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Op-Ed: Mediocrity for all water downs high achieving schools

By Gary Pan

The month of May represents Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This month we celebrate the culture and achievements of Asian Pacific Americans, but as a Chinese American myself, I’d also like to focus on a key issue facing our community: our public schools.

I live in Northern Virginia. It’s the wealthiest area in the entire country, yet our schools are failing us. Not because of a lack of funding, and not only because they aren’t open, but because of a perverse idea of equity that punishes success in order to make everyone equal.

The Democrat-led Virginia Department of Education (VDE) is considering eliminating advanced studies diplomas and advanced math options for students Why? Because apparently there is a racial disparity in who meets the mark for an advanced studies diploma and who takes advanced math. Basically, the VDE believes there are too many Asian students taking advanced classes, and they have set out to make the pool more diverse.

Instead of looking at why this is the case and taking measures to ensure children of all races thrive as they should, the VDE would rather remove the opportunity for success altogether, providing “mediocrity for all,” as Virginia House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert put it

My grandparents brought my family here from China 65 years ago, fleeing Communism to give my parents, my uncles, my aunts, my cousins, my siblings, and me a better life. They came to the land of opportunity, the land of freedom, the land where they could — and did — achieve the American Dream. Yet today, my parents can barely recognize the America they came to. We used to be the land of a rising tide that lifted all boats, but today our Democrat leaders would rather sink some ships so that others may float.

If the VDE wants to fix racial inequality in our schools, they need to better educate all students, not punish some students for doing better than others. No one should have to settle for mediocrity.

It isn’t just advanced studies diplomas and advanced math being threatened by regressive Democrat policies; admission to prestigious schools is also under fire. At Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the nation’s top high schools, Virginia Democrats are attempting to replace merit with race in the application process by implementing a system gerrymandered against Asian students.

Again, the concern that too many Asian students are succeeding has led Virginia Democrats to punish success instead of lifting others up. Instead of addressing disparities in early childhood education where the education gap is created, Virginia Democrats would rather turn away qualified applicants due to the color of their skin. This is no different than the segregationist policies Democrats pushed prior to the 1960s.

Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamt of a world in which children would not be judged by the color of their skin. In today’s Democrat Party, that dream would be considered racist. We have to stop looking at skin color in outcomes and start working on creating a level playing field for all so that everyone can succeed or fail on their own merit, and on their merit alone.

About the author: Gary Pan is a Chinese American small business entrepreneur from Great Falls, Virginia whose three sons all attended Fairfax County Public Schools. He serves as a Scoutmaster, is on the board of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, and is the incoming President of the Rotary Club of Great Falls. He previously served on the board of Junior Achievement of the National Capitol Area and as Education Committee Chair for the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. He is currently running for the Virginia House of Delegates in House District 34.

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