Thomas Jefferson High School Should Acknowledge Its Own Anti-Asian Racism

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora | March 12, 2024

(Washington Examiner) — Last Friday evening, the assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Shawn Frank, sent a message to families, notifying them of a new confidential reporting form at Fairfax County’s magnet school. Frank told TJ families, “The form is designed to allow TJ students and staff to confidentially report incidents of discrimination, bullying, racism, harassment, slurs, or hate speech.”

The new reporting system is redundant, given the school district’s existing pathways to report such incidents. Fairfax County Public Schools already has a standard system to report and store general incidents of bullying, called the “bullying and harassment management system.” But, the same school board members who changed the admissions standards at TJ because of their problem with too many Asian students being admitted also decided that this system was not enough. Apparently, the school board’s priority is monitoring students’ unintended, perceived biases to shape them better ideologically.

Last year, for example, Fairfax County’s school board members voted to implement a bias incident reporting system in addition to the bullying and harassment management system. The purpose of the district’s Orwellian system, like many facing legal challenges across the country for chilling free speech, is to keep a database of incidents that involve the perceived intended or unintended biases of students and teachers. 

It might be that TJ administrators are unaware such a system exists at the district level. Or perhaps TJ administrators don’t have faith in the district administrators’ competence to implement and oversee such an invasive system. Either way, they’re now implementing a legally questionable system at the school level that already exists at the district level.

The school’s initiative is ironic, given its public support of racism and discrimination against students of Asian descent. In 2021, Fairfax County Public Schools moved from a merit-based admissions system to an equity-based admissions system at TJ for the sake of “racial balance.” Not surprisingly, the decline in admissions standards, including the elimination of an entrance exam, has led to the school’s slip in the national ranking. It is widely expected to fall even more after the last merit-based class graduates this June.