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College prep course accused of excluding Asians in Virginia

A college prep course targeting underrepresented families is sparking controversy in a Virginia school district.

An op-ed by Asra Q. Nomani and published in the Fairfax Times called the program targeting Black and Hispanic students as well as those with disabilities, English-language learners and the economically disadvantaged the “Asian exclusion act.”

That was followed by an article in the Daily Mail that proclaimed in the headline “Virginia district bans White and Asian students from college prep program.”

What’s unclear is if Nomani and the Daily Mail don’t think Whites and Asians can come from low-income families or if Asian students can also be “English language learners.”

What sparked Nomani’s anger is a letter sent from Cooper Middle School in the Fairfax School District announcing the class to parents.

Fairfax School District letter

The uproar follows an investigation by the state attorney general that Thomas Jefferson High School in the same school district withheld merit awards mostly from Asian students.

“Fairfax County Public Schools deliberately excludes Asian students, who number 34,392 students this 2022-2023 school year, or 19% of the total student population of 181,447 students according to school district data tabulated in February,” Nomani wrote in her op-ed.

The District denied to the Daily Mail that Asians and Whites are prevented from enrolling in the college prep program.

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  1. Looks like if you are a White Hispanic student from a family with a long history of college-education, you are automatically welcome because of your Hispanic ethnicity. If you are a Black student from an affluent family and scoring in the top 1% academically, you are automatically welcome because of your race. But if you are Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Inuit, etc., then you are excluded unless you identify/prove that you are in one of the listed “disadvantaged” categories to apply to the program – or are they excluded from all those categories as well?

    First, people need to stop lumping Whites and Asians together. The rationale, impacts, and historic struggles of excluding the Asian community are very different than that experienced by the White community. According to US Census, the majority of people with disabilities identify as White and the majority of Hispanics identify as White so this does not definitively excludes White students the way it excludes Asians. Second, people need to stop assuming that members of the Black and Hispanic communities automatically need extra help or are disadvantaged simply because of their race or ethnicity.

    It is time to stop manipulating society with biased assumptions of who to benefit or exclude solely based on race or ethnicity.


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