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More Virginia high schools delayed giving merit awards in time for college admission deadlines: report

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    More high schools in Virginia are reportedly under investigation for delaying notification to some students of their national merit recognition, including in time for college scholarship and admissions deadlines. 

    The number of high schools in northern Virginia being investigated jumped from 13 on Monday to 16 on Tuesday: one in Loudoun County and two in Prince William County, according to 7News.

    Blaming an “accidental administrative oversight” for the controversy, a Prince William County spokesperson told 7News that two students were named 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists and issued a press release afterward.

    Among the 34,000 students nationally who did not qualify as semifinalists were students from the Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) system. The spokesperson added, “PWCS provides recognition annually through personal notifications and annual award ceremonies.”

    This year, due to an accidental administrative oversight, 2 out of 13 PWCS high schools made recent notifications to approximately 16 students,” the spokesperson told 7News. “All other PWCS high schools either had no qualifying students or made notifications earlier this school year.”

    After admitting the mistake, the PWCS said it had already notified 16 students from Battlefield High School and Colgan High School about their accolades.

    Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, who has since expanded the investigation, condemned the actions of the school systems, which have mostly affected Asian American students.

    Speaking to “Fox and Friends” last week, Miyares claimed that the Fairfax County Public Schools district had paid an equity consultant $455,000 for nine months of work, which included a recommendation that focuses on “equal outcomes for every student, without exception.”

    We know that the Fairfax Superintendent Michelle Reid hired an equity consultant, paid this consultant $455,000 for nine months’ worth of work, in which one of their recommendations that you are to demand equal outcomes, even if it means treating students unequally. And so we’re trying to determine whether this meant there was a pattern or practice of possible discrimination against Asian American students.

    Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin reiterated Miyares’ criticism of Fairfax County while speaking to 7News.

    The reality is that we have a superintendent in Fairfax schools who has explicitly stated that her top objective is equal outcomes for all students, regardless of the price. Now we know the price includes paying $450,000 to a liberal consultant to come in and teach the administrators in Fairfax County how to do this.

    Besides the schools in Prince William County and John Champe High School in Loudon County, 7News also found that four more high schools from Fairfax County admitted to the delay.

    The latest discovery in Fairfax County has reportedly brought up the total number of high schools in the county involved in the scandal to seven; namely, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), Annandale High School, West Potomac High School, John R. Lewis High School, Edison High School, Westfield High School and Langley High School. The institutions involved account for around 25 percent of the high schools in the county.

    Youngkin condemned the school systems for their “maniacal focus on equal outcomes for all students at all costs.”

    And at the heart of the American dream, is excelling, is advancing, is stretching. And recognizing that we have students [who] have different capabilities. Some students have the ability to perform at one level, others need more help, and we have to allow students to run as fast as they can, to dream the biggest dreams they can possibly dream and then go get them.

    The issue was brought into the spotlight after Asra Q. Nomani, a journalist whose son was affected by the “years-long” practice at TJHSST, broke the news in a City Journal report in late December 2022.

    According to Nomani, they were not notified by TJHSST when her son was recognized as a National Merit “Commended Student” in 2020 and only learned of his commendation two years later. Nomani said in her op-ed that at least 1,200 students, mostly Asian Americans, were affected by the scandal.

    The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a non-profit based in Illinois, awards around 7,500 high school students $2,500 in scholarship funds through its National Merit Scholarship recognition every March.

    While being commended by the corporation does not necessarily guarantee that a student advances to become a scholarship recipient, the recognition is considered helpful on college applications.

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