Support the merit lottery for TJ Admissions

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Dear Karen Corbett-Sanders,

We are a group of TJ parents, students, and alumni, and concerned Fairfax County residents* who are advocating for increased equity, inclusion, and representative diversity at TJHSST. For decades, students from underrepresented minority groups and districts, including Mt. Vernon, have been denied the opportunity to attend TJ due to restrictive admissions policies that fail to identify all students who would thrive in a challenging STEM environment. 

Today, the School Board is considering implementing a "holistic" admissions process in order to improve diversity in the TJ student body. We wholeheartedly reject this proposal, as it minimally differs from past admissions processes that have left us with a "too small to report'' admittance rate for Black students this year and severe underrepresentation of Latine, economically disadvantaged, and twice exceptional students. Furthermore, the holistic proposal will not deliver equity to the Mt. Vernon district.

The TJ admissions process needs a drastic overhaul to correct the mistakes and failures from the past 35 years and overcome the resultant mistrust of TJ now present among underrepresented groups. That is why we support a full, 550-seat merit lottery for TJ Admissions, as proposed originally in September 2020. Instead of relying on subjective and inherently biased factors to fill the next class at TJ, TJ Admissions should rely on a process that gives every qualified student an equal chance to thrive.

*Includes the TJ Alumni Action Group, Fairfax NAACP chapter, FCPS Minority Student Achievement & Oversight Committee (FCPS MSAOC), FCPS Title 1 Parent Advisory Committee and the Ethiopian and Eritrean Alliance for Education