Over the last few years, the admission office at TJHSST has tried valiantly to make the school the perfect mix of races, and intelligence. TJ can only admit 450 students a year while more than 3,000 apply. In the school’s never ending, politically correct, race based goals, the admission office now admits at least one-third of the students randomly and randomly rejects that many too. Some of the best math students in the county are excluded and some of the worst are admitted. Most important in admission is a politically correct essay, not math ability or math grades. That has resulted in 1/3 of the TJ students needing remedial help in math and science. Let’s remember, it’s called Thomas Jefferson high school for Science and Technology. It was set up to educate our best and our brightest math and science students, those who needed more than their base high schools had to offer in the science and math fields. Their educational needs could not be met in their regular high schools. It was a way to educate future pioneers in the fields of medicine, engineering, and science. Until the late 1990’s, the school did just that. It was an amazing place, filled with students who lived for math and science and computer science and couldn’t get enough of it. They worked hard and loved every minute of it.
One of those teachers who was most loved by the best math and science students, was Dr. John Dell. The top students couldn’t wait to take his AP physics course during their junior year. Dr. Dell has taught AP physics, among other physics subjects, for over 20 years. He is so good, he went to MIT to teach for two years, and then returned to TJ because he wanted to work with these bright, enthusiastic, high school students. Dr. Dell recently shared his views about the new TJ in an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Among other things he says “The old Jefferson was never a route to increased STEM achievement in the general school population. Rather, it was created to nurture promising STEM students at just the point where such students come into their real power — where their brains are literally fired up and ready to go. The regional commitment to the old Jefferson, tenuous from the start, has finally been overwhelmed by other agendas. A genuine success has been followed by political failure to embrace and sustain it…..At the new Jefferson, students are no longer selected primarily on the basis of their promise in science, technology and mathematics. One-third of the students entering Jefferson under the current admissions policy are in remediation in their math and science courses.”
Today, Senator Warner announced a new, bipartisan, bill to encourage job growth. He said “Too few American college students are pursuing advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. So Startup Act 2.0 would, in effect, staple a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning advanced STEM degrees who can demonstrate they are willing to remain in the United States to apply their talents here and create new jobs.”
Obviously the US is not educating enough of our students so that they are prepared to major in science, technology, engineering and math in college. With their politically correct admission goals, TJ has decreased even further the number of American students who will be educated well enough to major in STEM fields by their policy of admitting students who need remedial help in math, rather than admitting those who could truly benefit from the TJ experience. Not educating such students has lead our Congress to try to find ways to IMPORT students who are prepared major in STEM fields because the US desperately needs them.
My question, why is the US allowing political correctness to dictate education to this extent? Why aren’t we educating our best and our brightest across the country so that they are prepared to major in STEM fields? Why do we permit large school districts like Fairfax to adopt more and more dumbed down math curriculum, like Everyday Math? Even worse, Prince William adopted Math Investigations. With all the controversy surrounding that terrible math program, Loudoun county promptly adopted the same, flawed, math program, with all new math textbooks and teacher training, while begging the school board for more funding because they had no money to do anything! It would appear that dumbing down math is THE MOST important education goal in our country. If other countries can teach math right, well enough for their students to succeed in STEM in our colleges, why can’t we do it in the US? The answer is simple, we CAN do it, but we CHOOSE not to. We have allowed political correctness, and liberalism, to dominate our educational system, and these are among the causalities, schools like TJ, and the teaching of real math. Even worse, we are wasting our best and brightest students in the never ending, liberal, goal of proving that all students are equal, equally bright, and equally motivated to succeed. If we have no difficult math and sciences courses, everyone will appear to be equal, equally ignorant and equally uneducated. but equal. But it’s the appearance of equality across all races, genders, and income levels, that is most important, even at the expense of our students and our country’s future. Right?
What a waste for our students and for our country. If we continue down this path, who will be the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs? The next Jonas Salk? The next Edison? Our people are our best resource and we could be educating them to excel, but we’re not. Shame on us.
Another letter to the editor on this subject here.