Washington Post Reported on Choice Report
In 2015, MCPS hired Metis Associates, an education consultant company based in New York, to evaluate “racial equity” in MCPS’s Gifted and Talented (GT) Programs and to provide recommendations. One of the goals of the GT programs was serve the needs of exceptional students. Many exceptional students found the curriculums of their respective home schools to be too simple. Admission to MCPS’ GT programs is based on a district-wide exam, and is open to all MCPS students. MCPS is considering making changes to admission standards of its Gifted and Talented (GT) Programs based on the Metis Report’s recommendation. Among the recommendations, Recommendation 3a is heavily opposed by Chinese American parents. Recommendation 3a proposed the use of so-called “non-cognitive criteria” and “group-specific norm” in admission process of GT programs. This is very similar to de-facto racial quota system used in some universities, especially Ivy League universities, against Chinese and Asian Americans students. Understandably, The Metis Report and Recommendation 3a prompted angers and worries from many Chinese American parents.
Historically, the number of Hispanic and African American students is lower than that of White and Asian American students in the GT programs. While the number of Chinese American students impacted by this reform is limited, many parents saw this unfair recommendation as a direct attack on Chinese American community in Montgomery County. Many Chinese American parents were concerned and outraged by such overt act of discrimination. Some of these concerned parents joined forces and established the Chinese American Parent Association of Montgomery County (CAPA-MC) to voice and protect the interests of Chinese American students.
In the past two months, CAPA-MC organized Chinese American parents to participate in MCPS’ Community Dialogues. Chinese American parents expressed worry and dissatisfaction against the Metis Report. It reached a climax on May 5th, 2016the third Community Dialogue at Walter Johnson High School. Three hundred Chinese American parents gathered and voiced their anger at the discriminatory Recommendation 3a. Chinese American parents followed up by voicing their concerns at MCPS Board of Education’s business meeting on May 10th, 2016.
Chinese American parents’ participation garnered the attention of Washington Post. The article reported on the Metis Report and the different reactions it elicited. Chinese American parents were interviewed as part of Washington Post’s article. Julie Yang, one of the Chinese American parents interviewed, was critical of the Metis Report. She saw it as divisive and thought that “…our communities should work together to better the education for everyone…We are one community of learners.” Michelle Gluck, president-elect of the Gifted and Talented Association of Montgomery County, was also critical of the Metis report. Mrs. Gluck thought the report missed a glaring and fundamental problem to GT programs – availability. Mrs. Gluck thought that one of the fundamental problem was the lack of GT programs across the County, especially in neighborhood schools. In addition, she was critical of the Metis report in that it focused on changing the admission criteria, rather than recommending ways to assist disadvantaged students in meeting the current ones. Hispanic and African American parents were more supportive of the Metis report. Fausto Zurita, a Hispanic student in the Magnet program, voiced his experience with being rejected from selective programs as an English Learners. Some African American parents contended that many gifted and talented African American children are passed over. Some African American parents also thought some of the comments made by Chinese American parents were hurtful. The article ends with a quote from Henry Fan, one of the Chinese American parents who attended the Community Dialogue – “This should be a merit-based program, and it should be a colorblind and universal standard,” Nonetheless, The community dialogues, along with the Washington Post article spurred extensive discussions on Washington Post and DC Urban Mom and Dad, a popular web forum for parents in Montgomery County.
Looking forward, CAPA-MC seeks to represent Chinese and other Asian parents and take active part in MCPS’s decision making process and be other areas (e.g. Board of Education election). CAPA-MC’s representatives will meet with MCPS to discuss Chinese American parents’ concerns about education. Currently, CAPA-MC is collecting inputs from the Chinese American communities, and hopes readers will actively participate in the upcoming survey.