Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
Back when Scott Brabrand was plucked from virtual obscurity (Lynchburg City Schools) to become superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools, there were those who wondered if someone who, effectively, was called up from a Double-A team to the Major Leagues would be able to deal with the pressures the chief of a huge school district addresses on a day-to-day basis.
(There also were those who wondered if ensuring that the new superintendent would be overwhelmed by the massiveness of Fairfax County was exactly the reason he was chosen – so he wouldn’t be an impediment to interest groups within the School Board and in the community from having their way. But we digress ...)
At least when it comes to 2020, it has not been Brabrand’s year:
• You can’t blame the superintendent for the arrival of COVID, nor is he the school system’s tech-support person, but the technological meltdown last spring was an embarrassment the likes of which the school system has not seen in some time.
• Then, when it came to getting students back in class this fall, Brabrand talked a tough game at first (channeling his inner Bud Spillane, an iron-fisted former superintendent and perhaps the last one who stood up to the masses when needed). Brabrand talked the talk, but when it came to walking the walk, he caved with barely a wimper.
• And now we’ve got the superintendent’s plan to “reform” admissions to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology, except “reform” means “we’re embarrassed that 75 percent of the student body is Asian, so we’re going to rig the system.” Everybody knows that’s the rationale behind the changes; as the saying goes, we may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.
This new luck-of-the-draw approach will serve to dilute the caliber of the student body, solely for the purpose ofplacating those among us who see achievement as a curve to be flattened when different groups perform differently.
The proposal misses the very real point that students in Fairfax – of all race races, ethnicities and the like – need better support from their very first day in the school system. Trying to address that issue by playing games with TJ admissions is like using a Band-Aid during open-heart surgery.
The parents of the top-achieving students who find themselves shut out in the new “woke” admissions process will simply move their children to private schools, which no doubt are salivating at the prospect.
Next time, maybe rather than a merit-based selection of a superintendent, we can go with pulling a name out of a hat. If it works for TJ admissions, why not there?