unwelcome and occurred across all shifts, departments and positions,” the commission said.

      The suit said the factory walls had graffiti that included swastikas, nooses and threats, with some of it allegedly on vehicles rolling off the production line.

      The commission said Black workers routinely endured racist slurs including variations of the “N-word,” along with “monkey” and “boy”.

      “Slurs were used casually and openly in high-traffic areas and at worker hubs,” according to the commission.

      You can take the racist out of South Africa, but…

      03/12/24 12:16 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      8

      Bauer: I think PVB should do a HBCU study. Do they have to meet federal quotas for non blacks? If they have a gospel choir surely they would have a Madrigal Singers group for diversity, equity and inclusion. How many White and Asian people apply to Howard University? How many are turned down? What is the acceptance rate? Curious minds want to know.

      03/13/24 2:52 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Elon Musk: if you fly black, maybe you don’t fly back.

      Another month, another endorsement of a deeply racist conspiracy theory by ex-pat South African Elon Musk.

      Late last year, Musk threw a massive tantrum on stage following outrage at his calling an unhinged and antisemitic conspiracy theory “the actual truth.”

      Now, Musk has similarly endorsed a tweet suggesting Black students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have lower IQs and shouldn’t become pilots.

      “It will take an airplane crashing and killing hundreds of people for them to change this crazy policy of DIE,” he tweeted, in response to a post arguing that IQ averages were lower at HBCUs, and lower than the “average IQ of US Air Force pilots.”

      DIE was a likely intentionally rearranged acronym of DEI, which stands for “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives.

      The original post went as far as to imply that students at HBCUs had IQs that put them near “the threshold for what is considered ‘borderline intellectual impairment.'”

      Musk was referring to a United Airlines program that allows students at three HBCUs to interview to become a pilot, which was established in 2021.

      “Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety?” he tweeted in a separate post, despite the existence of extremely strict requirements for applicants.

      Hey, Elon, if you are so RICH, how come you are so stupid?

      03/13/24 3:58 PM | Comment Link

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