A Vote to Inspect

County Government

First, I read an enlightening guest column by Mychele B. Brickner ["Renewed Call for Inspector General," Fairfax Extra, July 8]. I believe that she ably described the impact of The Washington Post article, "Fairfax Consumer Division in Turmoil" [Page A-1, June 20].

Her comments were refreshing and should get the attention of every Fairfax County voter.

Second, turn to the July 8 letters to the editor of The Post. In a letter, County Executive Anthony H. Griffin seems to be saying that The Post's whole report of problems in the Fairfax County Consumer Division has been misrepresented.

Besides, he concluded that he has "initiated reviews of several county policies."

I'm relieved -- a review of policies. That should solve our problems.

However, Ms. Brickner painted an entirely different picture. Per Ms. Brickner, Fairfax County's 12 internal auditors, an external auditor and Mr. Griffin had no idea of conditions reported in The Post.

Now get this -- Mr. Griffin will not release the internal audit report regarding the matter. What's going on here?

Ms. Brickner correctly concluded, "The failure of the Board of Supervisors to act on this matter will probably lead to future abuses of taxpayer money and additional scandals." Batten down the hatch, Fairfax, rough seas ahead.

Now I understand why my property tax has increased so dramatically of late. Just one example of why so much is needed to support Fairfax County: An employee, while on travel, often stayed at resort hotels; one cost $344 a night. Wow! No wonder taxes in Fairfax County are so high.

Ms. Brickner renews her call for an inspector general.

I would agree with her, except for one question: To whom will the inspector general report? The Board of Supervisors? Considering the problems that Ms. Brickner discusses in her column, that does not seem to be a good idea.

Perhaps we need to vote the current board out of office next election. Maybe we need a fresh review of county management.

In the interim, I can only continue to stagger under Fairfax County's massive tax increases.

James E. Foster


Greater Diversity at TJ

Won't Breed Respect

The article "School Board to Take Up TJ Diversity" [Metro, July 8] is another example of the Fairfax County School Board ignoring the tenet, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Attempting to diversify the selection process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology by giving "extra points" for essays, teacher recommendations and outside activities is simply another way of injecting added subjectivity into a process that should be purely based on objectivity.

The 800 semifinalists who applied for admission are among the best and brightest in the school system. Probably all of these would get glowing teacher recommendations, are already active in outside activities and would most likely be able to write a credible essay simply because that is exactly what they have to do to get into the college of their choice.

Obviously, if the selection criteria were to change, a certain number of the 450 students with the highest test scores will be denied admission to admit less-qualified minorities.

An unpleasant question must now be answered: How many of each type of minority should be selected to provide the necessary "diversity?" To really be fair, we should probably base admissions on the latest school census percentages. To this end, based on the 2003-04 percentages and a 450-member incoming class, then we should admit 67 Hispanics, 48 blacks, 237 whites, 76 Asians, 18 multiracial, two American Indians and one "other."

Comparing this to the current student breakdown, this would mean that eight white students, 67 Asian students and 12 multiracial students would have to be denied admission in deference to those less qualified. How do we explain that to those students and their parents?

The mission statement of the school states that is should foster among its students "respect for individual and cultural diversity." Admitting less-qualified minority students will foster a climate of disrespect towards all minority students. Thomas Jefferson is a school for science and technology, not political correctness and forced diversity. Those who are best qualified get in; those who are less qualified don't.

The School Board should, as has been proposed by others, expend its efforts toward fostering outreach educational programs to prepare students for the rigors of not only the admissions process but also for the intensive level of classroom instruction once a student is actually admitted to Thomas Jefferson.

Richard Calvert