One of the most prestigious high schools in the US is being sued by the Coalition of the Silence, a minority advocacy group, and the NAACP for discrimination against black and Latino children. On July 23, 2012 the two organizations filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
“Poor Latino kids are not being identified [for gifted programs], and I worry part of that is language,” said Martina Hone, a representative of the Collation of the Silence. “African-American kids are not being identified. I’m worried that’s race.”
In their lawsuit, the NAACP and the Coalition of the Silence claim that Fairfax County – where the school is located in Alexandria, VA – “essentially operates a network of separate and unequal schools [and] for decades, these students have been grossly and disproportionately underrepresented in admission to the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.”
The lawsuit is based, in part, on the statistics of the incoming freshman class’s demographics. This year’s class will be 43 percent white, 46 percent Asian, and 8 percent will be multiracial. This means that less than one percent of the population will be black (or three students out of the 476 incoming freshmen) and only 2.1 percent will be Latino (or 10 students out of the 476 incoming freshmen). In Fairfax County, Latino and black students account for 32 percent of the entire student population. So obviously, there is a gross under representation of these demographic groups at Thomas Jefferson High.
Unfortunately, this under representation is not unique to Fairfax County nor Thomas Jefferson High. According to Gary Orfield, a professor and director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, minority students are underrepresented across the nation in gifted programs.
“It’s ubiquitous,” Orfield said. “And it really does tell us something about the poverty of our concept of giftedness, because it’s so related to the concept of family income and privilege.”
It will be interesting to see how this case develops and what actions Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and other schools with programs for gifted students do in the future to accurately represent students of all demographic backgrounds.
Via The Huffington Post