The Ivy Coach Daily

February 25, 2022

A Victory for Asian Americans at TJ

A judge has struck down TJ’s new admissions process.

In a major victory for Asian American families whose children seek to attend the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a federal judge today put the kibosh on changes to the school’s admissions process that have adversely impacted the representation of Asian American young people at the magnet school. TJ, which made major headlines some years ago when one of Ivy Coach’s students earned admission to each of the eight Ivy League schools in addition to Stanford before the student — not so shockingly — decided to attend Harvard, has long been a hotbed for Asian American families, a group that of course includes Indian Americans, a historically large percentage of the TJ population. When TJ eliminated a standardized testing requirement in late 2020 and earmarked slots for students from middle schools that were underrepresented in the past among TJ students, the percentage of Black and Latinx students skyrocketed all as the percentage of Asian American students dipped. Chaos, of course, ensued and a group known as Coalition for TJ, a group that included Asian American parents of aspiring TJ students, filed suit — a suit they have now won, though the decision may be appealed.

As Campbell Robertson and Stephanie Saul report for The New York Times in a piece entitled “Judge Strikes Down Elite Virginia High School’s Admissions Rules,” “In changing the admissions process, school officials ’expressed their desire to remake T.J. admissions because they were dissatisfied with the racial composition of the school,’ Judge Claude M. Hilton of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia wrote in his decision. ’A means to accomplish their goal of achieving racial balance,’ he wrote, ’was to decrease enrollment of the only racial group ’overrepresented’ at T.J. — Asian Americans. The board employed proxies that disproportionately burden Asian American students.” The decision comes as elite high schools across the country are embarking on plans to diversify their enrollment by race and income but are meeting with fierce pushback from many parents, including many Asian Americans.”

It will be interesting to see if the Fairfax County, Virginia school system files an appeal to Judge Hilton’s decision. In one fell swoop, Judge Hilton has reversed a significant change to TJ’s admissions process that has already had a major impact on the diversity of the magnet high school’s student body. Since late 2020, so many African American and Latinx students have been able to attend TJ as a result of the changes to the school’s admissions process, though this has led to decreased representation of Asian Americans at the institution. If this judge’s ruling is not successfully appealed (and it may not be appealed at all by the school system), it is quite obvious to envision that Black and Latinx representation will plummet and Asian American representation will soar — to the levels before the changes went into effect.

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