Governor’s School Admission Passes Ban Discrimination Bill
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A bill prohibiting Virginia’s elite governor’s schools from discriminating in the admissions process passed Tuesday with bipartisan support.
It occurs less than a month after a the federal judge invalidated the changes at a school after finding that they disadvantaged Asian American students.
the 26 votes to 13 in the Democratic-controlled Senate means The law project is likely to be enacted. The House of Delegates, where Republicans are in charge, should accept the Senate amendments, according to the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach).
Opponents argue that the weakened bill has no legal impact because it largely reiterates existing federal law.
Yet Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s campaign pledge takes a clear stance against new admissions criteria that have increased racial diversity at Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).
“You can have any kind of neutral criteria you want, but if you’re using it to discriminate against a group, in this case Asian Americans, that’s illegal under federal law and if we pass this bill, it will be illegal under state law. Statements are important and we have the opportunity to make a statement,” Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) said ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
Spurred on by a state-ordered push to increase diversity at governor’s schools, TJ removed its standardized testing requirements and waived the $100 application fee. The school has begun to guarantee a certain number of places for students from each eligible college. The new method also took into account certain “experience factors,” such as attendance at a college considered historically underrepresented, eligibility for free and discounted meals, or college learner status. ‘English.
Although the policy changes do not explicitly mention race, U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton said the school board’s public statements indicate its intent is to change the school’s racial makeup.
According to the ruling, the proportion of Asian American students admitted for the Class of 2025 fell to about 54% after the changes were implemented. This is down from 73% the previous school year.
“Asian American applicants are disproportionately denied a level playing field,” Hilton wrote.
Meanwhile, the share of black students has risen from 1% to 7% and Hispanic students have risen from 3% to 11% of the student body, according to Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield).
“At the same time, we also saw an increase in our student success metrics,” Hashmi said.
Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) accused the federal judge of choosing evidence and called the bill unnecessary.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) said it did nothing to increase diversity.
“That’s the real problem. This bill doesn’t solve that problem,” McClellan said. frankly, is used to stir up disagreement.”
Delegate Davis disagrees. He said part of the bill will expand access to rigorous educational resources that he says are the root of the problem.
“We all knew early on that the lack of diversity was not due to admissions. It was because of the lack of diversity in the pipeline, the lack of opportunities that students had at all colleges,” Davis said. “This bill ensures that this happens regardless of that child’s zip code.”
TJ Alumni Action Group Vice President Jiunwei Chen, who is Asian American, applauds the changes made by the school. He thinks the impact on his community is exaggerated and that the model aims to increase socio-economic diversity.
“For them to use that as a weapon infuriates a lot of progressive Asians like, no, that’s not an example of anti-Asian hatred. You just use it to advance your political goals,” Chen said.
Harry Jackson, who is black, argues that the new criteria are hurting opportunities for advanced learners within black and Hispanic communities. Jackson, the parent of a current TJ student and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, thinks the General Assembly should double down on the message sent by the judge.
“It was a victory against racism. It was exactly how I felt,” Jackson said.
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