Push and Pull: eliminating advanced courses

Alex Nester:

The Fairfax County School Board made headlines in October when they eliminated the STEM-focused high school’s merit-based entrance exam. The board set a cap on the number of students that could attend Thomas Jefferson from each of the district’s middle schools, in an attempt to boost black and Hispanic enrollment.

Coalition for TJ sued the district over the change, which the group claimed would reduce the number of Asian-American students in the incoming freshman class by 42 percent. The three Fairfax middle schools known to feed students to Thomas Jefferson have predominantly Asian-American populations.

Prestigious high schools from New York City to San Francisco have eliminated their entrance exams over the past six months, citing concerns with “equity.” New York mayor Bill de Blasio (D.) in March scrapped admissions tests for many of New York City’s selective middle and high schools. The city’s education department has argued that such exams are used to exclude black and Latino students.

Lowell High School, a STEM magnet school in San Francisco, nixed their test in February. The school board’s resolution declared that the admissions exam “perpetuates the culture of white supremacy and racial abuse toward black and Latinx students.”

Related: Madison’s failed English 10 experiment.