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FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va.—Last week, Harry Jackson signed into a virtual hearing of the Fairfax County Circuit Court to gauge the future of his freshman son’s school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Established in 1985 as a school for gifted students, TJ has been the crown jewel of not only the Fairfax County Public Schools system but also the nation, ranked America’s No. 1 high school last year by U.S. News and World Report.

However, in superficial and dubious response to the killing of George Floyd last year, the Fairfax County School Board’s 12 members recently eliminated the race-blind, merit-based admissions tests to the largely Asian school. They argued high test performance was a “barrier” to black and Hispanic students. Most TJ students have tested in the top 2 percent of nationally normed tests that measure cognitive development, with IQ levels largely ranging from gifted at about 120 to genius at about 160.

School officials have replaced the tests with a  “holistic” popularity contest for students who best fit their “Portrait of Student,” with race-based criterion, middle school quotas, and subjective markers about whether a student is an “Ethical/Global Citizen,” “Creative and Critical Thinker,” “Goal-Directed and Resilient Individual,” “Innovator,” “Problem Solver,” “Leader,” “Collaborator” and “Communicator.”

Officials also discussed bringing to the school the “anti-racism” indoctrination of critical race theory, the controversial and divisive ideology sweeping K-12 education across the country. Early data analysis shows the new admissions scheme at TJ will discriminate against gifted students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In hearings last week, expected to continue Jan. 26, Virginia school officials are not only arguing to eliminate the admissions tests, but also undermine the very mission of the school.

A NAACP member and the first black student admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy from Lancaster County, Pa., years ago, Jackson doesn’t buy this racial politics and gerrymandering. Decades ago, Jackson’s father, a descendant of slaves from West Africa, took an academic test to attend Philadelphia’s Central High School, a magnet school for academically rigorous students. He eventually graduated from the University of Pennsylvania law school, paving the way for future black students.

Jackson is also the parent of one of 17 brave middle-school students who recently sued the school system to restore the tests as the fairest way to evaluate admissions to TJ. Education experts like Dante Dixson, a black assistant professor of school and educational psychology at Michigan State University, and organizations such as the National Association for Gifted Children argue that tests are the most race-blind way to evaluate giftedness.

But about one hour into the hearing, Jackson was shocked by what he heard. Fairfax County Circuit Judge John Tran started to ask the school system’s attorney a question about TJ, beginning, “You would be fine with it being considered a school for gifted students…”

“No!” the lawyer said, interrupting the judge mid-sentence.

“No?” Tran responded. “You’re not?”

“It is not a school for gifted students,” the lawyer insisted, conveniently ignoring decades of state Board of Education documents to the contrary, repeatedly identifying TJ as a school for gifted students. Jackson listened, stunned.

School officials trying desperately to dismiss the lawsuit took a position reflecting a wider attack on gifted students nationwide. Earlier this month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he is eliminating the test for the city’s gifted and talented program to also rig the program’s racial demographics, something critics like the Pacific Legal Foundation say is unconstitutional “racial balancing.”

This past fall, lobbied personally by the architect of “anti-racism,” author Ibram X. Kendi, Boston education officials eliminated their test to the academically advanced Boston Latin School and other selective schools.

“The attack on gifted education is not only a loss for students, but it’s a loss for our country. It’s a national security issue,” says Jackson. “As a nation, we should be supporting and nourishing our greatest minds. They will be our scientists, engineers, inventors, and innovators of industry. Their contributions will cross so many sectors: IT, defense, health care, government, and the arts. Our TJ graduates have an outsized positive impact on society for their numbers. They should be supported, not punished.”

Jonathan Plucker, a professor of talent development at Johns Hopkins University and president of the National Association for Gifted Children, has warned that an “ideology is turning against excellence” and “institutionalizing anti-intellectualism.” Indeed, last month, one of the chief proponents of critical race theory, Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times’ controversial 1619 Project (and an Ivy League graduate) wrote on Twitter, “Gifted programs should be eliminated,” sparking a firestorm of criticism from California to New York. She previously bragged about the benefits of getting a “gifted and talented” education.

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Around the country, parents are organizing to oppose ideological indoctrination in our schools and advance educational excellence. In Boston, parents have created the Boston Parent Coalition for Academic Excellence. In New York, PLACE NYC will host an Education First Mayoral Candidate Forum on Jan. 28 to pose tough questions to candidates, including former presidential aspirant Andrew Yang.

PLACE NYC cofounder Lucas Liu says, “Attacking higher-performing students under the guise of ‘equity’ grabs headlines, but won’t result in improving elementary school education, which is the where the inequity problem starts. For those ‘equity’ advocates, ‘equity’ is nothing more than a fashion accessory to make them look attractive, hiding the failures of Departments of Education to improve the academic outcomes of our most vulnerable students.” In California, Wenyuan Wu, executive director of Californians for Equal Rights, opposes the attack on gifted students as a “race to the bottom.”

In northern Virginia, where my son is a student at TJ, we’ve created Coalition for TJ, speaking at board meetings, hosting socially distant rallies where we wear facemasks that say, “JUSTICE” and #SAVETJ,” and support lawsuits, like the one filed by Jackson and the other parents. Nationally, we have strategized in Zoom calls, and have an #AdvancingExcellence campaign ready to launch as soon as we can get a breather from putting out fires set by school officials in our local communities. (I invite parents to contact me with their tips about indoctrination in K-12 schools.)

What Jackson says is true. Over the past three decades, TJ students and graduates have won national Science Bowls, geography bees, science fairs, and the bulk of northern Virginia’s National Merit scholarships, sent a satellite to space, launched technology startups like Robinhood, and pioneered advances in science, technology, engineering, and math. They’ve kept America competitive.

Earlier this month, President-elect Joe Biden named an Ethiopian-American TJ graduate, Yohannes Abraham, executive director of the Biden-Harris Transition, to be chief of staff of the National Security Council. This past weekend, Biden named scientist Eric Lander, a 1974 graduate of a specialized school in New York with a race-blind admissions test, as head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and elevated the position to cabinet level.

In Fairfax County, school officials have said unabashedly that the new “holistic” admissions are designed to make TJ more “demographically representative” of the county, where Asian students are about 20 percent of the population. Yet rather than fixing their long-documented failures in educating black and Hispanic students, the board and school officials are simply dropping the academic bar for admission to TJ — and instituting new discrimination.

Like children with special needs, “gifted” is a legally protected class of learning because these students, too, are at-risk for bullying and dropping out of school. Nowadays, they are the target of ridicule and attack by educrats and activists from the ideology of “critical race theory” that claims “systemic racism” if there aren’t equal outcomes based on racial demographics.

For parents like Jackson, watching school officials gut gifted education in Fairfax County, Va., eliminating the very programs that uplift students isn’t the answer. He is working with the Black Student Fund, a nonprofit based in nearby Washington, D.C., to support and advance the talent overlooked in black and Hispanic communities with a STEM tutoring program that offers small student-teacher ratios, financial support, and wrap-around support beyond academics, to build the pipeline to schools like TJ.

Like so many minority parents, Jackson doesn’t want the academic bar lowered. He wants school officials to start doing their job and educating all students at the highest levels possible. Later this month, he’ll tune in again to the Fairfax County court proceedings to support one objective: education, not ideological activism.



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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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Cruz responds to pictures of him on Mexico flight, with Texas struggling from deadly winter storm

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Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz confirmed Thursday that he flew earlier this week to Mexico with family members, following the emergence of pictures appearing to show him in an airplane cabin and at a check-in counter, as fellow residents to recover from a deadly winter storm.

Cruz said in a statement that he accompanied his daughters on a flight Wednesday night to Mexico because they had the week off with school canceled.

“Wanting to be a good dad,” said Cruz, who also stated he is returning to Texas on Thursday afternoon.

The storms has been connected to at least seven deaths in Texas and knocked out power to as many as 2.5 million residents. The number of residents without electricity as of Thursday morning was down to less than 1 million, officials said.  

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“My staff and I are in constant communication with state and local leaders to get to the bottom of what happened in Texas,” Cruz also said. “We want our power back, our water on, and our homes warm.”

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South Carolina House passes bill that would prohibit most abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected

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The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 79-35 to pass legislation that would prohibit most abortions. 

The bill must pass through a procedural vote in the House on Thursday prior to heading to GOP Gov. Henry McMaster who has indicated that he will sign it, according to the Associated Press. Two Republicans voted against the legislation while two Democrats voted for it. The state Senate passed the measure last month. 

The bill requires doctors to carry out an ultrasound to check for a fetal heartbeat and if a heartbeat is identified an abortion can only be performed in certain circumstances.

The legislation would not penalize a woman for obtaining an unlawful abortion, though the individual responsible for performing the abortion could face consequences.

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The outlet reported that other states have approved similar or even more stringent abortion prohibitions which could be implemented if the Supreme Court throws out the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. All of the other states’ abortion bans are currently entangled by court challenges and if the South Carolina bill is approved it will likely face litigation that prevents it from going into effect, according to the AP.

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