As reported by AFN at year's end, the principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (in Alexandria, Virginia) for years had intentionally waited to distribute certificates to National Merit commended students and semi-finalists. Principal Ann Bonitatibus reportedly had an "equal outcomes for every student, without exception" policy – and reasoned that notifying the recipients in time to include the awards on college applications might have made those who did not win the prestigious award feel bad.
What started with Thomas Jefferson High School apparently has now grown to more than a dozen schools, all in Fairfax County. Virginia's attorney general says his office wants to know if it is part of the county's "equity" push. Meanwhile, Governor Glenn Youngkin told Fox News that he wants legislators to address this issue.
"I'm sending legislation to our General Assembly … to make it mandatory – mandatory – that schools notify parents and students of awards, recognitions, and scholarship opportunities as soon as they know," the governor stated. "This is not going to happen again. There clearly has been an effort to bring down the standards for our students in Virginia, to stop celebrating excellence – and this is counter to everything we believe."
Jeff Katz, a talk-radio personality with WRVA in Richmond, says he stands with Governor Youngkin.
"I'm happy that the governor is looking into it," Katz tells AFN. "And as the father of three kids who have come through public schools … I really do feel the pain of the other parents and those other students. And in the interest of fairness – I mean real, honest to goodness fairness – somebody has to be held to account for this."
Tiffany Justice of Moms for Liberty – which has chapters in several Virginia counties, including Fairfax – says the war on merit in Virginia's schools has to be stopped.
"As parents, we need to do what the parents at Thomas Jefferson High School and the other Virginia high schools are doing, which is standing up and speaking out and getting the attention of our legislators to be able to correct course," says Justice.
"So, who better than the attorney general, the governor, and parents to come together to do that?" she concludes.