A Virginia high school has decided to make race a deciding factor in whether students would qualify for Advanced Placement and honors classes.
Hadley High School in Winchester, Virginia, distributed a shocking letter to parents—which went viral after one concerned parent sent a copy to conservative radio pundit, Todd Starnes.
The letter from Hadley High School lamented that, despite the school district’s best efforts, the district “continue[d] to see outcomes that are disproportionate by race and social class” when it came to student performance.
“Through our collective work, advanced classes such as AP and Honors will have proportional representation,” declared the letter. “Proportional representation is 40% White, 35% Hispanic, 12% African American, 10% mixed race.”
The letter seems to suggest that, regardless of student merit, spots in top classes would be given to lesser-qualified minority students over more-qualified white ones if white students were overrepresented.
“American demographic trends indicate that America will be a majority minority nation in the next 25 years,” the letter continued. “Therefore, the new work of American public schools is to develop systems to address disparate outcomes.”
After Starnes first publicized the letter, a school district spokesperson quickly denied that Hadley High School was trying to make race an issue when it came to student placement.
“Our school division does not have, nor has it ever had, any policy that utilizes race for enrollment into honors or AP courses,” said the spokesperson, in a public statement. “All students, regardless of race, must meet academic criteria to enroll in advanced level coursework. Over the past years, the School Board has continued its focus on providing advanced level coursework as well as increasing advanced course offerings across a variety of disciplines. The School Board has not contemplated, nor adopted, any policy or practice that utilizes race in determining which students can or cannot take such courses, or any other courses for that matter.”
However, the school district curiously didn’t deny the letter had been sent out, adding, “The portion of the letter [Starnes] cited was from an insert in a back to school mailing from John Handley High School that highlighted division and school level work slated for 2017-2018. This work includes increased efforts to identify students who meet academic criteria and encourage them to enroll in advanced level coursework, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and disability.”
However, it’s unclear how a letter declaring “advanced classes such as AP and Honors will have proportional representation” could be taken out of context.