Established in 1985 as a Virginia Governor’s School for gifted students in STEM, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is a crown jewel in America’s educational system, benefiting Fairfax County, the state of Virginia and the United States of America. In promoting Fairfax County to businesses, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority refers to TJ as a “renowned” school that is a draw for businesses and their workforce. Many TJ graduates attend Virginia universities and remain in the area as professionals.
In recent months, the issues of admissions to TJ has embroiled the community in a debate about how students should be evaluated to enter America’s No. 1 high school. The conversation is a larger national debate about the future of education in specialized schools in America.
In October 2020, the Fairfax County School Board voted to eliminate the objective merit-based admissions tests to TJ, and its members are expected to vote as early as Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, on a plan by Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand to replace the tests with a lottery or a subjective hybrid admissions process.
Lost in the debate are some critical questions we will discuss in a thought provoking panel discussion with well-respected leaders in business, politics and education. All of the participants are actively engaged in developing public-private collaboratives to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in STEM and support TJ as a premiere Governor’s School for gifted students in STEM.
The future of not only the school and its students hangs in the balance but also the future of northern Virginia and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Moderator: Mr. Christian N. Braunlich is president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, Virginia’s non-partisan public policy foundation. He was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell to the Virginia State Board of Education, where his colleagues elected him president of the Board. He also served eight years on the Fairfax County School Board, the nation’s 12th largest school system, where he was a strong advocate of educational accountability and research-based reading programs. Mr. Braunlich has served as Chief of Staff to Congressman John LeBoutillier, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Association of Manufacturers, president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, and vice president of the Center for Education Reform. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Northern Virginia Journal, The Washington Times, and The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. He resides in Alexandria, Va., with his wife, Eileen. They are the parents of four children and grandparents of four grandchildren.
Suresh Shenoy is a business leader and philanthropist who has contributed deeply to every aspect of the northern Virginia community. A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, a premiere academic institution in India, he emerged as a business leader in northern Virginia, where his son graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. He was Executive Vice President at Information Management Consultants, Inc., a Virginia-based consulting and technology services company that provided information technology and software development services. He served as Chairman of American Red Cross, National Capital Region (United States). He also served on , The Fairfax County Information Technology Advisory Committee, the Capital IIT Alumni Association and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce among others. Mr. Shenoy was a founding member of the Thomas Jefferson Partnership Fund and served on its board until 2002.
Vern Williams has taught math in the Fairfax County public school system for over forty years and has taught in the gifted and talented program for over thirty years. Mr. Williams was the 1990 Fairfax County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year, and received two awards for distinguished teaching from the Mathematical Association of America. From 1994-2000, he taught Math Reasoning for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program. In April of 2006, he was appointed to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. In 2009, Mr. Williams served on the Mathematics Writing Team for the Council of Chief State School Officers. In 2010, he was appointed to serve on the Southern Regional Education Board Middle Grades Commission. Mr. Williams was attracted to BASIS Independent Mclean because the school treats the pursuit of excellence as much more than just a slogan and provides a culture where it is celebrated by all, each and every day. He joins BASIS Independent McLean with a special interest in helping middle school students discover, through problem solving and mathematical reasoning, the beauty and power of mathematics. Mr. Williams earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Math Education from the University of Maryland.
Wenyuan Wu is the Executive Director at the Californians for Equal Rights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and advancing the principle of equal treatment for all. She previously was the Director of Administration at the Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE). She holds a Ph.D. in International Studies from the University of Miami and has authored a book (Chinese Oil Enterprises in Latin America: Corporate Social Responsibility) as well as many chapters in other books. In her official capacity, Dr. Wu has been interviewed by NBC News, NPR Boston, Boston Globe, Quartz, China Daily, College Fix, and other prominent news sources. As a writer, she has been published on the South China Morning Post, China Dialogue, and Oil Price, among other outlets.
When: Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, 7 PM - 8 PM
Where: Register in advance for this meeting:
Zoom link: https://bit.ly/TJCatalyst
Meeting ID: 814 8320 7641
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Co-sponsors: Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, Coalition for TJ, Hispanics for STEM, Chinese American Parents Association of Fairfax County, Young Asian Pacific American Leaders
Christian Braunlich, President at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy
Suresh Shenoy, Business leader, philanthropist and TJ alumni parent
Vern Williams, Distinguished Fairfax County, Virginia, math teacher
Wenyuan Wu, Executive Director at the Californians for Equal Rights
We are preparing for the next round of the battle. We are raising funds to hire lawyers and professional advocacy experts to stop the effort to dismantle Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Please donate generously to this cause to save TJ.
Write to us at coalitionforTJ@gmail.com
We are a group of parents, students, alumni, staff, and community members of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
Twitter : @CoalitionForTJ
Facebook : Coalition for TJ
Email : CoalitionForTJ@gmail.com
We are parents, students and community members advocating for diversity and excellence at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. We support increasing diversity through merit-based admissions to TJ.
There is an effort underway in the Virginia Governor’s office and in the Fairfax County Public Schools school board and administration to replace TJ’s race-blind admissions with a "lottery" system, a change that will impact the curriculum at TJ and its academics. We encourage you to get educated. Join our efforts to save TJ and stand up for our families and students.
Advocate for diversity and excellence at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Vote NO to NEW Fairfax County Admissions Changes to TJ
Petition to Gov. Northam to Keep Merit based Admission https://bit.ly/Coalition4TJPetition