Public Comments for: HB127 - Governor's Schools, academic year; certain practices prohibited and required.
Last Name: Kediyal Locality: Loudoun county

STEM education is the backbone of an advance civilization. If we want America to continue to be a super power in future we need to provide solid STEM education to our kids. TJ is one such school to empower kids who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math. We should encourage competition and merit when selecting kids for TJ and not dilute its admission criteria to make politician happy.

Last Name: Liu Locality: ashburn

Governor's schools are funded by public money and thus should be fair access to all who fund it.

Last Name: Islam Locality: Chesterfield

Comments Document

Hello, I would like to speak out AGAINST HB127. HB127 is unnecessary for these reasons. * There is NO watering down of admissions standards. * Last year, when Maggie Walker did not administer an admissions test because of COVID, we tripled the percentage of Black students admitted, and the average GPA went up. * Furthermore, the admissions test does not accurately predict performance. I have attached a figure showing that significant proportions of students with admissions test scores LOWER than the median continued to perform well at Maggie Walker academically. Furthermore, a substantial proportion of students with test scores ABOVE the medium also academically performed relatively poorly.

Last Name: Metzel Locality: Arlington

Please do not pass this HB127- it wastes a lot of time rolling back advances made in equitable education in recent years to make magnet schools more representative of their draw districts and ensure that students come from diverse geographies and backgrounds. This diversity of ideas, backgrounds and geographies that HB127 seeks to squash is the cornerstone of the creative and stimulating intellectual discourse that our students need in state of the art education. HB127 is not a direction that Virginians should pursue. We want to move forward on opportunities, not backwards.

Last Name: Hampton Locality: Hanover

I approve of bill HB127. This bill allows for a specialized school to set standards and entry requirements and evaluate applicants based on those standards. Schools of this magnitude should not necessarily representative of the general population but those pupils who meet the entrance requirements. A very close family friend of ours, a black girl, was admitted to the Governor's School in Norfolk, VA. She was always an exemplary student from kindergarten through 12th grade. She was very active in her community. Her parents invested in her, not only their funds, but with their time teaching her to be disciplined and hard working. She gained admission to the Governor's School on her merit. We need to judge people on the content of their character and not the color of their skin! Please pass HB127!

Last Name: Chen Locality: Kirkland (WA)

I oppose HB127. I am a TJHSST alumni, class of 1997. I am thrilled by the recent progress on improving equity and inclusion to my alma mater. I agree with many that changes were long overdue. When I applied to TJ in the 90s, "test prep" was not common in the county, and I am extremely grateful. My family would not been able to afford the prep classes needed to "ace" the TJ test. Unfortunately, these prep courses have made a mockery of the TJ admissions process and of the school overall. I am so glad to see that the "standardized" section was dropped, and the rest was a vast increase in students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. "Being rich" should not be a requirement for entry to a public magnet school, like TJ.

Last Name: McLain Locality: Fairfax County

I am a 1993 graduate of TJHSST and a resident of Fairfax County. I oppose HB 127. TJ is a school that should serve the whole county, not just students from particular neighborhoods or whose parents can afford years of special tutoring to increase their chance of admission. The recent improvements to TJ admissions have resulted in a far more diverse student population whose GPAs match or exceed those of previous classes. Fostering students across the county represents an easy and practical investment in communities across Northern Virginia. Rolling back these positive changes would be bad for TJ students and bad for Fairfax County.

Last Name: Duncan Locality: Roanoke

I oppose this bill that would reimpose the admissions test at TJHSST. I’m a TJ alumni, and it’s just misguided. Both sides have accused each other of racism, but what this bill is really doing is protecting the interests of the test prep industry, and not the interests of students. Please, put students first.

Last Name: Sharma Locality: Williamsburg

This bill attempts to address a problem that doesn't exist and would only intimidate others from fostering more positive school environments.

Last Name: Brill Locality: Fairfax

This bill is an ill-conceived, terrible idea. The changes that TJHSS&T have put in place have improved it, and this bill is simply an attempt at political theater that should be recognized as such.

Last Name: Turner Locality: Fairfax

This bill would hurt TJHSST and Fairfax County.

Last Name: Connor Naylor Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose this bill, I was grateful to see the changes made last year. I attended TJHSS&T in the 90s and we didn’t have a way to pay to prep. This bill should not be passed. If anything a true merit lottery would be better. There are so many kids in this area that could benefit from TJ, let’s not make it a school where you can just pay the most to prep for the test.

Last Name: Ayers Locality: Alum of Maggie Walker

Please oppose HB 127. To say we are moving to a race blind society and this is the way to do it discounts the research and work of many scholars and activists across Virginia and the country who are showing the exact opposite of what this bill is setting out to do. The modifications in the admissions policies during the pandemic have led to the most diverse class in its history at my alma mater, Maggie Walker, and to the highest GPA. We know better, we must do better for ALL the children of the Commonwealth. Not just the ones who are fortunate enough to be born into families of wealth and live in high income areas. Preventing data collection just means that the inequities hide in plain sight, and the schools have no way to address what they know is happening. Please oppose this bill, allow the districts to maintain their control, and serve their students the way they determine is best.

Last Name: McCaskill Locality: Fairfax

I fully support HB127

Last Name: Napear Locality: Frederick

As a TJHSST alumna, I fully support the current admissions program that leads to a much more even representation of students from across Fairfax County. The lack of geographic and racial diversity was a problem when I entered in 1997, and am even worse problem when I graduated in 2001 since "Horizons" was destroyed.

Last Name: Wittkowski Locality: Fairfax

I am a graduate of the class of 2006 and I strongly opose this bill. Don't pass it and undo the minimal strides that were made towards equity. Please do the right thing for ALL students in our state and oppose this bill.

Last Name: Wittkowski Locality: Fairfax

I am a graduate of the class of 2006 and I strongly opose this bill. Don't pass it and undo the minimal strides that were made towards equity. Please do the right thing for ALL students in our state and oppose this bill.

Last Name: Rollins Locality: Woodbridge

Class of 2004, loudly voting no.

Last Name: Dains Locality: Great Falls, Fairfax County

TJHSST is a public school and the current, new process helped spread the benefits out across the county instead of allowing them to be concentrated in communities where people had more economic opportunities (such as tutoring). This classes GPA was higher than previous years, showing that it has not at all lowered the quality of student. Just made the process more fair by ensuring kids from each middle school in the county could have this opportunity. Please don’t pass this bill.

Last Name: MacDonald Locality: Fairfax County

This is a terrible bill, please don't pass it

Last Name: Kuttan Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose HB127, which should be titled the “Reverse the Successful New TJ Admissions Process Bill.” This bill is pretending to be generic but it was constructed for one purpose - to roll back the progress made at TJ in the past year. I am a Fairfax County homeowner, TJHSST graduate, and mother of two kids. This bill impugns the diligent, race-blind process currently used at TJ and tries to unwind the successful transformation of the admissions process that succeeded so well last year for the Class of 2025. Almost universally, older TJ alumni like me abhor the test prep industry grip on the TJ admissions process. Two years ago, a single test-prep school bragged that they got over 90 students into TJ that year. The distortion caused real genius children from around the county to be left out of the TJ selection process because they couldn't or wouldn't waste time gaming an arbitrary standardized test. The Class of 2025 admission process muted the effect of privilege, wealth, and parental pushiness, and let more of the wide variety of brilliant Fairfax County students have a chance at learning and becoming leaders in that enriched environment. This bill as written will hamstring the ability of counties to make locally appropriate decisions. These school boards must balance their taxpayers' rights to equitable distribution of the scarce resources of Governor's schools slots. Public school is for the good of the public, and the education of the public’s children in all districts of the county. TJHSST had become badly distorted geographically and financially over the years, drawing most of their students from just five middle schools and only 2% of children from poor families. Poverty and race/national origin are entwined in our society, and the effects of discrimination against women and minorities and other less privileged groups are continuing. Prohibiting “proxy discrimination” as written in this bill means that anyone who considers these common issues - like the fact that enrollment of female students at Jefferson has sometimes hit as low as 40%, with three boys for every two girls - would make it impossible to address and balance admissions problems. It is our duty to ensure that the best minds are not locked out of TJ because they can’t afford standardized test prep classes or because they don't go to a middle school with teachers who have perfected their recommendation process. This bill would roll us back into the bad old days. Please vote against it.

Last Name: Danewitz Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose HB127, which should be titled the “Reverse the Successful New TJ Admissions Process Bill.” This bill is pretending to be generic but it was constructed for one purpose - to roll back the progress made at TJ in the past year. I am a Fairfax County homeowner, TJ High School for Science and Technology graduate, and mother of three kids in 3rd, 5th and 7th grades. This bill impugns the diligent, race-blind process currently used at TJ and tries to unwind the successful transformation of the admissions process that succeeded so well last year for the Class of 2025. Almost universally, older TJ alumni like me abhor the test prep industry grip on the TJ admissions process. Two years ago, a single test-prep school bragged that they got over 90 students into TJ that year. The distortion caused real genius children from around the county to be left out of the TJ selection process because they couldn't or wouldn't waste time gaming an arbitrary standardized test. The Class of 2025 admission process muted the effect of privilege, wealth, and parental pushiness, and let more of the wide variety of brilliant Fairfax County students have a chance at learning and becoming leaders in that enriched environment. This bill as written will hamstring the ability of counties to make locally appropriate decisions. These school boards must balance their taxpayers' rights to equitable distribution of the scarce resources of Governor's schools slots. Public school is for the good of the public, and the education of the public’s children in all districts of the county. TJHSST had become badly distorted geographically and financially over the years, drawing most of their students from just five middle schools and only 2% of children from poor families. Poverty and race/national origin are entwined in our society, and the effects of discrimination against women and minorities and other less privileged groups are continuing. Prohibiting “proxy discrimination” as written in this bill means that anyone who considers these common issues - like the fact that enrollment of female students at Jefferson has sometimes hit as low as 40%, with three boys for every two girls - would make it impossible to address and balance admissions problems. It is our duty to ensure that the best minds are not locked out of TJ because they can’t spend weekends and evenings in standardized test prep classes or because they don't go to a middle school with teachers who have perfected their recommendation process. This bill would roll us back into the bad old days. Please vote against it.

Last Name: Spark Locality: Richmond

I am a member of the NAACP. I notice the NAACP is opposing this bill. That is quite ironic. VOTE yes for HB127. For so long, we saw race-based school admissions meant racism against Black students. It is the height of irony that the NAACP is now supporting the return of race-based admissions. That is happening because they have lost their way and forget that racism against anyone is racism against everyone. The NACCP does not represent me. They are sadly willing to look the other way as school systems like Fairfax County Public Schools implement systemic racism against Asian families for being the wrong kind of “diverse.” Have moral courage and do not be intimidated by their bullying. Vote YES HB127.

Last Name: Kim-Senior Organization: Maggie Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies Locality: Alexandria, VA

Dear Members of the House of Delegates Education Committee As a concerned citizen, mom of Virginia public school students, and alum of Maggie Walker Governor's School, I am writing to express my opposition to House Bill 127. This bill is not necessary. Academic standards at TJ and MLWGS are NOT being watered down with recent changes to admissions. In fact in 2021 when the school skipped the admissions test because of COVID, Maggie Walker tripled the percentage of Black students admitted while increasing the average GPA of admitted students. It's a total myth to believe standards are lowering. If anything we could easily fill more Governors Schools with all the students who qualify and would succeed. The bill also undermines the control of the Regional School Board, including its local school boards, who set admissions policies for their districts. This bill attempts to meddle in day-to-day operations of our schools. The definitions in this bill are overly broad and vague. Local School Boards should be empowered to use a wide variety of recruitment and enrollment tools to ensure their classes reflect the diversity of their communities, such as goals for feeder school acceptance, etc. HB 127 would effectively make these practices unlawful. This bill promotes antiquated, ineffective and inequitable admissions standards and practices. These outdated admissions practices fail to recognize the need to create more equitable admission pools which incorporate the wide variety of talent within feeder schools. The restriction on data collection is intentional. This bill not only intends to limit transparency, but also prevents schools from reflecting on its practices and unforeseen barriers they have created, which could be remedied upon reflection and data analysis. This bill intentionally ignores the needs for immediate action to combat modern day segregation as recognized by Brown v. Board of Education. Please vote NO to HB127 and help to move the Commonwealth away from more segregated school systems.

Last Name: Nomani Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Great Falls

As a brown immigrant mother of color from India, I SUPPORT HB127 because I support Dr. Martin Luther KING’S MESSAGE that we value every child by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. As the mother of a TJ Class of 2021 graduate, I know the Governor’s Schools are a place to nurture children who gain admission based on race-blind, merit-based admissions, not unconstitutional race-based standards. And with Gov. Youngkin expanding our fleet of schools for advanced learner, we will have even more opportunities for our children. VOTE FOR HB127.

Last Name: Elizabeth Organization: Concerned Parent Locality: ANNANDALE

I support HB127: I support equal opportunity in education and that can only come through a meritocracy based system where ALL are given the opportunity to set goals and achieve them. Equity, the destruction of a meritocracy based system, and the attempt to create racial quotes in an admissions process not only waters down academic rigor but actually creates a system of racial discrimination. All students - regardless of race or ethnicity deserve the right to set academic goals and achieve them. No child chooses his/her color of skin. I support HB127 to ensure that equality is preserved in education.

Last Name: Yang Locality: Chesterfield County

Dear Members of the House of Delegates Education Committee, As an Asian American Maggie Walker graduate, I am writing to express my opposition to House Bill 127. This bill is not necessary. Academic standards at TJ and MLWGS are NOT being watered down with recent changes to admissions. In fact in 2021 when the school skipped the admissions test because of COVID, Maggie Walker tripled the percentage of Black students admitted while increasing the average GPA of admitted students. It's a total myth to believe standards are lowering. If anything we could easily fill more Governors Schools with all the students who qualify and would succeed. Furthermore, The bill also undermines the control of the Regional School Board, including its local school boards, who set admissions policies for their districts. This bill attempts to meddle in day to day operations of our schools. The definitions in this bill are broad and vague. Local School Boards should be empowered to use a wide variety of tools to ensure their classes reflect the diversity of their communities, such as goals for feeder school acceptance, etc. HB 127 would effectively make these practices unlawful. This bill encourages antiquated, ineffective and discriminatory admissions standards and practices. These outdated admissions practices fail to recognize the need to create fairer admission pools which incorporate the wide variety of talent within the feeder schools. The restriction on data collection is intentional. This bill not only intends to limit transparency, but also prevents schools from reflecting on its practices and unforeseen barriers they have created, which could be remedied upon reflection and data analysis. This bill intentionally ignores the needs for immediate action to combat modern day segregation as recognized by Brown v. Board of Education. Please vote NO to HB127 and help to move the Commonwealth away from more segregated school systems.

Last Name: Fleisher Locality: Henrico

As a long-time, retired Richmond public school educator, who spent 27 years teaching gifted upper elementary and middle school students, I am writing in opposition to HB 127. I’m concerned that this bill will selectively harm Black, Brown, and Asian immigrant children who have not had equal access to the educational resources found in more wealthier school districts. Further, it would force school divisions to ignore the long legacy of school segregation that disadvantages those students, even though they are every bit as capable as their more privileged counterparts. The bill would also define "proxy discrimination" and "traditional academic success factors" so broadly that it will almost certainly reduce diversity in our schools—diversity that plays a key role in the quality of education all our students receive. Diversity helps create a better educational experience for ALL students, no matter what their racial, ethnic or economic background. Most concerning is the bill’s prohibition of demographic data collection about school applicants. This will prevent localities from identifying ongoing discriminatory practices, and taking actions to correct disparities and inequities. How can a school or school system even know if its practices need to be changed if they are forbidden from gathering the information that would allow them to measure and evaluate their admissions processes? Over my many years of teaching I worked with brilliant, creative and motivated young people, many of whom were denied the opportunity to experience the extraordinary education offered by the Commonwealth’s governor’s schools—not because of their inability to succeed at such a challenging institution, but because they simply couldn’t compete with their contemporaries, who had the advantages of wealthy families, private schooling, extensive travel and expensive after-school enrichment activities and test preparation. I urge you not to advance HB127 out of committee.

Last Name: Lukas Locality: Great Falls

I support HB127. I support merit based admission.

Last Name: Laundon Locality: Chesterfield

Good morning: As an alumna of Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, I am writing in to express my vehement opposition to HB 127 that would hamstring existing regional school board knowledge and expertise for their admissions process and what will be best for the school and its future students and policies. 1. This bill is wholly unnecessary, as watering down admissions standards has not happened and I cannot imagine any Governor's School admissions director intends to happen. Given that two of the governor's schools in Virginia consistently make top 10 of schools in the country, there is zero motivation to decrease standards of student capacity to meet academic challenges. 2. While Del. Davis indicated on 1/25 that this bill would not affect my alma mater Maggie Walker Governor's School, a close read of the bill's language suggests that it could hamper the processes and power of the Regional School Board for Maggie Walker. 3. This bill is harmful to Black, Brown, AND Asian immigrant communities who for years have not had access to the same educational resources found in more wealthy school districts. HB 127 also ignores the very real history of school segregation in Virginia that requires affirmative action. 4. HB 127 would codify overly broad definitions of "proxy discrimination" and "traditional academic success factors, " which do not meet current educational standards. Further, the bill would undermine the regional diversity of our schools, which is by definition, inherently built into the structure and benefit of the regional governor's schools. 5. Finally, preventing collection of applicant data during the admissions process prevents localities from taking affirmative action to correct historical and pervasive educational inequities. It also prevents conducting analyses to examine differences between applicants and accepted students, which prevents strategic planning processes for the schools. To maintain high standards, schools should be able to use data in their planning and practices. For the above reasons, I urge you to vote NO on HB 127.

Last Name: Ryan Locality: Great Falls

I am a 2020 TJ graduate and what has been done to my school breaks my heart. Please vote yes on HB127. The students are what makes Thomas Jefferson what it is. We have fantastic labs and wonderfully overqualified teachers, but the student body is what makes TJ special. The greatest gift of TJ was bringing my peers together. That is the essence of TJ's charter. To claim TJ wasn't diverse is absurd, unless you hold a shallow and racial definition of diversity. When I think back to TJ, I remember some of the smartest and most eclectic people imaginable. I remember the vacuum tube CRT oscilloscope set up in a Commons where the audio my peers played was displayed fluorescent green. I remember the Latin club marching through the halls in plastic armor and chanting (insert Latin). My class was anything but homogenous. Even when practiced with good intentions, discrimination on the basis of race is never justified or soundly reasoned. Hoping to correct racial inequities with more racism is folly. Please vote to repair a truly wonderful place. Please vote yes on HB127.

Last Name: Zou Locality: VA Beach

I support house bill HB127. Please pass HB127 to support hard work and merit.

Last Name: Xue Locality: Chesterfield

Please vote NO on HB127. Preventing the collection of applicant data only blinds us to the reality of segregation in our schools. It was only because such data was made available that local school boards have been able make efforts to both increase diversity while maintaining the same standards for admission. When the admissions test was not given for Maggie Walker this past year, the percentage of Black students admitted tripled and GPA went up as a result. Ignoring that reality would only hurt poorer communities of all ethnicities that have not had access to the same educational resources and undercuts the regional diversity of our schools.

Last Name: Taylor Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose this bill because the test for entry to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology favored students whose parents were wealthy and could pay thousands of dollars for tutoring. The current holistic admissions process works better, is more fair to all students, and resulted in the most racially and socio-economically diverse class in many years. Why change what is clearly working? Full disclosure: I am a 1991 African-American graduate of Thomas Jefferson.

Last Name: Scharf Locality: Richmond

I am the parent of a Maggie Walker Governors School student. I oppose HB127 for the following reasons: First, this bill undermines the authority of our regional governor’s school board, and of the local city and county school boards that constitute its membership, to set admissions processes. It takes away localities' ability to craft fair and inclusive admissions policies. Second the bill would put into the Code overly broad definitions of "proxy discrimination" and "traditional academic success factors" that fail to meet current educational standards could undermine the regional diversity of our schools. This bill in fact moves us backward as a commonwealth by emphasizing the use of “traditional academic success factors” including standardized tests. Nationally there is a growing recognition that traditional standardized tests are in fact poor measures of academic promise, poor measures of future success, and culturally biased. Top universities including Harvard and Stanford are waiving or making optional traditional standardized test requirements for applicants in order to improve their own admissions processes. Yet this bill doubles down on such old approaches. At MLWGS, when standardized tests were omitted from the admissions process in 2021 because of COVID, we saw a tripling in the percentage of Black students (from 4% to 12%) accepted to the school, the average GPA went up, and the incoming class was very strong. Lastly, this bill is overly broad in its definitions, and it potentially prevents reasonable perfectly legal strategies already in use and being explored by localities to promote regional diversity. This bill is not necessary.

Last Name: Ryan Organization: My Family and Country Locality: Great Falls

I am a retired Navy Captain and live in Virginia. I respectfully ask that all Virginia legislators support HB127. Detail: Admission into one of the best schools in the country, or any school for that matter, should never be based on skin color. I told my children, I don't care if the students at TJ were 100% Asian (I am not Asian). I am very thankful that we have an Asian community that works so hard and is producing such fine students. Hard work and merit are what made this country great and are what should determine admission to TJ and the other governor's schools. If you base entry on skin color, you undermine the value of hard work and merit, you create a different set of social friction which is highly unhealthy ("oh, he/she only got in because of their race," or "I only got in because of my race, not because I am qualified.") and you put less academically qualified students into a situation that is bad for all concerned (you either have to water down the curriculum or you will have to accept a higher attrition rate, neither of which is good for the student or or our country). Thomas Sowell wrote about this in June of 1978 when talking about affirmative action for the nation's best law schools. He said, "The net result is that thousands of minority students who would normally qualify for good, non-prestigious colleges where they could succeed, are instead enrolled in famous institutions where they fail." We should not do the same thing here and instead we should focus on merit and hard work based on objective standards for entry into TJ. Affirmative action was wrong then and so is this. If this continues, TJ will no longer be considered a top tier school because the best and brightest will look and go elsewhere.

Last Name: Dearman Locality: Fairfax

I support HB127. I am a parent in Fairfax County. My children have all attended public schools and I am a huge proponent of them. For context, they did not attend TJ or any other Governor’s school. I was shocked and disturbed when the merit-based admissions policies for these schools were abolished. While I wholeheartedly agree that efforts need to be made to increase certain student populations in these schools, starting with the number one school in the country, and making it not about merit and hard work, but instead about race, is just wrong. Think about what that is teaching our children. Efforts need to be made starting in kindergarten, not in 9th grade, to better prepare students for these schools and programs. For these reasons, I support HB127.

Last Name: Ryan Locality: Great Falls

I am writing to STRONGLY SUPPORT HB127. We must return to merit based, not raced based admissions that uses proxy discrimination in our Governor's Schools. As a parent of 2 TJHSST graduates, and 2 base school students, I've seen firsthand the difference in the needs of students in base schools compared to the needs of students in a magnet school for science and technology. The best way to identify the students who will thrive in an environment like TJ is through merit-based admissions criteria using traditional academic success factors. Watering down admission standards or worse, accepting students based on a lottery or by race, completely defeats the purpose of even having a magnet school. Admitted students do not achieve excellence simply by walking through the doors at TJ. They must be able to do the work in accelerated math and science classes and also complete advanced research projects. Moreover, my 2 TJ alumni were academically challenged not just by the curriculum and labs at TJ but mostly by their fellow students. Randomly selecting students by lottery will not result in a student body that excels in math and science, or that will push each other achieve new things together. If left with the current admissions policy, TJ, and other schools like it, will become just another school in Fairfax County and we will have lost the chance to develop the next generation scientists, engineers, researchers, and inventors.

Last Name: Givans Organization: self Locality: Fairfax

I strongly reject HR 127 as ill-informed and a step in the wrong direction for our county and for TJ High School. Systemic issues pervade our school system such that our schools are not offered the same programs and enrichment across the county and therefore many children who are talented, bright, and STEM-oriented have been discouraged from even applying, or denied admissions as the process pushed the bar higher and higher using TJ tests, grades, recommendations and the like. A generation of kids has been well-prepared to test well on the TJ admissions tests, just like as with SAT and ACT test prep and a whole industry has made a lot of money from families investing in this test prep; however, it's not available for so many kids from low income families and under-served schools and neighborhoods that it is not a reliable, nor should it be the sole means by which students are deemed as "belonging" at TJ. This past year, where the GPA was actually set higher for admissions, the recommendation letters remained, and there were a minimum number of academically qualified students offered admission from across the county, we finally saw a much more representative incoming class of students that reflect our county's make-up. I also don't agree with removing the collection of data - we will never make this right if we're not collecting and analyzing the data that help us understand and correct inequalities of educational and enrichment opportunities across the County schools. I also think it's amusing that I was asked to identify my gender-based title and my Pronoun as part of my submission here - which would not be allowed by the person who proposed this bill! I have much more to say, but time is short today and this is due to you. I reject this bill on a number of grounds.

Last Name: Liu Locality: Oakton

Please support HB127 by keeping the merit based admission policies for all governor schools

Last Name: Mather Locality: Springfield

As the parent of a Thomas Jefferson High School student, I oppose HB127. I believe that the changes that HB127 opposes are necessary because otherwise the highest earning parents can effectively buy 'merit' places at governor's schools through congregating in one middle school pyramid to pool resources. Additionally, as a data scientist, I oppose HB127 because it places limits on the knowledge admissions officers are able to seek. This represents an unwarranted government intrusion into private affairs. Finally, the new admissions changes to Thomas Jefferson High School bring the admissions criteria in line with elite colleges. Far from being 'anti-merit', this new admissions process is good practice for when the kids apply to college regardless of whether or not they are admitted to the governor's school. I oppose HB127.

Last Name: Lobato Locality: Great Falls

I support HB127. I support merit based admission.

Last Name: Torrico Organization: TJ Alumni Action Group Locality: Fairfax County

I oppose HB127. I attended TJHSST as a low income Latinx Indigenous undocumented youth. I learned of TJ via a program called "Visions", funded by a private grant, to help ameliorate what already was a problem from 1985 to 1992 when I applied, that Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low SES students weren't represented at TJ. I graduated from TJ in 1998. Even though amongst the first comments I heard that my admission to TJ was due to some type of affirmative action, I graduated and did well. Now, 24 years after graduating, as one of the first 10 classes of TJHSST, I'm a parent of three in Fairfax County Public Schools. I support the changes this bill hopes to reverse, changes that led to the highest percentage of Low SES in it's history. Those same changes led to the class that most closely mirrored the students in it's draw region. I do not say it is perfect, but it was a step forward. Despite what opponents will say, the policy and the facts hold that race was NOT a factor, see policy document R3355 (https://www.fcps.edu/registration/thomas-jefferson-admissions/welcome/policies-regulations) . Frankly, I supported a bigger step forward, the merit lottery, but that was NOT enacted. TJHSST is a public school, funded by public taxes, by all in the community. And all with merit should have an equal opportunity to access it, regardless of whether they lived in the area all of their lives, or lived in the "right" middle school pyramid, or was willing to invest in the "right" additional after school academic enrichment courses. I do NOT believe any one RACE or CULTURE is better, more talented or gifted than any other. And the opportunity for a student's passion to STEM shouldn't be determined by their parent's intentionality; rather by the student's interest and ability. The "traditional academic success" factors HB127 hopes to codify, are problematic at best and fail to truly identify and disaggregate merit and ability apart from parental intentionality, and extra resources. The bill in question, purports to claim that regional representation is "proxy discrimination", but neglects to tackle the disproportionate resources that are available even within FCPS, and the parents that support HB127, know which middle schools are better, hence why they chose to live there and they want to remove the regional caps. They don't acknowledge the modern day school socioeconomic segregation the current school funding method creates. And to cap it all of, HB127 also hopes to enshrine a lack of analytical rigor to collect necessary data, to assess and evaluate its efficacy and impacts. Currently the minimal data collected is not provided to admissions officers, and the data collected IS ALREADY in accordance to Federal Laws, so that clause is trying to tackle an issue that doesn't exist. Frankly, more data is collected in smart phone apps than in the application process, and with such poor data available it is not possible to analyze/disaggregate the talent/merit of students from the parental intentionality. Please consider the steps one must take in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th grades to be on the "gifted" track. It must be noted, that some of the biggest proponents of HB127, are people who directly benefit from the privatization of education, whether it be thru private test prep academies they own/run/frequent, political punditry or books they provide by their opposition, etc. Stop the tactics of the Massive Resistance.

Last Name: Bhaskar Locality: Fairfax County

I fully support HB127. This bill represents a core aspect of admissions policy, that academic success or failure is not limited by race, sex, and other immutable human characteristics. It strikes at the core of what we are as humans. A human being is capable of defining their destiny irrespective of their race, sex, national origin, and other immutable characteristics that are beyond their control. The destiny of a human, if limited by those characteristics, we are no different from animals. A lion hunts and a gazelle runs from predators. They can't overcome their behaviors even if there is one lion and a thousand gazelles fitted against each other. Some people reduce humans to that level. They say a black kid cannot perform well in math and science and Asians are naturally advantaged. Even though my characterization is extreme simplification of their position, I consider it is still accurate. Their arguments constantly refer to racial inferiority and superiority in one way or the other. What we all have to pronounce loudly here is that race, sex, and such immutable characteristics will not limit a human being's potential to define their destiny. This attitude was the TJ High School's reason for excellence in Science & Technology. Every kid there was taught to believe in themselves and their capacity to rise above adversity. Their characters are defined by their hard work. TJ High School represents the student achievements at FCPS, LCPS, and other participating jurisdictions. When we consider the math and science achievements of the students by race or by sex or by zip code, TJ student population mirrors the feeder schools. Then why do we ignore achievement gaps in Kindergarten through 8th grade and only look at the Governor's schools? Because rogues at these schools failed many kids through negligence, corruption, and ineptitude. For example, FCPS outgoing superintendent reduced Outreach Expert position to half-time when that position is helping under-represented racial groups to apply for Governor's schools. School boards consistently failed to allocate required resources to help Blacks and Hispanics at early age. FCPS eliminated programs that were proven to increase the competency of under-represented student populations. Over the last 30 years, FCPS and LCPS did everything they could to hurt under-represented students groups. This negligence left K-8 achievement gaps that cannot be fixed by racially balancing student population at the Governor's schools. This bill is limited to admissions at Governor's schools, but it forces school boards and superintendents to improve the pipeline, thus helping every child to achieve their full potential, not just those few (25? or 30?) students thrusted forward into Governor's schools to make it look better. If I pick students by race, I can achieve any combination I want. The changed admissions policy is doing exactly that, not by actually increasing the competency of underrepresented students, but by hand-picking students based on subjective criteria to show they improved racial mix. In the process, they are leaving a dangerous precedence in place, that some day could be used to suppress the same underrepresented groups. HB127 is a cure for the entire problem, not just treating the symptoms. I fully support HB127 and urge all of you to vote YES. Thank you.

Last Name: Bhatt Locality: Fairfax county, Herndon, Fairfax

I fully support HB127 as it is the right thing to do. Merit based admission for special Governor school like Thomas Jefferson (TJ) has proven to be very successful. Proxy discrimination must not be allowed in any manner. As a tax payer in Fairfax county, it is my right to provide my feedback and comments when I see wrongdoing or waste, abuse, or plain and simple lack of common sense. Year after year, the academic achievements of students in US has been a sad fact despite being such a great country in so many things. These children are our as well as future of the world. Please don’t force quota and reservation system based on discriminatory factors. I’ll give you one example of a student who had immigrated and was working as a waiter in his parents restaurant while going to school. My conversations with him had confirmed that he had great aspirations and truly today, he is an “Oral & MaxilloFacial Surgeon”. He worked hard to achieve his dream despite everything and if there was a quota system, he probably would have not been able to fulfill his dream. So, my humble appeal to you all, “Please, please, pass this bill.” I do not have children going to school anymore but I have seen students from TJ do exceptionally well. I have first hand seen and experienced the negatives of quota systems based on discriminatory factors.

Last Name: Pence Locality: Fairfax County

Please pass HB127 to support hard work and merit

Last Name: Sullivan Organization: Parents Defending Education Locality: Arlington

I support house bill 127. I support merit in education. Thank you

Last Name: Fallon Locality: Fairfax

I am a Fairfax, VA business owner, taxpayer and public school parent. I strongly support HR127. I strongly support merit-based admission. Hard work and dedication should be rewarded. All student applicants should be reviewed as race-blind. All students should be evaluated based on the same criteria. It is not fair to give some students extra points or consideration for “experience factors” that are not available to all. A student’s proven skill and aptitude for their intended focus of study should be determined in as objective way as possible. Please respect merit-based evaluation of our students.

Last Name: Reddy Locality: Herndon

Please say YES to HB127. This bill sets the stage for race blind society we all cherish and hope for. Otherwise, listen to the voices of division and hatred raising alarm bells in sane minds. Those ugly voices will motivate you to say YES to this bill. Those are the voices calling for injustice in the name of justice. Those are the voices from the people who utterly failed to raise the children to their fullest potential from early age but wants to cover up their failures. Those are the voices of criminals who left many children behind but want to hurl few “fallen behind” children to the finish line to show they did something good. In the process they are perpetrating injustice to many. Stop them using race for political gains. Say YES to no-discrimination and equal protection. Thank you.

Last Name: Richard powers Locality: 101 Marcy Portsmouth

Education is the most important link in keeping American traditional values ​​from being infiltrated and changed by leftist Marxist socialism. It is also related to the trajectory of the future development of the United States. Parents must have the power to choose to supervise the school

Last Name: Verma Locality: Fairfax County, McLean

Please pass HB 127 and support hard work and merit of Virginia students.

Last Name: Dachee powers Locality: Portsmouth people

Education is the most important link in keeping American traditional values ​​from being infiltrated and changed by leftist Marxist socialism. It is also related to the trajectory of the future development of the United States. Parents must have the power to choose to supervise the school

Last Name: Bisht Locality: Loudoun

Kids should be encouraged to value the hard work. I support HB127

Last Name: Yang Locality: Fairfax

Please pass HB127 to foster hardwork and merits. We can not afford to make future generations lazy and dum.

Last Name: Sundaram Locality: Centreville, Fairfax

I support HB127 and the merit policies being in place for school admissions.

Last Name: Honcharik Locality: Lovettsville

Please Oppose Virginia Legislation HB 127. If this bill passes, selection criteria for admissions would revert back to “traditional academic success factors” known to be biased against low-income families. It is fiction that increasing access for underprivileged groups is discrimination against more advantaged students. Standardized tests are not 'objective' measures of merit and students’ talents and abilities are not fixed. This bill would serve to reinforce inequities, rather than work to eliminate them. • Numerous studies have found no correlation between standardized test scores and future academic performance. Instead, it has been shown that standardized tests are biased against disadvantage students from low-income families. • The new admissions process at TJ is a model for equity in education because it is not based on a biased test and also does not consider race or gender in admissions decisions. Evidence that this new policy is more equitable rests in the makeup of the incoming class of 2021 that more closely reflects the ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of the school feeder area. The reformed policy provides no advantage to any race or ethnic group and there is no purge of any group, although this false accusation has been made. • More than 1000 colleges and universities in the US similarly stopped basing admissions decisions on SAT and ACT tests. This includes the University of Virginia. • Recently the way high schools are ranked has changed to use more equitable criteria. The US News and World Report no longer uses the SAT or ACT scores of graduating seniors to rank high schools. Instead, they use state-administered assessment tests for graduating seniors as part of a holistic evaluation. Those scores are compared with scores for schools with the same demographic characteristics.

Last Name: Poindexter Locality: Chesterfield County

Please vote NO to HB127! Thank you.

Last Name: Nadat Locality: Fairfax

Support HB127: We are all human beings and must be race neutral. Race neutralism must start in education admission. Socialistic and race biased processes have no place in a merit based world.

Last Name: Little Locality: Chesterfield County

HB127 contains no language regarding prohibiting discrimination against persons with disabilities. Students in Virginia with disabilities have been disenfranchised far too long, and often. Please ensure those with disabilities are included in all educational discrimination protections.

Last Name: Campblin Locality: Fairfax

Dear Members of the House of Delegates K-12 Subcommittee on Education: I am writing in the capacity of the President of the Fairfax County NAACP and in support of the Virginia State Conference NAACP opposition to House Bill 127 as submitted by Avohom Carpenter. Please vote NO to HB127. It sets Virginia backwards towards a less diverse and more segregated public school system.

Last Name: Carpenter Organization: Virginia State Conference NAACP Locality: Chesterfield County

The Virginia State Conference NAACP opposes this bill. This bill would prevent the regional and local school boards from establishing equitable admissions process. HB127 could also prevent school boards from accessing critical data in the aggregate to understand the barriers to admissions experienced by students from underrepresented populations that school boards may want to address. I ask the members of the committee to Please vote NO to HB127. It sets Virginia backwards towards and undermines the gains made in diversity and inclusion.

Last Name: Xu Locality: Fairfax

Support HB127. Please pass!!!

Last Name: Raman Locality: Fairfax County

I support Bill HB127

Last Name: Bandam Locality: Fairfax

I support HB127

Last Name: Padma Locality: Fairfax

Please vote YES for HB127. Collection of race, sex, and other immutable characteristics during the application process and before admission has only one overarching purpose: to use it in deciding admissions. In remote case where someone insane thinks race information is needed about the applicants for statistics etc., it should be strictly isolated from the admission decision makers, and anybody tapping into the race and sex for admissions purposes should be treated as violating PII and HIPAA protections. I strongly support HB127.

Last Name: Walter Locality: Alexandria

To the Members of the House of Delegates K-12 Subcommittee on Education: Please vote NO on HB127. This bill is a targeted response to the changes that academic year governor's schools, including Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, have made in their admissions processes over the past two years. It will have fallout impacting ALL governor's schools, not just TJ. This bill prevents schools from collecting demographic data from their applicants. Administrators and board members should have the right to know both who is applying to and who is attending their schools. Barring this data will purposely obscure the damaging pattern already occurring, in which qualified applicants of color are consistently accepted at lower rates than their peers. It will not serve to stop this pattern from occurring. As a current Virginia teacher, an alumna of Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, a parent, I find the very idea that you would ban administrators and board members from collecting demographic data for the sake of "race blindness" absurd - you can't fix what you can't or won't measure. Additionally, this bill holds "traditional academic success measures" to be the only thing worth considering for admissions. This does two things: one, it wrests local control away from school districts, ignoring the very different needs that different areas of our Commonwealth have. Two, all of these standardized tests have prep courses available - for a fee. Even tests supposedly measuring giftedness have prep courses. Paying your way into a better score isn't a measure of academic success. Education research has been moving for years to address the massive racial inequity in students identified for giftedness, magnet programs, and additional enrichment opportunities. Relying on flawed tests as "traditional academic success measures" continues to deny access to our talented students who are poor, language minority speakers, recent immigrants, attending under-resourced elementary and middle schools, or face a myriad of other barriers. Please, vote NO on HB127. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Godofsky Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Oakton

Please vote yes on HB 127. This bill does two things, and two things only: It forbids discrimination on the basis of race and sex, and it forbids the collection of demographic data until after admissions have concluded (unless such collection is mandated by federal law--in which case it must be withheld from admissions decision-makers as much as practicable). This bill does not ban any admissions factors, nor does it mandate any admissions factors. It does create a safe harbor for admissions factors long understood to be useful for identifying candidates for a specialized school: Grades, test scores, recommendations, and relevant extracurricular activities. This is a very broad list. Still, school boards need flexibility and at Coalition for TJ we believe local policy should not be imposed from Richmond. Which is why we are grateful that Del. Davis drafted HB 127 such that it does not forbid any school board from using any admissions criteria whatsoever—so long as they are not for the purpose of racial discrimination. If you are not trying to discriminate, you ought to be able to prove it. The various governors' schools have that altered their admissions claim they are not engaged in race or sex discrimination and that they don't use race or sex data in admissions. If they're telling the truth, then they have no reason to oppose this bill, as it will not affect them. Our community has strong doubts, however. We need to rebuild trust, and this bill is a big step in that direction. Ethnicity does not define who we are, and it's not a valid way to decide if someone has what it takes to attend some of the best high schools in the country. What is beneath our skin is what counts. This is not an opinion. It is, as Thomas Jefferson himself said, a self-evident truth: All men are created equal. Even so, all across Virginia and all across the country, activists have cast aside this fundamental truth. Unless this changes, I am going to miss the race-blind ethos with which I was raised. We all will, eventually, as open racial discrimination is what is replacing it. The good news is that change can start with HB 127.

Last Name: Kahwajy Organization: Chesterfield NAACP Locality: Chesterfield

Dear Members of the House of Delegates K-12 Subcommittee on Education: On behalf of the Chesterfield NAACP, I am writing to express our opposition to House Bill 127. This bill undermines the control of the Regional School Board, including its local school boards, who set admissions policies for their districts. This bill attempts to meddle in day-to-day operations of our schools. The definitions in this bill are intentionally vague. Local School Boards should be empowered to use a wide variety of tools to ensure their classes reflect the diversity of their communities, such as goals for feeder school acceptance, etc. HB 127 would effectively make these practices unlawful. This bill encourages antiquated, ineffective and discriminatory admissions standards and practices. These outdated admissions practices fail to recognize the need to create fairer admission pools which incorporate the wide variety of talent within the feeder schools. The intent behind the restriction on data collection in this bill is intentional. This bill not only intends to limit transparency, but also prevents schools from reflecting on its practices and unforeseen barriers they have created, which could be remedied upon reflection and data analysis. This bill intentionally ignores the needs for immediate action and creates barriers to combat modern day segregation as recognized by Brown v. Board of Education. Please vote NO to HB127 and help to move the Commonwealth away from more segregated school systems. Sincerely, Carrie Kahwajy Education Committee Chair Chesterfield NAACP

Last Name: Laundon Organization: Antiracist Alumni of MLWGS Locality: Chesterfield

Dear Members of the House of Delegates K-12 Subcommittee on Education: On behalf of the Antiracist Alumni of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, I am writing to express our opposition to House Bill 127. First, it undermines the control of Maggie Walker’s Regional School Board, including its members–the local school boards who set admissions policies for their districts. This raises questions about whether the General Assembly is invading the daily control long-recognized to rest with localities. Second, the bill uses overbroad definitions. The term “Proxy Discrimination” is overly broad. Many of Maggie Walker’s local school boards are currently using or are exploring tools, such as school caps, which promote regional diversity. HB 127 could make those practices unlawful. Third, the bill advances outdated admissions standards. The term “traditional academic success factors” ignores all the relevant factors in admissions and touts outdated educational standards that fail to create fairer admissions pools to truly represent the talent in each feeder district. While admissions remain colorblind when assessing each individual student, this bill would prevent the regional and local school boards from establishing equitable admissions processes. Fourth, this “colorblind” approach ignores the thrust and need for affirmative action in our schools to combat modern day segregation, as recognized in Brown v. Board of Education. Finally, the restriction on data collection is unnecessary and goes too far. The admissions process is already blind to race and other demographics when assessing individual students for admission. But HB127 could prevent school boards from accessing such data in the aggregate to understand the current barriers to admissions experienced by students from underrepresented populations that school boards may want to address. Please vote NO to HB127. It sets Virginia backwards towards a more segregated public school system and one that undermines Maggie Walker’s regional school board. Sincerely, Antiracist Alumni of MLWGS

Last Name: Nomani Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Great Falls VA

Comments Document

I arrived in the United States as an immigrant from India at the age of four and grew up in an America of opportunity in which I was not judged based on the color of my skin or my race. I 100% encourage you to SUPPORT HB127. My son graduated from TJHSST Class of 2021 under the merit-based, race-blind admissions process. I am a journalist and witnessed over the past 18 months the racism, bigotry and prejudice against Asian Americans, as TJ admissions was changed to purge the school of Asian students with RACE-BASED ADMISSIONS. There should be NO RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN AMERICA. There should be NO RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN ADMISSIONS to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. The U.S. Supreme Court decided today to hear the cases of racial discrimination in admission to Harvard University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If the Commonwealth of Virginia does not take a clear stance -- with the passage of HB127 -- against racial discrimination in admissions to academic year Governor's Schools, we will stand on the incorrect side of history. VOTE YES FOR HB127. Stand AGAINST RACISM. Stand FOR the AMERICAN DREAM of Martin Luther King -- where we are valued for the strength of our character, not the color of our skin.

Last Name: Bure Organization: Individual Locality: Fairfax

Please vote NO on Bill HB127 and retain the opportunity for Governor’s schools to use unbiased admissions criteria. Traditional admission policies that use standardized tests to evaluate students provide an unfair advantage to students from middle- and high-income families. This bill would serve to reinforce inequities, rather than work to eliminate them. The bill rests on the fiction that any action taken to increase access for underserved or underprivileged groups is discrimination against more advantaged students. It is based on an antiquated philosophy, long abandoned as flawed by those working in public education, that standardized tests are purely 'objective' measures of merit and that students’ talents and abilities are fixed. We have a national model of education equity that should be considered by other Governor’s schools. Thank you for preventing this bill from leaving the House Education Committee.

Last Name: Kahwajy Organization: Anti-Racist Alumni of MLWGS Locality: Chesterfield

Dear Members of the House of Delegates K-12 Subcommittee on Education: On behalf of the Antiracist Alumni of Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, I am writing to express our opposition to House Bill 127. First, it undermines the control of the Regional School Board, including its members–the local school boards who set admissions policies for their districts. This raises questions about whether the General Assembly is invading the daily control long recognized to rest with localities. Second, the bill uses overbroad definitions. The term “Proxy Discrimination” is overly broad. Many of Maggie Walker’s local school boards are currently using or are exploring tools, such as school caps, which promote regional diversity. HB 127 could make those practices unlawful. Third, the bill advances outdated admissions standards. The term “traditional academic success factors” ignores all the relevant factors in admissions and touts outdated educational standards that fail to create fairer admissions pools to truly represent the talent in each feeder district. While admissions remain colorblind when assessing each individual student, if this bill prevents the regional and local school boards from establishing equitable admissions process Fourth, this “colorblind” approach ignores the thrust and need for affirmative action in our schools to combat modern day segregation, and as recognized in Brown v. Board of Education. Finally, the restriction on data collection is both unnecessary and goes too far. The admissions process is already blind to race and other demographics when assessing individual students. But HB127 could prevent school boards from accessing such data in the aggregate to understand the current barriers to admissions experienced by students from underrepresented populations that school boards may want to address. Please vote NO to HB127. It sets Virginia backwards towards a less diverse and more segregated public school system. Sincerely, Carrie Kahwajy Antiracist Alumni of MLWGS

Last Name: borra Locality: Loudoun, ashburn

Please vote for HB 127. HB 127 forbids proxy discrimination, or the use of race-neutral factors that serve as proxies for race or sex in order to perpetrate racial or sex discrimination. I strongly support HB127, as it would keep the focus on merit and hard work in education, rather than masking inequities in education by forcing diversity in Governor's Schools and applauding that we're done. That does not serve anyone nor does it do anything to address the vast disparities in education around the Commonwealth. Instead, we should work to ensure all of our students in Virginia have access to a rigorous education, which means providing them with resources and opportunities, most especially underserved students. HB 127 defines certain factors as traditional academic success factors, including standardized tests, grades, teacher recommendations and relevant extracurriculars. Use of these traditional factors don’t amount to proxy discrimination. HB 127 forbids school systems from asking applicants what their race is until after admissions have concluded, unless required by federal law, and in that case, requires that school systems not share that information with admissions officials. This will ensure admissions are truly race blind.

Last Name: Deane, Rachael Locality: Richmond

As an alumna of the Maggie L. Walter Governor's School, I oppose HB127. This bill is unreasonably broad and usurps local school board control over public schools as provided in the Virginia Constitution. By statute, Governor's Schools are controlled by regional school boards composed of representatives from area local school boards--not the General Assembly. These boards should have ultimate authority over admissions standards for the Governor's Schools they operate. This bill also offers an extremely broad definition of discrimination that hampers efforts by regional school boards to ensure that all feeder schools are represented in a Governor's School student body. This bill, if passed, would unreasonably restrict efforts to ensure that students from urban and rural schools, and not just large suburban schools, are represented.

Last Name: Anonymous Locality: Virginia

Please support HB127. The anti-Asian bias shown by Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand and various school board members (as documented in their public forums and private correspondence) demonstrates the need for HB127's protections against discrimination.

Last Name: Yang Locality: Fairfax County

Support HB 127!

Last Name: Tommy Jeffs Locality: Alexandria

To the TJ alumni who are virtue signaling their opposition to this bill: would you give up your spot at TJ for a less qualified applicant who just happened to be in a more-preferred demographic group? lol that's cap bruh

Last Name: Jonnala Locality: Fairfax

Governor school selection must be race blinded. Admitting students based on race will only bring down the standards and rank. Additional resources must be provided to under represented or under privileged students to catch up to the rest but not bring the whole school standards down.

Last Name: Verma Locality: MCLEAN

I think any form of discrimination based on race should be banned. I would also suggest collection of race data for Governers school system should be prohibited. It's time for us to unite, our community, not continue to divide it based on race.

Last Name: Ohta Locality: Centreville

Please vote for HB 127. HB 127 forbids proxy discrimination, or the use of race-neutral factors that serve as proxies for race or sex in order to perpetrate racial or sex discrimination. Please support HB 127. HB 127 defines certain factors as traditional academic success factors, including standardized tests, grades, teacher recommendations and relevant extracurriculars. Use of these traditional factors don’t amount to proxy discrimination. Please vote for HB 127. HB 127 forbids school systems from asking applicants what their race is until after admissions have concluded, unless required by federal law, and in that case, requires that school systems not share that information with admissions officials. This will ensure admissions are truly and fully race-blind.

Last Name: Miller Locality: McLean

I stongly support HB127, as it would keep the focus on merit and hard work in education, rather than masking inequities in education by forcing diversity in Governor's Schools and applauding that we're done. That does not serve anyone nor does it do anything to address the vast disparities in education around the Commonwealth. Instead, we should work to ensure all of our students in Virginia have access to a rigorous education, which means providing them with resources and opportunities, most especially underserved students.

Last Name: Pan Locality: Fairfax County

As a TJ alumnus, I support HB127. HB 127 will play an important role in prohibiting racial discrimination, including proxy discrimination, and supporting fair treatment and equal opportunity for all students.

Last Name: Brinton Locality: Richmond City

As a TJ alumnus, I support the current admissions process and believe it allows for equitable access for all students in the region. This bill is based on antiquated systems of evaluating students and will prevent TJ from being the shining example of excellent public education that it should be.

Last Name: Bhaskar Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Fairfax County

Comments page on HB-127 did not ask for my RACE. Why not? Because it is not required. It is possible to come up with a weird justification to consider race here saying certain racial groups seems to post large number of comments and collecting race information would help to resolve inequities. Whatever those justifications are, one thing becomes clear here. RACE ENTERS THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF PARTICIPANTS. How can we progress towards race blind society with race tagged to every child, every form, every application, and putting it in the front and center of every discussion? This bill is a start that will lead us to a race blind society. Let’s start this process with our elite schools: the Governor’s Schools. This could lead us to a new society where humans are not treated as racial groups but as individuals, as unique as you and me are. I strongly support this bill and urge the legislature and the Governor to make this into law.

Last Name: Reddy Locality: Herndon

If a public school system has educated every child to their fullest potential from Day One, there would be no need to apply racial preferences at higher grade levels. Any policy that uses race or proxy for race is simply going to mask the failures and absolve the school system from accountability. This bill prevents racial discrimination against EVERY RACE. Not having a law that prevents racial discrimination in Virginia is dangerous because the party or group that captures political power could perpetrate discrimination. Racial discrimination, if justified because it is suitable for the group currently in power, could simply take us back to the era when discrimination was embedded into the laws. Racial discrimination either through tagging students with race or proxy characteristics is unacceptable to any civilized society. I request all the representatives to vote this bill into law. Let us lead the nation and the world to get rid of race from day-to-day consciousness by eliminating it from as many forms and places as possible. I thank you for taking this initiative. -Reddy

Last Name: Balaji Locality: Fairfax

The last 2 years have brought the attack on merit to the forefront. Most school systems, especially FCPS seem to be adopting an indoctrination culture forcing accomplished students to feel guilty for what they have accomplished. Some individuals holding responsible offices such as Mr. Brabrand and Ms. Bonitatibus have repeatedly emphasized their students to check their privilege. Statements by these individuals undermine the hard work and intellect of these students. Rather than attacking merit, individuals holding these offices should focus attention on how the schools can ensure every child uses the resources available to them responsibly and excel rather than instilling a culture that segregates students by geographic location, and color of their skin.

Last Name: Reynolds Locality: Fairfax County

As an alum of another Virginia governor's school, I enthusiastically support HB 127. Our state and our country need the excellence, innovation, and benefit of TJ and schools such as TJ. The admissions process should be nothing but fair - and can only be fair if it is based only on the aptitude for science and technology possessed by the applicants. I support the efforts to prevent race or proxies for race to enter in to such an important decision. Speaking to the experience as a governor's school student, the curriculum is rigorous and trying at times. I was proud to know I was there because I earned the spot, not because I was someone's project. If I attended today, I would not know for what reason I was admitted -- because of the merit of my application, or to improve their statistics. The damage to self-esteem from this can not be undone. Please pass this bill and keep Virginia a land of opportunity for those who work hard and achieve. We desperately need their inventions and innovations.

Last Name: Zheng Organization: Myself Locality: VIENNA

I fully support HB-127. Each child should be given an equal opportunity to learn and grow. Our education system should help them to achieve along the journey. This bill is vital to provide equal opportunity to kids regardless of their race and restore excellence to the Governor Schools.

Last Name: McCaskill Locality: Fairfax county

I fully support HB-127. Each child should be given equal opportunity to thrive. Our education system should help them to achieve along the journey. Capping the outcome in the name of equity is not for individuality, it does more damage to their future than anything. Please let our kids thrive! Education matters!

Last Name: Venigalla Organization: NAACP Locality: Fairfax

I FULLY SUPPORT this bill for the very simple fact that it seeks to prohibit discrimination against any race in seeking admission to governor schools. I'm stunned that this state needed another bill to reinstate core tenets of Civil Rights Act of 1964 after the recently changed admission policy seeked to roll back race neutral admissions. In the misguided/ill-conceived notion of equity for 2 races, they targeted one race because they're going ahead playing by fair rules. Anyone opposing this bill and/or supporting the racist changes last year should check their conscience first. If we are teaching kids they can get ahead of more hardworking/deserving kids based on the color of their skin or their economic status, what values are we passing to them? Hardwork doesn't matter? Then, that's the values they carry all their lives and likely onto future generations.

Last Name: Vemuri Organization: Coalation TJ Locality: FAIRFAX VA

I support HB127 for the simple fact that it supports all children and removes discrimination! Education is important for every child, regardless of the color of the skin, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or political persuasion. Let’s take sports, there is no equity system in sports team selections. Then why for education ?? I support race blind education. This bill is necessary to provide equality of opportunity. Changed TJ admission policies are a tragedy where our school board engineered a racist policy, especially Anti Asians. Comments from our FCPS board also validate that the whole new admission process which was implanted in a hurry in the mid of pandemic is Anti-Asian. Every child deserves to get the best education. Hard work should be rewarded well irrespective of color, race , Nationality or gender. By choosing the cream of cream students at governor schools , we are providing them a platform to thrive and emerge as one of the best Doctors, engineers, scientists and leaders to serve America at large. This is a vote for the advancement of STEM education in America. It's a vote for our future scientists, doctors, engineers, and leaders. VOTE YES to HB127!

Last Name: Williams Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: McLean

I support this bill because I believe in merit-based admissions and the pursuit of excellence in education.

Last Name: Breinig Organization: Virginians Locality: Fauquier, Warrenton

I strongly support HB i27, on behalf of all residents of Virginia, from all races, colors and ethnic backgrounds, and also on behalf of small and large businesses. With their focus on academic excellence, Virginia Governor Schools have been one of our greatest assets for many years, allowing us to compete successfully in the global competition for highly competent and skilled young men and women. All Virginians, in whatever path they have chosen in life, have benefited from this pursuit of excellence. Recently, however, this priceless asset has been weakened by eliminating the objective selection of students and replacing it with a subjectively racist and regional quota system and whatever else the education establishment decides to employ. The result will clearly be a substantial weakening of our prized asset, the Governor Schools. Legislation is necessary to correct this problem. HB 127 is the necessary measure to restore excellence to the Governor Schools. It is well crafted, thorough. complete, and fair to all Virginians. From my extensive career as a research scientist, engineer and executive in major corporations. and a husband and father of six, I encourage the Virginia legislature to pass this bill.

Last Name: Rea Locality: Alexandria

As an alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology I strongly oppose this bill and I strongly support the recent changes to the admissions process

Last Name: Govil Locality: Fairfax County

I am writing in huge support of this bill that will bring back fair meritocracy in the admissions process of Virginia’s Governor’s schools that admit students by a well defined admissions process. In order to bring so called equity and reflection of diversity in other Virginia’s High schools the admissions process has been skewed to ensure filling classes based upon ethnicity and not by race blind meritocracy process which was employed before! Currently skewed admissions process is directly aimed against certain ethnic backgrounds (such as Asians). I’m not against diversity but also fully support meritocracy. I’ll be happy to see if diversity is displayed even by having race blind meritocracy admissions process. But please get real, we will see similar imbalance of diversity at several areas where some ethnic groups are seen in abundance than others. Some obvious examples are fields of sports, medicine, postgraduate studies, politics, etc. where you will not find diversity even though at K-12 school level students have had same education. So when at different career fields we see certain ethnic groups having more percentage than other groups then why is this drive to fix the ethnicity balance in the Governor’s schools. These schools should not be compared with regular schools where there is no admissions process so the makeup of ethnicity in those schools depends upon the make up of ethnic diversity in the residents around that schools. There also there may be imbalance, e.g., in Washington DC schools, we will see percentages of African American kid’s more than that of any other ethnic backgrounds. There is NO talk of fixing that imbalance! Why? Now coming to previous race blind meritocracy based admissions process, yes there may be some room to further improve the process to ensure all ethnic groups including financially challenged households kids get equal opportunity to get exposed to the preparation required to prepare for the admissions test by setting aside county funds so they could enroll in preparatory course provided each summer and also giving them exposure to the STEM oriented activities to motivate them to pursue learning in that field so to prepare for getting in these Governor’s schools by preparing early enough so they have equal chance to compete with other ethnic background students which have been accused of preparing to get admissions since their Elementary school years. There is NOTHING wrong in doing so as some kids prepare themselves for sports from their early childhood years! It’s only in the thinking of this current school board that has brought about this drastic and sudden immature change in the admissions process that was hastily put in place while they had power to do so! Current lottery based process is filling classes with kids that just got lucky to get in rather than kids that have dreamt to get in those and have prepared hard to compete in tough admissions process to become worthy to get in, continue to excel in those schools and get to great colleges after graduating. Current admissions process will result in increased percentage of kids dropping out and going back to their base schools! I strongly support this bill to bring back race blind meritocracy in the admissions process and also suggest provisions on how to improve the underlying process to prepare more ethnically diverse smart and able kids that is the root cause of lack of diversity in these schools!

Last Name: Swanner Locality: Roanoke

I oppose HB 127 as an alumna of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST). I support and commend the changes enacted by the Fairfax County Public School Board to achieve more equitable representation in admissions and enrollment to TJHSST. I also support the constitutional authority for school boards to govern their school divisions as they see fit, and this bill would take away control from local school boards with regard to admissions to Governor's schools. Finally, this bill says it seeks to prohibit discrimination, but it would instead cloak discrimination under a blanket of ignorance by prohibiting data collection that would indicate whether or not discrimination is occurring. I urge you to vote no on HB 127.

Last Name: Shu Organization: N/a Locality: Falls Church

I highly support this bill. Please end discrimination against asians

Last Name: Margulies Organization: Hispanics for STEM Locality: Fairfax

I support HB127 based on the following reasons: The changes implemented to the admission process to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) by the members of the Fairfax County Public Schools, its Superintendent, Scott Brabrand, supported by its principal behind doors, SHOULD BE REVERSED because they were driven by political calculations and a repulsive anti-Asian feeling. Evidence: On January 11, 2022, Parents Defending Education released documents containing emails and text messages exchanged among members of the School Board of Fairfax County Public Schools, its Superintendent, and key FCPS officers, dealing with the changes to the admissions process to TJ which are part of the ongoing federal lawsuit filed by the Coalition for TJ vs. the FCPS School Board. As a member of the community, I read in HORROR these documents - appropriately labeled "TJ Papers" - which prove BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT how RACE and political calculations were the main factors driving the changes. The members of the School Board, in particular Ms. Abrar Omeish and Ms. Stella Pekarsky, ADMITTED IN WRITING that the changes were motivated by an ANTI ASIAN FEELING! They wrote "LOL" in response to the pain they inflicted on hundreds of students of Asian background whose dreams to pursue their studies at TJ were crushed. How insulting to the hard work of these students! I recall the screenshot of a student's calendar shared by a mother in which the "TJ test" is there - a deadline that the student DID NOT MEET, not as a result of her own doing, but as a result of the MANIPULATION AND DISHONESTY of the members of the FCPS Board and its superintendent. Unacceptable. The TJ Papers in reality provide a shameful chapter in the US history comparable to the internment camps of Japanese citizens during the Second War World! As a mother of a TJ student, I can attest for the work and commitment that a student has to put to apply to this wonderful school. Hard work, commitment and interest in STEM fields should be rewarded instead of punished. For the United States' leadership in the XXI century, we should be cultivating those aptitudes instead of discriminating against. If the Fairfax County Public Schools, its Superintendent, the Outreach Office of TJHSST and the TJ Partnership Fund were serious about promoting diversity at the school, they should put in place a very SIMPLE system of identifying promising students, providing STEM enrichment, encouraging family buy-in, and constantly quantifying success. In the TJ Papers, one of the FCPS officials clearly stated that "there are enough Black and Hispanic students for an entire TJ CLASS! Hence, it begs the question WHY THEY DID NOT IMPLEMENT A PROGRAM TO SUPPORT THESE STUDENTS! Instead, they opted for a cheap political shortcut. Bill HB127 will put an end to this historic embarrassment!

Last Name: Parkash Locality: Fairfax

I fully support HB127 as it is anti-discrimination and pro-hard work and merit, which are the right life lessons for our children to learn.

Last Name: Baker Locality: Loudoun

I support this bill because it rewards hardwork and merit.

Last Name: Dutta Locality: Fairfax

I support HB127 for the simple fact that it supports all children and removes discrimination! Every child matters, regardless of the color of the skin, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or political persuasion. Every child should be able to decide his or her future. Let hard work prevail over the color of one's skin. This is a vote for the advancement of STEM education in America. It's a vote for our future scientists, doctors, engineers, and leaders. VOTE YES to HB127!

Last Name: Fallon Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Fairfax

I am a longtime resident, business owner and parent in Fairfax County. I am a current TJ parent. I strongly support HB127. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology should continue to uphold the highest admission standards and should revert to an exam based entrance requirement. The bullying of the Fairfax County School Board has been a disgrace. Activist alumni, lobbying organizations and aggressive actors from outside of Virginia have bullied and silenced parents and families who supported a fair, objective, merit-based admission process. Each of 2 surveys taken by the TJPTSA showed over 80% of members opposed the school board’s race-based discriminatory admission changes. The community had no meaningful opportunity to participate in the discussion about admission changes and the former Sec of Ed, FCPS Superintendent and school board misled constituents claiming that the Diversity Report required by the state mandated “equity” based changes to TJ admission. The changes to TJ admission have resulting in a completely subjective process that even the school board members agree have been “anti-Asian, lol.” Please read The TJ Papers, a collection of their text messages and emails, if you have any doubts. ALL students did and should have a fair chance to apply to TJ and should be considered on their proven merit, not given extra admission point to disguise racially motivated admission.

Last Name: Sundareson Locality: Loudoun

The admission should be race blind, period. Our school boards especially NoVA has become political battleground. Magnet schools charter is for gifted and talented students. Admission should be merit based as it used to be, without adding any colors to the admission process. We cannot let merit and hard work be viewed as shameful as our school boards are trying to portray. The new process is racist. Leave the schools out of your social engineering experiments. Read more on TJ Papers published in WSJ, that provides more insight into how racist the new process has been. Our children deserve better and not viewed through racist lenses.

Last Name: Sbitani Locality: Gainesville

As a proud alumna of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (TJ), second-generation Asian American immigrant, and equity advocate, I am disgusted by this bill and those who seek to reverse long-overdue admissions reforms at Virginia Governor's schools. This proposal conveniently defines standardized testing and other outdated admissions models as non-discriminatory and sets up a system whereby any changes to that failing model will be challenged as discrimination by proxy. Even more insidious, the bill seeks to reduce the available data and thus prevent policymakers and researchers from evaluating progress and developing the best methods possible for identifying qualified students of all backgrounds. Those who seek to characterize any pro-diversity reform as anti-Asian do not speak for me and many others in the Asian American community. Those of us who have been following the issue closely know that admissions changes that promote equity have actually benefited low-income Asian Americans, English language learners, and other historically underrepresented subgroups. In just one year of TJ's admissions changes, the proportion of the admitted student population that is economically disadvantaged skyrocketed from less than 1% to over 25%. How can someone argue that a public school serving draw districts with double-digit rates of economically disadvantaged students had a more fair admissions system when only 0.62% of the admitted students were economically disadvantaged? It defies reason. This bill is an affront not only to good social science, education policy, and decentralized governance but also to plain old common sense. Anyone who argues otherwise is misinformed or misinforming.

Last Name: BUSKARD Locality: ALEXANDRIA

HB127 - The reforms to the admissions policies at TJ increase the equity of the process. These reforms should be kept in place for this reason. This bill would adversely influence equity at many schools, not just TJ. HB4 - In all cases in which disciplinary measures can be taken by the school personnel, I believe they should be handled by school personnel, including teachers, guidance counselors, and psychologists. These are our children. They are not criminals. The role of police in schools should be as minimal as possible. HB781 - Children should be taught the facts of history, including the history of the US, as accurately as possible, whether it shows that history in a favorable or unfavorable light. One of the most important thing of all that we can teach our children is to always seek the truth. HB9 - This bill would limit our ability to recruit and retain teachers exactly when there is an increasing need to do so. There is very little difference in what one can ascertain about someone's performance between 3 and 5 years. It would make more sense to provide regular status reviews throughout a teacher's entire tenure which are tied to salary and other benefits.

Last Name: Hall Locality: Fairfax County

I reject HB127 and applaud the FCPS Superintendent's holistic approach to TJHSST admissions. Not only did the revised admissions process create an amazing 2025 class of TJ-caliber Freshmen, but it also increased the number of students at TJ who are female, neuro-diverse, lower income, Black, and Hispanic. One thing that stands out to me as an amazing success of the holistic approach is that the average GPA of the admitted students stayed the same AND every middle school in Fairfax County has students in the 2025 TJ class. Before 2025, of the 26 middle schools in Fairfax County, 11 middle schools would have as much as 97% of the Fairfax County students admitted to TJ. This means that 13 middle schools accounted for only about 3% of admissions; therefore, some of the middle schools may have had zero students admitted. This was particularly apparent in Mason District; even though, TJ is located there. The holistic TJ admissions changes enabled two things to happen in the class of 2025: 1) opt-in applications were used so that ALL TJ-qualified students were included in the process which increased the number of applicants by over 20%, and 2) 1.5% of admitted TJ students were required to come from each of the 26 middle schools in Fairfax County. This means that amazing students from Franklin, Glasgow, Hayfield, Herndon, Holmes, Irving, Robinson, Poe, South County, Stone, Thoreau, and Whitman middle schools would have an opportunity to a superior education at our gem of a STEM High School. HB127 would eliminate all of those benefits created by holistic TJ admissions process, a process that looks at the WHOLE STUDENT, rather than one test score. Teachers, staff, coaches, and parents all know that students are more than a test score. HB127 would particularly hurt lower income students of all races and backgrounds and especially students from more than half of the middle schools in Fairfax County. Finally, it is well-known that are large communities of Asian families who have been prevented access to TJ due to their income despite having students who would excel at TJ. TJ is a public STEM high school which should serve ALL of Fairfax County students who have the will and ability to succeed there. TJ quality kids deserve the opportunity to attend TJ--HB127 would prevent that for more than half of our middle schools. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Bensinger-Lacy Locality: Burke

HB127. I oppose rolling back the current admission policies for TJ and potentially other governor’s schools because we must be allowed to find ways to give opportunities available only in those schools to Black, Hispanic and lower SES students. They may need extra support to be successful but that’s a solid investment for our society. HB4. This bill moves our treatment of students in the absolute wrong direction. We must be finding ways NOT to involve young people in the criminal justice system for actions that should be handled within the school. HB781. All students MUST know ALL of history from all stakeholders’ points of view, especially US history—much of which chronicles situations that were divisive. We cannot learn from history if we don’t know what happened.

Last Name: Jackson Organization: Coalition for TJ Locality: Herndon, VA

This bill is necessary to provide equality of opportunity. What has happened to TJ admissions is a tragedy where our school board engineered a racist policy, not to get the most gifted learners from the Black and Hispanic communities, but only the poor ones. Our school board knew that there were plenty of gifted Black and Hispanic learners, some of which were low-income, taking advanced math courses, but opted instead for a new admission process driven by jealousy infused hatred, to limit the opportunities of gifted Asian students, and simultaneously advance the interests, and increased admission, of students from affluent white households. This bill is necessary to protect all from racist policies, from the bigotry of low expectations that harm the Black and Hispanic Community, to the blatant anti-Asian sentiment which fueled admission changes to TJ. The recent Wall Street Journal recently published highlighting the 'TJ papers' is proof of this. Let us honor Dr. King's legacy by judging a person based on the content of their character, their merit, and not the color of their skin.

End of Comments