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"Breeding Ground For Arrogance Doesn't Deserve Me"

Matthew Nuti, the 16-year-old Fairfax student who was thrown out of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology because he fell short of the newly required B average, has read your many comments about his plight, and he's here with a response:

Hi, this is Matthew Nuti. Many of you are bringing up how "reality called" and I should accept the consequences of my actions. When has reality consisted of kids--kids--getting expelled from his school for passing all his courses? When has reality consisted of kids being treated like criminal offenders for not meeting an arbitrary academic standard? This isn't a reality I asked for, and more importantly than that, this is not a reality I signed up for. When I was accepted to Jefferson, there was no 3.0 rule. Now, I'd be happy to explain to all of you why this rule and decision is fundamentally flawed, so you can all understand really what is going on here.

Elitism is always a fun topic. You hear about it a lot in politics, government debates, and other such forums. This is when someone thinks they know better than you, thus should be allowed to tell you what to do. Well, I have fallen victim to an elitist attitude, from a school. In the lovely letter they sent to my home telling me that I didn't meet their cut and informing me that I would be attending my base school next year, they told me that they were taking these actions because it is "in my best interest." My parents disagree. They were present at my appeal (or my trial where the administration was the judge, jury, and executioner) clearly stating that Thomas Jefferson is the best place for me, and they said no. I don't care if my parents are delusional as you all would like to think, they are still my parents, and they certainly know what's best for me much more than a man whom I've had one 15 minute conversation with in my life.

I started a Facebook group where Jefferson students past and present could discuss the rule (and its application to me.) Of the hundreds of students who joined the group, two have expressed strong approval of the rule, a few have suggested a 2.0 rule, and everyone else stated they strongly disagree with the rule. When I was first informed of my removal from Jefferson, my sister took the liberty of sending out an email request for support from those who know me. In these letters, students have said they avoid AP's and other more difficult courses to ensure they get good enough grades. Others redo their schedules over and over again until they get the easier teachers. Even then, students still have said they are more inclined to cheat to get them that little "edge" to ensure their higher GPA. Does this rule sound like it's producing a great society of intellect to you? It sounds like it's ruining the #1 national ranking that we students have worked so hard to achieve.

I'll talk more specifically of my case now. There is an error in the article; I do not blame my history teacher for my removal from the school. I blame the administration and their rule for my removal from the school. My expulsion is bluntly damaging to my future no matter what I choose to pursue, and they have the audacity to tell me this is in my "best interest." I have been wronged, that much is clear, but I don't want your sympathy. "Life's not fair, deal with it," is something we teenagers hear a lot, but just because I got kicked out doesn't mean I can't fight them on principles, which I have and the administration has done a good job of demonstrating that they do not.

So, some people are going to think "we have to kick you out, Matthew Nuti, to preserve the almighty reputation of Thomas Jefferson." The school has been proclaimed by multiple sources as the number one high school in the country. This distinction was granted to the school before this "standard" existed. The main reason the school is so highly regarded is a result of the collection of students. And yes, this distinction was awarded while I was a student there. No matter how good the faculty is, no matter how bad the facility is, it's us, the student body, that makes this school what it truly is. And, whether or not the administration wants to admit that I brought value to this school, I did. Now the administration wants to introduce arrogance and elitism to an otherwise exceptional student body.

So, it seems to me the only truly spectacular part of the school is the student body, which the administration is working fervently, through its destructive policies, to bring down to their level. I do not believe that Jefferson is improving as a school through this policy. I believe it is becoming a "Stepford" society where the administration can mold the great minds of our youth into whatever they want, in this case arrogant and hypocritical.

"An intervention plan," they say. I wouldn't call their actions that. There were two meetings throughout the second half of the school year, the first was at the beginning of third quarter. At which point, it was essentially too late to raise my GPA to their arbitrary standard. In this meeting, I had a discussion with four of my teachers, two of which said, "Why are we here?" One said, "Partner with good French speakers for group work in French class." (I feel it's relevant to note I have never been strong in French.) And then there was my discussion with the history teacher, where she offered her room as a quiet place for me to study. No further help was offered, and at no time was help ever denied. (Note: none of these are direct quotes.) Then, in the middle of 4th quarter--fourth quarter--Dr. Glazer [Jefferson's principal] told me I should consider working harder. That is the extent of their so-called "intervention." I had no academic probation, no "required tutoring," and no special plan to increase my grades. I don't know about you, but it seems to me they didn't help me at all. In fact, it looks to me like they waited until it was too late for anything to be done, and then made it look like they tried.

"All fun and games." I love when people read an article and assume they know everything. To say I didn't do any work is false and quite rude. Ask anyone who knows me and they can tell you that I do more work than the majority of people my age. Oh, and I played football which was "obviously" a major distraction. My grades were better during the season than after. And, if I weren't interested in doing work, maybe I wouldn't be one of the front men of the Model United Nations club, the largest student organization at Jefferson. Maybe I wouldn't have played football? Maybe I wouldn't have joined yearbook? I have a tremendous work ethic and always have, and people who know me beyond reading an article about me in the newspaper can and will attest to that fact.

So, all in all it's quite clear I'm not a very intelligent individual. It's quite clear that I'm not worthy of Jefferson's valuable space. It's quite clear that the school as a whole is much better off without me. A school that demands adulthood out of children is not what the aim of education should be. This is a school that may be gaining statistics, but it is losing its character, which is more important in the real world, which we will be entering soon. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Intelligence plus character. That is the goal of true education." While Jefferson is certainly succeeding in teaching intelligence, their actions demonstrate they are definitely failing in teaching character. Someday, the administration at Jefferson will learn that the real world looks beyond a person's GPA to truly "grade" an individual. They say I'm not deserving of a spot at this prestigious school? I say this breeding ground for arrogance is not deserving of me.

By Marc Fisher |  July 30, 2008; 5:32 PM ET
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Matt, we all do extracurriculars. Every single kid and TJ. I've done football, track, NHS, baseball, tutored, umpired, contributed to the paper and the yearbook, etc. We all manage to handle the load though. A few easy extracurriculars does not excuse you.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 6:18 PM

Furthermore, TJ has been home to four of the best years of my life. You know very well the level of support and camaraderie at the school. You know very well how everyone is welcome, teachers are always there, how friends have your back. Why are you purposely trying to perpetuate this negative stereotype of TJ that everyone else seems to hold? You know there was only such an uproar because you went to these people at the post who hold a grudge against the school for reasons unknown, and seemed very willing to blame others for your predicament. Arguing that the rule is unfair is one thing, you may have agreements there, but once you took it out on the school that we love, we took it personally. And now you criticize us again?

Posted by: JMC | July 30, 2008 6:22 PM

Matt, i agree with the post above mine, we all do extracurrics and if you actually stop and look around you at TJ, most of the time the kids with the highest GPAs are also the kid's doing the most extracurriculars. It doesn't matter that you disagree with the rule or think that it isn't fair, the fact is that the rule has been set and you as a student of TJ should have followed it. If you had this big of a "principles" problem with it, you should have been fighting it from the beginning.

As a sidenote, please stop pumping up the fact that you do MUN. Yes, it is the largest club at TJ, but that just means it had more people who were able to manage participating in MUN and keeping above a 3.0 Grow up and take some responsibility for yourself for once

Posted by: anonymous | July 30, 2008 6:25 PM

Your writing is horrendous. It's no wonder that you did poorly in English class.

Posted by: jive turkey | July 30, 2008 6:41 PM

Marc Fisher:
Why do you keep following this tired story? Could your energies not be better spent elsewhere?

TJ is a great institution, and it shall continue as such. Matthew Nuti was a poor student, and he has been dealt with as such.

You, Marc Fisher, do not understand the work it takes to be well rounded at TJHSST. I graduated in 2007 with a 3.3 (a subpar GPA at TJ) and a laundry-list of officerships and extra-curriculars. I would have considered it a personal failure to have ever fallen below 3.0 cumulatively.

I believe that you, Marc Fisher, might have a personal issue with TJHSST. You should not let Matthew Nuti further his embarrassment because of an inherent dislike on your part.

Posted by: TJ07 | July 30, 2008 6:43 PM

So the reporter made up the part about you blaming the history teacher?

Posted by: DG | July 30, 2008 6:46 PM

Epic Fail. Hit the books dude.


Inner City kids who cant read or write

Posted by: Homey | July 30, 2008 6:48 PM

I'm on Matt's side. If what he is saying is true, that he was not offered adequate interventions in order to raise his GPA, then the school is in violation of federal law. IDEA and FEAP exist to ensure that children and adolescents receive academic interventions and accommodations, because, especially in a highly-motivated student like Matt, they work. "Working harder" is not the answer for most kids who are having academic problems, and myriad academic interventions were developed for that reason.

I do neuropsychology and learning disability testing for a living. I know of what I speak.

Matt should get another chance, and TJ should be ashamed of itself. Matt will have to deal with the consequences of being EXPELLED (the worst possible academic consequence) from school for the rest of his life. And for what? For having an average-plus range GPA?

TJ is more interested in status than students, that much is clear. Not to mention likely in violation of federal law.

Posted by: Kari | July 30, 2008 6:57 PM

It would be nice to hear from someone who doesn't have a chip on their shoulder one way or another due to attending TJ. Any takers out there in the world of commenting?

FWIW, I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, although one thing to consider is that graduate school is the only other educational setting I've ever heard of where a sub-3.0 is grounds for expulsion.

Posted by: St. Louis area HS grad, 1999 | July 30, 2008 6:59 PM

A reasonable response from him, but the dispassionate observer in me still sees some issues:

First and foremost, TJ attendance is a privilege not a right. As such, there are a limited number of spots to go around, and someone must be the final arbiter of who gets them.

His claim to staying is no stronger than the first alternate's claim to enrolling next year.

To claim that the school removed him for the express purpose of maintaining it's reputation is a little myopic. One student is not statistically significant in a data set so large.

"A school that demands adulthood out of children is not what the aim of education should be." Having a high work ethic in MUN, yearbook, and on the football team but not on classwork is decidedly juvenile. I don't question why a kid is juvenile, but I do question why a adult didn't intervene sooner to help refocus and prioritize things. This includes both the parents and the school counselors.

A person with a 2.x or low 3.x GPA from TJHSST faces a much harder road for matriculation into a good university than does a student with a high 3.x GPA from other regional schools assuming the same test scores and extra-curricular activities. If the student and parents don't care about that, why not?

I know a lot of smart people that graduated from TJ, but almost all of the REALLY smart people I've met didn't go to TJ -- they went to private schools or were home-schooled. In all cases, highly motivated parents that are intimately involved in their children's education will drastically increase the odds of scholastic success.

Posted by: Leesburger | July 30, 2008 7:03 PM

A Facebook page to discuss the rule and specifically its application to you?

Christ, now I've heard everything.

Posted by: Regina Phelangi | July 30, 2008 7:11 PM

St. Louis area HS grad, 1999 -- I have no relationship whatsoever with the school other than as a taxpayer funding it. I know a few graduates who generally have been pretty smart, but otherwise have no dog in the fight. I just comment on here as a way of procrastinating at work since scrabulous is now gone from facebook. :-)

Posted by: Leesburger | July 30, 2008 7:11 PM


Nice response. You had me until the part about "demanding adulthood out of children"

A high school student is not a child.

And I suspect that your parents insisted that you attend TJ.

And that you will major in Art in college.

Posted by: Tom Jefferson | July 30, 2008 7:12 PM


Other than the interventional tactics mentioned in Matt's "essay," what else would you have done to help him? Mandatory tutoring? Extra assignments to help him make up all of the credit that he had missing? Having his siblings do his homework for him?

Responsibility ALWAYS lies with the student when it comes to completing work and SEEKING OUT help when needed. Matthew never looked for ways he could improve. Instead he wrung his hands and hoped that the school would provide some magic solution for his time-management woes.

If a person needs to be coddled along and provided motivation in order to do an absolute minimal amount of work, then they'd be better off at a base high school.

Posted by: ACC | July 30, 2008 7:16 PM

Getting thrown out of TJ will not really hurt you in the long run, but it does suck.

3.0 can you say grade inflation.

School admen are the lowest form of life in the United states just as any real teacher. Other places they brake the rules for star players because football basketball is what matters.

Your are correct about the students making TJ what it is. That is way TJ does not make Fairfax count as a whole, a better place to go to high school.

At West Potomac there was a sharp decline in students between my sister's class and my class 3 years later largely because of the brain drain to TJ.

Posted by: mul | July 30, 2008 7:20 PM

I have to say that, in our family at least, academics always came first. Extra-curricular activities are called "extra" for a reason. If grades aren't kept up, something extra has to go. When my kids were in college, they both had scholarships that were predicated on them retaining a 3.0 GPA or higher. That was because there was only a finite amount of money to go around. In the same way, TJ has a finite number of spaces and lots of kids who are vying for every one of those spaces. When does it cease to become the school's responsibility to help you get better grades and become YOUR responsibility? Believe me, whatever they did for you was more than the colleges will do or what most of the working world will do for you. You're a great kid. You'll survive in the public school world wherever you go. Just get your priorities straight and accept responsibilit for your own life.

Posted by: Karen | July 30, 2008 7:22 PM

Welcome to the joy of the blogosphere, kid. Trust me, it won't matter if you get your degree from an uber school or a regular high school.

I went to Pocatello High School. That's in Idaho. It didn't stop me from getting into a good college. Or a good grad school (Iowa State). And the fact that I didn't get into MIT for grad school didn't stop me from becoming a professor and competing at the international level.

It's not where you go. It's what you do with it. Whether or not your high school diploma is from TJ matters little. Your drive matters greatly.


Posted by: Fairlington Blade | July 30, 2008 7:22 PM

14 is not an adult!

Posted by: mul | July 30, 2008 7:22 PM

I tire of your persistent and pointless noisemaking, Mr. Nuti. TJHSST, an elite (but not elitist, please do not confuse the two) and competitive high school, has implemented a plan to ensure that students in attendance there are committed pursuing academic excellence. Yes, the plan was put into action after you had already been admitted, but honestly, how much a difference does that make? Attendance of TJ is by no means compulsory for students in Fairfax County. This is not as though you were kicked out of your base school for a 2.8. You were kicked out of a competitive magnet school that you had to test into. TJ implemented the 3.0 rule to make sure that TJ students were doing something fundamental to the school's core values; putting academics first.

Mr. Nuti, believe it or not, school exists primarily for academics, not for extra-curriculars. You were a student at TJ, first and foremost, not a passion-pursuer. As a competitive institution THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE TO ATTEND OVER YOUR BASE SCHOOL, TJ has (and quite fairly, I might add) the right to make higher academic demands of their students. If you were not living up to your duties as a TJ student, TJHSST was well within fairness to decline you readmittance for future school years.

If you believe that somebody who was failing in their role as a student deserves to be there as much as those who are living up to their duties, then it is you who are arrogant and elitist, my friend.

Posted by: Oh dear | July 30, 2008 7:23 PM

I wonder why the school didn't "grandfather in students like this one when they made the rule change? They should have known at the time that all of their students don't consistently achieve a 3.0 or higher. If they did, why the need for the rule? Maybe they should have intervened with students like this and disallowed them extracurricular activities if they were in peril of missing the grade. But I think the student learned a lesson which will prove to be the catalyst that will propel him farther in life(albeit with a chip on his shoulder) than any of the students at TJ: Actions have consequences.

Posted by: Ben | July 30, 2008 7:24 PM

Having attended a fiercely competitive high school myself, I can understand the mentality that these kids have when it comes to their education. In that kind of atmosphere, every student has one purpose in mind: getting into an elite college. And with the caliber of applicants being at an all-time high, there is very little leeway for "resume shortcomings."

But once they get to college, they'll realize that they may have over-fixated on getting admitted to a school in the US News Top 10.

Down the road, Matthew Nutti will probably regret the tone he used in the letter, but I respect how he voiced his opinion and exercised his rights.

Posted by: College Grad | July 30, 2008 7:25 PM

TJ has always been elitist because elitism is inherent in any intentional division separation of the "worthy" from the "unworthy." Such institutions overlook that the purpose of education is (or, at least in public schools, should be) not to sort students but to develop every student as much as possible.
There are plenty of studies demonstrating that education works best for all students when gifted students work side-by-side with challenged students. Fairfax County needs to stop spending money at TJ just so that insecure parents and their insecure brats can congratulate themselves on how special they are.

Posted by: Principled Teacher | July 30, 2008 7:25 PM


Regarding Matt being one data point:

1) If his GPA is truly a statistical outlier, it *would* bring down the overall mean school GPA. The mean is not a very robust estimator.

2) I sincerely doubt Matt will be the only casualty of this misguided policy. He is merely the first. If a nice statistic is what they seek, they will get it.

Regarding your calling him "juvenile" for focusing on extracurriculars "and not classwork": By Matt's account, he did focus on coursework. He just had a difficult time with it. Struggling academically is no reason to kick a kid out of high school.

Why didn't this kid ever get psychoeducational testing? Maybe he has a learning disability or AD/HD (issues on which the general public are sorely misinformed, so I expect to see a lot of strong and erroneous opinions on the LD/ADHD issue). It sounds like TJ sure skipped a lot of steps they could have taken to help Matt, and that is why this sounds suspiciously like a salvo to raise the average GPA.

I do not know Matt and I graduated from public schools in Michigan. My opinion and is based on my professional knowledge of cognition and academic achievement.

Incidentally, I watched the early 90s movie "Pump Up the Volume" a few months ago, and was laughing at what I thought was a far-fetched subplot regarding expelling kids for having lower GPAs. I guess life imitates bad Christian Slater movies.

Posted by: Kari | July 30, 2008 7:29 PM

I think the policy is absolutely hare-brained. Why do public school educators love zero-tolerance rules so much? Because it keeps them from having to make the difficult decisions other adults (read: parents) have to make all the time and makes their jobs that much easier. I can understand that, if a student was truly being an unmotivated slacker at a magnet school, they should be removed to open a spot for another student. But that does not seem to be the case at all with this individual. Presumably TJ will change what A and B mean from "excellent" and "above average" to "Awesome" and "Below Awesome" since anybody average - among an already super-gifted student body - will simply no longer be allowed to attend. My goodness. This country finds another way to dumb itself down every day. One of the best high school teachers I had, who taught only AP courses, said on the first day that even if we were all excellent, some would still be better than others and there would be some degree of grading to a curve, otherwise the grade would have no meaning. When I got a B+ in that course, at least I knew it meant something because I knew that a friend of mine had gotten a C. That rational type of thinking, routed in the essence of what grading is supposed to be about, is gradually being tossed out. Why should the grade mean anything? Everybody has to feel "good about themselves" and the only way to do that is for everybody to get good grades! When these kids become lawyers, if they lose a case, that's it. F for Failure. The judge isn't going to work out a compromise so both sides can feel good about themselves. If they are a doctor and they make a mistake, a patient could die. Again. Failure. Just as with our ridiculous infantalizing policies about youth drinking, we'd prefer to keep people from ever growing up.

Posted by: TheSarcastics | July 30, 2008 7:30 PM

"Demanding adulthood" from high school students is a crucial part of this very valuable education you've been given, Matt. I hope that very soon you can reflect upon this incident, learn from it, and change your attitude. Perhaps the subject, with a mature perspective, will make a great topic for your college entrance essay.

Posted by: Karen | July 30, 2008 7:32 PM

This diatribe is lame. It sounds like a bunch of excuses from a kid who was content with scraping by. I am also a graduate of TJ, was a three sport athlete, and kept a 3.8 while at Jefferson. Life doesn't get easier after high school; the balancing act only gets harder. Jefferson asks and receives academic excellence from almost every student it provides with the coveted opportunity to learn there. It is a privilege to go to Jefferson, and I never forgot that. If a student squanders the opportunity by not asking enough of himself, that is his issue and his alone. He comes across as angry, ungrateful, and incapable of taking responsibility for his own actions. He should have worked harder, period. The best thing he can do now is carry himself like an adult and leave before the rest of his dignity slips away.

Posted by: boo hoo | July 30, 2008 7:35 PM

Actually, ACC, federal law (IDEA and FEAP) MANDATES that kids/adolescents who are struggling in school receive psychoeducational testing and appropriate academic accommodations.

It is not up to an adolescent to determine what academic accommodations are right for him, and it should not be incumbent upon an adolescent to initiate navigation into that system. It is the purview of adults to do this.

Did you know that the brain is not even fully developed until we are about 25 years old? And that includes the part responsible for judgment and reasoning. Asking a kid (and he IS a kid) to take full responsibility for his academic success, without even being offered testing and accommodations, is not even biologically realistic. Kids need guidance.

You guys are being waaaaay too hard on this kid. He's a KID. He needs assistance, and the system failed him. So much for TJ being a paragon of educational excellence.

Posted by: Kari | July 30, 2008 7:35 PM

Matthew, I'm sure that your parents are decent and loving people, but they have done you a disservice by allowing you to continue to delude yourself into believing that your expulsion was ultimately caused (or could have been prevented) by anyone other than yourself.

It is your job to ensure that you do well in school -- not the administration's. Likewise, someday it will be your job to do well in your career -- and it will not your employer's job to improve your performance. That's just life. Learn to take responsibility for your mistakes, and don't be ashamed of them, because you will learn from them.

Being expelled from TJ is hardly a fatal blow to your life, Matthew. Sure, it stings and it's embarassing, but it's much worse to deny the obvious -- that you prioritized other things ahead of doing well in school.

To do otherwise, is to truly invite what you fear most: that people will remember this about you forever.

Take a lesson from the former President of the United States, who was unable to admit that he "inhaled", and who said under oath, "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is". Had he had the courage to tell the truth, history would barely have taken note.

Posted by: Greg A | July 30, 2008 7:38 PM

Mr. Nuti,

First off let me just say that I was never accepted into TJ, though I would have loved to have gone there. Having gone to Holmes Middle School before high school, I always passed TJ when going to and from school. Instead of TJ, I went to Annandale High School. Not truely the best high school in Fairfax County, but it was a school with a lot of history. While I would have liked to have had graduating from TJ on my transcript, I graduated in 2000 with honors, a 3.5 GPA and a 1480 (out of the old 1600 system) SAT score. I didn't have as many extracurricular activities as you did, but it didn't stop me from getting accepted into my first choice and eventually graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in engineering. Now I currently work as a federal government employee as well as attending graduate courses at GMU for my masters.

While this may not have been the outcome you may have wished for, know that public school isn't as bad as one may believe and believe me, I've had some pretty bad ones at AHS. There is an old and redundant cliche, "When life thows you lemons; make lemonade."
Make the most out of your last two years at public school count and I promise you, things will work themselves out and you'll be right back on track for whatever plan you have for the future.

Posted by: Former AHS Student | July 30, 2008 7:39 PM

He seems to write well for a sub-par student. Certainly he can be given a pass on his puffing up his extra-curriculars, he is defending the past few years of his life. His strongest argument is that the rule changed after the fact....after he was invited to join the program. He and his family made decisions and choices based on the rules as they existed when the invitation was extended. Important life choices. Will he survive the next year at a new school? Certainly. Will he make it in life? Certainly. Why should he have to suffer being forced to change schools, losing contact with his peers and friends and starting over for the sake of an arbitrary rule change when allowing him to continue at TJ through his graduation while imposing the rule on newly entering students would be a more rational and reasonable solution.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 7:39 PM

At the beginning of the school year TJ notified everyone of the change in requirements. Last time I checked grades are issued at the end of each quarter. If my grade point average had slipped I certainly would have buckled down and be proactive not wait for someone else to take responsibility. I know I always did when my children's grades slipped and curtailed other activities until they pulled up their grades. It is all about accepting responsibilities and not passing the buck placing the blame on other individuals for one's short commings.

Posted by: Side | July 30, 2008 7:43 PM

So you were at TJ when the school was rated number 1. Let me make it clear that SAT scores and AP exam scores were used as the benchmark for its #1 ranking. I doubt you took any APs or SATs. Hence, you had no part in the #1 ranking.

As an alum, I am embarassed by your conduct, which discredits all of the students who have passed through the school and put in their fair share of work. Furthermore, it was immature of you to bring up the fact that students at TJ try to get easier classes and cheat on exams in order to get good grades. As sad as it sounds, dishonesty and corner-cutting occurs at even the highest institutions of learning in the world, and it would be delusional to think otherwise.

As a Jefferson alum, I find it my responsibility to represent my school well wherever I go. Jefferson students are held to a higher standard than most. You clearly were not able to live up to the standard. Given the fact that both your sister and elder brother have gone through the school, you had no excuse for underperformance. You knew exactly what you were getting into from the beginning. You failed. Get over it and move on.

Posted by: N | July 30, 2008 7:52 PM

Good work, kid. Don't let those idiots keep you down. High school doesn't really mean as much as people try to make it out to be anyway, so it doesn't matter where you go. Just graduate from wherever with the best grades possible and go on from there. Hell, you have people from bumfrick Virginia and MD going to good schools all over the place, so keep goin' all out, wherever you are.

Posted by: fbutler1 | July 30, 2008 7:53 PM

I graduated from the US Navy Nuclear Power School in Orlando, Florida. Some say it is one of the toughest technical schools in the country. The saying there was "Two Five and Survive." Meaning, you were expected to keep your GPA above 2.5. As a physics teacher I can tell you having a GPA standard of 3.0 or better is simply a breading ground for grade inflation. At my school a B- is 2.7 so a 2.8 GPA is a low B high C average.

Posted by: Shame on TJHS | July 30, 2008 7:54 PM

OK...I've read the original article now. Not just Marc's piece. In this young man's case, maybe he should have been removed from TJ. But my point stands that as a matter of policy, establishing a absolute cut-off is a very bad idea. I think MF paints perhaps a rosier picture of this young man as a student than he deserved, but I accept that as a rhetorical device because I agree with his underlying points about grade inflation.

Posted by: TheSarcastics | July 30, 2008 7:58 PM

Mr. Nuti, you should admit your failure and stop hurting your school.
With GPA of only 2.8 now,you will not succeed as a junior at TJ, and so going back to Robinson is just a matter of time,sooner or later. Let's face it. Don't be arrogant, rude and impolite. You are lucky to be here in the US; elsewhere you will be punished for trying to use the Internet as a weapon against your school and your teachers. In other countries, people certainly think of you as a very bad kid.
And Mr. Fisher, please rethink your position. Why are you keep trying to cover a failed kid at the expense of more than 1,800 TJ succesful TJ's students? What's you are doing is quite immoral. Don't you have other better things to cover such as homeless, jobless, people suffer all over the world because of war, starvation, dictatorship, communist regimes, etc? Let's practice good and responsible journalism. Greatness should prevail. Thank you.

Posted by: David | July 30, 2008 7:59 PM

I feel like the 3.0 rule will lead to grade inflation...

Nonetheless, I went to JEB Stuart down the street (because I didn't get into TJ) and ended up doing a Ph.D. at the #2 school for my program. It doesn't really matter in the long run - if I mention TJ out here in Cali, people couldn't care less.

I've read a study (can't quote it offhand) that shows similar quality students who go to different colleges end up with about the same quality jobs afterwards - I would assume this applies to high school, maybe even more so. Just apply yourself at either institution and you'll do fine. It might even be an interesting experience meeting a larger cross section of people at your base school. I'm certainly happy with my high school experience.

For those of you who are interested:

I remember the study quantifying student 'quality' through which colleges they got into - i.e. looking at students who got into MIT and George Mason, of which some chose MIT, some chose GMU. Then they looked at average job salaries afterward and found a slight edge for the first few years out of the better school (A few percent I think) but then it evened out in the long run. It's not perfect, but I think it's a good indicator.

Posted by: Chris | July 30, 2008 8:00 PM

The lawyer in me sides with Matt. He applied and was accepted without any preconditions on maintaining his GPA at 3.0 or above. If TJH officials were serious about the policy, they could have implemented it with incoming classes as they enter.

His work habits and choices of activities are irrelevant. He applied, and TJH made an offer and he accepted. For TJH to change the rules in the middle of his school career is awful.

Separately, I agree that a 3.0 GPA requirement under any circumstances is ridiculous and elitist. A grade is only a shorthand (at best) of how much a student learns in class. But society now considers numerical grades to the total exclusion of how much a student actually learns in class. The question is (or rather, should be) whether Matt is learning at TJH, irrespective of his grades. A minimum GPA rule totally ignores that point, and Matt gives great examples of the detriment of relying too much on grades (e.g. students manipulating courseload and teachers in order to take the "easy" classes). A higher GPA because a student games the system really means higher grades by not having to learn as much. This is exactly the opposite result of the desired goal of having students learn as much as possible.

It is not surprising at all that elitism would impose arbitrary rules in the name of protecting a flawed reputation. But everyone should recognize that this rule abandons the goal of imparting actual knowledge in favor of keeping grades high at any cost. If that is what TJH wants to encourage, then it's not the school I want my kids to attend.

Posted by: Greenlabormike | July 30, 2008 8:01 PM

It is always fun to read a 'temper tantrum', especially one so poorly written by a person who has an undeservedly inflated opinion of himself.

Typical of 'the world revolves around me' attitude exhibited in this response by little Matthew, there is still no recognition of his own responsibility to maintain the level of achievement demanded by this "elite" school.

Wee Matthew scornfully demeans the school that he was asked to leave and haughtily demeans the instructors at that school - loftily proclaiming that the students are the reason for the reputation of excellence. (Apparently all the students except for lazy Matthew). Wow, talk about egotistical!!

This paragon then announces that the school does not deserve him. I agree - I'm not sure that any place deserves such an arrogant egomaniac - particularly one who has no apparent reason to be so full of himself.

My sympathies to Robinson High School which now has to take this idiot and his equally idiotic parents.

Posted by: PJ | July 30, 2008 8:03 PM

My, they are training everyone to be young fascists these days aren't they!? Since when is posting his opinions "using the internet as a weapon against your schools and teachers." ROTFL!

Posted by: TheSarcastics | July 30, 2008 8:03 PM

I find this situation disturbing. This is a public school. It chose to take on the responsibility of educating Matt, a choice that most public schools don't get to make. As I understand it, Matt was not truant or a classroom distraction. He participated in school; he had trouble with certain subjects and it appears that TJ may have been distracted by other voluntary school events that he enjoyed more. And, by their own standards, having failed at educating Matt to an acceptable level, TJ is able the dust off its feet and walk away. NOT WITH MY TAXPAYER MONEY!!! The school should reconsider. It should be a partner in education. And while Matt certainly needs discipline (like cutting out all of those extracurriculars that the school permitted him to participate in), and a tutor, he doesn't need a government entity breaking his spirit. If Matt commits himself to succeeding in school with the commitment he has demonstrated in fighting this very poor decision by our Educators?, then he will do well at TJ and in life.

Posted by: CharacterCounts | July 30, 2008 8:03 PM

Mr. Nuti,

Thank you for stating your case. You did a great job illuminating what the article was unable to. You deserve a second chance. Clearly, the administration did a poor job planning to roll out a change in policy of this magnitude. They equally did a poor job in preparing the student body and parents for this new policy. They can't just decide to change the attendance requirements mid-year. What was their rush? Why not plan to put the policy in effect for the upcoming school year? Why did it have to go into effect immediately? A policy change with this kind of implication should have been vetted not only by the administration but by parents as well. Obviously, the administration did not put in the proper planning and communication this change required. While the policy may not be totally baseless, I agree with you that the timeline seems totally arbitrary and there was room here for TJ to work with the students and families at risk. Any school whose goal it is to "kick students out" is missing the fundamental principles of education. The goal should not be to "throw" students out, but to work with students and families to help them succeed. They accepted you so without a doubt, you must be capable or they would not have admitted you in the first place. If for some reason you are not re-admitted, please go forward with determination. Learn from this. Do not let it make you callous or cold hearted. Although you were not shown compassion, do let it become a reason for you not to show compassion to others. Keep your head to the sky. Your life is not over. The best is yet to come. Prove to them that they were wrong in denying you - SUCCEED!

Posted by: SB | July 30, 2008 8:04 PM

Make no mistake, this incident will end up harming the reputation of the school, the administrators, and the students and alumni, more than it will hurt the reputation of this kid.

Usually, the most ignorant and moronic people in high school are not any of the students, but the members of the administration.

Posted by: Bender | July 30, 2008 8:10 PM

Mr. Nuti,

Thank you for stating your case. You did a great job illuminating what the article was unable to. You deserve a second chance. Clearly, the administration did a poor job planning to roll out a change in policy of this magnitude. They did an equally poor job in preparing the student body and parents for this new policy. They can't just decide to change the attendance requirements mid-year. What was their rush? Why not plan to put the policy in effect for the upcoming school year? Why did it have to go into effect immediately? A policy change with this kind of implication should have been vetted not only by the administration but by parents as well. Obviously, the administration did not put in the proper planning and communication this change required. While the policy may not be totally baseless, I agree with you that the timeline seems totally arbitrary and there was room here for TJ to work with the students and families at risk. Any school whose goal it is to "kick students out" is missing the fundamental principles of education. The goal should not be to "throw" students out, but to work with students and families to help them succeed. They accepted you so without a doubt, you must be capable or they would not have admitted you in the first place. If for some reason you are not re-admitted, please go forward with determination. Learn from this. Do not let it make you callous or cold hearted. Although you were not shown compassion, do not let it become a reason for you not to show compassion to others. Keep your head to the sky. Your life is not over. The best is yet to come. Prove to them that they were wrong in denying you - SUCCEED!

Posted by: SB | July 30, 2008 8:14 PM

Good for you, Matthew. Good for you to stand up for yourself and to challenge this rule. This is your right, and I am glad that you are speaking out against this requirement for a public school.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 8:16 PM

This should seriously be cleaned up and printed as an op-ed.

Posted by: jw | July 30, 2008 8:17 PM

Maybe observing this makes me a simpleton, but I stumble at the notion that all kids must be "above average". If that's true, than the bar is set too low. Why not just set the bar at TJ so that it's more challenging to make any given grade over an "F"? Make the courses more demanding, change the percentages, whatever. But to have someone score "above average" in a class and still be not good enough *for that class* just seems to me to send the wrong message.

Posted by: Mark | July 30, 2008 8:19 PM

Matt, since you are so incredibly smart, you'll no doubt get straight A's at your ordinary high school, along with 2400 on your SAT tests. You'll get into every college to which you apply and you'll be set for life.

Posted by: Mr. Wheaton | July 30, 2008 8:20 PM

Well written Mr. Nuti, but unconvincing. Whether or not the 3.0 standard was in place prior to admission to the school, it sounds as if you were made aware of it at some point prior to you being shown the door. It's not entirely clear from your statement, but given that you do not address the issue of when the standard was first communicated to the student body, I'm assuming you had ample notice.

You do state that the first meeting was in the third quarter, "At which point, it was essentially too late to raise my GPA to their arbitrary standard." But did you know, or were you given sufficient notice, of that standard? If the answer is no, then I think the "expulsion" (a word that's a bit overly dramatic, much like your writing and Marc Fisher's too) is inappropriate.

I suspect the answer is yes though, which means the real issue is whether or not the standard itself is appropriate. I think that an institution such as TJ certainly has the right, and maybe even obligation, to set performance standards given the nature of its admission process and the number of well-qualified people who do not get accepted. GPA may not be the best standard to use, but that's something for school administrators to decide.

Unfortunately your parents aren't really the best people to make that call, despite your argument otherwise. After all, I'm sure that the vast majority of parents of children not accepted think TJ is the best place for their children.

You have written an exceptional defense of yourself, and critique of the policy and process. You should be proud, as should your parents. In the end, however, I think you've missed the boat. You're clearly intelligent, but you missed out on your opportunity by neglecting your studies (a relative term, but everyone else in TJ seems to be able to do better). Congrats on putting up a good fight, but it's time now to go lick your wounds and move on.

And Marc, give it up.

Posted by: Milhouse | July 30, 2008 8:23 PM

I grew up in Fairfax County and like other students, was well aware of TJ's reputation and requirements for being accepted. Though your response to folks has some interesting points I still have to lean towards agreeing with the school administration. As you mentioned in a local news segment, you had other interests besides math and science. You see that is a problem considering that you were accepted into a magnet school that specializes in math and science. As other folks have commented, the rules change when you choose not to go to your base school. I've have been told that TJ at times feels like a college experience before you get to college gives you an ideas of what the demands will feel like. If kids know that when having a chance to go to TJ than they and there parents should be well aware of the demands. As one person has commented already it's a parents role to be proactive and know how their child is doing in such a highly demanding magnet school especially if they are having issues with math and or science :)

Posted by: RP_Loudon | July 30, 2008 8:26 PM

Matthew, my only question to you is this: What is it that you want from the school?

It seems that you consider it unfair that the administration implemented a restriction after you were a student that resulted in your expulsion. That's a fair point.

Do you want summer school, or an additional semester to bring your grades up? Would it be fairer to look at cumulative GPA, rather than on a semester-by-semester basis?

Perhaps this is a moment for growth in your character, and perhaps you should appreciate it as such. Not every superstar gets to live a predictible life. I do have compassion for you, and don't mean to sound mean-spirited. Think of it this way: If you are good enough to compete successfully in a great school like TJ, you can compete anywhere - Stop me before I start into a refrain from "New York, New York".

On another note, "grade inflation" is a term often used by people who think a 10-20-40-20-10 curve should be used to grade. If all of the students in a class demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the material covered to merit "A"s, they are entitled to that grade. Think of an "A" as demonstrating excellent knowledge of the material covered, a "B" as good knowledge, a "C" as fair knowledge, etc.

If all of the students in a math class, for example, get a 95, and one student gets a 90, there is no rational basis to award the "poorer" student an "F".

Posted by: Bill | July 30, 2008 8:26 PM

Marc Fisher-

When did you abandon all principles of journalistic ethics? You are abhorrently biased in your portrayal of TJ. Shame on you for letting a 16-year old trick you with his tale of woe is me. Matt is a slacker.

Where is the other side of this debate? Oh wait, you cleverly ignored it. Well, we as former TJ students are speaking up and voicing the true other side of this article.

Every student at TJ does extra-curriculars. Matt is not a starter on the football team. He is a member, at best. Matt's MUN awards are average at best. Do your research. Oh wait, you didn't go to TJ. Never mind. I might be asking the impossible.

Posted by: Class of 07 | July 30, 2008 8:29 PM

My daughter graduated from TJ five years ago with a 4.0 GPA and a SAT score which I thought was astounding. She is probably the smartest in my family, graduates of Ivy League Schools, Stuyvesant H.S. and the like.
So, we're proud that she went through TJ. But, I think it is elitest of TJ to enforce a grade point average that is one of the highest in the nation; TJ should be in the business of providing all of its students with an excellent education, not forcing them out. The school should have done a better job of reviewing Mr. Nuti's qualifications before they admitted him. There is nothing wrong with requiring a minimum grade point average but a 3.0 average is too high. I wonder how many students are going to be stressed out because they are getting mostly B's and that occasional C or D without counterbalancing A will cause them to be dropped. This is not a way to run a public -- I repeat -- public school! The school does not accomplish anything by keeping this rule when it should do a better job of admissions.

Mr. Nuti, I wish you well, but I believe in the end, if you desire certain things, you can still accomplish them by graduating from Annandale H.S. Don't lose sight of the fact that you want to get a good education -- and you might even be able to boost your gradepoint at Annandale.

Good luck to you. And to the Principal of TJ, get real!

Posted by: Oakland1000 | July 30, 2008 8:29 PM

If only my high school principal had been so brilliant, I too could have attended the "number one" school in the country.

The secret to success?? Simply expel everyone with a GPA below a 3.0 -- or better yet, a 3.5 -- and, presto chango, you automatically become an elite school.

Yet another example of how Fairfax County is sinking right into the toilet.

Posted by: Bender | July 30, 2008 8:30 PM

Good points SB. This is what the Germans have a word for: Behördenwillkür. Institutional arbitrariness. Although the policy may have some merit (but I'll get to that in a moment) the way it was implemented was unfair. I don't necessarily agree that the point of education should always be to "work with students and families at risk". It's fine if TJ doesn't want that to be their primary mission. But absent evidence that he was completely slacking - i.e. frequently skipping school, outright failing many classes, etc. they are essentially reneging on their original offer of admission. Presumably, Harvard and Berkeley have some C students and they don't get kicked out. Yes, if they are on academic scholarships those could be revoked, but the students would not be forced to leave. And arguably, everyone at TJ is on a kind of academic scholarship. Fine. The school has some ground to stand on but not to implement the policy in this way.

I bet what is really motivating TJ is a fear that, a certain student who only cares about getting a B might only care about taking a few APs, and might only care about doing "well enough" on his SATs instead of getting a perfect score. Thus upsetting their stellar ranking. If TJ truly was truly a prestigious institution, in every sense of what prestige means, they could weather a few such students. Not everyone who matriculates at Harvard goes on to receive a graduate degree or even do particularly meaningful work...that doesn't keep Harvard from having the stellar reputation that it does. As it is however, the reputation of TJ, compared to say, the reputation of Harvard, IS based on a house of cards. It really is just because they have the highest average SAT or whatever numerical index of day is being used. So perhaps this is just an ugly reality of trying to maintain one's position as the country's top magnet school, it's sad that Mr. Nuti got caught up in up, but the school deserves the biggest blame for even admitted someone who was obviously taking a more holistic approach to even his middle school performance.

BTW it sounds like some TJ alums are just steamed that their precious alma mater is getting some bad press. Please, get over it. You are coming across as an embarrassment if anything.

Posted by: TheSarcastics | July 30, 2008 8:32 PM

According to your CLASSMATES, you were a poor football teammate, did very little for the yearbook, and slacked off in class. Attending TJ is an privilege that you did not honor. Attending your home public school is a right, and you will be executing that entitlement soon. Bye-bye!

Posted by: Kitty | July 30, 2008 8:34 PM

Still doesn't change the fact that the student had a C-level GPA. The student knew that TJ was an "elite" school, so what's to gripe about.

Seems that this case is one that was thought to be "entitled" because of the legacy of the siblings attending and/or graduating from TJ.

Posted by: Whatever | July 30, 2008 8:35 PM

"On another note, "grade inflation" is a term often used by people who think a 10-20-40-20-10 curve should be used to grade. If all of the students in a class demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the material covered to merit "A"s, they are entitled to that grade. Think of an "A" as demonstrating excellent knowledge of the material covered, a "B" as good knowledge, a "C" as fair knowledge, etc."

No, that is not the point at all. In a calculus class, I can easily see a case for everyone getting an A if they all got perfect scores on the tests. In any area where critical thinking coupled with communications is important however, clearly, students can memorize facts and get As on multiple choice tests but an essay exam portion will reveal that some have clearly grasped key concepts better than others. A curve can be set anywhere, it can be set at B for example. Obviously, if it were set at B at TJ, a certain # of students every year would need to leave. That is why B is too high as the set point.

Posted by: TheSarcastics | July 30, 2008 8:37 PM

Everyone who sides with the school on this one needs to get some perspective. The idea of a public high school expelling a student for having below a 3.0 GPA WITHOUT first giving him a chance to correct it, i.e. a period of academic probation, is ridiculous. I know for a fact that at Frostburg State University in Maryland (not the most prestigious school, but an institution of higher learning nonetheless), you get 2 semesters of academic probation to raise your GPA if it falls below a 2.0 before you are "expelled". Life doesn't get easier after high school, this is true, but when there are 4-year colleges that are more forgiving when students' grades slip than a PUBLIC high school, there's something wrong. Matt is right, that elitist cesspool doesn't deserve him.

Posted by: manbabies | July 30, 2008 8:38 PM

I support your view and think you were treated unfairly. Nevertheless, I think you would be better served by being more gracious in talking about those who wronged you. I don't think referring to them as elitist (which they probably are) matters much.. I think you will find that attitude exists in most schools or organizations on some level. Even in the "lowly" schools of say, south Philly. Certainly, it exists in an even greater extent the work place.

Learn to deal with it more gracefully and you will have power over it rather then letting it take it's power over you.

Posted by: Bob | July 30, 2008 8:41 PM

Where's the parental responsibility? He brought home: the new 3.0 rule; a letter that he was in the 1% that was under the mark; his report cards; and notification that he didn't bring up his grades. With all his ranting about being a "kid" - where were his parents?

Posted by: Doug | July 30, 2008 8:47 PM

Matthew: a 2.8 in any school isn't all that good. I don't care if it's MIT or TJ. TJ has been an accelerated school for some time, now. You're expected to do well, not just average. You should take this experience back to your "base school" and strive to make everyone eat their words; not read them. While you have a right to your opinion and right to appeal TJ's decision; your best bet is to move on. Sometimes--you have to fail to succeed.

Posted by: sean | July 30, 2008 8:48 PM

Importantly, how come he was allowed into TJ when his middle school GPA was so low? Testing well and having a low GPA makes me think that he has the aptitude, but isn't applying himself. Nevertheless it would seem that TJ did him a disservice by admitting him in the first place--and likely another student who didn't get admission because of him!

Posted by: hmm | July 30, 2008 8:49 PM

To "Doug"

Because they had 2 other TJ kids, perhaps they thought he was above the rule. Is this how he got in TJ to begin with? Nepotism?

Posted by: Tizzy | July 30, 2008 8:49 PM

Those who think the TJ administration is right probably have never wrestled with grading--and anyone who has graded but hasn't wrestled with it probably hasn't done it right. If memory serves, TJ (like other Fairfax County Public Schools) uses a 7-point system rather than the 10-point system in use at most colleges and universities and a great many other school systems. The average that gave Matt a D in history was probably between 71 and 78--very possibly a rock-solid C elsewhere. There's nothing precise about a grade.
Second, we might do well to bear in mind that Matt just completed his sophomore year in high school. He's not an adult. I'm certain that those who are bashing him never slacked off in a class and carried averages of at least 3.0 through high school. I didn't when I was a student at George Mason High School, one of the top non-selective high schools in the country. It hasn't stopped me from earning my BA, MA, and PhD at highly regarded institutions and pursuing the profession of my choice.
Matt, you're a good guy and very possibly too questioning for TJ. Ask for an apology and readmission, then thumb your nose at the place and go to Robinson. Look into dual enrollment at Northern Virginia Community College so that you can take real college courses.

Posted by: Principled Teacher | July 30, 2008 8:52 PM

Matt, nice response. Those first few posters are the exception to the majority. They are the goody goodies that will burnout in college and go back to their parents house after school and realize they worked their asses off in HS for nothing. Keep working hard, and I'm sorry to say, but if cheating is what it took to stay at TJ, you should have done it. Everyone else in every other HS in the country is.

Posted by: Michael from Potomac | July 30, 2008 8:58 PM

Kid had a year to bring his grade up. He didn't. He had a 2.06 core GPA. The Post inflates his GPA, since Driver's Ed is part quarter of tenth grade Phys Ed. Even with the fluff subjects, his GPA was only around 2.5 or 2.6

Posted by: Gary | July 30, 2008 9:05 PM

My sister got a 1.1 at Arkansas State and now she's a millionare, so don't worry about it.

Posted by: Dave | July 30, 2008 9:11 PM

Wow! Some really sanctimonious folks on here piling on a teenager who has the courage to speak up in a very public forum on a matter that most of us would quietly try to wish away.

Matthew kudos to you for speaking your mind and sticking up for yourself. You've already proven yourself to be a more complete person than the anonymous fellow students that are posting and piling on.

TJ is most certainly elite and elitist. Some of the brightest students in the Washington metropolitan area attend, making it elite. And, judging by the tone and tenor of their comments above, some of the most myopic and self-important teenagers also seem to attend. Elitist? You betcha!

It appears from Matthew's comments that TJ did not do enough to intervene when his grades turned south of the mendoza line. While Matthew clearly shoulders some of the blame here, the administration at TJ should have done more to intervene when it still could have helped him out. It also appears that however well intentioned the GPA rule was, it's enforcement has resulted in a student who perhaps needed the most help receiving the least.

It's funny, but this whole episode will further reinforce what many of us Northern Virginians feel: that TJ produces some of the smartest students in the area, while at the same time producing some of the most boring and socially inept young adults. So sad. Please know that I acknowledge exceptions to every rule, and this is no different.

I actually now see why Alexandria refuses to send any students to TJ. Not only are they trying to prove that the course offerings and caliber of top-level students at TC Williams is as elite as TJ's (and admittedly I'm not sold yet), but they are also trying to shield their residents from some of the blatant elitism that exists among so many of TJ's students, faculty and presumably parents as well.

Posted by: cmurphy | July 30, 2008 9:14 PM

You should continue to pursue your passions, and if you do so, you will be happier for it. Read Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind." Engage both sides of your brain. Anyone at TJ who is only using the left/analytical side will soon have their jobs shipped to India or China.

FYI - Your base school, Robinson SS, is a football factory. If you thought you had a time commitment for TJ football, wait until you see Robinson. If you decide to play, they'll probably ask you to eat more to make OT weight, and spend most afternoons in the weight room. On the upside, if you don't play football, you'll have more time for yearbook and model UN.

Good luck dude.

Posted by: hatchlaw | July 30, 2008 9:16 PM

Mr. Nuti sounds like a very spoiled child who's always gotten his own way--until now. I'd still like to know how he got in to TJ with such poor--yes poor--grades from middle school.

Posted by: Annie7 | July 30, 2008 9:18 PM

Okay, I'm an alum of the last TJ Senior Experience program in 1988. This program was in effect the three years when they were graduating their first class (in 1989). The program drew seniors from other parts of the county to hone the Senior Year curriculum (which they saw as key at the time).

I will point out that there were lesser standards for this program, but I actually met regular admission standards. And I came from a different FCPS high school - I was not one of the kids who wanted to stay at TJ instead of going over to Annandale.

Part of the school in the early years was making sure we were well rounded, in addition to our math and science interests. (We joked we were probably the only high school with mandatory extracurricular activities.) Our English teachers kicked our butts, making sure we could express ourselves well - not only grammatically, but creatively. And we even forced the school to make room for us on extracurriculars (like clubs and yearbook and sports) that we had given up to attend TJ.

That being said? No one in our small class had less than a 3.0 that I can remember. And many of us were "dumb" by TJ standards. We worked our butts off and kept our grades high, because that was what was expected of us. The school is a privilege

Now, yes, this rule was perhaps implemented in an uneven manner. And 2.0 is probably more appropriate - "average" at TJ (which is still the FCPS grade scale, already more difficult than most) is still a higher standard than almost any other public school.

But all I could think about when I read this story was the conversation I had with one of my former TJ teachers when I ran into her a few years after I graduated (she had retired the year before).

She said that while our class had kind of been a pain in the butt (give smart kids keys to chemical cabinets? Senior pranks from hell...), the teachers looked back on us and the first few years of students quite fondly. Because our love of science and math and technology was obvious. We came to TJ because we were incredibly excited about the educational opportunities it provided us.

Within 5 years or so of graduating the first class, she said she felt many of the kids - who were undoubtedly bright - were there more for a way to increase their chances to get into the school of their choice, because it was "prestigious". The joy of learning was, if not gone, then diminished. (Note I said "many" students, not all - don't jump down my throat, current classes, I know some of you are still science geeks as we were :D).

To me, Mr. Nuti, you sound as if your interests don't lie in math or science. So why on earth should you want to go to a magnet school for math and science? Is it because it looks good on your college application?

Oh, and by the of my fellow TJ Senior Experience folks? He was co-editor of the yearbook. He played on the football team. He had a 4.0 and ended up choosing from several full-ride scholarships. And he was about the most unpretentious people in our class. TJ deserved him, for sure.

Posted by: Former TJ student | July 30, 2008 9:19 PM

what a truly, utterly, embarrassing letter that will absolutely follow that kid throughout life, making him look like a gosh darn fool! His parents need to be reprimanded for not keeping that letter quiet. When one writes a letter like that, one prints it out and keeps it in a desk drawer. I feel so sorry for that poor foolish kid. He is really someone who deserves our pity right now, not our scorn. His parents failed him when he needed them the most and that's really, truly sad.

Posted by: Neener | July 30, 2008 9:23 PM

From what I have read thus far, it seems that Matthew is not stirring the pot to get reinstated at TJ but to change the 3.0 rule. So, in that light, I think people should stop discussing his laziness and trhowing around trite sayings like "Welcome to the real world."

When I first heard of the 3.0 rule, I was shocked. Everyone at TJ is particularly bright; however, not everyone is self-motivated. Regardless, each student, by enrolling, silently agrees to accept the workload. Some push themselves to stratospheric GPAs while others cannot replicate these phenomeneal GPAs or choose not to in lieu of pursuing other high school activities. And, that's fine. I do not understand what the 3.0 rule was supposed to achieve. Is it supposed to play a "We know what's best for you" hand (colleges would not look highly on a 2.8 GPA)? If that is the case, I really think that such problem is on the student's shoulders, not the school's.

For those who are citing TJ's intolerance for anything less-than-average - I would have to disagree. That's just heresay. Why would a school with over 1800 students try to purge themselves of 5, absolutely guaranteeing a lot of hassle and time, just because those 5, less that 1% of the entire population, were "bringing the school down"? The idea is just too paranoid and illogical.

I cannot figure out the reasoning of the 3.0 rule and am stringently against it at this time with the information I have. On another note, I feel that the Jay Matthew's article, the reply comments, Marc Fisher's blog/article, its reply comments, Matthew Nuti's blog response, and its reply comments have all just been fuel to a fire serving no one. It seems that everyone's name, TJ, the FCPS administration, Matthew Nuti, the Nuti family, Marc Fisher, Jay Matthews, and the repliers, have gone through the ringer. Do I think the 3.0 rule should exist? No. Does the 3.0 rule exist? Yes. Should Matthew Nuti be transferred to Robinson based on the fact that he was subject to the rule? Yes. Really, there's not much anyone can do.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 9:25 PM

Dude, it's high school- get over it. Right, wrong, who cares? Only in the craven morass of humanity known as NOVA is stuff like this important. I was a student when Jefferson got started (as an aside, anyone on this forum referring to it as 'TJHSST' either goes there are forces their child to; it's a school not, an institution). Some of my friends who went there thrived, some smoked a ton of dope, and some did both. While this seems important right now, it's not. I finished my PhD a while ago and I work at a major university; the majority of kids (and yes, an 18 year-old is still a kid) who come out of high-powered high schools get their asses handed to them in a variety of ways, including failure, hubris, and the generally overwhelming freedom of separation from domineering parents. You're better off away from there... really.

Posted by: rob | July 30, 2008 9:25 PM

Standard Marc Fisher prattle: drag everyone down to the level of the lowest common denominator and you'll have a more eqalitarian society. And, you'll have a very mediocre society.

Matthew, you need to get over yourself. There are no re-do's or interventions in the real world. Just a boot out the door.

Posted by: RocHis | July 30, 2008 9:26 PM

It's been a long time since I graduated from TJ and I've been impressed at how much tougher the standards and the students have become over the years. Still, this is just ridiculous. Since when is a 3.0 so bad it warrants expulsion? This says significantly more about TJ and whatever accredidation advisors were involved than it does about a kid who at first glance maybe had his priorities a bit mixed up.

By the way, to those who claim to come from some magical "education-oriented" family where extracurriculars are vastly inferior, get over yourselves. I (as well as just about every TJ student) come from such a family and my extracurricular involvement increased greatly in my final years, bringing about a marked improvement (not degradation) in my GPA, attitude, maturity, and readiness for college. This doesn't mean it is for everyone but it also does not mean it isn't, either.

Posted by: TJ92 | July 30, 2008 9:38 PM

What is the purpose of the rule? Strikes me as ridiculously silly. 2.8 is passing . . . with room to spare. While it's certainly not great, it's a pass. The kid should be able to stay.
I don't get it. . . .
And what happens when this rule affects the few minorities that are enrolled at TJ? Or, will this be in the back of teachers' minds if that becomes an issue?
It's an incredibly stupid idea that has removed any notion of what "passing" ought to mean.

Posted by: Fx Resident | July 30, 2008 9:38 PM

Again, I'll comment on paragraph two.

You didn't fall to elitist standards. You fell to elite standards. Get the two straight.

Posted by: W.H., TJ '07 Princeton '11 | July 30, 2008 9:44 PM

"Those that can do. Those taht can't teach."

Wecome to TJ!

Posted by: Bill | July 30, 2008 9:48 PM

In a way, I don't blame him, I blame the parents and the system. I remember when my kids were in elementary school in Fairfax County both were eligible for GT. Neither of them chose the POS for GT.

The parents of the GT kids were the most obnoxious people I have ever met. They though their children were completely entitled, as well as themselves.

In middle school they both stayed away from GT. In high school, both enrolled in AP classes and did well, as they did in college.

I believe my little essay shows that this little twit and his parents should try to become more grounded. TJ is not the answer for everybody.

Posted by: Michael1945 | July 30, 2008 9:49 PM

Just curious. What are the criteria that TJ used in determining that a GPA of 3.0 was the cut off for who could and who couldn't stay at the school? And are there any exceptions to this rule?

Posted by: David | July 30, 2008 9:52 PM

This is not the end of the world Matt. You still have options and if you stopped the crying for a while you would and should be saying to yourself, "Why am I fighting to stay at a school that does not want me". Move on with your life and grow up. Life is not always fair but in this case you just did not measure up to the standards. In all the Master programs you have to have a 3.0 in every class to graduate. Will you cry your way out of that too.

Posted by: Stop The CryBabies | July 30, 2008 9:56 PM

As a teacher, I have seen many students like Mr. Nuti. He is just making excuses. The school gave him notice to improve; he did not work hard enough.

Good luck getting accepted to college, Mr. Nuti. After this ridiculous diatribe, few schools would want you.

Posted by: DC Teacher | July 30, 2008 9:56 PM

I graduated from an elite DC prep school 20 years ago. A 2.8 from my school, along with strong extracurriculars, personal character, and an engaging personality -- all of which Matthew seems to possess -- was more than enough to get a student into a TOP liberal arts college or university anywhere in the U.S.

Having read the comments from Matthew's fellow students, my advice to Matthew is to, yes, stand on your principles, but try to realize how much better off you will be when you are not surrounded by such snotty, grade-grubbing ninnies. They see you only as a competitor, not as a colleague, and are useless to you.

Clearly, no reasonable adult has ever sat any of them down and explained to them that 10 years from now, not a single person on earth is going to care what their GPA was at TJ. And I mean not one person, not even their own parents. It is, in the long run, totally meaningless. If you want or expect to be remembered or respected for what grades you got in high school, you're an idiot -- regardless of your GPA.

Having been through college, also long ago, no-one cares if you finished first in your class - no one! It doesn't mean a damn thing. More valedictorians than B students crack up in college -- either flaming out or simply being miserable -- because they don't understand why nobody thinks they are special.

I think what they did to Matthew was wrong, and the longer that the attitude that it reflects persists, the more of a joke TJ will become, and frankly, the less likely TJ students will be to find acceptance at any top college.

My advice to Matthew is to stay true to yourself, ride this out, keep up the solid work as best you can, and keep looking forward to a bright future. Everyone has to deal with rejection, and unfair decisions not going our way. But the beauty is you have a very strong possibility of ending up in a better situation, surrounded by better people, whose respect you will earn by being yourself, which is truly the ultimate measure of success.

Posted by: DC Prep Grad | July 30, 2008 9:57 PM

Notwithstanding the public nature of the student's expulsion, I worry that the Washington Post's coverage of the story--including the recent publication of the student's response to comments--is exposing the teen to an unhealthy level of public scrutiny. This forum seems like a pillory.

Posted by: Concerned | July 30, 2008 10:01 PM

Good Luck kid, it's time for your life 2.0

Will he get a 4.0 for the next 2 years just to prove them wrong? Write his college essay about how not keeping his grades up in order to stay at TJ was a life changing experience and how he learned so much about himself as a result?
Will he also be football captain and class president?
Will his parents make sure he studies every day and turns in all his assignments?
Will he ask for a bit of help when he realizes he has fallen behind?

Or will it be your life 1.1?
He graduates with a 2.9!! Writes his college essay about how the elitists at TJ kicking him out was a life changing experience and how he learned so much about himself as a result!
He enjoys football and Model UN!
His parents send emails to the teacher when he complains about how hard it is!
He goes to college, studies harder than in high school and gets a 3.0!
He goes to grad school, studies harder than in college and gets a 3.2 (min is 3.0)!
He gets a job, buys a house, raises a family, it all ends happily ever after but hopefully he never mentions the TJ thing to anyone after he is 19.....

Posted by: Kelly | July 30, 2008 10:01 PM

I'm an '05 grad of TJ and I find this 3.0 rule ridiculous. I admit, at TJ it was pretty hard to get below a B in any of my classes, but still, if the facts are correct, a 2.8 is still above average. I'm embarrassed reading the responses of alums, all of them lambasting this poor kid because they too had extracurriculars and managed to succeed. Take a step back and think about it; a B- gets you kicked out of school now? Whether or not the school reached out to him, that is too high of a mark for expulsion. Maybe this is a wake up call to the admissions department at TJ, but they should not take their shortcomings out on a student. Even if he 'fell through the cracks', he's still above-average. Don't take your anger towards TJ out on this kid- if anyone else was in this sitation- a 2.8 gets you kicked out???- you'd do the exact same thing. This school started going to hell in my last years there, and has now officially reached rock bottom. Kudos.

Posted by: uvastudent | July 30, 2008 10:03 PM

Wow. I must say, 3.0 is an incredibly high standard, and I don't know that I believe it is appropriate for high school students (even talented students like the kids at this school). Having said that, I do not believe that the adoption of the standard is the problem here -- the problem is the fact that students who matriculated under the older standard (like the author) were not subject to a grandfather provision. It is never fair to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Even though I do believe that this student has been mistreated, this letter does him no favors. It is ill-considered, poorly-written, and at base, a whiny rant. In all honesty, I can't tell if The Post was trying to help him or hurt him when it decided to publish this letter. If The Post was trying to help him, some editor should have had fun with a red pen before sending it off to print. On the other hand, if The Post was trying to hurt him, well, shame on you. He's still a kid.

Posted by: Bluenote123 | July 30, 2008 10:04 PM

I'm a bit appalled at all the trolls lurking on this comment board. It is kind of shocking that supposedly educated adults (well, there seem to be a lot of you who claim amazing academic achievements, though that's always easy in an anonymous forum) express such vitriol toward a 16-year-old who put forward a well-reasoned argument about what is an unfair situation, in response to a multitude of comments/viewpoints from people who don't have the full story.

Good for you, Matt-- you've done an excellent job of articulating your position, and you'll go on to do great things. Try ignore the negative comments and low-blows from the trolls-- it helps me to remember that opinions are like a**holes-- everyone's got one.

As for those of you from TJ who posted here (students & alumni), YOU are the embarrassment to your institution. Just know that one day you'll enter the real world and learn that you're just as special as everyone else. Good luck with that.

Posted by: Melissa | July 30, 2008 10:04 PM

It's amazing that Matt has put so much effort into this crusade over the past few weeks, but he refused to put anywhere near the same level of effort into a whole year of school. Matt, maybe if you just wrote your history essays, you wouldn't have to write all these essays defending yourself. I find it nearly comical how you tried to be lazy during the school year and, in disputing your self-inflicted situation, now find yourself doing more work than you probably ever wanted to do.

Also, Matt, I congratulate you on your use of an irrelevant quotation of Dr. King. What the heck does sending you home before junior year teaches you the hard way that laziness doesn't work (no pun intended) have to do with character? Ok, so maybe you wanted to learn that lesson the hard way. Fs in junior year on your high school transcript look really nice, Matt. At that point it's not even "a teenager making mistakes". Sorry.

Of the entire pop culture universe, you chose a Stepford Wives reference that was a complete non sequitur. Are you suggesting that Dr. Glazer is actually Christopher Walken in disguise? What would that make Mrs. Bosley - Nicole Kidman?

Posted by: I love irony. | July 30, 2008 10:05 PM

There are several things at play here on both sides of the arguments that warrant consideration, I'm going to attempt to address them in what I feel is the order of importance, (1) being most important.

(1) Being expelled for a sub 3.0 GPA is absurdly strict, and I see several problems with it. First, a C+ average should not warrant getting tossed out of anything but high level graduate programs; a high school full of adolescents shouldn't push that agenda. It will likely lead to grade inflation, because in many cases teachers will sympathize with kids they like personally, and bump them up to keep them in the school... human nature. Secondly, for those who aren't already aware, Fairfax County employs a very demanding grading scale to begin with that I believe applies here (94-100 = A, 84-93 = B, etc.), so conceivably Nutti could have been booted with an 82 or 83% average. Thirdly, TJ will remain an outstanding school regardless of a few people falling below a B average and can weather a few sub-excellent students; this kind of emphasis on numbers taken to such an extreme is distressing.

(2) A question as to how the policy functions now: I am curious as to whether or not students that take AP and advanced level classes receive any sort of GPA boost for the purpose of considering expulsion? I would argue that if the policy is going to remain, they should, so that students don't feel that they should take an easier courseload to stay in the B range, which would be opposed to the entire mission of TJ.

(3) Matt's open letter to whomever will listen demonstrates a great deal of immaturity. He could have made several points without insinuating elitism and taking shots from on high on his way out the door. The self-important nature of the response masks legitimate concerns about the policy and it's implementation and has obviously antagonized a lot of people already.

(4) TJ is an excellent school and isn't a day care center. There is no doubt in my mind that unless Matt's admission to TJ was totally unwarranted in the first place that he could have achieved a 3.0 GPA if he had applied himself; I am not coming away with a picture of a kid tirelessly slaving over his academics and coming up just short. Matt and his parents were aware of the policy and it's potential consequences and independent of whether the policy is fair, good, bad, right, or wrong, failed to live up to it.

(5) From my perspective, there is a lot to be said for academic Darwinism, I believe a competitive atmosphere with serious consequences is, generally speaking, a good thing. It culls the herd, demanding excellence or bust.

All in all, in this case based upon what I've read, I find the policy while good in spirit to be a little misapplied and probably a little too demanding for kids who are after all, kids. Hell, a lot of kids only do well in school because there parents force them to, that's an awfully young age to place such a strict standard on them. However, I also think Matt has handled it awfully poorly and should be looking more in the mirror than pointing fingers.

Posted by: See Both Sides | July 30, 2008 10:06 PM

I didn't go to school in this area so I can't speak like the other "esteemed" Jefferson alums have as the atmosphere at this school. I did not attend a specialized "gifted" HS and still graduated with a full year's worth of AP credits and had extra curricular. I went to college with alot of graduates of Stuyvesant in NYC, which I understand was essentially the model for Jefferson. They weren't that impressive. Matt..its not the end of the world to get the boot from this place.

On the other hand, getting the boot in the first place is pretty wrong. Putting a minimum GPA standard is fine for Jefferson to do. They could make it a 4.0 if they wanted. The problem is the blurb at the top of this describes the 3.0 standard as new. If the school enacts a standard in March and classes end in May, how is a kid supposed to get up above the line? An official probation period would be appropriate.

As for everyone saying that any Jefferson student should be having a 4.0, I don't think that should be true. While many will continue to breeze through even the most advanced HS coursework, some students really will benefit from the challenge of the accelerated coursework instead of breezing through a standard curriculum. It sounds to me like the school is attempting to fluff its average GPA and therefore its "prestige". If it was truly about challenging students, the administration would realize that there would be some students who won't ace everything. Are they still benefiting from the school? Of course they are. In fact they may benefit the most since they are actually learning how to study. Ask me if I knew how to study when I finally had to in college...even with the AP exams.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | July 30, 2008 10:12 PM

For Melissa, DC prep grad, and others who are convinced that TJ is a school of grade-grubbing kids with huge entitlement and superiority complexes, I am posting the following long comment I left on the board for "The Shame and Horror..." This comment was in response to a person named Haunches on the other board who made similar claims. Before that, I just want to play devil's advocate for you guys (i.e. Melissa et al.). Matt Nuti blamed his own unwillingness to work hard and make compromises in his life on everyone but himself and now feels he should get all the pity in the world. That sounds a bit like an entitlement complex to me. Now, my long comment:

"Haunches, there is no adversarial culture at the school. Do you think friendly competition to get good grades is adversarial? Sure, one student may boast to another student what their grade on the latest test was or ask another student how they did, but guess what? Students everywhere for all time have done exactly that, not just at TJ in 2008.

In fact, the culture at TJ is anything but one of constant jockeying for #1 class rank or valedictorian (TJ doesn't even rank its students or have a valedictorian, mind you). Students love to learn from each other and work together. We all root for each other in our accomplishments and are there for each other in our disappointments and failures. Sure, we all harbor a little tinge of jealousy towards the people who became Intel finalists and semi-finalists - that's human nature. Then we realize that these people are all at least our acquaintances in the tight-knit TJ community, if not our best friends. I have neither seen a fight nor bullying in my time at TJ, and other TJ students would back me up on this. TJ's teachers are among the nicest and most supportive people you will ever meet. There are exceptions to this rule, but even when TJ students say a teacher is awful at teaching a subject (e.g. biology), they will then follow it up with "but he's/she's one of the sweetest people I have ever met!" Many of our teachers even had kids who went through the rigors of TJ long before us and provide us with great guidance and advice. I haven't even talked about how much time and effort TJ's teachers put into sponsoring clubs! Many of our teachers become our good friends as well as our mentors.

There are very few disciplinary issues in which the students openly disrespect teachers and administrators. On the flip side, administrators and teachers give TJ students a lot more trust and privileges for even the most mundane things. You can go to the bathroom or go to your locker without a signed pass. Students can eat lunch essentially anywhere in the building they want. In other schools, the administration gets paranoid about these simple activities to the point that an aura of distrust builds up between the students and school. That's when a lack of dignity and respect enters into the picture. I'm not saying that TJ students don't have their fair share of disagreements with the administration, but we air those disagreements calmly and maturely through a structured forum. We treat each other with dignity and respect. For Pete's sake, Haunches, we can leave anything, even brand-new laptops, on top of our lockers, and it won't be stolen.

So this thread has posts from other people at TJ who believe it was right that Matt Nuti was kicked out of TJ for his poor performance (a 2.06 core GPA, forget the 2.8). Let me tell you something, Haunches - the TJ community was all supportive when Matt Nuti got the letter saying he'd been kicked out. The TJ community supported Matt Nuti in his recourse to appeal the decision, and they wrote so many letters to be presented at that appeal meeting to extend their support. He lost the appeal, though. At that point, the TJ community decided that Matt did all that he could and now should have moved on with his life, as unfortunate as the outcome of the appeal was. TJ's community was ready to support him in his transition to Robinson, too!

The support for Matt began to dwindle and these posts condemning him began to appear when Matt used the Washington Post's education correspondent, in-house grievance blogger, and the evening news to trash TJ and say he was treated unfairly. The TJ community only ever treated him fairly and gave him all the support they could give! If you think about it, even the end result of his appeal was fair in the impersonal application of that 3.0 rule. We may disagree with the merits of the rule, but our society is built on the idea that justice is unbiased treatment under the law. We can change the law by going to school board meetings, signing petitions, and talking to the principal. It's usually bad form to change a law by whining about yourself. Why did TJ'ers start ripping Matt Nuti? He was trying to portray our warm and supportive community that we love to live and thrive in as something it isn't."

Posted by: uhh | July 30, 2008 10:13 PM

The teachers and the school failed when Matt got lower grades. Teachers responsible for teaching Matt should be kicked out, not Matt. Teachers should pull up their socks and work hard at teaching better.

Posted by: Calm Desi | July 30, 2008 10:17 PM

The real issue is this is a public school and all of us paid taxes to fund it. We should demand FFC scrap this school, distribute the assets equally among other school so all students in the county have equal opportunities.

Posted by: Mike D, Fairfax VA | July 30, 2008 10:17 PM

Why should the state bear the responsibility of maintaining this child's place in a selective program? A spot in a magnate program is a privilege. There are plenty of capable taxpayers in the Commonwealth who have already been denied Nuti's opportunity. Let them have their try now.
That he believes this will ruin his future demonstrates Mr. Nuti's misunderstanding of this matter at the most fundamental level. If he doesn't desire a standard public school education, let him pay for it.

Posted by: Taxpayer | July 30, 2008 10:20 PM

Doe anyone else find it really arrogant that Matt Nuti said that TJ "doesn't deserve him"? Wow, he must feel really special. Consdering his 2.06 core GPA (leaving out PE and Driver's Ed, which are the same class, by the way), he doesn't have all that much to be proud of, yet his still feels special and entitled to all this press. You know what we call all that in America? Arrogance. Good job contradicting yourself, Mr. Nuti.

Posted by: I love irony. | July 30, 2008 10:21 PM

Thank you uhh.

2.8 is NOT above average. If 2.8 was above average, then why are only 5 people getting kicked out for missing the mark.

This raises the issue of grade inflation versus high achievement. Another debate for another day I think.

Posted by: TJ 07 | July 30, 2008 10:23 PM

CMurphy said:

"[A]ctually now see why Alexandria refuses to send any students to TJ. Not only are they trying to prove that the course offerings and caliber of top-level students at TC Williams is as elite as TJ's (and admittedly I'm not sold yet), but they are also trying to shield their residents from some of the blatant elitism that exists among so many of TJ's students, faculty and presumably parents as well."

THat is the argument I have heard for years within ALexandria for declining to participate in TJ. I can't tell you how many times School Board members and school administrators cautioned parents that they do not truly appreciate the elitism of TJ. I thought that was a cop out until this article was published, and the attitude of TJ (and way too many of its apologists) revealed itself.

THe view of the School Board has long been that it is better served not paying an astronomical fee to send Alexandria students to TJ, and use that money to fund its own advanced academic programs. I'm not entirely sold on the argument either, but now have a better understanding of the position. In light of TJ's demographics, perhaps Alexandria is correct that most (not all, but most) could afford to pay private schools if they seek that kind of alternative environment.

This unfortunate episode will linger for a long time.

Posted by: haunches | July 30, 2008 10:26 PM

Hi Matthew!
I love your letter! Im so glad to see such passion and conviction in a teen! Don't listen to these grown-ups with horrible things to say to a teenager...didnt their mom's teach them manners? People get jaded, worn, ugly, and dont know how to appreciate the things that actually matter in this life. Screw this school which apparently only DC people care about.

I was a freshman at one of the top public high-schools in Texas, but was getting "C" averages. I come from a family of high achievers so I took my concern about my grades and my anxiety about high school to a teacher. I'll never forget her words: "well, honey, some people dont graduate high school." Well, I left that school with my middle finger up in the air and enrolled in a private (entrance-exam required) academy. I graduated with 3.6 gpa and went on to have a successful college experience, and now have a successful career.
Dont waste your energy on a place that doesnt appreciate you. Dont get caught being vulnerable to jerks like the many that are on display here in the comments. (DC're a teacher? Are you a sociopath?)
You are destined for success!

Posted by: Texasgirl | July 30, 2008 10:27 PM

I've got an idea... how bout we lay off a high school kid who's getting booted out his school where he most likely has a lot of friends and has invested a great deal? No offense to TJ, as it is empirically a great school, but this 3.0 standard is an absolutely terrible policy. Could Matt have studied harder? Are there kids out there who didn't get the opportunity to go to TJ who might've done better academically? I have no idea. What I do know is this: creating an academic environment where a C is an F will foster all the wrong things in a high school class. Students will flock to teachers known for grade inflation. Students will become creatively risk averse. The environment will be one where students fear being challenged. I already question any system where so many students are only getting A's and B's. I refuse to believe that even at a school like TJ that the level of academic performance is not only so consistently high but so dissimilar from student to student that a C deserves to be an F. If you want to fail a kid, give him an F. Don't boot him out for a C... all it does is reveal what is obviously a dubious set of academic standards.

Posted by: Big Mike | July 30, 2008 10:28 PM

I find that the Post has a consistent need to find a victim in every story they publish. I have read very few articles that did not pick a side and aim for the sympathies of their audience. This is just another example of the Post's sensationalist ramblings. I am a graduate of TJ, and as I read these remarks I am disappointed by the distorted view I see of the school. I was not a perfect fit at TJ. Math, science, and technology were my least favorite subjects, and I, like almost every single student at TJ, had numerous extra curricular activities. I don't consider myself to be all that smart, and I dealt with a lot of frustrations during my time at TJ. Still, I finished four years with a 4.1, so I see no excuse for Matthew. A 3.0 should be perfectly achievable for any honors student. I am also disappointed that he would bad-mouth the teachers and administration, leading many of you to lay blame on them, when those of us who know them know that they are one of the most dedicated and caring groups of professionals to be found in the world of education. If you seek help, they will give it. Society these days expects so little of us, and someone will always take your side if you complain loudly enough, but that does not change the fact that people are responsible for their own actions. Matthew is quoted as saying, "I thought they wouldn't actually try to remove me from the school." Seriously? Did he think they were joking? That shows an immaturity that, combined with his apparent lack of work ethic (getting poor grades for not turning in assignments? Should be a pretty easy fix there...) would have made his junior year at TJ (the hardest one by far, as I found that junior year made sophomore year seem insufferably easy) a poor one.

If I may, I would like to point out that Matthew has misrepresented the opinions found on the facebook group he mentioned, grossly exaggerating the support that he has there.

Also, I object to personal attacks against people such as myself and my parents. Calling members of the TJ community insecure and attention-greedy shows such extreme ignorance. I know the school can kindle some pretty passionate opinions, mine included, but if you must resort to attacks I must assume that your argument is without foundation.

Posted by: another 07 | July 30, 2008 10:29 PM

I graduated from TJHSS&T in 1993. I cannot believe that they actually are kicking kids out of the schools because of a 2.9 GPA. That is totally embarassing, not to mention bad PR for the school. There is obviously some serious grade inflation going on in the school. Also, TJHSS&T is a public school. Since when are you expelled from a public school for a 2.9? I graduated from TJHSS&T with a 2.8 GPA and went to William and Mary (not a bad college BTW). This kid that got expelled is getting screwed BIG TIME.

Posted by: Laith Dahiyat | July 30, 2008 10:31 PM

Matthew Nuti,
Grades are not that important.
What is important is for you to be able to answer all the questions on a test correctly.
Why bother to take a test when you don't know the answers. When you do know the answers you will be able to respond to all the questions correctly.
The object is to learn the material presented in each class, not to learn just a certain percentage.
When you answer all the questions correctly you will not have any trouble of making the minimum required GPA.
And if you can't, you haven't completed studying the required material.
In my book the minimum GPA is 4.0
Now do what is necessary to get readmitted and forget about 2.8 or 3.0 - I expect you to get at least 4.0

Posted by: BlackGumTree | July 30, 2008 10:32 PM

Matt...You made a big mistake going public with this event. For years to come people who google your name will learn about this controversy. This problem and the way you have handled it will dog you thru college and into the working world. Colleges and prospective employers frequently google applicants to find out if they have secrets in their past. Your parents did you a terrible disservice by not counseling you to take your lumps in life.

There are plenty of routes to success in life. You should turn your energy to another route to success. I am a successful businessman. I went to a regular public high school and a regular college.

Posted by: Steve B | July 30, 2008 10:35 PM

I am amazed at the number of responses to this article, which certainly aroused a number of strong emotions. Unfortunately, we'd never see this type of reaction to a piece on the war in Iraq, or our stagnant economy. Many of the remarks are from commenters who affiliate themselves with the school and are quick to judge their classmate. It is laudable that so many bright, driven students have succeeded at TJ, but a true shame that so many of them have failed to develop any form of empathy for their fellow classmate. The spirit of so many of the comments are unduly harsh and more a reflection of the intense pressure to compete the school instills in its students. There is an important lesson to be learned from this incident, albeit at the expense of an imprefect, "human" being, one that TJ has clearly failed to teach its students.

Posted by: JH | July 30, 2008 10:35 PM

I graduated with a 6.9 gpa and scored a double perfect on the SAT. I graduated from Oxford after a single term.

I'm smarter than you.

Posted by: grrrrrrreat | July 30, 2008 10:35 PM

I am amazed at the number of responses to this article, which certainly aroused a number of strong emotions. Unfortunately, we'd never see this type of reaction to a piece on the war in Iraq, or our stagnant economy. Many of the remarks are from commenters who affiliate themselves with the school and are quick to judge their classmate. It is laudable that so many bright, driven students have succeeded at TJ, but a true shame that so many of them have failed to develop any form of empathy for their fellow classmate. The spirit of so many of the comments is unduly harsh and more a reflection of the intense pressure to compete the school instills in its students. There is an important lesson to be learned from this incident, albeit at the expense of an imprefect, "human" being, one that TJ has clearly failed to teach its students.

Posted by: JH | July 30, 2008 10:36 PM

Hello again, Haunches. I guess my post was in vain. Oh, well, at least I'll always remember the Titans even if you refuse to remember what was in my post.

Posted by: uhh | July 30, 2008 10:38 PM

Matt, why did someone have to suggest to you that a tutor might help? Couldn't you have just gotten help on your own? If you could see that your grades were slipping (and I'm sure you're bright enough to have figured that out), then you could have taken action to improve your situation.

Posted by: anon | July 30, 2008 10:40 PM

I started a Facebook group where Jefferson students past and present could discuss the rule (and its application to me.)


And God knows, Matthew, it's all about YOU. What a whiny, snively brat. Go upstairs and do your homework.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 10:41 PM

Hey man, I went to Longfellow and then TJ...pretty typical right. Never wanted to go when I made it in, but my parents made me since I got accepted and I don't necessarily regret it. I can't believe how the school is portrayed by the Post (and even some people who go there). Furthermore I can't believe how much it has changed since I graduated in 2000. Some people forget that although it is a great school, it is still a Fairfax County Public School that accepts students for the better, and in some cases for worse. They have to deal with ALL the people they accept...after all, we (and many of those who weren't accepted) are all capable of doing well at TJ. I had a sister and many friends who went to our "base school" and I wish people could know that TJ is mostly as different as you want it to be. I don't know, maybe the school is even more abnormal now than I feared it would be when I went. But if they think that sending you to a different school over half way through your high school experience is "better" for you, than they don't have any qualified counselors anymore. Speaking of counselor at TJ told me that with all our competition, I would have no shot at making it into UVA. Well I proved her wrong, so the hell with her, TJ, and all the naysayers.

Posted by: xtr657 | July 30, 2008 10:42 PM

uh and | -- we got it, we got it, you can't stand this kid! In the name of all that you hold dear, enough! This debacle is going to make it difficult enough to sell TJ to the public without the silliness.

Posted by: haunches | July 30, 2008 10:48 PM

TJ hasn't failed us. It is not a overly-competitive environment that led us to comment on this page, but an environment were we learn (as we should) that we should expect the best of ourselves and others. Seems like a perfectly reasonable standard. Please avoid passing such sweeping judgement on a group of people you know only from an internet forum. We are not trolls, and if many of us have similar opinions, it's probably because we are far closer to the situation than many posters on this site.

Posted by: another 07 | July 30, 2008 10:48 PM

Sounds to me like your whining. There are lots of arbitrary standards in the "real world". The bottom line is that you are responsible for your own education. The best way to "fight back" is to go live your life and succeed at whatever you choose to do. Stop focusing on how you think you have been wronged and learn to adapt, adjust, and overcome.

Posted by: Daniel | July 30, 2008 10:50 PM

I guess "leaving no child left behind" doesn't apply to TJ.

Posted by: Jesus | July 30, 2008 10:51 PM

Recently I received a traffic ticket and the fine was $100 and 5 points on my license. But the county decided that there were too many people speeding, so I was charged with a felony and my license was suspended for a year. They got their speeder off the road after they caught him by changing the rules.

I bought a new designer watch at Nordstrom's on sale, but they decided to cancel the sale and charge me the full price a month later because the sale made the watch seem less prestigious.

Then I got hit by a car and ended up in the emergency room. My wallet was not on my person so I was shipped to another hospital because they would not help someone with out the proper insurance. I lost my right leg because of the delay. The good news is I won't be speeding anymore.

I have great news for you. I graduated with a 2.8 from college and was making well over $100,000 per year before I was 30 years old (This was in the early 90s). Many of my more prestigious peers were busy patting each other on the back and helping each other while I helped myself by working hard and focusing on finding something I loved to do.

It is passion and hard work that will make you successful. Having integrity and falling on your sword at the right time will take you a long way.

Society always changes the rules to benefit the rule makers. I have no doubt that we have not heard the last of you. I am writing your name in my address book and look forward to hearing great things about your future.

By the way, your points were well laid out. The bottom line is they changed the rules in the middle of the game. Sounds like the referee spending time in jail for throwing the games so someone would make money and look good.

Blessings to you and your future. Don't let any of these comments get you down. You will go far!!

Posted by: SK | July 30, 2008 10:51 PM

People, he had a B- grade point average: HE WAS FAR FROM FAILING!!!!!!!! This is the udder stupidity of today's educational system that a child simply having a good number means they got an education. I currently work with a person who has two PhDs from Ivy League schools and he is one of the most worthless and brain-dead people I have ever worked with! School is about learning, not grades! Once people realize that kids learn better when they aren't pushed to get to these crazy, meaningless numbers, our education system WILL improve.

As for you, Mr. Nuti, someone has sold you a bill of goods. Not in schools, but in the belief that Wash Post commenters are actual normal people. They are some of the weirdest and vilest people in existence; read the comments on any article and you'll see the pure insanity that comes out. Someone should have told you of the context of what you would run into. These are not intelligent rational people; they all have some ax to grind somewhere and you shouldn't use their reaction as a gauge of your rightness. You are on the right course!

As for your school problems, may I suggest Gonzaga College High School in DC. It is an environment that actually tries to foster a complete person and not just a number. As an alumni of the school, I can tell you that a 2.8 and all your extracurriculars will be looked on as an accomplishment to be proud of and not as something to be ashamed and ridiculed. As fellow B- student who is happily employed and living a highly productive life, I cannot recommend it enough.

Posted by: Brian | July 30, 2008 10:51 PM

To JH, Haunches, and others:

Everyone at TJ had plenty of empathy for Matt Nuti when his situation came to light. We all read the e-mails that his sister sent in a plea for support ahead of his appeal meeting with our principal. Many students even felt energized to write their own e-mails in defense of Matt to our principal saying Matt was just human, he made his mistakes, and that he deserved a second chance. As far as I know many TJ students even attended his appeal meeting to rally behind him and offer him some strength and support in his difficult times. All those who were lucky to count Matt as one of their friends were truly saddened to see him in the situation he was in, even if a lot of what he did was his own fault. After Matt got his second and final rejection, we felt the ruling was unfair. Yet at the same time, we knew that perhaps it was best for Matt to go to Robinson at this point and were prepared to offer him nothing but support, friendship, and best wishes.

So, now you might be asking why his fellow TJ students - the very students who were so supportive of him before - have now turned against him and posted "unduly harsh comments" on this blog. It's simple, really. Matt Nuti went from handling his situation in a very calm and mature way to handling it in a rash and immature way. He proceeded to engage the Washington Post and the evening news to trash talk TJ and misrepresent his entire situation to garner personal sympathy. If that wasn't what Matt Nuti was trying to do, he would have learnt his lessons from his situation, picked up the pieces, and moved on to Robinson. All his friends and supporters at TJ would have gladly helped him find his new path. In fact, all Matt Nuti had to do to challenge the 3.0 rule was to tell all of those friends and supporters to carry on the fight from within the system. That would have resulted in a substantial chunk of the school asking for the rule to be changed, and that "positive legacy" that Matt Nuti seeks would come true. Instead, he lost any friends and supporters at TJ he had by blaming his own laziness on everyone but himself. It is largely because of Matt Nuti's manipulation as presented in Jay and Marc's articles that people like calm desi can even suggest Matt's teachers, not Matt, should have gotten the boot from TJ. As TJ students we know that our school has its fair share of bad teachers. No matter how bad a teacher is, if at least one part of the reason you get bad grades is that you don't complete several major assignments, that is your fault. It's irrational and, frankly, annoying to use the great public soapbox called the press to pass the buck. We deal with enough of that from the US government. Hence, TJ students who were once empathetic now proceeded to take a strong line against Matt Nuti. It's not a lack of compassion and feelings - we had plenty of those, JH - it's that Nuti's just gone too far.

Posted by: TJ dude | July 30, 2008 11:02 PM

Way to speak up Matt. Sounds like the administration at TJ is full of snobs and jerks, and judging by the responses to your article, so is the student body. Kick every kid out who gets a low GPA once? That's horrible policy for a high school! Kids are supposed to make mistakes and grow and be in community in high school - even in prestigious high schools! Who does the TJ administration think benefits from this rule? Certainly not students.

Posted by: Megan | July 30, 2008 11:04 PM

Quoting Megan: "Sounds like the administration at TJ is full of snobs and jerks, and judging by the responses to your article, so is the student body."

Megan, please read the comment directly above yours. Thanks!

Posted by: TJ dude | July 30, 2008 11:08 PM

To the commenters: I can only hope that all of the snarky comments here are posted by immature kids... it's hard to imagine that adults would write these nasty rants about an adolescent. (Oh wait-- there was that lady who created a Facebook page in order to humiliate a teenage girl and ultimately drove her to suicide.) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Do you really gain pleasure by beating up on a child?

I don't think that any of us have sufficient data to evaluate Matt's academic performance or the actions of his school. He is clearly hurt and upset, and he has responded to the coverage of the story. That's his right. You certainly have the right to disagree with him, but can we notch this down a few thousand degrees? We're talking about a kid who missed an arbitrary cut off by 2/10 of a percent -- not a mass murderer who is dancing on the graves of his victims. Gain some perspective and some compassion.

Matt -- I know it is hard to believe today, but once you enter the workforce, you'll realize that this fixation on grades and perfect schools is completely irrelevant to the rest of your life. No one -- literally no one -- will ever look at your post-college resume and ask you what high school you went to or what your GPA was there. And, as far as college goes, getting top grades at a regular school could actually serve you better than subpar grades at a magnet school. You'll land on your feet.

Posted by: Am I the only adult on this thread? | July 30, 2008 11:09 PM

Let's keep in mind that in Fairfax County a 3.0 is a B average.

Posted by: S | July 30, 2008 11:15 PM

Excellent article Matt!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 30, 2008 11:21 PM

You will do fine at Robinson and probably have a better high school experience in the process anyways. Take high-level courses, which are readily available, try your best, and you'll have a good a chance as any TJ student to get into a top school. It doesn't matter how you get into a college as long as you get in. High school is simply overrated and once you get into college you're all on the same level as your peers anyways. TJ students quicky realize this as well their freshman year. Gluck!

Posted by: w&m'11 | July 30, 2008 11:22 PM

Matthew, buddy, nobody is telling you what to do. Nobody is telling you they know what is best for you.

What they did say though is that if you want to stay at TJ, you need to get your ass in gear. You did not.

Posted by: Sorry bud | July 30, 2008 11:25 PM

Everyone posting here from TJ does have perspective and did have compassion. We did. We supported him all the way and felt horrible that one of our true friends was being taken away from us. Then he decided to pin the blame on all of his problems on the school, the admins, the teachers, heck, now even the student body without accepting an ounce of responsibility himself! How do you think he makes all his friends at TJ feel when he says they're thriving in a "breeding ground for arrogance"? How would the hundreds of TJ kids who chose to support him before he appealed his decision to Dr. Glazer feel? They turned out to support him as much as they could, and now they're being portrayed in the media as arrogant swine? He chose to do this not even through the grapevine but through the Washington Post and the evening news.

Yes, we have compassion for him. Yes, we feel sorry for him. Yes, many of us even think the 3.0 rule is unjust. What we cannot have compassion for is the drastic measures he took to trash TJ very publicly. Sure, TJ needs its harsh criticisms in many areas, such as the fact that many privileges the administration once extended to students, like off-campus lunch, have been taken away. Instead the debate gets focused on something like this 3.0 rule that affected a grand total of 4 people. You know, Jay and Marc, if you're actually out to force TJ to adopt some reforms, you can talk about things that actually affect a lot of the TJ student body. For example, the loss of off-campus lunch and other such privileges for no good reason affects 400+ people in an entire senior class. Oh well, as long as someone comes crying foul to you loud enough and you sense there's material to create commotion, you'll do it. Sounds a bit like Fox News...

Posted by: yes | July 30, 2008 11:27 PM

Matt speaking from experience when your dealt a blow in your educational career, pick yourself up and work 10x harder. It's just part of life and you will need to adapt. The responsibility now is within you to react in a positive way. Good luck.

Posted by: Davester | July 30, 2008 11:33 PM

2.8 is pathetic for high school, I think you should start worrying where you might be allowed to attend college rather than staying in a magnet school for students who actually excel in academics

Posted by: anon | July 30, 2008 11:39 PM

I think that it was extremely unfair and irresponsible of TJ to declare a new rule regarding standards and to have the rule apply to all students regardless of age. What they should have done is declared that the rule would take effect with the Class of 2012 and all subsequent classes - because the students previously accepted attended the school on a different set of standards.

That being said, a 3.0 minimum is outrageously high anyway. 2.0 or 2.5 would be acceptable - but 3.0 is simply unfair; this will undoubtably, but fairly, damage TJ's reputation - serves them right.

Posted by: Daniel | July 30, 2008 11:40 PM


Posted by: trial | July 30, 2008 11:42 PM

Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters quit TJ a couple of months before graduation to join Nirvana. Not graduating from TJ did him no harm. Not graduating from TJ will do you no harm, Matt.

Posted by: Foo | July 30, 2008 11:47 PM

Dave Grohl went to TJ before it was TJHSST.

Posted by: Don't be Foo'ed by Foo | July 30, 2008 11:50 PM

That being said, it won't harm you to not have a TJ diploma. Just don't repeat the same mistakes at Robinson.

Posted by: Don't be Foo'ed by Foo | July 30, 2008 11:51 PM

Stepping aside from the individual arguments, I think it doesn't do a serious high school good to focus so narrowly on GPA. The kids with the highest GPA are not necessarily the best & brightest, or the highest workers, or the ones in the end who have learned the most.

For me, a learning environment based on constantly grading individuals on test results is bound to fail in its key mission. There is no success without failure...a high GPA just means you haven't been stretched and stressed enough. To learn, you have to create an environment in which you can fail but still keep on trying, in which you aren't penalized for taking the harder course, for disagreeing with the teacher, for digressing from the path a bit. Everyone should be put in the position of failing in HS, and then learning how to step it up a notch and succeed.

The best learning environments take all students admitted and do the best they can to help them succeed. Programs that weed out everyone who can't make it aren't learning programs, they're selection programs.

Posted by: haiku | July 30, 2008 11:58 PM

I am amazed to see the hatred and vitriol towards Jefferson that has emerged from the woodwork as a result of this article.

This school is one where students genuinely WANT to learn and become successful, as amazing as that might seem. Snobby grade-grubbers? Aren't you the same commenters that lambaste the students for "unduly criticizing" Matthew Nuti?

I'll admit that many of these comments made by TJ students are harsh and passionate. But tell me, how else are we (class of '07 myself) supposed to react?

A student is sent to his base high school because he failed to meet standards set in a rule that was passed before the school year began. He was given some intervention from his teachers, but the problem wasn't that he could not keep up with the material intelligence-wise. All accounts point to his inability to COMPLETE THE WORK. He missed several papers, was an ineffectual team member in group assignments (per one classmate in the facebook group)and could never resolve his time management issues (there is no evidence anywhere that he even attempted to improve even when he was told his grades were not cutting it). He placed his extracurricular activities before his schoolwork and as a result he was sent to his base school.

How does he react to this? Does he acknowledge his failure to complete assignments and set about improving his study habits? No, he finds a reporter who has a history of bias against the school, a blogger who apparently has no standards of journalistic integrity, and a news crew that also made no attempt at fact checking. This media storm created an overwhelmingly negative impression of Jefferson, one that lacked facts and perspective from within the school.

The student posters here are passionate because they love the school and they want to reveal that missing perspective. We are not relentlessly attacking Matt Nuti because we wish to ridicule and shame him, we are trying to explain to others how his work ethic and lack of personal responsibility (to this day I have not seen him claim any wrongdoing anywhere) justified this action. Every single one of us would expect the same action to come upon us if we were to slack off to the degree that he did, and we are just angry that such slanted reporting has tarnished the reputation of the school without any attempt at showing our side of the story.

Posted by: ACC | July 30, 2008 11:59 PM

TJ is a waste of money. The people in Fairfax should wake up and get rid of the school. It is a slap in the face to those of us that barely graduated high school and make six figures. The amount of whiners commenting on this post makes me feel even more like a looser for posting. Whatever dude go back to Lake Braddock or where ever you went before. The girls are probably cuter...

Posted by: jomamma | July 31, 2008 12:00 AM


Posted by: LOGIK MAN | July 31, 2008 12:02 AM

"It doesn't matter that you disagree with the rule or think that it isn't fair, the fact is that the rule has been set and you as a student of TJ should have followed it."


I think he's got a pretty-good point.

Especially when you consider as he said, how many people are cheating to pass the 3.0 requirement.

As high-school students one day you will learn that as a rule, wrong is wrong and right is right and saying that wrong is right doesn't make wrong right. You have an obligation in society to stand up for what actually *is* right, not for what you are told is right, or for what you can get away with. I completely see his point. He's doing the right thing. He's a kid trying to go to high-school, not gain admission to Brown. It seems that the two concepts have been mixed-up. If he was admitted to TJ under a different rule, that rule should grandfather him through his term in school.

The issue is that it sounds like TJ has put its #1 ranking above the needs of its students, possibly putting the needs of some above that of the student-body as a whole, and this is a pretty-common point of confusion, but what is good for 55% of the student-body is not necessarily good for 100% of the student-body, and the administration is making a clear choice here to "cull the weak to benefit the strong". Rare in my life have I ever seen an educational institution that says to a student, "because you're grades aren't a B average on our scale, we're kicking you out for your own good". Like it's entirely his fault but not theirs, entirely his problem...but not theirs because they have dismissed him. Forget all about the trauma of forcing a teenager to start over with new classmates and teachers in a new school. I don't see any evidence of a probationary period or any sort of recovery process here (not like I know this school at all other than what is in this letter) and surely there must be kids who don't maintain a 3.0 who aren't kicked out of the school. And surely there must be kids who do maintain a 3.0 who do it through some means of cheating. Or taking dodgy classes. Or a combination of the two.

But overall I just don't see how having one or two kids or even a few kids with a sub 3.0 average is going to make the whole school anything less than it actually is. Would they be allowed to stay if their GPA was 3.00001 but not 2.9999? Just what is the distribution of GPAs at this school? Please don't tell me that the average is 3.2 or something. And you have to wonder about the other schools near the top of the list, are they "cherry-picking" as well?

How many kids are being kicked out of their own high-schools for the heinous crime of....scoring a 79 on an exam instead of an 81?

Really makes the whole thing kind of sad. I wonder if they have a 3.0 requirement on kids coming *into* the school now. Plus, undoubtedly, some form of test-score requirement. Maybe they will begin to send kids back to repeat a grade if their GPA isn't high enough, or "redshirt" them academically, and that way buck the system from both ends, hm?

That's it, make them home-school for a year and ace every class from beginning to end. Put them in a high-school prep-school!

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:08 AM

Expelling a student for a 2.8 GPA seems rediculous on its face. Isn't expulsion usually reserved for selling drugs and bringing guns to school? Earning Cs is now tantamount to engaging in criminal activity? The fact that the rule was instituted after Matt metriculated makes its application in his case seem even more bizarre.

It also seems clear to me from the above missive and many reader comments that the tenor of Matt's defense isn't doing him any favors, but I think his obvious frustration is understandable. I agree also with the many posts that suggest the kid's gonna be fine with an education from another high school, but I think this misses the point. Matt will still have to explain away his expulsion from high school. If I were, say, a college interviewer asking about the expulsion, I would doubt I was getting the whole story from someone who told me they got kicked out of school for a C+ GPA.

Posted by: prostudent | July 31, 2008 12:14 AM

Jomamma, don't run crying to "jomamma" when you find that you can't get a six-figure job any more having just scraped by in high school, not having a college diploma, or even not having a high school diploma. In fact, don't run crying to "jomamma" when you find that you can't get a job, period. The days of easy money jobs for everyone regardless of skill level are over, my friend. You actually need dedication to knowledge to get by in this new economy and new world we live in. Plumbers can't make more per hour than a well-trained doctor or engineer anymore. The market can't create these falsehoods that school doesn't matter and insulate Americans from the reality of the world any more. Sure, you can work as a plumber or a mechanic or what have you, but don't go demanding $100k and health benefits for that job anymore. No one will give it to you.

What you're seeing now with the credit crunch, collapse of the housing bubble, slowing economy, and all the other woes this country faces is this sort of correction. All those jobs that people used to get big money for or that used to convince people they could afford huge homes for no down payment are proving not to be very high on the value-add chain worldwide. It's jobs for people interested in learning that will pay six figures in the future. I'm glad you got away with barely graduating HS and succeeded in life, but don't delude people into thinking that can happen anymore. You're going to need to care about school to do well going forward. It's true that it wasn't the case before and might not have been for you, "jomamma", but for my generation it definitely is the case.

By the way, cute girls are everywhere. All you have to do is be nice to them and treat them well ;-)

Posted by: wake up, my friend | July 31, 2008 12:14 AM

By the way, the rest of you kids who are snarking on Matt, from TJ or wherever, don't forget the day will surely come when you don't make the grade.

Remember everything that you say here, you might want to copy it and print it out and mail it to yourself this time next year, when you don't get into the college you want, or in 4 years when you have flunked out, and didn't get into grad school, didn't pass the bar, didn't get the job that you wanted. You can mail it to your friends, too. You can't all be successful at everything. So save the snarky attitudes for yourselves when you fail, as you inevitably will. .

And please try to expand your worldview a little. If you think that a lot more people haven't written and won't ever write a lot more passionately than this about Iraq, you're living in a shoebox.

Now go back to spending the rest of your lives trying to "make the grade", instead of actually living.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:15 AM

life sucks; we get over it, but matt clearly can't.

Posted by: LOGIK MAN | July 31, 2008 12:22 AM

"Jomamma, don't run crying to "jomamma" when you find that you can't get a six-figure job any more having just scraped by in high school, not having a college diploma, or even not having a high school diploma. In fact, don't run crying to "jomamma" when you find that you can't get a job, period. The days of easy money jobs for everyone regardless of skill level are over, my friend."

Maybe a review of the basic principles of logic are in order here. At least for one of us. The guy may have said that he scraped-by in high-school. He didn't say that he was working an "easy 6-figure job".

And even so, how the hell would you know whether or not there are any easy 6-figure jobs out there? You really think that there aren't any, that everyone will need a 3.5GPA from a top-notch highschool combined with a 4 year Ivy league education and 2 years of grad school plus excellent references to make 6 figures?

You kids need to literally shut the hell up and go study in preparation for the upcoming school-year. You have so much to learn, one of which is knowing the limitations imposed by limited experience, and indeed, by an elitist attitude. By your very own argument you are wrong. You simply do not know what you are talking about, but that doesn't stop you from making a broad statement which isn't even true. All that you all are doing here is putting yourselves up as poster-children for what is wrong with this entire approach to running a school. You think that because you have a 3.0+ at TJ, that you're smart and knowledgeable. Kids, face it: you're high-school students, 15-18 year old highschool students. By that same logic you know little if anything about the real world.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:25 AM

I know it's really easy to assume that TJ is trying to preserve its #1 ranking (which, by the way, was based off of 2005-2006 numbers) by kicking out Matt Nuti and the four others who got affected by this rule. Frankly, I don't think it's about that. I think the admins may be onto something here as far as "acting in the student's best interest". The fact that only 5 students out of 1800 were affected by this rule says something - clearly the average performance of a successful TJ student who is earning his or her grades is above that 3.0 cut off. People below that cut off are either genuinely struggling or lazy. In either case, if given time to pull up grades a student is still genuinely struggling or lazy, he or she would be WAY better off at a base school than TJ. Imagine that - a short morning commute, getting out of school at 2 PM, less homework, more time for sports after school, and being with all your friends from middle school. If you're genuinely struggling, it takes a lot of stress off of you. If you're lazy, then you can slack without worrying about feeling like an outcast.

Let's consider Matt Nuti's case, again. He had a 2.06 core GPA, if you don't consider free As like PE, driver's ed (again, the same class as PE), and photojournalism. That's quite a bit lower than a "just barely missed the cutoff" 2.8 (which is, for the reason just stated, inflated). I don't know whether he was genuinely struggling, lazy, or both. In any case, if he continued the same way into junior year at TJ, he would be broiled. Physics at any school is at least work-intensive and time-consuming, if not hard. TJ physics is extremely work-intensive, time-consuming, and hard. If you are too lazy to do the problem sets, you'll get an F. Sorry Charlie. Then you have to contend with all sorts of AP classes, in which you actually have to do lots of difficult work. Again, that doesn't quite work for you whether you're genuinely struggling or lazy. The list of things goes on. Heck, even extracurriculars get more time-intensive. Maybe Matt would have made varsity football - imagine the time commitment to conditioning he'd have had to make (including during those 8th periods that he did MUN). Whether he was honestly finding it hard to keep up or just slacking off, he would have definitely struggled at TJ needlessly if he stayed. Now he can go to Robinson and try to get a fresh start, bring up his grades, have more free time for his passions, and move on with his life. So I think the 3.0 rule worked out for him quite nicely.

Posted by: to jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:30 AM

I had two kids at TJ who really did come for the humanities more than the math and science. And one had trouble in freshman biology; the other, during junior year physics. They both worked their rear ends off--not without considerable anguish, I might add. During freshman biology, the teacher held tutoring sessions regularly during eighth period and met with my son whenever it was asked. Less help came with physics, but we bit the financial bullet and found a tutor. Why?

At TJ, my children learned how to learn; they found out that ultimately you have to work no matter how high your test scores or how academically gifted you might be; and they found out that sometimes people help and sometimes they don't, but ultimately it was up to them; and they found out they didn't have to be good at everything.

Simple, but useful lessons, best learned early on.

It was a privilege to be at TJ for so many reasons, but guess what--my child who did NOT go to TJ had extraordinary opportunities at the base school and continues to excel in a top graduate school.

Matt, it's not where you go--it's what you do with it. Clearly you have gumption--to use an old-fashioned word. You'll do well at your base school--and you now have a rather unique personal growth experience under your belt. Pat yourself on the back, don't waste any more time; move forward and write the the Post in ten years and tell us what happened to you.

And somewhat off-topic--I can't see how anyone can go to TJ and not enroll in AP classes. The question isn't WHETHER to take APs, it's how many to take.

Posted by: tjmom | July 31, 2008 12:31 AM

and finally:

in response to this:

"Megan, please read the comment directly above yours. Thanks!

Posted by: TJ dude"

...two wrongs don't make a right.

You are all missing the real issue here. He was admitted under one policy, and he should have been grandfathered through the school under that same policy.

You may not like the way that he is handling this, which is your choice. But he also has a choice, and I think that basically he's right. I don't see how or why you think that your opinion and those of your friends should persuade someone to change their mind about this. Wrong is wrong. You may not have liked what he did *after* but what happened to him was wrong. Therefore your criticism of him *now* seems to be based on what he has done *after* expulsion, and therefore, mostly-irrelevant to the issue OF his expulsion.

And the fact is that if he's telling the truth, then that's all there is to it. You may not like what he is saying or where he is saying it, but hey, there's another lesson in life here for you all to learn. And that lesson is this: when the s*it hits the fan, it rarely ends up in some place where people want it to be.

You talk about how Matt should have taken care of his problems before he "flunked-out"? Sounds like TJ should have taken care of this problem before it hit the papers. Now, kiddies, it's a county issue, not just an internal TJ issue. Deal with it.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:32 AM

jfc1: You need to literally (not figuratively), but literally shut the hell up and stop complaining that your job was outsourced, taken by Mexicans, or your benefits were given away. Easy 6-figure jobs just aren't going to be around in the future. Consider yourself lucky for living in the last few years that people could not go to college and still get a well-paying job. No one is saying you need to go to Harvard to do well, heck even GMU is probably fine, but you're going to have to go to college. I do agree with you that it's annoying when a high schooler with a 3.0+ GPA assumes he's the hottest thing since sliced bread.

For the record, I am not a TJ student.

Posted by: ahahaha | July 31, 2008 12:38 AM

"Whether he was honestly finding it hard to keep up or just slacking off, he would have definitely struggled at TJ needlessly if he stayed. Now he can go to Robinson and try to get a fresh start, bring up his grades, have more free time for his passions, and move on with his life. So I think the 3.0 rule worked out for him quite nicely." I said before, you kids need to get back to the books and keep your mouths shut on this. All that you have just done is proven that all those kids cracking their skulls to maintain an arbitrary GPA in an arbitrary system is working against them, not for them. If the distinction here is his GPA and the GPA-cut is not only arbitrary but the grades are rather-arbitrarily determined in each class, by each teacher (or do the teachers not set the curve in their classes, at TJ?), then surely this applies to the whole student-body. They ALL would be better-off not having to work so hard at a school with less emphasis on maintaining a specific GPA, in classes that the students mainly pick for themselves.

And really all it's going to take is a Columbine-style experience at TJ for this to become evident. Some kid that feels that he's not getting a fair grade, that he has earned, or some kid not making the cut and unable to handle it, and a gun shows up, a plan shows up and the next thing you know kids are scurrying for cover and parents are hysterical and whose fault is that going to be, his or the schools? Oh his, of course. Never any fault of the school or the other students. No way.

Let a few of the kids crack and they'll see the "wisdom" of this approach.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:43 AM

"jfc1: You need to literally (not figuratively), but literally shut the hell up and stop complaining that your job was outsourced, taken by Mexicans, or your benefits were given away."

...and why do I "need to" do this, especially if that hasn't happened?

It sounds like you just "need to" run off at the mouth, like so many other posters here.

But hey it's a free country even for the borderline-insane. Have at it.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 12:45 AM

'...and why do I "need to" do this'

how about because you just said that shooting up TJ would be necessary to fix it?

Posted by: LOGIK MAN | July 31, 2008 12:47 AM

Whether the rule is correct is a separate issue.

The real issue is how the student responds to a declared set of expections, and particularly whether the student attempts to deflect responsibility for the predictable results of his nonperformance. On both counts, this student comes up short. This is consistent, and the fact that his parents agree with him gives me a clue as to how this originated.

The fact that he submitted two written assignments late (as indicated in the original article) is not the school's responsibility; it's his. Further, getting a 2.8 in and of itself is not indicative of a learning disability, nor is there any claim from the student that he is learning-disabled -- so there is no indication that he needed to have been tested before the new rule was applied to him. Good luck next year.

Posted by: Parent of 2 TJ grads | July 31, 2008 12:52 AM

oh and by the way

"Consider yourself lucky for living in the last few years that people could not go to college and still get a well-paying job. No one is saying you need to go to Harvard to do well, heck even GMU is probably fine, but you're going to have to go to college."

You have absolutely no freaking idea what you are talking about. Not to mention that kids go to college not so much for knowledge as for the degree. As in "I went to an Ivy-League school and graduated at or near the top of my class" so they can get a "high-paying job" *because* of that.

And then go wreck a company, or try to wreck the country as a whole. Because they are incompetent and immoral and unethical, yet still somehow secure in their superiority, i.e., elitist. You are just painting with a different shade of elitism, the elitism of a college education, instead of the elitism of a TJ student. On the job experience in a lower-level position given to a talented and hard-working individual with good ethics is quite an adequate substitute for a pedantic education, if not even better, in terms of preparing them for high-income work. Maybe you haven't read the papers lately? Who do you think is behind all this bad economic news, a bunch of people without even a high-school education or a bunch of Ivy-League lawyers, investment-bankers, CEOs and CFOs? The guys and girls out there who skipped college, maybe went to a trade-school but certainly are working OTJ and earning certs and experience on the job are the ones who are making this country work, not the fatheads who consider themselves "Masters of the Universe" because they have a bachelors from Yale and a MBA or JD from Harvard and cultivate relationships from Silicon Valley to Wall Street that net them 7 and 8-figure incomes from the Forbes 500 list, all while they run their companies into the ground, if not this entire country, and they're doing a fairly good job of that too.

If there was a close correlation between college and a high-paying job, you wouldn't have a single argument from me. There are millions of people in this country who prove you wrong every day. No illegal is going to steal someones 6-figure job, dude. And if it travels overseas, that would have happened anyway, and I doubt that the person who lost that job would have *kept* it if they "only had a college degree".

No it's very-likely going from one guy with a college-degree in the US to another guy with a college-degree in India or China, who is doing the same job for a third of the money. Anyway stop talking out your butt.

Posted by: jfc1 | July 31, 2008 1:00 AM

It seems to me that most of the posters who are piling on to this fourteen year old teenager are doing so because they have psychological issues (inferiority complex?) in regard to education and perhaps in regard to high school in particular. As far as the Jefferson students and alumni who are piling on to him go, it's not hard to figure out their motivation at all. These a------s have their self-worth/identity so wrapped up in that High School that they can't separate themselves from the institution; in other words, the place that they brag about to themselves and everyone else has come under ridicule and condemnation and in THEIR sordid minds a complaint -- no matter how justified -- that lessens the place's prestige is an attack on THEIR self-worth. These people seriously need to see a psychotherapist and re-evaluate their lives.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 2:02 AM

OK, strike the "fourteen year old" part -- he's sixteen years old; my arguments still stand.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 2:17 AM

The reality is that Matthew has to take responsibility for his performance instead of blaming others for his ultimate expulsion. I can respect his desire to fight back, but once he began to trash talk the school, my support for him vanished.

Students do like to take some of the easier classes offered, but I don't know anyone who has tried to overhaul their schedule in order to have the easiest teachers. I, myself, took hard classes at TJ (for example AP Physics), not because of my parents or some trivial reason, but because I wanted to. Believe it or not, some people want to challenge themselves with hard courses, because you often learn the most in those classes. The fact that Matthew writes, "students are more inclined to cheat," infuriates me. I worked damn hard for my 4.1, and this point of his argument is basically challenging the legitimacy of thousands of students' grades. Just because Matthew is unable to keep up with his work, he feels that he has to make excuses as for why other students are able to actually perform well in school while he falls short.

Looking at Matthew's schedule from sophomore year, he had some good teachers. Mrs. Gecan, his history teacher, is a very good teacher, by the way. She is knowledgeable about the subject matter of her courses, and I know that she is always willing to help. Perhaps Matthew's problem was that he did not take the proper initiative to ask for help. His extracurriculars should not have prevented him from completing his work. Letting activities like MUN get in the way of school shows a lack of priorities especially knowing that a 3.0 rule was in place. TJ does not require students to be "adults" as Matthew wrote, but a certain level of maturity is needed for ever-important time management and Matthew may not be up to that level.

I'm not even sure if I support the 3.0 rule or not. A pro is that with at least five spots now open in the class of 2010, new students could be admitted to TJ who could make better use of what TJ has to offer. Obviously a con is that grade inflation could get worse.

Many of the current and former students commenting on this post aren't "immature kids" or the "vilest people" as previous responders have put it. I believe it is perfectly within our rights to counter the defamation of TJ by Matthew. I am proud to have gone to TJ and sorry, it's not because it was ranked #1 by US News and World Report. We are not out to personally attack him. I am sorry that he feels he has been wronged and that his family is upset over the ordeal. The fact of the matter is that he has been expelled, and the way he has conducted himself is inappropriate. The 3.0 rule may or may not be fair, but responsibility for the 2.8 needs to be taken. Matthew should not make the administration a scapegoat for his problems and drag the whole student body down with him. Ultimately, he will be better served at Robinson and that shouldn't make him bitter.

Posted by: nu | July 31, 2008 2:47 AM

"(Oh wait-- there was that lady who created a Facebook page in order to humiliate a teenage girl and ultimately drove her to suicide.) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Do you really gain pleasure by beating up on a child?"

Please get your facts straight. It was a MySpace page, not Facebook. Also, it was someone pretending to be a boy who pretended to be interested and courted the poor girl and threatened to embarrass her when the facts came out that she had been manipulated and duped.

That's not at all what's happening here with Matthew's friends and family starting a Facebook account with his approval. Don't muddy the issue with your non-facts and baseless accusations.

Posted by: Regina Phelangi | July 31, 2008 5:19 AM

"...once he began to trash talk the school, my support for him vanished."


Here's yet ANOTHER Jefferson alumnus who can't seem to figure out that an attack on the school administration is NOT an attack on himself. He needs to get over himself and stop bragging about graduating from there with a 10.0 GPA.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 6:09 AM

jfc1, I believe the guy who posted about jobs and outsourcing and all that jazz was mocking you.

jfc1: You kids need to literally shut the hell up and go study in preparation for the upcoming school-year.

ahaha...: You need to literally (not figuratively), but literally shut the hell up and stop complaining that your job was outsourced, taken by Mexicans, or your benefits were given away.

What's the difference between literally shutting up and shutting up? They never taught me that in college...

Posted by: just a note | July 31, 2008 8:40 AM

""(Oh wait-- there was that lady who created a Facebook page in order to humiliate a teenage girl and ultimately drove her to suicide.) WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Do you really gain pleasure by beating up on a child?"

Please get your facts straight. It was a MySpace page, not Facebook."

You seem to have missed the point, Regina. The issue is why so many people are piling on this kid in a public forum with such venom. There are ways to disagree with respect and dignity. We're not seeing them on this board.

Posted by: Strangest comment board ever | July 31, 2008 8:55 AM

Good Morning.

Looks like I missed a lot last night, what with having a life and all.

Since I am an adult and responsible for my actions, I will need to keep this short because the boss wants positive results. Actually, these are work-oriented questions.

Matthew, how is this Facebook page and all of this garbage going to impress your future employers? Do you really think all of this will disappear by the time you have to get a job and stop living off of Mommy and Daddy?

Because, I gotta tell ya Matthew, we use the net to screen for people like you all the time. And your resume just hit the circular file.

Posted by: SoMD | July 31, 2008 9:01 AM

Ok, so what worthwhile employer would judge a person on what they did or wrote at 16yo? Matthew, you would never want to work for a company or boss who would look to something like this that happened when you were a 16yo. student to judge your character or ability. You are 16yo - you have a lot of growing and discovery ahead of you. Screw the idiots who write this crap to a 16yo. Go forward young man, become a billionaire business man and put these small minded people to shame. Hang in there kid! This an an eye opener as to the kind of jerks and idiots (regardless of their HS GPA) in the world.

Posted by: SB | July 31, 2008 9:43 AM

I doubt a company would judge...

...but an admissions officer might. I also hope that the teachers at TJ who write rec letters for his older sister next year don't have strong opinions concerning this spectacle.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 9:53 AM

Wow, how sad, news flash no one cares about what high school you go to after your 19. Just go to college, or don't, and do something with your life, and thats what counts, or don't.

But it strikes me that holding a random GPA standard should discount schools like TJ as the no 1 public school in the US.

Posted by: Alex35332 | July 31, 2008 9:57 AM

Please stop attributing the B average requirement decision to TJ administration. It is a FCPS School Board Regulation:

Regulation 3355.9, Effective 07-31-07
Section IX. a new provision has been added regarding academic standards and procedures for TJHSST students to require each student to maintain a cumulative B average at the end of each school year to remain a student in good standing at TJHSST.

Please stop describing Nuti as "struggling" and needing interventions for a learning disability. The law states that the criteria for eligibility is as compared to his peers of same age:

IDEA Regulations
5. Specify documentation required for the eligibility determination.

For a child suspected of having a specific learning disability, the documentation of the determination of eligibility, as required in 34 CFR 300.306(a)(2), must contain a statement of:
Whether the child does not achieve adequately for the child's age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1); and the child does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(i); or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards or intellectual development consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(i); or the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards or intellectual development consistent with 34 CFR 300.309(a)(2)(ii)...

Posted by: knows better | July 31, 2008 10:04 AM

No, I think that a potential employer will take very seriously what Matthew did here. Because the boy is the basis of the man. College/grad school admission offices will, too. And the whining/getting mommy/daddy will be the tiebreaker to lose him the job. Because the article, the response make one thing very clear: Matt thinks he did nothing, nothing wrong. And if can't look inside yourself and self-criticize, well, then, an employer is really going to hesitate to hire someone who, when admonished, just isn't going to learn from it and is going to blame everyone from himself.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 10:15 AM

Thanks for the IDEA requirements. I don't think spending excessive time on activities and blowing off schoolwork, and parents' failure to intervene falls under that statute.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 10:18 AM

Gary, that is a little unfair. He's just 16ish now, there's plenty of time for introspection and change before he enters the workforce.

More immediately though, this may affect college admissions for him and his sister...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 10:19 AM

It pains me to know that I raise a child in such an unforgiving world. Are the days really gone where we gave each other the benefit of doubt and actually tried to work with and help each other? Matthew, I will look you up in a few years - you will do well. Don't rely on anyone hiring you - work for yourself. There's nothing worse than grinding away at a 9-5 you have no passion for. Use this as an opportunity to find your passion. Do that and success will come inspite of the opinions of many who post here. Chart you own destiny!

Posted by: SB | July 31, 2008 10:19 AM

Gary, my father was orphaned at 14yo and left on his own. He made lots of mistakes very early on. He learned and developed into a great man. The person he became in no way resembled who he was at 16yo. You want to know why, because someone cared enough to give him a break in life. If an employer is not willing to do that they are narrow minded and not a company I would recommend anyone work at.

Posted by: SB | July 31, 2008 10:27 AM

Now that I think about it, I'm even more upset about TJ's policy. If TJ wanted to become a truly elite educational institution, they'd make an A hard to attain and worth something. I went to a pretty elite high school myself, and even the best students sometimes turn in B and C work and somehow get away with it. If TJ was serious, they'd grade stringently and they would give out C's for average performance and reserve the higher marks for the kids who stand out. And don't give me that 'it's TJ... everyone stands out.' It's high school. No, they don't. Turning a C into a F just says that the school wants to be full of students with 4.0's rather than being a school that provides academic rigor.

Also, you know the main difference between Matt and the other TJ students? Matt's writing has been in the Washington Post. Good luck, Matt. Study hard, and don't let the man get you down.

Posted by: Big Mike | July 31, 2008 10:31 AM

Anyone who can't maintain a 3.0 at TJ is stupid. I doubt that his GPA will be any higher at his base school.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 10:32 AM

So is the job application process unfair. And I am afraid that an employer, having interviewed Matt and others, and googled them, and having found this, will give Matt a fair shot at explaining it and showing how he's changed. This is going to be a red flag against Matt until he's safely ensconced in a career job. And, due to this, it may not be as good a job as would have had had he quietly gone to Robinson. Fair or not fair, that is the real world.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 10:33 AM

Excuse me, I meant "will not give Matt a fair shot". Caffeine deprivation.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 10:39 AM

The job application process was developed by human beings and it is carried out by human beings. Red flags are placed by human beings. We need to evolve into a higher order of existing. Who amongst us is perfect - even though your GPA maybe??? It is people who put in place systems and processes. The only processes that make decisions are computers that were - guess what - programmed by people! We have the ability to change the tone and inject understanding and compassion. We are human beings, not robots. Food for thought, we have the ability to influence unforgiving processes and systems. Let's apply reason and let's strive to be just. I am an executive - show me one who has not made huge mistakes. Are we a humanity in such decline that we only rely on what we google? God forbid we be so stupid.

Posted by: SB | July 31, 2008 10:53 AM


The original article states that students and parents were notified of the new policy last August prior to the school year. It was not implemented mid-year so Matthew knew going into the school year that he had to meet the 3.0 minimum GPA. He had the entire school year to bring up his grade and seek the help he needs to meet that minimum.

Posted by: reader | July 31, 2008 10:53 AM

I'm going to poll my HR team. If we are dismissing candidates based on what we've googled online that is going to stop. That is a law suit waiting to slap us in the face.

Posted by: SB | July 31, 2008 10:56 AM

SB, in your post from 10:53 AM, you were incoherent and incomprehensible. What were you trying to say? In your ability to talk about unforgiving processes, systems and change as vaguely as possible, you rival the New York Times's Thomas L. Friedman. What does what you said have anything to do with, well, anything?

Seriously, though, your post was "anti-money". Maybe that's why your name is SB.

Posted by: what? | July 31, 2008 11:03 AM

I'd caution the TJ supporters posting here to watch their language. You are the public face of this institution and what you do and say reflects back on your school. I had never heard of TJ before this incident -- now all I know about it from reading these posts is that TJ's students and alumni are smug, self-righteous automatons who unquestioningly follow every rule imposed upon them, and bitterly malign anyone who speaks out. You're not doing your institution any favors.

Posted by: Andy | July 31, 2008 11:10 AM

That "breeding ground for arrogance doesn't deserve" Matt Nuti? That statement in and of itself sounds extremely arrogant.

Isn't it extremely arrogant that Matt Nuti and his family assume he would be the Secretary-General of TJ's Model UN club in his senior year? At the very least, it's horribly presumptuous. You need to win election to that office. The fact that he thinks he's the only qualified candidate and a shoe-in for the job among TJ's large and talented class of 2010 in MUN is yet another example of his entitlement complex. We will gladly support you in your way forward in life, Matt, but you've got to tone down your own arrogance if you want to tell us to tone down ours.

Posted by: right | July 31, 2008 11:12 AM

SB: your English is atrocious. All of your posts have been incomprehensible and contain some of the most stilted language I have ever read.

Worthwhile employers can and should do background checks all the time, albeit usually to uncover any criminal implications. I'm guessing you have never tried to earn a security clearance from the U.S. Government, where you are subjected to a polygraph and asked asinine questions apropos to nothing. If I came across this instance as an employer, you could bet that I would take Nuti's evident lack of self-interest very seriously. Unless, of course, he demonstrated very clearly that he has learned his lesson and has grown up. Whining to the Washington Post and the nightly news for his own laziness does not help his cause. If he never wanted to be scrutinized, he should have thought about that before he went to the press. Now this inflammatory information about him is available --forever-- thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Nuti just needs to keep his mouth shut and make the most of his last two years of high school.

Posted by: Antimony | July 31, 2008 11:18 AM

There are many, many featured articles saying that HR teams google candidates. And right now, if you google Matthew Nuti, six of the top ten hits refer to this. I wonder if that will change.

No one here needs to watch their language or refrain from "beating up on a kid". Matt has chosen to engage in the adult world of the Washington Post, even posting a lengthy response which is at the top of this column. He is very negative about his former school. His former classmates are entitled to defend their school, courteously but with passion. That is all they've done.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 11:22 AM

Sorry about the repost.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 11:27 AM

"If we are dismissing candidates based on what we've googled online that is going to stop. That is a law suit waiting to slap us in the face."

Unless there are dozen of unions protecting your employees, this is entirely wrong. As a lawyer, I can attest that all non-governmental employment is deemed "at-will" unless otherwise agreed. This means that bosses can choose to fire, hire, or not hire anyone for any reason or no reason at all. Notable exceptions: race, sex, and age (but even these have limitations)

Again, I must stress that there must not be a prior agreement at the time of employment. If there is not, then you can fire an employee for anything, such as coming to work on time, smelling clean, and being a happy person. No law protects you from being fired at will. Know the law before you make outrageous (and wrong) claims.

Posted by: Kidding me? | July 31, 2008 11:28 AM

Andy, join Facebook, search for the group "The 3.0 Rule", and follow the evolution of comments from TJ students from late June (when Matt first got his notice of expulsion) to now. In the beginning, we TJ students were completely supportive of Matt. Not many of us supported the rule, and we were willing to write letters of protest and talk to our principal about it. From what I heard, a lot of my friends turned out to support Matt at his appeal meeting. Then he lost his appeal. Ok, so he went through all his available avenues to challenge his decision, and we felt horrible for the guy. After all, a lot of us were lucky to count him as one of our friends.

What happened? Matt decided to protest the rule in the Washington Post and take his problems public. TJ students even supported him when he first told us that he'd get an article in the paper about the rule. Then we read said article. What we saw was that a lot of Matt's difficulties were his own fault, predominantly the result of his own laziness and unwillingness to put in effort in classes that all of us were willing to try in. He took his report card public, showing off how his GPA was padded by easy classes like PE. Even so, most of TJ was still supportive at that point. I believe this was about a week ago or so, and if you read the comments on the wall from the 3.0 rule, you'd still see people rooting for Matt all the way. Then someone picked up on the fact he was trying to blame his teachers and the administration for his shortcomings. We think Matt's a good guy, but we also think it was really immature of him to try to pass the buck about his situation and take down TJ instead of the 3.0 rule.

All was still relatively ok, even though Matt was starting to gain some detractors within the TJ community. Then Marc Fisher posted his blog article "The Shame and Horror...", and it was printed in the Post if I remember correctly. That "article" by "journalist" Marc Fisher was sensationalist and biased at best, and middle school journalism at worst. There were lots of inconsistencies, misrepresentations of statements, and flat out lies in Marc's article. Matt Nuti knew that, too. What REALLY irked us is that he then chose to side with Mr. Fisher and defend himself within the shaky framework of lies that Marc created.

Just look at this article, "Breeding Ground for Arrogance Doesn't Deserve Me." Even that simple statement by Matt is arrogant. See what "right" said at 11:12 AM. We're getting really frustrated with the way he is handling this situation. Therefore, our comments here on this board, on the Facebook wall, and everywhere else have grown increasingly hostile.

Posted by: to Andy | July 31, 2008 11:32 AM

I very strongly suspect that the guy who claimed to be able to order around a "HR" team and their hiring practices, well, the only "HR" he experiences on a daily basis is homeroom. Given his ignorance of the law.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 11:32 AM

"Kidding me?" is right. Employers conduct background checks on their employees all the time, and they are fully within their rights to do so. Googling and perusing the internet for further information about a prospective or current employee is simply an extension of the background check.

To that end, read "Antimony"'s post at 11:18 AM.

Posted by: John | July 31, 2008 11:40 AM

TJ rejects many students who want to attend there. Matt, you had no problem going to an "elitist" school when you were admitted to the club. You applied to the "elitist" school. It seems hypocritical now to complain about the school being "elitist" now that you have been rejected.

For some reason, you assume that simply because you got in the door that you have every right to stay in that door. This is not a healthy attitude in life. Just because you win a scholarship doesn't mean you can blow the GPA requirements and continue to keep that scholarship the next year. Just because you got a job, doesn't mean your performance can not meet the employer's expectations (yes, even expectations that change) and keep your job forever. Just because you got the loan for the house and made the payments for the first year doesn't mean you can pay less and avoid foreclosure. You have a lot of growing up to do, young man. Cry over this all you want, it will be up to you if you want to learn something valuable from it. And if you do, that will make the experience worth it.

Posted by: Terry | July 31, 2008 11:49 AM

Let's not forget SB's astute observation, "red flags are placed by human beings." As if they were placed by goats or my basement carpet.

Red flags may be subjective, but they have real affects. Anyone applying for any position of all time has had to put up with red flags. Murder someone? Should that not et off red flags?

Guess not

Posted by: red flags | July 31, 2008 11:54 AM

Thanks to "Gary" and "to Andy" for their responses. I would only say that nobody is compelling you to respond to Nuti at all. If you feel his statements and conduct are unwarranted, a single sentence reply to that effect is all that is necessary. Then move on.

Instead there are 200+ posts just to Marc's blog column today. And to this disinterested observer, they are not flattering. Many of you warn that Nuti is jeopardizing his future career choices by what he is doing today. Perhaps TJ supporters are guily of the same thing.

Posted by: Andy | July 31, 2008 12:22 PM

I think about when I applied to TJ as middle schooler and was not accepted-probably because there were students like Nuti were accepted in lieu of me. I graduated from my FCPS high school with a perfect GPA, very high SAT score, and offers from top colleges. It saddens me that there are students at TJ who simply don't appreciate the chance that they have been given by being allowed to attend the school, because I would have given my right arm to be able to go there.

There are several things at fault here: students not being grandfathered in on this new policy, Nuti for not being a responsible student, and his parents for not taking a more proactive role in his education. Setting the bar at 3.0 wouldn't be fair at a typical high school, but it strikes me as only fair to have the standard at TJ. Why would I say such a thing? Because students who cannot succeed at TJ will pay for it for a long time; they certainly won't be getting into good colleges with a sub-3.0 GPA. I think that schools are there to help students succeed, and getting below a "B" average is not succeeding.

How this whole fracas went down, though, is another story entirely. I imagine that everybody involved is embarrassed on one level or another (as they should be).

Posted by: va129 | July 31, 2008 12:25 PM


It is a free country, and this is an open forum. I sincerely doubt that an employer will be swayed by what you or I, as number 200something in a forum, say. What he will do is be swayed by what Matt and his family say, and by his analysis of the situation.

Matt and his family can ask the Post to take down this forum at any time if they get cold feet and fear the future. It's not your job to try to chill the debate by asking us to consider the future effects on Matt of our comments. Especially since, in all likelihood, there aren't any.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 12:30 PM

And I quote Drew Nuti (brother of Matthew Nuti) from the 3.0 Rule Facebook group

"You know, there was another man who removed the 1% of the population he didn't like because he thought it was unideal and a plague against the perfect society he sought to create.

His name was Adolf Hitler, and I think you can guess who that "insignificant" 1% was...

It's a terrible mindset and it doesn't belong at TJ."

Yes, he just compared the 3.0 rule to the Holocaust. Please somebody look up Godwin's law.

Posted by: Nuti is Nutty | July 31, 2008 1:01 PM

I quote Drew Nuti from the 3.0 Rule Facebook group
"You know, there was another man who removed the 1% of the population he didn't like because he thought it was unideal and a plague against the perfect society he sought to create.

His name was Adolf Hitler, and I think you can guess who that "insignificant" 1% was...

It's a terrible mindset and it doesn't belong at TJ."

yes, he just compared this situation to the Holocaust.

Posted by: Nutty | July 31, 2008 1:03 PM

Nazis? Wow. It always comes to this. Godwin's law at it's best.

You know, SB's point is beginning to make sense. The Nazi flag was predominately red, so I guess depraved red flags really are the cause of all human suffering. Since it is mankind that make red flags, then all people are Nazis. Everything is so clear to me now.

Didn't Drew Nuti graduate from TJ? Seems like oil and water to me. Standing up for your brother is one thing, but comparing TJ to the Nazi regime is about as far-fetched as you can get. Getting kicked out of a (entrance exam-based) school for sub-par performance is not easily compared the wanton massacre of 6 million people.

I love when people play the Nazi card. It makes me want to play Texas Hold 'Em

Posted by: Nazis! | July 31, 2008 1:47 PM

Quoting Drew Nuti from the 3.0 Rule Facebook group:
"How does removing the future leader of the largest club at TJ really benefit the learning environment?"

That comment is nothing but a shining exemplar of the arrogance and entitlement complex exhibited by the Nuti family. Matt would be a rising junior at TJ, still almost a year away from the elections for MUN Secretary-General, most likely running against extremely competent fellow TJ MUN'ers from the class of 2010. How in the heck does he know that his brother would be the club SG?

Drew, stop giving your brother this false sense of entitlement to things he feels he's too good to earn. Whether it's good grades or this entire issue of become a club president, he's got to work for it. You can't just say it will happen and be horribly offended if things don't pan out!

Posted by: For Pete's sake | July 31, 2008 1:49 PM

Robinson secondary school is Matt's base school, there should be friends from middle school and neighborhood, it's also a very good school in the area. If Matt really struggle in TJ and hated it so much, he would be better off in Robinson.
What the family is fighting for is not for Matt's education, but the name of TJ.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 1:51 PM

The Nuti's probably smell, anyway.

Posted by: my two cents | July 31, 2008 1:52 PM

Couldn't find it searching on facebook. Can someone post a link?

Posted by: facebook group? | July 31, 2008 1:53 PM

Posted by: here ya go | July 31, 2008 1:54 PM

it might just be limited to TJ students

Posted by: here ya go | July 31, 2008 1:56 PM

it might just be limited to TJ students

Posted by: here ya go | July 31, 2008 1:59 PM

Thanks. You're right I can't join, but I can view it and the comments...

Posted by: facebook group | July 31, 2008 1:59 PM

Matt, I'm embarassed to say that you go to a school in Fairfax County, where the rules are the rules. You knew you had to acquire a 3.0 GPA, you failed to do that, now you must go to the school that serves your area. You knew that going in. TJ is not a legacy school.

When you go to college, if you fail to maintain a 2.0 GPA for two semesters, you will be thrown out. No need to go crying to the media, it happens every year.

Learn from your mistakes and maybe you can get back in to TJ after you study hard enough and bring your grades back up. I did a lot of outside activities when I was in high school and graduated with a 3.2. It's not that hard. You weren't taking anything real tough and according to your principal, you weren't focusing on the areas of study that TJ wants you to do that. You were trying to do it your way instead of the way everyone else is to do it. You're not special just because you go to TJ, you're another TJ student.

Please note, you failed to maintain the required GPA for advancement at TJ. If you fail to maintain the required GPA for advancement at any other school, you're held back a year. A lot more embarassing if it's in the school that you're attending than if it's from TJ to another FCPS school. But now, man you really know how to get the attention on you and don't think the other kids aren't going to ridicule you, even if in fun.

Posted by: Jarrod | July 31, 2008 2:03 PM

Didn't go to TJ, but I did go to another Science and Technology school in 80s. We didn't have a GPA requirement, but we had other requirements above and beyond the county standards including the completion of a minimum of 6 science courses, 5 maths and 2 pre-engineering courses. If these were not completed, you could not graduate from that specific school (because the strict standards were what gave it it's reputation) but instead received a diploma from the high school you would have normally attended had you not gotten into the S&T program in the first place. If a magnet (a key term here) school like TJ is to maintain it's higher than average standards and it's reputation among colleges admissions it should be allowed to.

What galls me is that this requirement was not put into place until after the student was accepted into the program. If that happened in a university environment, the student would have the option to continue under the old rules. Since schools like TJ like to treat their students like they're in college, they should have grandfathered anyone already in the program when the rule was instituted.

While I agree with the rule, I don't agree with how it was implemented.

Posted by: Jaredd | July 31, 2008 2:03 PM

Matt Nuti just completely showed his lack of interest in working hard or taking responsibility for his actions. He got a pathetic GPA, not a borderline one. It's a 2.06, not a 2.8, when you remove the padding. If the Nuti family wants to complain about grade inflation, please note that the only reason they have any basis to challenge the "razor-thin margin" by which Matt was expelled was the inflating effect of two joke classes.

So what's my point here? The Nutis are now saying that Matt is working his butt off in summer school to graduate from Robinson a year early. Others who are supporting him say he will ace all of his classes at Robinson and get a 4.0. I really don't see how changing schools will turn an immature, irresponsible student into an accelerated one with work ethic! Sorry to bust in on your pipe dream, Nuti family, but if you think Robinson is going to be such a cakewalk for Matt that he can skip a grade, you're completely wrong.

Posted by: uh huh | July 31, 2008 2:04 PM

I agree with "uh huh" who stated that, "if you think Robinson is going to be such a cakewalk for Matt that he can skip a grade, you're completely wrong."

Excellent point. Work is work, and Nuti showed that he can't handle "demanding" tasks such as handing in assignments. There were no AP classes in his schedule, and TJ students have unanimously stated that his teachers were jokes. Congratulations on achieving mediocrity. Rise up or just shut up.

As others have stated very early on this thread, even if he goes to Robinson and earns a 4.0, his average GPA will be what, 3.4? Great. That's not good enough to get into any esteemed VA school with any reasonable amount of confidence. Maybe colleges will see how you grew up? Maybe the taste of a whining kid going to the media will remain on their collective palates? Only time will tell.

And shame on Marc Fisher for eating up this story and regurgitating it to the general public. As a journalist, he should know better when some things are just better left unsaid (or simply wrong). I think he has come off as juvenile as Nuti. Nice research, Marc! Good thing you're a journalist and not a scientist. God only knows we need a nuclear reactor melt down because some idiot told you that E_0=mc^3 and you believed it.

Posted by: exactly | July 31, 2008 2:22 PM

It is extremely regrettable that posters such as "Andy" obviously have their self-worth inextricably merged with that of Jefferson High. They need to get over themselves and stop to smell the roses because right now they're smelling like anything BUT roses. They smell like arrogant elitists who should be -- but are not -- ashamed of all of the comments posted here by students and alumni.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 2:49 PM

above reference to "Andy" was 11:32AM posting.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 2:51 PM

Those arrogant elitists! People who have intellectual abilities are lame losers. My hero is Bill Dauterive from King of the Hill. Now there's a good man. The rest of the world values substance over style. Stupid Europe and Asia and Latino Americano (see, I can speak Es-pan-ole!) I think that it's really really elitist to think that some people are smarter than other people. Everyone should just be a plumer and work with pipes and his hands.

Posted by: Proud American | July 31, 2008 2:58 PM

A lot of people participating in this discussion did not go to TJ.

Moreover, do TJ and its students not have the right to defend themselves from Nuti's remarks? It wasn't TJ that went to the media, after all, it was Nuti. Freedom of speech swings both ways. Many people had great memories of TJ (I didn't go) and they want to share experiences that offer a different opinion than that of Nuti. Nothing that they had said has been invalided by Nuti's attacks. If nothing else, Nuti's comments affirm everything that other TJ students have been saying this entire time: that he was just lazy and was asked to leave because he didn't do assignments.

Posted by: anon | July 31, 2008 3:00 PM

N. Bahn was the name of a Nazi Captain who was later arrested for an oppressive stash of kittie-porn. He also had a raging case of herpes.

Posted by: nbahn | July 31, 2008 3:04 PM

Yes, to declare any interest, the only connection I have with TJ is as a Fairfax County homeowner. I went to high school in New Jersey, which is a balkanized mass of school districts without (at least in my day) magnet schools like TJ.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 3:13 PM

So the Facebook group was shut down due to "impending legal affairs." Please don't tell me the Nuti family is planning to sue TJ.

Posted by: rumor mill | July 31, 2008 3:13 PM

Don't punish me with what I deserve, or I'll bite.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 3:18 PM

It would be incredibly difficult for a lawsuit against TJ to build any momentum. The sheer amount of evidence required by the Nuti family would be immense. They would need to show that their son was selectively asked to leave due to some other parameter (race, socioeconomic status, test scores stc.), when other students of the same circumstances were not asked to leave. Nuti is a white male and his GPA was below the required GPA for continued enrollment, so these accusations are, for lack of a better word, absurd.

Actually *proving* discrimination would be even more difficult, especially since the 3.0 rule, as I understand it, had been in place for one academic year prior to Nuti's "expulsion." In other words, the emperor has no clothes for an ex post facto case here.

What would be even more interesting would be if TJ turned around and sued the Nuti family for defamation of character or libel. Again, this case would be nearly as difficult to win, but it would make for an interesting turn of events.

Posted by: Kidding me? | July 31, 2008 3:28 PM

With all due respect, it's not that hard to get good grades in high school. Grades more often reflect your ability to simply show up, pay attention, and meet very basic deadlines. I am very sorry that this student could not manage it, but there are many students that can.

Posted by: bkp | July 31, 2008 3:45 PM

The geography teacher might have grounds for a suit against the Nutis. Doubt the school does.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 4:05 PM

I am not a TJ student and have no affiliation with the school in any regard.

bkp is absolutely right. Out of the roughly 1800 students at TJ, five students were shown the door. That's less than one third of one percent (0.27%). Clearly the other 1795 other students had no problem adhering to the 3.0 rule. How is Nuti satisfied his his own performance? If I were in the bottom 1% of my class (let alone bottom .27%) I would be utterly ashamed in myself, especially if I knew that I did not turn in assignments of time, etc.

The real world is going to chew Nuti up if he continues this mantra of entitlement. Didn't hand in an earnings report on time? Your client won't give you a second chance; they will just switch to another provider/analyst (read: you lose your job).

Is it really that hard to just hand in assignments? Everyone does extracurricular activities whether it be a sports, music, dance, or simply helping out the family at home. Nuti's claim that MUN and JV Football sapped too much time away from him are disturbing and pitiful. Quit one of the groups, genius!

I for one (way back, mind you) played Varsity baseball (4 hours a day after school), took care of my sick father (leukemia), had a steady girlfriend (later married), was on the It's Academic Team, and was on countless clubs. With AP classes involved, I never earned less than a 4.5 my last two years of HS. And Nuti uses JV Football as his alibi? Epic Fail.

bkp, you're spot on.

Posted by: Quark | July 31, 2008 4:20 PM

FYI - I think the administration is correctly attempting to redirect students back to their base schools when they do poorly at core science classes their frosh and sophmore years. The junior year is definitely MUCH harder and if someone is getting low to barely passing grades in foundation courses, it will make progressing in advanced courses impossible.

Note that TJ recently renovated their Senior Tech lab lists - removing the "easiest" options that non-science majors often chose in Television Production and Telecommunications. He would be unable to graduate unless he could choose a rigorous lab project in Power Systems, Robotics, Biotechnology, Physics, etc - how could he do these if he was inadequate to take the AP level courses for those labs?

Adding in some minimum requirements helps the school focus on their most science intenstive offerings at the junior and senior levels. This helps the students as well as the faculty/administration to know that the students taking these classes have a good knowledge of core subjects and have the competency to complete other graduation requirements at TJ.

I haven't seen anyone else talk about this in the blogs, but there is more than one reason why TJ needs to have some minimum standards for science and tech classwork. I know of a few people that re-took classes in the summer to get their grades up, or took classes in the summer so they could concentrate on that subject and have a better next year. Sounds like Matt did not go the extra mile to prepare himself for his soph year, overcommitting to extracurricular activities, failing to respond to warnings regarding missed assignments and minimum grade point averages. Given that he has coasted by on 2.8 GPAs in middle school - he should have known that he was at risk for failing to meet this standard and worked harder.

Bravo to the administration for helping this student go back to his base school. He can take classes of whatever difficulty he wants there, and not get forced into continually higher expectations that require actual work/effort to pass. He may also find a lot more friends with similar slacker attitudes...

Posted by: Nuther_TJ_Grad | July 31, 2008 4:25 PM

sorry to double post

I meant to say, "with his own performance." I apologize

Posted by: Quark | July 31, 2008 4:26 PM

More than a few years ago, I graduated from a selective public high school in NY called Bronx High School of Science. I am not familiar with Thomas Jefferson HS in particular, but I am familiar with the nature of these schools in general.

They are not for everyone.

They require not only some degree of intelligence, but also maturity and self-motivation.

It appears that Matthew was not well suited for Thomas Jefferson, but I suspect that he will thrive in a different environment.

I am sure that many of us wince when we see our writings from high school. So, much of the sense of self-importance and entitlement that bleeds from this letter is understandable and easily forgiven. However, I suspect that the language, persepective and tone of this letter also reveals much about his home life and his parents, as does his parents' decision to waive his privacy rights. For many of my classmates, the decision to go to Bronx Science was driven more by the parents than the students. I suspect that this may have been the case with Matthew.

Posted by: Joe | July 31, 2008 4:28 PM

Matt: Seriously buddy, all of us had difficulty at TJ. We all had tough teachers and we all took AP courses. At the end of the day, you knew the rule, and you didn't take personal responsibility - and yes, that means ditching extracurriculars - for your grades. At the end of the day, TJ is an elite institution, and you failed to keep up in what is obviously a work related issue. Frankly, if you do your homework on time for every class and turn in every paper in time and put a decent amount of effort into both, you will recieve a 3.0 or higher. Also, Matt, your next year, you would be taking two AP courses, as well as Physics, so think how you would have been able to handle it even if you worked really hard and couldn't acheive a 3.0. TJ also has a built in study/tutoring period called 8th period, where you can go see teachers for extra help, meet with fellow students who have already taken the course for help, you could also try catching up on homework. During football season, I did a lot of my homework during 8th period so that I wouldn't have a lot after practice. I also think it is very indicative of effort considering that only 5 students out of 1300 possible students were expelled.

Kari: I really doubt that Matt would have made it into TJ if he had a mental/learning disability, though I could be wrong.

Posted by: TJ 08 Grad | July 31, 2008 4:35 PM


If Matt had a mental/learning disability, he should be put into a special education program that suits him well, not TJ program.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 5:46 PM

I'm sure this has been replied to before but it won't hurt:

"Why didn't this kid ever get psychoeducational testing? Maybe he has a learning disability or AD/HD (issues on which the general public are sorely misinformed, so I expect to see a lot of strong and erroneous opinions on the LD/ADHD issue)."

I'm sure you wouldn't know this considering the major points you are addressing, but Matt Nuti was not subject to any learning hardships. He merely failed to complete major assignments, and if he did complete them they would often be late. This is not a learning disability. This is called severe procrastination. Unless you think procrastination can be diagnosed and treated based on your "neuropsychological" expertise, I would suggest not bringing up the point of any learning disabilities.

Also, the cure for procrastination? Time management. Making sacrifices. Not "devoting hard work" to extracurriculars, as Matt specifically stated, but investing some time in school work. All of these things would have kept him at TJ.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 6:09 PM

Also, I fully encourage people to realize this fact, if they have not been following this story from the beginning.

MATTHEW NUTI's only "A" classes were Driver's Ed and Health, and Journalism. His core curriculum, including the classes which were specifically meant for TJ students, were about a 2.0 GPA average. TJ is short for TJHSST which is short for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. Operatory words being "for Science and Technology". If Matthew Nuti had little interest in these subject areas, why did he attend TJ in the first place only to "blow off" his classes in favor of extracurriculars?

People fail to realize that Matt Nuti chose to attend TJ. He was not forced to. TJ is an option, not a requirement.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 6:14 PM

Kari, had Matt Nuti been a learning disabled student, he would have had trouble getting into TJ. Furthermore, even if he was learning disabled as you claim, he would be receiving the aid necessary, as you say it is federal law. TJ has had learning disabled students before; a student who comes to mind attended last year, and he was autistic. In the end, it was his family's (and not TJ's) decision for him to leave.

Mr. Nuti here isn't arguing that the school failed to help him as needed, so please do not dwell on this point.

If you want facts, he scored in a very high percentile on the admissions test to TJ, which tests Reading, Math, and Writing in the same manner the SAT does. Intellectually, he is right up there with TJ's talented student body. Academically, his motivations and passions have led him astray from the direction in which TJ is meant to direct him. More specifically, he is concerned more with extracurriculars like MUN and Football (which, if I may add, so do at least 100 other students) than with his academics. The simple fact is that he had trouble with homework, not due to learning disabilities but due to procrastination. Had he put any real effort into raising his grades, there would surely be mention of it by teachers and or fellow students. I have seen no such comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 6:22 PM

With all things related to Matt Nuti's case aside, the 3.0 GPA rule is ridiculous. Not only is this GPA higher than what would normally be considered average, it is acting instead like a failing grade here at TJ.

For starters, a better idea would be to lower this arbitrary 3.0 GPA to a 2.5, or even lower to a 2.0 GPA. Additionally, this GPA requirement must apply only to core curriculum classes, as any school, math/science/technology or not, will have a certain set of mandatory classes that ALL students take. For instance, over 90% of students here take a math, science, english, and history (or the senior equivalent government) course in all four years at TJ. A new lower GPA rule should be instated for these four basic classes. This prevents elective classes from boosting a student's GPA, while at the same time the lower GPA requirement would give a student more than enough room to breathe.

Not only would a 2.0 or 2.5 be more "politically correct" so as to avoid unnecessary flack from those who only reflect upon the surface matter (the GPA rule itself). Additionally, if such a rule pertains to core classes, it would prevent inflation from other classes while allowing a student to take elective classes in whatever they please without having to stress.

Does anyone else think that would work significantly better than the current policy?

Posted by: TJ Student | July 31, 2008 7:01 PM

Lots of things make sense. However, the policy that was instituted was probably given a lot of thought by the admin, who no doubt explored alternatives, knowing that they would have to justify it to the razor sharp minds of TJ.

Comes down to this. Matt had notice of this at the start of the year. Even with two fluff course (Drivers Ed and Phys Ed are one course) in his schedule, he couldn't cut it. He turned down help, overconcentrated on activities, brought himself grief and lower grades by turning assignments late (I'd love to know why they were late, big game or Security Council meeting?) and his parents didn't take action to keep him up to the mark. He foolishly assumed that the admin didn't mean what they said. He was wrong, wrong, all the way to the bank, so was his family, and none of them are taking responsibility. He can go to Robinson, but he better apply himself, because a 2.06 core GPA makes him NOVA meat if this continues.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 7:17 PM

As a current TJ student, I agree with almost all of the TJ alumni who have posted here. Sophomore year is a piece of cake compared to junior year. If Matt was struggling in 10th grade, then leaving will definitely be good for him. A year from now, when he's filling out college applications and GPA is (almost) everything, he'll be glad he has near a 3.4 and not something even worse than what he has now. Luckily, if Matt continues to work as hard as he has been, he should be capable of getting great grades at his base school.

There's a saying at my school, and it goes, "Grades, Friends, Sleep: Pick Two." While most people strive to find a balance, Matt neglected his studies more than he should have. I don't think he deserved to be "kicked out" like this, but in fact, should have left of his own accord. Staying at TJ would be worse for him in the long run. Why would he even WANT to stay? He'll have less stress next year and more time for the extracurriculars he enjoys so much.

All of this could have been avoided if TJ had some common sense, realizing that admitting a middle school student with a GPA of 2.8 means he's already way below average. Matt never deserved to be at TJ in the first place.

Posted by: Rising TJ Senior | July 31, 2008 7:49 PM

Probably he invoked his two older siblings at every turn, including writing in his essays that he wanted so bad to follow them to Jefferson, and the admissions committee figured borderline kid with a family connection, his siblings and parents will make him work real hard and he'll make it.

Posted by: Gary | July 31, 2008 8:51 PM

The arrogance and condescension of TJ students and alums on display here is awful. It is unclear if they realize how poorly they are representing their school, which is taxpayer funded. Nuti brought an ill-thought out policy to light, and the nasty side of TJ was revealed. It is true that sunshine is the best disinfectant, so perhaps TJ can grow from this experience. Defend the policy if you think it is wise but try doing it without degrading anyone!

Posted by: oh my | July 31, 2008 9:19 PM

Oh my, I understand that many of my fellow TJ students and alums who have posted on here have made comments that are a little out of line. There is one thing, though, that I must say very frankly to you and to everyone else who keeps talking about how TJ students don't have manners or respect. We would be a lot calmer if you read any of the myriad posts (by "uhh", "to Andy", and others) that explain as clearly as possible why TJ students and alums turned from extremely supportive of Matt Nuti and rallying behind him against the 3.0 rule to the angry comments you've seen on this board in the past few days.

Simply put, everyone from TJ is angry because Matt appears to be trying to pin all the blame on the school without even accepting some personal responsibility. His family kept trumpeting that it was his destiny to become Secretary-General of MUN at TJ, and for those of us who do MUN at TJ, we know that there are a lot of talented people in the class of 2010 Matt would need to run against to be elected. Saying Matt was going to be the SG over a year before the elections was an insult to others in TJ's MUN club and also another example of how we at TJ feel (rightly or not) that his family is fueling a dangerous entitlement complex. We think that his family is giving him the wrong idea that he is entitled to stay at TJ regardless of his grades and that he is entitled to being a club president, and doesn't even need to bother thinking about how to earn those objectives with hard work. KEY STATEMENT: Frankly, I think we're all way more angry at Matt's family and the Washington Post than we are at Matt.

It touched a nerve for us when we were all called arrogant in the most arrogant of terms, saying that TJ "doesn't deserve him". At TJ, we tend not to like hypocrisy so much, and maybe we overreacted. On behalf of everyone, I apologize for that. He used two major media outlets in the Washington area, the Post and WJLA, to blow his story out of proportion. We support him in his efforts to end the 3.0 rule (which we find equally ridiculous), but we don't like how he's supporting (intentionally or not) the falsehoods and misrepresentations about TJ that are being promulgated in Jay Matthews's articles and Marc Fisher's blog posts and radio show. He's making his point about the 3.0 rule (good), but he's also rolling with all the lies and rumors that Marc et al. are spreading about TJ (bad). You know, the Nutis keep saying that they didn't want to implicate Ms. Gecan, one of TJ's beloved teachers, in all of this. They say the Post misrepresented their statements. I'll believe that. I bet you anything Marc is egging them on to continue this fight just to create the sizzle that gets people to read his column. Actually, Ms. Gecan should be a hero to everyone who wants to remove the 3.0 rule and fight grade inflation. Matt didn't do any work in her class and didn't show knowledge or mastery of the material, so he got a D, the grade he deserved for the effort he put in. Now THAT is what all of you should call fair grading.

Anyway, I know my post was very long, but I hope it at least clears up some confusion.

Posted by: listen | July 31, 2008 9:46 PM

It's interesting that there is a lot of opposition to the regulation in question. I don't personally agree with the 3.0 bar, as it seems somewhat arbitrary, but understand what could prompt it. Getting into a decent college with a 2.8 will be tough, even more so if the core GPA is even lower.

What seems to have prompted the backlash against Matt Nuti is the lack of accountability and finger pointing he and his family have engaged in.

I hope things work out for the guy - there aren't any real 'winners' here. The TJ community lost a student of two years, a former student has a tainted Google presence, and neither side comes off well in the public eye.

Posted by: TJ 02 Alum | July 31, 2008 10:19 PM

@TJ 02 Alum

Is there ever such thing as good publicity?
Never in situations like this...

Posted by: RB | July 31, 2008 10:31 PM

Amen to the last post by "listen". Sadly, the facebook group has been closed down, but if it were still up, I would encourage you all to read it. Early on, when the focus of the group was on the rule, and not Matt's specific case, the students were almost universally opposed to the rule. Once the specifics of Matt's case were revealed, and he pleaded his case to the Post and ABC, student opinion took a very abrupt 180. Why? Because it became clear to us that he had indeed underperformed academically at TJ.

A lot of commenters here seem inclined to disregard the opinions of the current students at TJ, one going so far as to call us "arrogant elitists". However, I feel that it's hard to deny that the current students have a unique insight into this situation, due to our closeness to and familiarity with the TJ environment. Sure, we're probably biased, but everyone's biased to some extent. The best thing to do is to listen to every side of the story, and hope to cancel out the bias as much as possible. With that in mind, I'll try to cover what I see as the big topics here, but from the perspective of a current rising senior at TJ, starting with Matthew's sophomore report card, as reported in the original Post article.

Matt's only A grades last year were in PE (Driver's Ed replaces one quarter of PE, so they're essentially the same class) and Photojournalism, both classes often referred to as "instant As", and not without reason. An A in PE/Driver's Ed, of course, requires minimal academic input, and while I'm sure Photojournalism is a valuable class, it's not the most academically rigorous, especially for a school focused on science and technology. Without the padding afforded by those As, his GPA is approximately a 2.06, if I remember the numbers correctly, though feel free to correct me on that, as I don't have a calculator handy.

He received a B+ in English, but a yearly report card in the ABC video showed that his quarter grades went A, A, B+, C (if I recall correctly, I may have mistaken a + or two). To me, that doesn't seem to show an effort to bring his grades up to keep himself TJ. That sequence of grades doesn't really show a B+ average; the consistent falling is the mark of someone who applied himself in the first semester, and then let himself slack off with that cushion already built in.

He received a B in chemistry, which is perhaps slightly lower than average for a science class at TJ, but there's really nothing wrong with that particular mark.

He received a C in precalculus, which is already a warning sign for a student at a science/technology high school, but this particular class was taught by one of the kindest teachers that I have ever known, and easily one of the most devoted to the success of his students. I won't disclose his name, but this teacher has been known to give tons of help, to the extent of giving away answers, even during a test (TJ students will probably recognize the stories). Every 8th period, I see him working with students individually to help them improve at math. Moreover, precalculus is not a required math course for a sophomore. The bottom line is Algebra II/Trigonometry, and I would be astonished if there were no option for a student in danger of expulsion to drop back to a lower class to pull his grades up.

He also received a C in French 3. I don't have any familiarity with the french teacher, but again, French 3 is not the lowest French course he could have been in. I have friends who have dropped back a level in their language because they were unable to handle the higher course. They made that kind of sacrifice when they weren't even in danger of expulsion, but Matt went ahead and earned a C in a course he didn't even need to be in.

Finally, the D in World History/Geography. A lot has been made of this grade. Matt claimed that the map quizzes required "painful and rote memorization". Well, if you're in danger of failing out of a school that you supposedly love dearly, you can't expect solutions to be handed to you on a silver platter. Sometimes a lot of repetitive effort can be necessary. Furthermore, a classmate of his posted on facebook to point out that Matt repeatedly turned in his portion of group work either late or never, and was often conveniently absent on presentation days, without even informing his group ahead of time. In the original Post article, Ms Gecan says that Matt turned in at least 3 major assignments significantly late. Again, is this an appropriate pattern of behavior for someone whose GPA has put him at risk for expulsion?

With the discussion of his report card over, I have some miscellaneous points to make that may have been lost on the readers and commenters who aren't as familiar with the TJ environment as the students. Like I said at the beginning of this post, support for the 3.0 rule itself among the community is very shaky at best. When Matt first made his facebook group, almost everyone was on his side. When did the community turn against him? When he refused to accept responsibility for his failure to bring up his GPA , and instead placed the blame solely on the school and the faculty.

It is a common claim from the Nutis that they aren't fighting for Matt's case specifically; rather, they say they are protesting the injustice of the rule in general. In that case, where was all this press attention last August? The Nutis, and the other families with children at risk, received letters in August of 2007 warning them that their children faced expulsion from TJ unless they could bring their GPAs up above 3.0. However, the Nutis made no public protest back then. This all began in June, when they received word that Matt had been asked not to return to TJ for his junior year.

When Matt's grades continued to suffer in his sophomore year, that would have been the time for drastic action; perhaps dropping one of his many extracurricular activities, or, like I suggested above, dropping back to an easier math or language class. In fact, these changes could still have been made in the first semester or so of the school year, once Matt's grades continued to suffer. If he had gone that route, TJ has more than ample opportunities for individual academic help. There are tutoring options available during school hours, via 8th period, for math, languages, history, and virtually any other class, for at least 1-3 hours a week. Moreover, the teachers at TJ are almost universally kind, helpful, and more than happy to work one-on-one with students to bring their grades up, even if it means working before/after school, or during lunch. However, it seems that Matt didn't take advantage of any of these opportunities, which makes one wonder how dedicated he really was to remaining at TJ.

Many commenters here have complained that a 2.8 GPA is "average", and questioned why TJ is expelling an average student. Well, TJ is not an average school. A 2.8 may be average at a base high school, but at TJ, it was enough to put Matt in the bottom third of the bottom percent of all the 1800 students at TJ; I don't know about you, but I'd hardly call that average. Furthermore, the claims of grade inflation, while they may have some merit, are mostly irrelevant. If TJ were to scale their grades down, so that more students got lower GPAs, it would be absurd to think that the 3.0 rule would remain specifically as the *3.0* rule. The rule isn't centered around 3.0 as a magical number; rather, it is focused on targeting the academically struggling students who might not be well-suited for TJ. If the grades were scaled down, we would simply have a 2.5 rule, or a 2.0 rule instead. The question of whether it's better to spread the grades out is an entirely separate and very hotly debated topic, so I won't get into it here. Suffice it to say that it's important to consider students' GPAs as a measure relative to other GPAs, not as an absolute indicator. A "3.0 GPA" is indeed an arbitrary quantity, and one that has a significantly different meaning based on its context; however, "lower than 1795 of his peers" most certainly does not.

Finally, in a comment on the original story, Drew Nuti said "To those students who claim to know Matthew and still comment; have the courage to post your name. If you want your words said, I would recommend you put Matthew's skills as a debater to the test. You ask him to defend his actions but won't even defend your words". I don't know Matthew personally, but I haven't said anything here that I would want to keep anonymous, or anything I wouldn't say in real life, so I'd be happy to oblige. I'm Nick Starr, a rising senior at TJ. I'm not looking to "put Matthew's skills to a test", but I'd be more than happy to hear the Nutis' side of the story, any way they'd like to contact me; I don't know how much I'll check back here at the Post, but I'll gladly respond via Facebook or email (TJ students will be able to get my address if they want it).

Phew, I realize I've written quite an essay here; I apologize for talking (writing)? your ears (or is it eyes?) off. Unfortunately, it's late at night, and although I did give this one quick proofread, I'm sure it's not perfect. Please pardon (and feel free to correct) any spelling, grammar, or factual mistakes I made.

Posted by: Nick Starr | July 31, 2008 11:06 PM

Judging from the overwhelming number of comments, I suppose I'm a little late to respond myself. Now, I know not when or IF this comment will be read at all, but I feel that this is the very least that I can do to join the pool of those that support TJ and its relatively recent policy.

I myself am a student at TJ-- class of 2009, in fact- and I'm proud to be part of such a conducive and positive academic community. Say what you will, Matt, but TJ IS a positive community. Actually, I'm sure you simply can't disagree completely with that statement, since you took a part in your beloved extracurriculars. Now, I understand that there are a lot of other dynamics that the public may not understand, which contributes to the backlash, but the truth of the matter remains that this story is all about a guy who didn't do everything in his power to maintain his GPA, was dealt the consequences, and is now retaliating in a manner that seems melodramatic and pretentious. There have been countless TJ students past and present that have engaged in both the academic and extracurricular aspect of TJ and have continued to maintain acceptable, if not exceptional, GPAs. Part of the reason why such an outstanding number of students get accepted to prestigious colleges like Harvard or Yale is because colleges are impressed with TJ students' ability to balance their priorities. Major lessons learned from attending TJ are how to prioritize and how to balance those priorities. Matt clearly had priorities, but he also clearly did not balance them well. This is what angers those who support TJ-- the fact that Matt is putting blame on the school policy when he could and SHOULD have woken up to the fact that he needed to find ways to raise his GPA after Dr. Glazer's announcement in a PTA letter.

No Matt, I'm not saying "deal with it." What I AM saying is to take a step back and look at what you're doing and what you have been doing. I am NOT typing this comment perched on a throne of arrogance-- far from it. I know for a fact that I'm not the brightest student; I'm constantly fighting to not be completely overshadowed by my peers and the curriculum. TJ is unique not only for its challenging academics, but also for its socially stimulating environment. In order to MAINTAIN this positive atmosphere and in return for being a part of it, all that the school asks is that you work hard and not JUST be all that you are, but be all that you CAN be. Was Matt being all he COULD have been? Publicly, he may easily respond yes and once again hide behind the extracurriculars, which we all are very familiar with at this point.

Though I have struggled to keep up with the intense curriculum, I still stand by TJ. There is little to come from Matt's aggressive disapproval of TJ's policy-- all that it has accomplished is to polarize opinions and raise angry voices.

To take part in success, you yourself have to be successful.

Posted by: TJ 09 Student | July 31, 2008 11:34 PM

To have known about the 3.0 policy and have blown it off thinking "they won't ACTUALLY kick me out" only goes to show that Matt himself was the elitist.
Also, 64=failure is just as arbitrary as 3.0=out.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 11:41 PM

If you are new to this issue and want to read the one comment that most clearly and accurately reflects the pro-Jefferson point of view, read Nick Starr's post about two or three above mine.

Posted by: ACC | August 1, 2008 1:17 AM

Matt needs to seriously reconsider his intent to graduate next year, a year early, from Robinson -- at least if he wants to get into a decent college.

College applications are typically due in early January, by which time Matt will have relatively little to augment his rather mediocre record from TJ. He will also not be in a very good position to have developed a solid relationship with his Robinson guidance counsellor or to enlist Robinson teachers to write meaningful recommendations letters on his behalf.

Matt has a powerful urge to self-destruct, and his parents are playing the role of enablers.

From what I can tell, Matt seriously needs all four years in high school to develop maturity and judgment.

Posted by: Parent of 2 TJ grads | August 1, 2008 7:06 AM

Hey TJ students and parents why not put your names to your comments? Matt did whats your excuse ladies! So either man up and get a set or dont post. And TJ parents please put down the illegal psycho active substances the kid has a powerful urge to self destruct. Please get over yourself.

My firm in the past made the mistake of hiring kids who were TJ grads and then went on to top schools big mistake for us.
They were immature and used to being cuddled by their parents , teachers and profs. As CEO I have a standing policy of terminating any employee whose mommy calls
his/her supervisor to complain or give advice on how to manage their child.

Sorry TJ needs to go and the teachers and funds should bespent on all FCPS high school students not just the alleged best and brightest.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 8:05 AM

Shame you cant breed kids like to you do a good herding dog. And yeah my herding dog is way smarter and more mature than any child attending TJ!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 8:06 AM

Whoever just posted at 8:05-8:06 AM (that's right, this very person who complained that me and other TJ students aren't using our real names doesn't even have a silly alias - he or she left the name field blank) makes no sense at all. First off, some self-reflection as to your use of punctuation is in order, good sir. Anyway, that isn't really the point I'm trying to make here. Moving on, you said:

"[TJ Students] were immature and used to being cuddled by their parents, teachers and profs." I am pretty sure that in this instance Matt Nuti is being immature, and I think his parents are definitely coddling him to dangerous levels. You said you'd terminate anyone "whose mommy calls his/her supervisor to complain or give advice on how to manage their child." That's exactly what the Nuti family is doing in this situation! They're coddling him by giving him this dangerous entitlement complex that he can get things he wants without working hard for them. Just think about how they've reacted to this situation - they say he had a right to stay at TJ, even though he clearly was underperforming academically due to his own laziness and unwillingness to put in effort like everyone else! I'm sure you'd agree with me as the CEO of a company that if any of your employees felt extra special and decided he or she didn't have to do any work while everyone else worked overtime on an important project, you'd consider firing said employee.

That comment they make that he was destined to be Secretary-General of TJMUN, essentially the president of the largest club at TJ, is completely bogus. Sure, Matt was a contender for that spot, but elections were a year away, and he'd face competent competition from the class of 2010. Again his family is enabling him to fall harder on his face by stroking his ego, pumping him up with hot air, and convincing him he's entitled to leadership role without having to go through the work of making connections, organizing MUN conferences, and running for office. I'm sure you didn't get to be a successful CEO by doing no work at all!

For the record, TJ (a school with an enrollment of 1800) is only adequately funded for 1300 students, and we haven't had any major renovation since the school building was constructed nearly 50 years ago. Other FCPS high schools, like Woodson, are getting their complete overhaul. Lake Braddock got a complete renovation, and now it looks amazing. FCPS distributes money equitably among its high schools, and in fact TJ usually gets the bum end of the deal. TJ students conduct most of their award winning research for Intel projects, science fairs, etc. on equipment that was donated from government labs dating from the late 70s and early 80s. Sorry, whoever you are, but we don't get anywhere near as much funding as you think we do.

By the way, how do you spend a teacher?

Posted by: aye aye, cap'n | August 1, 2008 8:49 AM

Hey anonymous jerks why not put your names to your comments? Nick Starr did whats your excuse ladies! So either man up and get a set or dont post.

Posted by: whatamaroon | August 1, 2008 9:58 AM

My excuse lady is a middle-aged Japanese woman who likes to take calcium supplements ;-)

Posted by: whatafuschia | August 1, 2008 10:15 AM

"Nick Starr did whats your excuse ladies!"

Whoever you are, you ought to watch your language. I'm pretty sure whomever Nick Starr "did" is irrelevant to this conversation.

Posted by: A Concerned Parent | August 1, 2008 10:40 AM

The power the comma...

"Nick Starr did, what's your excuse ladies!?"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:59 AM

*of the...


Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 11:04 AM

I feel sorry for this kid. Getting expelled is an awful thing and it will no doubt affect his future college prospects. That said, the academic standards at TJ were well known to him. If he failed to meet them then the rules have to apply to him equally - otherwise what do you tell his classmates who did work hard to keep their grades up? Their efforts did not matter?

While Mr. Nuti complains that people dismiss him with the refrain "Life is tough." It is not an unfair statement. The world is a tough place. Good opportunities for schools and later careers do not grow on trees. A person has to work hard to get them and be determined and follow through. Speaking from personal experience, I have had both success and failures in my academic and professional career. While they were unpleasant, I learned a lot more from my failures than my successes. Mr. Nuti would be wise to take a moment to reflect on how he found himself in this predicament and look critically at his mistakes. Blaming his school is not going help him in the long run because when he gets older, he will be held more accountable for his mistakes, not less. He'd be far better off resolving to do better and make the best of the situation rather than dwelling on it. He's still got his life ahead of him.

Posted by: DA | August 1, 2008 1:21 PM

After a firestorm of publicity, recriminations, and a possible lawsuit (?!), the person for whom I feel most sorry is Nuti's sister, Jessica.

In four weeks she must return for her senior year to a school that her family has publicly denounced as "elitist" and "a breeding ground for arrogance." There are no winners in this debacle.

Posted by: TJ2010 Parent | August 1, 2008 2:16 PM

Btw, if you google 'Matthew Nuti' - as many college admissions offices will be doing in a year and a half - there is a lot of info on the world wide web.

Posted by: TJ20101 Parent | August 1, 2008 2:26 PM

Also, to Mr 8:05 AM:

I don't appreciate you using the fact that I've used my real name to attempt to bully other people into doing it. It's fully their choice to keep their name private, and I notice that you haven't given us your name. Perhaps you should practice what you preach.

Furthermore, on Facebook, where this all started, it's impossible to contribute anonymously; every single post is identified by the student's full name. However, hundreds of current students and alumni contributed to the discussion there, and the tone of their replies was essentially the same as the (fewer) TJ students who have posted here. It's very unfair to categorize all those who choose to keep their name to themselves as cowards.

Posted by: Nick Starr | August 1, 2008 4:47 PM

Nick wrote: "It's very unfair to categorize all those who choose to keep their name to themselves as cowards."

Comment: Not when they intentionally hurl personal attacks and nasty insults to belittle and degrade other posters who disagree with them as a way of shutting them down. They are cowards.

Posted by: SB | August 1, 2008 5:36 PM

Well, SB, doesn't look like you practice what you preach.

Posted by: Gary | August 1, 2008 5:38 PM

TJ20101 Parent: "Btw, if you google 'Matthew Nuti' - as many college admissions offices will be doing in a year and a half - there is a lot of info on the world wide web."


What a cheap and underhanded statement! And we certainly got the mild threat against his sister to make her senior year miserable if they don't back down. It speaks well of Mr. Nuti that he is not being bullied into changing his position. Folks who can be pushed around because it might affect a college decision in two years, or other students will try to make his sister miserable, are the same meek and timid folks who try to scheme their way through life only to end up getting walked all over.

News flash: colleges are just as likely to credit him for having the courage of his convictions in the face of withering attacks. When I first heard this story, I thought TJ has a poor policy and Mr. Nuti was just a disgruntled student -- after reading the ridiculous personal attacks on him and his family (or anyone even mildly critical of TJ and its policy), he may have a point about the school being a breeding ground for arrogance. The chutzpah!

Sometimes it is better to close the mouth and be thought the fool than open it and remove any doubt.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 8:28 PM

Judging by the number and origin of comments, lots of TJ students and parents are just as uptight about their rep (at least by the extension of TJ's rep) as Nuti is. There's a whiff of protesting too much here.

Posted by: Mark | August 1, 2008 8:30 PM

@Gary, I hope you aren't a disgruntled TJ student, as I'd be ashamed to share a class with you. If you are not a student, please grow up. Your behavior is immature and detracts from more substantial comments.

@SB, anonymity is a privilege on the internet. That said, it is indeed cowardly to use this anonymity as a medium through which to make brazen personal attacks or insults.

@(poster above Mark), Aside from the retaliatory/single-track minded/aggressive posts made by select individuals, most of the comments in this blog have merit. For every "personal attack" on Matt or his family, there are at least six justified, non-aggressive comments. Additionally, the "arrogance" you speak of does not come from a "holier than thou" attitude of TJ and its community. Take a step back and realize that Matt Nuti is insulting the institution for expelling him for reasons that were mostly his own fault. If he has the audacity to criticize a school for his own shortcomings - especially such a close-knit community - without taking any responsibility whatsoever for his own actions, there will be discontented students and parents who want to be themselves heard over the biased reporting and presentation of Matt Nuti's expulsion.

For the record, I am among many TJ students who have commented here.

Posted by: RB | August 1, 2008 8:41 PM

RB -- There is nothing biased about the reporting. TJ had a policy and removed students below a 3.0 GPA. 5 students in the school had just below a 3.0 GPA and were expelled, including rising juniors. Those are facts. Why such a policy exists should be the debate. It appears to most folks to be ridiculous to expel a student for a C+ or B-, especially in a public school. We are treated to hundreds of posts from TJ students, parents and alums about how awful Nuti and the Nuti family is for going public (as if they were in a position to tell the Washington Post what to print). THe reasons this is a story is because the policy is bad, and 5 kids just got kicked out of a public school based upon the policy.

What appears sepecially to rub TJ the wrong way is that the Nutis were supposed to take their medicine, stick their tail between their legs, go home, and shut up. Instead, the policy became public, there were actual consequences, and TJ went ballistic that the public learned about it (including thinly veiled threats against his sister to make her miserable as a senior).

Few of the posts in support of expulsion have merit since it rests on the false assumption that a C+/B- student is uneducable at TJ. If that is true, then the school has much larger problems than an ill-thought out policy. In reality, the defenses rest on TJs culture of superiority: the inferior must be excised. It may be fruitful to offer remedial debating because (despite the hundreds of posts) few outside the TJ bubble thinks the policy and/or expulsion are good ideas.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 1, 2008 10:20 PM

^It would be much appreciated if you put something into the name line so it would be easier to refer to your post.

While I fully agree with the facts you are presenting, you are addressing a concern that is different from mine and many others on this page.

I'll say right now that the majority of TJ students, myself included, do not have 100% approval of the 3.0 GPA rule. Regarding the "fairness" of such a policy among students at TJ, please see Nick Starr's post above. He took the time and effort to lay out a well-written response to some common topics of discussion.

Again, I would think that the 3.0 GPA rule needs review. That said, the reason the TJ community is outraged, or at the very least disgruntled, is because of the blame that the Nuti's are putting on the school for their son's actions. The actual WP article regarding the 3.0 rule was absolutely fine, but this blog by Marc Fisher is clearly focused on Matt's innocence and TJ being at fault. If you look carefully enough, the 3.0 rule is just the surface of Matt's case. In every medium in which this news has been presented, the overall tone is not that the 3.0 rule is unfair, but that Matt Nuti was unfairly treated by TJ. Tell me, of 30+ students put on probation, why was Matt unable to raise his grades? The TJ community is mainly up in arms on this issue due to the negative portrayal of TJ by Matt when he attacks the school. I still have not seen Matt take responsibility for the fact that his failure to complete major assignments was the sole cause of his poor grades. When you look at the root cause of it, Matt wasn't some struggling student who didn't have the guidance he needed; he was a procrastinator who put extracurriculars over academics.

Your focus is on the GPA rule. My focus is on the student himself and his problem with the rule. You point out that the rule is an unusually high standard for any educational institution. My reply is that had Matt put a little more time and effort into his history essays and projects, none of us would be here now. Nobody, not even the TJ community, Matt Nuti and family, or Marc Fisher. 4 other students were also expelled for not raising their grades to a 3 or higher. If this rule was so faulty, wouldn't those other students also speak out in favor of Matt and his so-called cause? I know another student in Matt's class who was kicked out of TJ for low grades. He knew he didn't want to put in the time and effort to maintain a good grade, so he left.

Posted by: RB | August 1, 2008 10:55 PM

It's my understanding that additional students are admitted to TJ for 10th grade, but not 11th or 12th. Matt's exit after 10th grade does not open a spot for anyone else.

However, TJ is seriously overcrowded because the entering classes have increased in size due to relatively recent decisions by the FCPS school board.

Posted by: JM | August 1, 2008 11:40 PM

"the person for whom I feel most sorry is Nuti's sister, Jessica.
In four weeks she must return for her senior year to a school that her family has publicly denounced as "elitist" and "a breeding ground for arrogance."

How does that even remotely represent a "thinly veiled threat"? That parent is simply pointing out an inherent truth of publicity. Matt has mostly given himself and his family a bad image in this entire debacle, which evidently includes his sister. As I'm sure many TJ students are aware of these events, people will lose respect for a student who doesn't do work, gets poor grades, gets kicked out, then blames an "arbitrary" rule that did exactly what it was supposed to do; encourage students to bring their grades up. If other students could do it, Matt could surely have too, he just chose not to.

Besides, the student body at TJ already voiced their opposition to this whole ordeal in the Facebook group which is currently closed. That happened before Matt and his family even went public to the Washington Post. A majority of TJ students supported Matt's fight against the 3.0 rule, but when he turned it into attempted justification for his own case by going public to denounce TJ, Matt lost the support of his peers.

Nobody is "out to get Jessica." TJ2010 parent just pointed that out; in light of all of this, she and her family will receive negative attention. B

Posted by: AS | August 1, 2008 11:45 PM

JM, I'm not sure if kids from around Northern Virginia can apply to TJ for 11th grade, but I know kids who are moving to the area and will be entering 11th grade when the school year begins can be admitted to TJ. At least this was the case a couple of years ago. The ever-growing class sizes may affect that.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2008 12:49 AM

TJ suffers from underlying issues of grade inflation? Hello, most schools in the state of Virginia (and probably in the US) have that problem! A 2.8 GPA (and for that matter, Matt's core GPA of 2.06) is technically above average if you go back to the 1970s and consider a C to be the average grade. Nowadays, a 2.8 or 2.06 is not above average anywhere - not at TJ, not at Robinson, not at any FCPS school, not in Virginia, not in the US. Honestly, that kind of GPA will not get Matt into any public university in Virginia; he's on track for community college with that level of performance. Seriously, Matt, why would you want to graduate from high school and go to college a year early? That takes a lot of hard work and dedication, and you shouldn't fool yourself by saying that it will be any easier to pull off at Robinson than at TJ.

I think the real matter at hand here is that schools all across the United States should go back to a model where students get the grade they deserve for the effort they put in. I agree that the 3.0 rule interferes slightly with such an effort. However, it would really take some sort of statement agreeing to redefine the grading scale by the teachers' unions like the NEA and consortiums of school districts across the country to keep an even playing field amongst schools while fighting grade inflation. You want to know who is fighting grade inflation? Ms. Gecan, Matt's world history and geography teacher certainly is. Matt didn't turn in major assignments in her class, was conveniently absent on the day of major presentations, and never bothered to master the material or put in any effort. Hence he got a D for the year, including an F second quarter (as per the grade report shown in the WJLA video). That is an honest and fair grade for the work Matt put in. Don't you agree?

Posted by: TN | August 2, 2008 12:52 AM

I can't believe how people are criticizing Matt for trashing the school that just kicked him out. He's still in the middle of all this -- a more balanced perspective will come later, if it comes at all, which isn't likely with all these TJ students trashing his ability level, work ethic, and loyalty -- to the school that just kicked him out. While talking up how welcoming it is, how helpful the teachers are, how all the other students have your back. If that wasn't his experience, it wasn't his experience. The only thing that's clear to him now is that he'll have a mediocre gradepoint average for his first two years in a very demanding high school, without the mitigating factor of a TJ diploma. If he can get through high school a year early, I hope that makes up for the anomaly.

It's sad that the only magnet school in NoVa concentrates to this extent on science and math, when not all gifted and talented students are bent that way. Being gifted and talented is in no way incompatible with having a learning disability. I have no doubt he brought value to the school while a student there, though the quantitative metrics might be hard to demonstrate. A school that is blessed with a student body that tests out in the top 1 percent could learn to be a little more creative and proactive in helping a struggling student to thrive if it wants its student body to reflect an accurate profile of the whole range of a gifted and talented population. Or there should be more magnet schools, concentrating on a wider range of disciplines -- creative as well as analytical.

I was a pretty good student, but I got a C in Drivers Ed. And I was really trying. There are many kinds of students learning to drive, but my instructor, who didn't know from anxiety, had only one way to teach.

Posted by: Joan | August 2, 2008 12:20 PM

Joan and others: Drivers Ed in 2008 doesn't consist of Behind the Wheel instruction any more. It is just a class where you fill out worksheets about signs and learn about how far away from a fire hydrant to park. That's why we've been saying it's an easy A. Believe me, a lot more kids would get poor grades in Drivers Ed if they actually had to operate a car for a grade. The practical part of Drivers Ed is handled out of class in Behind the Wheel or with a private driving school.

Posted by: to Joan | August 2, 2008 12:28 PM

The point I was trying to make is that there are many learning styles and learning needs, and that when the instructor's teaching style -- or the institution's administration policies -- can't take this into account, it's a problem.

Posted by: Joan | August 2, 2008 12:47 PM


Do you consider not turning in numerous major assignments and deliberately ignoring numerous opportunities for academic help to be a "learning style"? Yes, it's true that different students are different, and the administration should be willing to work with those students, and they did that in Matt Nuti's case. He was notified at the beginning of his sophomore year that his grades were in danger of getting him kicked out, as were about 34 other students. What happened to the 29 students who didn't get kicked out? They worked with their teachers, they pushed themselves, and they brought up their grades to stay at TJ. Of the 5 who ended up being expelled, the only story we've heard is Matt's, and from all the evidence we have, Matt seems to have not tried very hard at all to bring his GPA up, even when he knew he was in danger of expulsion. That sort of lack of academic motivation, in my mind, crosses the line of what can be legitimately considered a "learning style" that the administration must work with.

Posted by: Nick Starr | August 2, 2008 1:58 PM

I'm struggling to find a way to say this without sounding like I think there's something lacking in the students who thrive under the workload, or who struggle and suffer but manage to make it anyway.

What I mean is that it takes more than one kind of thinker to staff a great think tank, or a great robotics team, or the team that's going to come up with an effective vaccine for Alzheimers or AIDS. Sometimes the crucial bit of answer that eludes the larger group comes from the divergent thinker, who may be less obedient, more challenging of authority, more arrogant, more inclined to respect a gut feeling that flies in the face of conventional wisdom, whose mind may be buzzing among several apparently unrelated trains of thought. Some of these people procrastinate and have a hard time getting work turned in on time, or focusing on some tasks, and some of them don't get such great grades in school, thoough they do tend to own the information they take in while they are there. Which is one reason they often test so well. I think if any of this describes Matt, and if TJ is going to be systematically identifying and cutting these people loose, we're all worse off for it.

Posted by: Joan | August 2, 2008 2:29 PM

Actually, at this point, I'm going to try and shift a little bit away from Matt Nuti's specific case and focus on the rule itself. In my opinion, with the rule established, the validity of Matt's expulsion is incontrovertible. Not only was his GPA under 2.8, but he was given a generous "probational period" (his entire 10th grade), and he seems to have done little if anything to bring his grades up in that time.

However, if we back up and look at the rule itself, I think we can find a richly debatable topic. Joan, I understand your point that some geniuses can be infamously absentminded, unable to keep deadlines, bad at time-management, totally unmotivated in subjects that don't interest them, and so on. However, for every genius that exhibits these qualities, there are countless people who have these qualities without hiding some sort of kernel of scientific genius.

To illuminate my point, I'll give an analogous example that shows up a lot with people in my generation. When someone tells me they want to learn an instrument, and ask my advice, the best advice is invariably to go take lessons from a teacher. However, the response is often "But Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix learned guitar just by themselves without lessons, so why can't I?". Of course, anyone can tell you the answer. Clapton and Hendrix had absolutely immense innate talent, to the extent that they didn't need lessons. However, virtually all of the teenage guitarists who attempt to follow in their self-taught footsteps never get beyond a few local gigs, at best.

It's the same thing with students in high school. Everyone loves to quote the story that "hey, Einstein had terrible high school grades, but he was a genius!", but it's the same story as Hendrix and Clapton. Einstein and other "self-taught" geniuses who did badly in school had incredibly powerful brains whether or not they went to classes and paid attention. They had an awe-inspiring innate talent. However, the vast majority of high school students who are lazy and don't turn in assignments aren't secret Einsteins, they're simple bad students. Once the school has decided that it's going to kick out under-performing students, it's not the place of the school to try and pick out the genius needle in the academically unmotivated haystack.

However, the decision to kick out students at all is not one that I agree with. TJ has stated that they're expelling students in their own best interests, and I can understand that. If a TJ student cannot keep up a 3.0 GPA in their freshman and sophomore years, junior year will be hell for them. Every student takes AP US History, a large amount of students (maybe roughly half) take AP Calculus, and everyone takes physics, which is a new kind of class for most people: one in which memorization is virtually useless, where real understanding and critical thinking are essential to a good grade. Going into an environment like that after being unable to keep up in the comparatively easy first two years could easily be academic suicide. Then, after that academic suicide, it's time for college applications, and let me tell you, two years of sub-3.0 followed by a third year that was most likely worse will be very bad on a college application, no matter how many extracurricular activities you have.

However, is it the place of the school to make that decision for the students? I think not. Since TJ only expelled 5 students, it's not possible that the sub-3.0 students are representing an enormous resource drain on the school, so it's hard to see how their presence is detrimental to the education of the rest of the student body. I think the school should make sure to give the family a clear assessment of the risks inherent in letting the student stay at TJ with such a low GPA and work ethic, and recommend that he return to the base school, but I see no reason for the family not to let their child stay if they choose to.

At the same time, should TJ, a highly selective magnet school that many would dearly pay for admission to, really let students who are clearly not taking advantage of the school's academic opportunities remain there? It seems like a slap in the face to many perhaps better-qualified students who weren't let in at the very beginning. If they are performing far better than 3.0 at their base schools and challenging themselves as much as possible there, imagine what it's like to see a student at TJ who gets Bs and Cs in his core math and science classes and is allowed to remain there and slack off with impunity. Shouldn't TJ take some sort of action against students who are simply leeching off the school?

It's really a tough question, and I'm not fully decided in either direction. However, TJ indisputably has the right to make this rule, and now that it's in place, Matthew's expulsion was fully justified. With that in mind, I continue to comment here, but primarily to correct people's misconceptions. I would be happy to hear a good, calm, well-reasoned argument for or against the 3.0 rule, but it's hard to imagine it coming from anyone who's not very familiar with the TJ environment. GPA is such an arbitrary number, and TJ is such an exceptional school that it's very easy for someone outside the community to approach the question with a completely off-base set of assumptions about the school and what it's like. That's why I made my original post, and that's what I'd really like to help people with. It's incredibly frustrating for TJ students to hear people talking about how arrogant we all are, or how our school is somehow discriminatory and should be shut down, especially when the people making these comments have no idea what our school is like! That's probably why so many TJ students have responded, and some rather vituperatively. Even people who may be very familiar with high schools in general could easily go wrong in some assumption about TJ, and make a blanket statement that really offends us. So please, unless you're a student/parent or otherwise familiar with TJ, be careful about the assumptions you make.

Posted by: Nick Starr | August 2, 2008 3:32 PM

I've been a student of Fairfax County for a while now, and I have to say, students are almost constantly cautioned against taking on too heavy a load. Whether it be entering the Gifted and Talented program, taking a high school math course in middle school, or, yes, attending TJ. I and nearly every other student in the school system have been told countless times before, during, and even after the application process that "TJ is not for everyone." At school, counselors admonish students that certain courses are difficult and that there are always other options.

We all knew what we were getting into when the newsletter came out in August, informing all students and their families of the 3.0 GPA minimum. Whether we believed it was right or not, we knew that action would be taken if we didn't adhere to the standard. It's unfair to assume that the administration had just dropped a bomb on Matthew Nuti.

That being said, I do not, in any way, condone the "get over it, and face reality" mindset of some commenters. Matthew Nuti has a right to voice his opinions. Likewise for any supporters or opponents, if they do so calmly and maturely.

It's not as if the TJ students, parents, and alumni is trying ever-so-hard to protect their precious pride, but it's the Matthew Nuti has put conscious effort into putting the school in a negative light. The "breeding ground for arrogance" happened to have supported him through his fight to stay at TJ and even after the loss, and he turned his back on their well wishes. He took the fight against the 3.0 policy personally and blamed the school for being unfair and unethical, when he had not put in all the effort he possibly could have to prevent the situation from happening. He went so far to brand TJ as arrogant and elitist.

If Mr. Nuti chooses to hold a grudge, it is his choice, but to tell the general public that TJ just wants to keep up that precious number-one title will upset a lot of people. Especially those who were on his side to begin with. It's hard to see someone you defend go down. It's even harder when they take it too far.

Posted by: QQ | August 2, 2008 3:42 PM

I heartily agree with what QQ said, and let me reiterate once more that the Facebook group was almost universally in favor of Matt early on, when the discussion was pretty much only about the rule. However, once Matt started blaming TJ and refusing to take responsibility, public opinion turned against him.

Posted by: Nick Starr | August 2, 2008 4:15 PM

Nick, we're in agreement on several points. And I've always been in awe of the kind of natural scholar who can do it all, whether effortlessly or by pushing hard to do more than he or she would have previously considered possible. And you're right, not every bad student is a secret Einstein. Though I don't think a 2.8 average makes anyone a bad student, especially a sophomore who is already taking precalculus. Context: When I was a sophomore I was struggling through geometry, which you guys may must have laughed off before you were out of middle school. And we're also talking about the kind of student who did manage to pass that first cruel testing bar to even be considered, the test that rules out many bright sparks who will go on to be valedictorians and academics and would have done great work at TJ or another magnet school if another existed.

When a school is given the resources allocated to TJ, and given an incredibly able population of students to work with, it just seems like bad policy and a kind of inflexibility that's the opposite of intelligence for the administration to now insist, on top of all that, that their students be one particular stripe of incredibly able. True divergent thinkers and true natural scholars benefit by working together in high school, so they can work well with one another's types later in the workplace, their dovetailing abilities ideally producing the synergistical effect neither could manage on their own.

I think if Matt were just a lazy kid, end of story, he'd welcome the chance to go to a less demanding high school. His family couldn't stop him, and he could be a bigger frog in a smaller pond, with plenty of time for friends, grades AND sleep. There's a reason he's going to miss his TJ friends, and that they will miss him: Each has something the other values. Matt struck me as a divergent thinker with the frustration he expressed in the class that demanded memorizing all the geography facts. To paraphrase: "Why do I need to devote so much of my time, which is already stretched to the limit, to memorizing what is so easy to look up?" That's the kind of thinking that leads the way to streamlined processes, labor-saving implements, higher productivity, enhanced fuel efficiency, spell checkers, dictation software, music notation software, Band In A Box. The stuff that clears away the drudgery to produce more time for the actual creation. Not Einstein, but the felicitous blend of bright and lazy, or contrarian, that lightens our loads and aids everyone's creativity.

Posted by: Joan | August 2, 2008 4:23 PM

This observation was lost in the torrent of comments, so I'll bring it up again: TJ only has funding for 1300 students (that's 500 less than we need). All our fancy equipment for our tech labs essentially comes from the TJ Partership Fund, an organization which collects donations from alumni, parents, and other private sources. The county doesn't give us any special funding; when we need more, we have to go down to Richmond to ask for it because we're a governor's school. Even that is not really enough. If you ever see the TJ building, it would be evident to you that we're suffering. There was an article in the WSJ the previous year, on the FRONT page, about how we don't have adequate funding.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Also, to whoever suggested that there be more special schools for people with other interests: each state is only allowed 2 governor's school. TJ is the science & tech one, and was created in the '80s with the local business scene in mind. Virginia's other governor's school, Maggie Walker, is in Richmond and focuses on government and international studies.

Posted by: A | August 2, 2008 7:44 PM

A is completely right for the first part of his/her post. TJ is definitely underfunded, especially for the size of its enrollment. The second part about each state being only allowed 2 governor's schools is not at all true. I felt it was important to clear this up so that whoever wishes to take issue with TJ being underfunded wouldn't jump on this inconsistency and totally disregard the merits of the first half of A's post.

I wish we had a national education policy (especially one that emphasized the importance of integrating the sciences and arts to produce graduates who can handle the globalized world), but alas, we don't. There is no Federal law stating (no pun intended) that a state can only have a certain number of governor's schools. Virginia currently has 18. In fact, our principal Evan Glazer came from Roanoke's governor's school. While most of those schools are nowhere near as well-known as TJ or Maggie Walker, they exist.

Posted by: Re: A | August 2, 2008 8:35 PM

I was apparently misinformed. That's good to know!

Posted by: A | August 2, 2008 9:18 PM

My turn!

Yep, that was a lot of posts to read, and here's another. Here are just a few things on my mind, not to say that most have not already been stated quite well by pro-TJ posters.

1. "Arbitrary academic standard"- Every academic standard is truly arbitrary when you consider it...

2. "I have fallen victim to an elitist attitude, from a school"- Were you not part of this so-called "elitist attitude" for two years and never a complaint? Oh, only when it turned on you? I see.

3. "they are still my parents, and they certainly know what's best for me much more than a man whom I've had one 15 minute conversation with in my life"- This man has certainly more experience with gifted students and young minds, not to mention he must rank high in others' eyes to be entrusted with some of the top students in Northern Virginia.

4. "I started a Facebook group where Jefferson students past and present could discuss the rule (and its application to me.)...two have expressed strong approval of the rule...and everyone else stated they strongly disagree with the rule"- I believe you mean to say that they could discuss you, as that was the only intention with that group, being spawned when it was, centered on what it was. What were your intentions upon creating this group? "Discuss[ing] the rule"? I feel, considering your following moves, you were more interested in action. Oh, and there were more than 2 who approved of the rule, come on now, out of hundreds you can't expect somebody to believe there were only 2 'crazy' people.

5. "Students have said they avoid AP's", "others redo their schedules over and over", "students still have said they are more inclined to cheat"- With the grade weight, people tend to take AP's to help their GPAs, not the other way around. Redo their schedules? Stop lying for cover, you know as a TJ student that this isn't really done as counselors put a stop to this a long time ago. The last quote... I won't touch that with a ten foot pole, it's understood what would be said about such ridiculousness (your friends don't like being called cheaters).

6. "I blame the administration and their rule for my removal from the school"- Blame yourself.

7. "My expulsion is bluntly damaging to my future no matter what I choose to pursue"- This spectacle is more damaging to your future than anything else that has happened in your life, let it alone.

8. "This distinction was granted to the school before this "standard" existed"- Wrong.

9. "And yes, this distinction was awarded while I was a student there"- However, you played no role in receiving the honor.

10. "The administration can mold the great minds of our youth into whatever they want"- I'm glad my mind is putty to the whims of strangers in my life... if you want respect, then give me some.

11. "Arrogant and hypocritical"- Show me how the student body is described by these ideals. Oh and then show me the hypocrisy.

12. "There were two meetings...the first was at the beginning of third quarter. At which point, it was essentially too late to raise my GPA to their arbitrary standard"- Excuse me? Half of the year? Oh wait, you knew about the policy at the beginning of the year, a whole year.

13. "I feel it's relevant to note I have never been strong in French"- Tutoring, practice, study, this is no time for pity or excuses.

14. "At no time was help ever denied"- Wrong attitude, that should say: 'At no time did I ask for help.'

15. "I had no academic probation, no 'required tutoring,' and no special plan to increase my grades"- It is a school for the gifted, not a baby-sitting service, and you aren't entitled to anything more than anyone else.

16. "They didn't help me at all"- Actually I think they taught you for 7.5 hours every weekday, sounds to me like they did try to help you. You were the one not trying.

17. "Ask anyone who knows me and they can tell you that I do more work than the majority of people my age"- Yes, people shouldn't judge you from just reading something you wrote, but you are allowed to pass judgment on everyone your age with knowing nothing about them?

18. "One of the front men of the Model United Nations club"- I remember what they told me the time when they assigned my unit to the front lines during the war...(Sorry, had to have a least one joke)

19. "A school that demands adulthood out of children is not what the aim of education should be"- I thought the aim of the educational system was to take kids from childhood and turn them into able, learned adults. And if you want to continue to refer to yourself as a child, please stop using plural pronouns or references.

20. "Their actions demonstrate they are definitely failing in teaching character"- I still don't understand where they fail in teaching character, there was just a benchmark that you failed to reach, character isn't an issue and stop trying to make it one.

21. "I say this breeding ground for arrogance is not deserving of me"- If TJHSST is a breeding ground for arrogance than you are right, you shouldn't be there, they have nothing more to teach you in that respect.

Matt is using the media to attack a defenseless target and even if that wasn't his intention, he unleashed it, and there are consequences of that. So I say good job to those who have defended TJ out of their beliefs, rise up and fight for that which cannot.

Posted by: sbradley | August 3, 2008 3:41 AM

R: paragraph 19, you are correct -- that is the goal of the educational system. Ask yourself: is that "goal" served by expelling a bright student halfway through his high school education, because he does not meet a certain GPA (which, while below average by current standards, is certainly not abysmal)? It seems to me that such a policy demonstrates a failure of the education process itself.

And incidentally, in paragraph 21, the proper word is "then", not "than." Since in your paragraph 19 you take the complainant to task for his grammar, I thought I would point that out.

Posted by: TJ Grad | August 4, 2008 12:11 PM

Oh I'm sorry, you found one grammatical mistake in my lengthy post, obviously none of my points are valid, it was 3am. But for 19, my problem was not really one concerning grammar, it was the fact that he calls of the students at TJ children (as well as cheaters), a call I don't think he is suited to make.

Posted by: sbradley | August 4, 2008 3:30 PM

all of the*

Posted by: sbradley | August 4, 2008 5:24 PM

Thank you to the TJ students who explained how they supported Matthew during his appeal. I expected no less. The school, my student, and the TJ students I know are nothing like what the hysterical, deluded TJ haters on here are preaching against.

Marc Fisher: You have lost credibility with your diatribe. You distorted information to make Matthew Nuti look like a victim. It seems like you must have been foaming at the mouth, just dying to paint TJ in the worst possible way. "Cold splash of reality" for you--you cannot convince intelligent people that TJ is that way.

City of Alexandria parents who keep coming on here to bash TJ--why? We have plenty of respect for TC Williams (terrific school), and I thought people were supposed to be tolerant in Alexandria. You aren't showing it here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 7:22 PM

7:22 post: Nobody is "bashing TJ." Folks outside the TJ bubble are startled to see the nasty and mean-spirited attacks on Mr. Nuti and his family, and are hoping this is a tempest in a teapot. Alexandria has an annual debate about whether to particpate in TJ, and the narrative being formed is that the School Board may be correct in its assessment of TJ: an outstanding school, but ridiculously stressful and elitist, and not worth the funding required when TC can use that money to develop an advanced program. This debacle and the hundreds of comments from the TJ community do nothing to dispel that view. It really is amazing that TJ could not foresee that the policy looks like it was designed more to retain its brand name than any effort to educate students. Expulsion based upon a 2.8 GPA looks foolish. The principal argument from TJ is that outsiders just do not understand, and that really does not help matters.

I, like many other parents in Alexandria, supported the idea of opening TJ to our students. This episode is giving everyone second thoughts. I dread the next School Board meeting and the host of "I told you so" comments to oppose opening TJ to Aelxandria students.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 7:50 PM

7:50 post--so the article, the Marc Fisher diatribe, etc. are supposed to be "kind" remarks? I disagree.

You keep coming on here to make disparaging comments about TJ, yet no one from TJ criticizes TC Williams. Guess that's your brand of tolerance.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 8:00 PM

"Nobody is 'bashing TJ'"

Right. Yeah.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 8:02 PM

If they dislike TJ so much, they really should stop wasting their time debating.

I will still say and think nice things about your school, and you will never say anything nice regarding TJ.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 8:19 PM

Good thing you folks aren't angry and thin-skinned about this!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 10:08 PM

"Nobody is "bashing TJ.""

I don't know how you can make that claim with a straight face when the very title of this page refers to TJ as a "breeding ground for arrogance", to say nothing of numerous vitriolic anti-TJ comments.

"Folks outside the TJ bubble are startled to see the nasty and mean-spirited attacks on Mr. Nuti and his family"

There have been nasty and mean-spirited comments from both sides of the aisle in this debate; it's misleading to imply that the only attacks were against the Nutis.

"Alexandria has an annual debate about whether to participate in TJ, and the narrative being formed is that the School Board may be correct in its assessment of TJ: an outstanding school, but ridiculously stressful and elitist, and not worth the funding required when TC can use that money to develop an advanced program."

Although it may fall on deaf ears, I'll go ahead and repeat that most of the TJ community isn't elitist at all, and that the stress is very much manageable for most people most of the time. Sure, there are occasions where it can seem overwhelming, but most TJ students will persevere through those rough patches just fine.

"This debacle and the hundreds of comments from the TJ community do nothing to dispel that view. It really is amazing that TJ could not foresee that the policy looks like it was designed more to retain its brand name than any effort to educate students. Expulsion based upon a 2.8 GPA looks foolish."

I really wish people would move on from the number 2.8. Yes, it looks like a perfectly acceptable average GPA, but a GPA is a worthless measure of performance--yes, worthless!--without any context, and in this case, the context is very telling. TJ doesn't assign grades on a bell curve; if every student in the class masters the material completely, everyone will get As. If a student gets a good understanding, but not complete mastery, they'll get a B, and so on. At TJ, the general level of mastery is high enough that 1795 out of 1800 students were able to keep a GPA above 3.0. While I don't really agree with the rule myself, it's hardly a foolish rule for a top selective magnet school to implement. It's not viciously culling the student body, it's targeting struggling students who are most likely not suited for TJ and returning them to a learning environment that's better for them. TJ is very much within its rights to make this rule, and a little bit of research into what a 3.0 GPA really represents at TJ will assure you that a 3.0 is really quite far from average.

"The principal argument from TJ is that outsiders just do not understand, and that really does not help matters."

That's a pretty bad strawman of what we're trying to say. It's true that most of the comments from people outside the TJ community are misinformed about TJ's standards and its community. However, we don't discard everything that someone has to say just because they're not from TJ. Rather, we'll try to respond to the parts of their argument that don't rely on knowledge of the school, and then provide enough information about the school to inform their opinions more accurately.

When you refer to the "argument from TJ", I'll assume you mean specifically on the issue of Matt Nuti's expulsion, in which case the outsiders' lack of understanding is not our major point at all. Regardless of whether the 3.0 rule is a just rule, the fact remains that it was there, Matt knew it was there, his grades didn't come up, and so he was expelled. Now, rather than admitting that he made a mistake, he has decided to entirely blame the school and accept no personal responsibility. Naturally, this does not sit well with the TJ community, no matter what we think of the rule itself, so we're speaking out against the ridiculous accusations and generalizations leveled by the Nutis, Marc Fisher, and commenters on this post.

Posted by: Nick Starr | August 5, 2008 1:19 AM

If this were any other school in the region, this would never have been allowed by the Post. Disgraceful.

They owe an apology to TJ students.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 5, 2008 6:02 AM

A point I tried to make before, that hasn't been addressed, is that Matt is still in the middle of all this. He hasn't got his breath back from the kick in the gut. I think if some other student had been expelled and complained publicly, Matt might be on this message board too, defending his beloved school from harsh statements coming out of that hypothetical other student. When you've bonded to your schoolmates and the thing that makes your school special, it makes you feel special too. So an attack on the school feels like an attack on you. We love or hate a school or person according to how they make us feel about ourselves. So it's as understandable for students to lash out in response to his words as it is for him to lash out in response to being wrenched away from his tribe. Furthermore, many of you who are defending TJ's 3.0 cutoff or decrying his disloyalty (to the school that kicked him out!) might be doing the same thing if you were in his shoes. Anyone who says he should be taking responsibility for not bringing his grades up to par is missing the larger point. Any responsibility he may be feeling is just that -- feeling. The vitriol aimed his way leaves him no room to express that feeling, as it would be taking him off-message. Perspective comes, if at all, once some time has passed. It's like the difference between a breakup song written just after being dumped and a song that comes a couple of years after. The first will be bitter and sarcastic, the later one will more likely demonstrate understanding that it's not all victims and villains and maybe that it was for the best. I'd look for that when his book comes out. You can crucify his syntax all you want, but the boy can write.

Someone (Nick??) pointed out that there's not necessarily a hidden genius behind bad time management and absent-mindedness. Just like a TJ student to restrict the "genius" term to an Albert Einstein. Genius is a concept that is as arbitrary as a 3.0 grade cut-off. Some entities define genius as an IQ that puts an individual in the top 1 percent of the population. By that light, pretty much every student at TJ is a genius. My complaint is that TJ seems to be taking a shift toward wanting to process only one particular stripe of genius. It's not that Jobs and Wozniak needed one another; they would both have done fine had their paths never crossed. They didn't need one another to partner up, we needed them to. Collaborations, teams, need more than one kind of genius for the sparks to fly. If I were running the only genius school in the region, I'd make sure to have as many different kinds as I could bring together, and the courses would probably be pass/fail.

Posted by: Joan | August 5, 2008 11:33 AM

"If I were running the only genius school in the region, I'd make sure to have as many different kinds as I could bring together, and the courses would probably be pass/fail."

Interesting point you bring up. All I will say is that it is human nature to avoid unnecessary problems. If courses were simply pass fail, students would do enough to pass with little motivation for more effort than that.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 6, 2008 6:36 PM

If courses were pass/fail, students would be free to take the most challenging courses they could pass, without worrying about what that would do to their class rank. Like the foreign language course a year more advanced than the one that would give you an easy A, or the English course from the more inspiring but more demanding teacher.

Posted by: Joan | August 7, 2008 12:10 AM

Whoever said TJ kids avoid hard classes is bogus. Most people take AP because the weighting boosts their grade, and if people didn't take APs, there wouldn't be a wealth of post APs.

AP Bio —> DNA Science I & II
AP Comp Sci —> Comp Architecture, Artificial Intelligence
AP Chem —> Organic Chem

All of those are highly popular classes.

Also, there are quite a few "hard" teachers at TJ. They are extremely popular and people even request to switch into their classes.

To say that TJ kids are unmotivated to take harder classes because they are afraid of damage to their GPA is quite frankly an insult. TJ kids really are motivated by a love of learning and take advantage of TJ's deep and challenging curriculum.

Posted by: A | August 7, 2008 12:20 AM

No doubt, TJ students as a rule are motivated to take highly challenging courses. But I was given to understand that the Facebook (or was it MySpace?) page had statements by students themselves that they had taken (or would take) easier courses to ensure they stayed above the new 3.0 cutoff. Or cheat more, like some students in every other school in the country also do from time to time. Please believe me, no insult is intended to the remarkable students at your school; obviously the work ethic is unusually strong there, I was just going by the words of the students themselves.

Posted by: Joan | August 7, 2008 12:38 AM

Joan, you'll get varying opinions of students in all areas of the academic spectrum. There is a tendency, however, for the borderline 3.0 GPA students to speak out in favor of Matt's prior efforts. Additionally, without meaning to offend any other students, the ones most in opposition to the 3.0 rule are likely the ones who struggle with regular level classes and are not capable of harder classes.

In short, the number of students who avoid hard classes and struggle with a 3.0 GPA are very, very few.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 3:38 AM

Anonymous, I don't know what you're going by in coming up with your conclusions. I have no idea whether the students most supportive of Matt are the ones with the lowest grades, or whether those same students avoid the harder classes. Or how many students at TJ struggle academically. Most of the spleen being vented on Matt here seems to be from students who think he wasn't struggling at all, that he wasn't even trying. Your statement that TJ has students who are not "capable" of taking the hardest classes (the post-AP ones that would seemingly prepare you to walk right out of high school and into your junior year of college!) made me smile, though. Is the entrance exam not a valid, evidence-based tool for evaluating the potential to excel? I have been saying all along that, even at the top of the top, there are different kinds of learners and thinkers (visual, auditory, verbal, analytical, creative, some with steel-trap memories, some without), and TJ skims the top of the top from our region's other schools. If struggling were not a common experience there, where does the saying come from about "Grades, friends, sleep. Pick two." Good on you if that's not been your experience, but if the curriculum could effectively reach all styles of thinkers admitted there, all students would be able to pick all three.

Posted by: Joan | August 7, 2008 9:34 AM

The post by Anonymous | August 7, 2008 3:38 AM is very true.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 12:02 PM

I graduated from TJ last year.
I can't believe this kid is such a sore loser. Other people deserve his wasted opportunity. This series of articles is not tasteful. Stop trying to smear the school.

TJ should grade deflate so a B- average doesn't sound so good to the uninformed.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 1:28 PM

Frankly, Matt needs to stop whining and accept the fact that he was too lazy to maintain a 3.0 (which, I might add, is pitifully easy at Jefferson). I have maintained over a 4.0 with several extracurricular activities, while also suffering from ADHD (which is no excuse for failure, I might add).

I'm getting really tired of Matt's complaints, and frankly he and Mr Fisher (who has no authority to speak on the matter) need to shut up.

Also, if you think that a 3.0 is "above average," then consider that this rule only affected a handful of students out of around 1800. "above average" indeed.

Posted by: TJ09 | August 7, 2008 2:39 PM

I'm only going to make one quick comment. I know Matt and I've talked to him a lot about this, and I want to clear something on his behalf. As he states in his essay, he's not just complaining, he's taking the necessary action to revoke an unjustified rule. So don't attack his character. If you dispute his views and opinions, that's one thing, but to just make a blind attack on him is rude, insensitive, and ignoring the point of this essay. He's said he's not interested in sympathy, so just don't give it to him and be done with that, don't ignore his statements and claim all he wants is attention.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 4:00 PM

Anonymous at 4:00 p.m.: Tell Matt not to sweat it to much. The comments attacking him personally only substantiate the allegation of arrogance. Apparently, you can always tell a TJ person, you just can't tell them much. :>)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2008 4:44 PM

Regarding the 4:44 p.m. comment above:

Funny, apparently that's how the school felt about Matt!

Posted by: guster | August 7, 2008 5:09 PM

Okay, first of all, there were not only TWO people who were against the rule. THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE ON THE FACEBOOK GROUP APPROVED OF THE RULE. Maybe one person suggested the "2.0 rule", but seriously if you had a C average at TJ you hardly deserve to go to public school.

And stop using your extracurriculars as an excuse. The VAST, and I mean overwhelmingly VAST majority of students at TJ have resumes longer than your shirt and manage to get over 4.0's while you think that having a mediocre role on the football team and not even holding an officer's position (and even if you did, there are literally >100 positions in MUN... whoop-dee-do) in MUN is a good excuse for having horrid grades?

You are a disgrace to TJ and now you are defaming it because you are so whiny and immature.

Posted by: TJ '09 student | August 8, 2008 4:59 PM

Just a brief note for those who claim that TJ should be eliminated altogether because it is apparently an all-consuming void of taxpayer's money... As a TJ student, I feel obligated to point out that the differences in our budget and that of any typical FCPS high school are negligible... and furthermore (contrary to popular belief), that our school building is in a condition bordering on dilapidated.

We have a documented record of falling ceiling tiles. Food and drinks are banned from the library because of a rat infestation problem. Our drinking fountains are, more often than not, non-functional. In my freshman year, my biology class was forced to relocate temporarily because of a developing mold problem. Yes, we do have a supercomputer (one won through a national science competition, not taypayers' funds, before the critics begin their chorus once more), but it does us little good when it has been damaged from a roof leak due to poor infrastructure.

So before you accuse us of having a monopoly on the county's funds, by all means stop by our school for a brief visit. I am certain that you will change your mind.

Posted by: TJ Student 2010 | August 8, 2008 9:52 PM

Just a brief note for those who claim that TJ should be eliminated altogether because it is apparently an all-consuming void of taxpayer's money... As a TJ student, I feel obligated to point out that the differences in our budget and that of any typical FCPS high school are negligible... and furthermore (contrary to popular belief), that our school building is in a condition bordering on dilapidated.

We have a documented record of falling ceiling tiles. Food and drinks are banned from the library because of a rat infestation problem. Our drinking fountains are, more often than not, non- functional. In my freshman year, my biology class was forced to relocate temporarily because of a developing mold problem. Yes, we do have a supercomputer (one won through a national science competition, not taypayers' funds, before the critics begin their chorus once more), but it does us little good when it has been damaged from a roof leak due to poor infrastructure.

So before you accuse us of having a monopoly on the county's funds, by all means stop by our school for a brief visit. I am certain that you will change your mind.

Posted by: TJ Student 2010 | August 8, 2008 9:53 PM

"Anonymous, I don't know what you're going by in coming up with your conclusions. I have no idea whether the students most supportive of Matt are the ones with the lowest grades, or whether those same students avoid the harder classes. Or how many students at TJ struggle academically."

I am a student. I was a member of the facebook group when it still existed. I had several classes with aforementioned students who I knew were struggling with their grades, albeit nowhere close to the 3.0 mark. Quite frankly, a majority of Matt's supporters sympathized for him based on the harsh treatment by the school.

"Most of the spleen being vented on Matt here seems to be from students who think he wasn't struggling at all, that he wasn't even trying."

I don't know how many times this has to be said, but Matt's work ethic is extremely and without a doubt questionable. Consider it this way yet again; not doing homework nor completing essays is not due to academic struggles, but due to procrastination and perhaps laziness. A truly mediocre student would try and fail. A struggling student would write a C or C+ essay. The student who writes nothing is NOT trying, simply put.

"Is the entrance exam not a valid, evidence-based tool for evaluating the potential to excel? I have been saying all along that, even at the top of the top, there are different kinds of learners and thinkers (visual, auditory, verbal, analytical, creative, some with steel-trap memories, some without), and TJ skims the top of the top from our region's other schools."

TJ's admissions process is very far from perfect. They may take the students that look best on paper with high test scores and well-written essays, but there will inevitably be a handful of students that are in the wrong place. Your statement that TJ skim's the top of the top at other schools is false from a firsthand perspective. Applicants who had 4.0 GPAs in middle school and high test scores did not get in while other students managed to get in with much lower GPAs that could either reflect students with poor work ethic or who were unchallenged. With a 2.8 GPA, Matt wouldn't be considered the "top of the top" at all, but his test scores compensated for that to the extent that it might have gained him admission.

"Good on you if that's not been your experience, but if the curriculum could effectively reach all styles of thinkers admitted there, all students would be able to pick all three."

You describe the ideal school. While I agree that such a school that caters to all sorts of learners would be the utopian educational institution, it is quite impossible. No school exists, whether primary, secondary, college, or university level, that can reach every style of thinker and promote intellectual growth in the manner you describe. TJ is not perfect.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2008 9:57 PM

Here are some statistics to perhaps make this concept easier to understand.

Let's take a look at how many TJ students are actually affected by this rule.

I should point out that only 34 students out of about 1800 - 2% of the student body - had below a 3.2 GPA. Of those 34, 29 students - 85% of the original group - were able to bring up their grades so that they had a 3.0 GPA. 5 students (not just Matt) did not end up with a high enough GPA. That's less than ONE PERCENT of the student body. 0.278%, to be exact. If this rule affects 0.278% of the TJHSST student body, is it really so horribly horribly horrible as Matt Nuti is making it out to be? Absolutely not.

Posted by: JeffersonLax2010 | August 8, 2008 11:18 PM

"You describe the ideal school. While I agree that such a school that caters to all sorts of learners would be the utopian educational institution, it is quite impossible. No school exists, whether primary, secondary, college, or university level, that can reach every style of thinker and promote intellectual growth in the manner you describe. TJ is not perfect."

Actually, most universities, and not just the highly selective ones, can reach every kind of functional thinker and promote intellectual growth. Georgetown, not a huge school, actually had three different departments for many of its foreign languages while I was there: one in Arts and Sciences, one in Foreign Service, and one in Languages and Linguistics. Each department catered to a distinctly different set of capabilities and reasons for learning a foreign language. One concentrated in literature, another in history and culture, and the third in the pronunciation and idioms that taught a student to speak with barely a trace of a foreign accent. Different concentrations for different learning styles, all within the same medium-sized institution. The biggest difference academically between high school and college is that in college you are free to concentrate on what you care about, and you have more unscheduled time. Plus you have some control over how many credit hours you choose to take at once. And reaching every style of thinker doesn't necessarily mean granting that thinker a degree. The Bill Gateses, Steve Jobses, Dean Kamens of our culture take what they want from the university and leave, early on. I was just reading about Jobs, who dropped out of college but went back for one course at a time for seemingly random classes like calligraphy. He said if he hadn't taken calligraphy, the Macintosh would not have rolled out with different fonts and proportional spacing. Once you're free to grow the way you naturally bend, it's not the grades that are important but what you get out of the courses.

I've met more than a few TJ students and grads, and have always been impressed with their maturity, their downplaying of their own accomplishments, and the high level of discourse. The tone of most of the posts here is jarringly different from those impressions. From what I read here (the posts, not the articles) it does sound like boot camp. TJ now strikes me as geared to take these wonderful, promising minds and grind out loyal, hard-working, docile employees for the local federal contractor IT cube farms, not the visionaries or innovators they may have been born to become. Some posters here sound like they identify more with the administration than with their peers, and in kind of a toxic way (sorry, I don't know these posters personally and could be wrong, but that's how it comes over). I can just see the bumper stickers now: "TJ Students Eat Their Dead." I wonder if they they were always that way or if TJ assimilated them like the Borg. And if college will be enough of an antidote.

Posted by: Joan | August 8, 2008 11:22 PM

"Actually, most universities, and not just the highly selective ones, can reach every kind of functional thinker and promote intellectual growth. Georgetown, not a huge school, actually had three different departments for many of its foreign languages while I was there: one in Arts and Sciences, one in Foreign Service, and one in Languages and Linguistics. Each department catered to a distinctly different set of capabilities and reasons for learning a foreign language."

Joan, TJ is most comparable to a technical institute like Carnegie Mellon or MIT in its scientific focus. Would an unconventional learner interested in foreign language or philosophy or literature truly be serving his/her best interests by going to MIT? In short, the answer is no. It would truly be nice if TJ could be all that you speak of, but the fact is that TJ is just a school that should accept academically qualified, science and technology oriented students. Honestly, the handful of people I know who despise TJ are the ones who regret attending in the first place. TJ is a school for science and technology, not a school for geniuses. Besides, with the same amount of or even less funding than other Fairfax County schools, what do you really expect out of our high school?

"The tone of most of the posts here is jarringly different from those impressions."

For some, TJ may be boot camp. For those students who are not at all inclined to enjoy what TJ has to academically offer, they are most likely better suited to a "regular" high school that doesn't cater to more technical minds.

Joan, the fact is that in science, technology, and mathematics, there usually isn't much room to get creative. In the social sciences and humanities, a new theory can be concocted overnight. In science, there are rules; rules of chemistry, of physics, of biology. With its focus in science, TJ is a technical school. All students have to meet the baseline standard before they can pursue their other interests. In college, don't all students have to fulfill their core curriculum before pursuing concentrations? TJ is no different; the standard math, science, and humanities courses must be taken be every single student. There are no exceptions, and Matt Nuti should not be, under any circumstances, exempt from having to meet the same performance standards that 1800 other students meet.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2008 11:40 AM

I actually met an MIT graduate who was getting her English degree there, not a double major or a switch from another subject, but from the beginning. She wrote speculative fiction. A true divergent thinker who seemed to think her best interests were being served in going there. People have all kinds of reasons for wanting to be where they are.

Even MIT has its knowledge generalists focused on the big picture instead of being consumed by the grade monster. I believe that was Dean Kamen's school. As I said earlier, he got in, got what he wanted, and got out without graduating. Maybe his grades were good, maybe they reeked. Who cares?? The larger point being that even in the hard sciences, there is room to get creative if your eyes are on the bigger picture, and that a sciences/technology school can foster that.

"In college, don't all students have to fulfill their core curriculum before pursuing concentrations?"

Isn't that the point of taking Advanced Placement courses, to potentially test out of a huge chunk of the core curriculum? In any case, if you enter college knowing what your major is going to be, you can start taking courses in it right away, along with the core. Depending on the school itself and how much credit your AP scores bought you, your last half of college can be entirely devoted to your major and electives. At my school, getting a 4 or a 5 on the AP exam yielded six credits of "A" in that subject, well worth the price of the exam and often instrumental in graduating early.

Posted by: Joan | August 9, 2008 1:37 PM

"Isn't that the point of taking Advanced Placement courses, to potentially test out of a huge chunk of the core curriculum?"

You bring up an interesting point I hadn't thought of before. Yes, it is true that many students take AP classes because they are capable of higher level subject material and also so they can get college credit, but that is still far from the primary reason that students attend TJ. I do see your point; between two high schools, one offering numerous APs and the other offering very few, the student who is motivated and driven to get a start on college early would want to go to the school that offers harder classes for credit. However, considering the overall strength of the Fairfax County school system, I have my doubts as to whether a student would choose to go to TJ just to take the AP classes here, as his/her base school might even offer more APs. e.g. I had to take an online course for AP economics this past year, whereas my base school offers it as an actual class with a teacher.

"In any case, if you enter college knowing what your major is going to be, you can start taking courses in it right away, along with the core."

Indeed, students are are truly exceptional would attend TJ simply for the harder course offerings like post-APs. In this case though, TJ really only offers science/math post-APs. Students who intend on pursuing a science, math, or technology major of some sort in college are the ones who would be most attracted to TJ and it's specific college credit courses (post-APs). The students who intend to take these classes coming into TJ are more than qualified to ease their way through required classes with straight A's or high marks overall.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2008 1:47 PM

The 3.0 Rule Facebook site says you are pursuing legal action. Your parents didn't take corrective action during your year of academic probation, and now they are suing? Apples don't fall too far from the Tree.

Posted by: Gilda | August 9, 2008 7:26 PM

Gilda, I believe it was more of a tactic used by Matt Nuti to effectively "shut down" the group by closing the wall and such to members. No "legal action" is being taken, or else Facebook would have intervened by deleting the group or something. Matt just put that up as a seemingly legitimate excuse for hiding the wall that shows students' disapproval of his actions. He is, after all, the administrator of the group.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 9, 2008 11:15 PM

I was a member of the group, and, (while this is completely speculation) I believe Matt may have closed it down because the group lost focus. In the week before the group was closed down, the group became a slur of personal attacks against Matt and his family, and people making rediculous comparisons. Matt very well may have closed it down for other reasons. They might be interested in pursuing legal action, in which case more power to them.

A seperate point, people who are just calling Matthew whiny have done a couple interesting things. One, they didn't read the essay after which they commented. Two, they (especially if they are TJ students or graduates, from whom most of these comments come from) are only proving his point that they are arrogant. While reading through these comments, many of support have come from successful lawyers, businessmen, doctors, and very well versed writers (I cite the commenter "Joan") and then a high school student has the audacity to tell them they are completely wrong, and Matt is just a "whiner" So, I agree with Matt that this establishment gives these students a sense of superiority.

On the matter of the statistics, yes, this group only removed 5 students, a tiny percentage of the student body, but what we are ignoring here is that these are people, not numbers. This is proving Matt's points again. The school, the rule, and its supporters only view Matt and those other 4 unfortunate students as a number. They justify actions by saying "It's ok if you only intensely damage the lives of .278% of the students at TJ" That makes a great deal of sense.

Finally, I want to draw attention to one last point. All these comments seem to ignore one major point. The rationalization of this rule is that it is in the best interest of the student. I (along with Matt) refuse to believe that an expulsion in anyway helps a student's capacity for success later in life. I would even say that it strongly damages a students opportunities. So, what do we have here? A rule, regardless of how many it damages, it damages them greatly, and then the administration that put the rule in justify it by saying it will help the student, which is either a misguided contradiction, or a bold faced lie. The question I leave you with is... which is worse?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 10, 2008 9:16 PM

I just realized there's one last thing I forgot to add. Some of the interested parties who left their opinions on this comment stream have compared Matt's situation to a workplace. i.e. you under perform, your employment is terminated. Well, these people have left out an important detail in their analogy. Allow me to set it straight.

Matt Nuti was hired to a job with certain expectations of his work. Mr. Nuti has a lifestyle to support. One year into his employment, during which time Mr. Nuti has not been the best employee, but has certainly been consistent, Mr. Nuti's employers changed the expectations of his workload, without any extra compensation. Mr. Nuti has his lifestyle to support, and deems the only reasonable course of action is to remain at his current place of employment. Unfortunately, Mr. Nuti does not perform at the required level, and after one more year, his employment is terminated. As Mr. Fisher stated at the beggining of his blog response. "Pity poor Matt Nuti"

The major difference between this analogy and the actual occurences are as follows. Mr. Nuti is a high school student, not an employee.

I know my comments are turning into a rant, but, I swear to you this will be my last point. When TJ accepted Matt Nuti, they made just as much a committment to him as he made a committment to them. Now, TJ has changed the terms of their agreement, and Matt Nuti failed to oblige to their standards. (Standards to which they cannot properly discipline students because they cannot ban them from extra-curriculur activities, but they still exercise a self given power to remove the students) In a work place, that is borderline illegal, and well beyond the threshold of unethical.

Posted by: The same person who just commented | August 10, 2008 9:38 PM

Good points in the previous comments. Some guy said Matt was only getting support from those in "danger" of the rule. So all of a sudden these students are lesser than those who aren't in said danger?

Posted by: Bernard | August 11, 2008 11:13 PM

Most TJ students work very hard and receive excellent grades. Unfortunately, achieving good grades is many students' primary – even their only -- goal. Once a grade for a course appears on a student’s transcript, the material ostensibly learned in that course is forgotten, or, at best, only dimly remembered, even after the short span of a summer break. Why? The answer is not simple. It would be easy, and yet callous and unproductive, to say “because that’s the way students have always been.” This is nonsense -- as if students MUST always be so because they have always BEEN so. No. The answer is more complicated than that, and much less pleasant. In part, the answer is parents. Most TJ students come from highly-educated, dual-income families, and the attention parents pay to their children’s work is severely limited by the extreme demands of their own high-pressure careers. For that reason, many parents must rely on the thin evidence of report cards to determine whether or not their children are learning. In other words, consciously or not, parents accept as legitimate the correlation of high grades and genuine learning. But at TJ far more than at other high schools, grade inflation IS rampant (let naïve commentators in this forum say what they may). Still, to be fair, parents are not to blame for accepting this correlation. It is common in schools at all levels, up to and including universities. And yet, ironically, many TJ parents assist in rendering it virtually meaningless. Of course they are not alone in doing so.

Most TJ faculty, and some TJ administrators, work feverishly throughout the year to ensure genuine, lasting intellectual accomplishment in the classroom. But when a grading quarter ends, or when the year draws to a close, many of those same administrators and faculty bow to the TJ mystique or, more often, submit to unrealistic and sometimes vicious parental pressure and intimidation to raise the C+ to a B-, the B- to a B, or the B+ to an A. In other words, they become complicit with the parents in emptying grades of any but a trivial significance. Thus they perpetuate an admittedly nationwide fixation on the artificial manufacture of positive student 'outcomes.' This inanely vague educational buzzword is, like most such, defined to suit the occasion. At schools like TJ, however, it is generally indexed to two factors: admission to elite universities and, over the longer term, career success. Neither of these, although each in itself desirable, says ONE IOTA about actual learning -- about what enriches the inner lives of students, whether they attend Harvard and become highly successful physicists or lawyers, or attend so-called 'lesser' schools and become high-school principals, middle managers, starving artists, or homemakers.

For these reasons, the recent establishment of a 3.0 GPA rule at TJ is shameless window-dressing. It gives the school the appearance of being stern about academic standards when in fact it is not, or rather not to the degree pretended. Moreover, the rule serves the school, not its students. If TJ’s principal and his colleagues have less regard for developing young people’s minds than for padding their transcripts, and seek to embellish the school’s reputation by artificially raising its average GPA, they need to do some serious soul-searching. Parents, likewise, need to ask themselves just what it is they are demanding of their own children: good grades or quality learning? There is no NECESSARY correlation between the two, especially in a school where grade-inflation is rampant. Teachers there know this.

There is probably too much arrogance in the offices of Thomas Jefferson for any one person’s advice to make a positive impression, but I offer mine anyway. To the TJ administration: abolish the 3.0 GPA rule. It is both a travesty and an abrogation of your responsibility as educators. There are doubtless plenty of students who barely made the cut because their parents bickered and threatened just enough to prompt the raising of one or more grades. And don’t kid yourselves: the minimum GPA rule of this sort WILL reward that kind of behavior. Is that fair to students with less engaged, or less combative, parents? Advice to concerned TJ parents will also likely go by the board, but, once again, I offer it anyway: get more DIRECTLY involved in your children’s education at home on a DAILY basis, stop obsessing about grades, and focus instead on learning. If you do that, the grades will take care of themselves.

Posted by: seven | August 13, 2008 12:59 PM

seven said: "get more DIRECTLY involved in your children’s education at home on a DAILY basis"

The funny thing is that if Matt Nuti's parents followed seven's advice, none of this would have happened. What in the world were they doing when Matt came home with an F in World History/Geography 2nd quarter? I know grades aren't the sole determination of a student's academic performance, but something about an F or a D tells me the student isn't learning or isn't willing to work. In either case that involves parents speaking up and trying to help fix the problem, which by all accounts the Nutis didn't do. Instead, they gave Matt the glorious job of shoveling horse manure. Now Mr. and Mrs. Nuti have gone completely insane - they supported their son in a highly-charged, highly-publicized effort to pass the buck, and now they let their daughter leave high school without a diploma, too.

By the way, to everyone (including Mr. Fisher) who said that a 2.8 GPA was "above average", think again. A 2.8 is a bad GPA at any high school you go to, not only TJ but also any other school in FCPS, the DC area, and for that matter most places across the US. Perhaps schools on the Great Plains or some inner city are a counterexample, but something tells me that lower GPAs being more acceptable there has less to do with a lack of grade inflation and more to do with unhealthy obsessions with becoming the next star football quarterback or the next LeBron James. A 2.8 won't get you into any public university in Virginia. So this is good for Matt Nuti, he can finally "pursue his passions", and he's got a clean slate (comparatively) to excel academically. Then he'll actually have a shot at something beyond community college.

Posted by: eight | August 16, 2008 3:39 PM

Eight: The advice of mine you quoted was not directed at the Nutis, but at ALL TJ parents who do not already take an active and detailed interest in their children's work. Fortunately, MANY do. Unfortunately, there are also many intimidators, bickerers, whiners, and otherwise craven beggars for unearned handouts. Clearly such parental behavior does not set a good example for children. One can only wonder: Do these parents even care?

As for the rest, the problem of grade inflation is systemic. But even systemic problems can be corrected beginning with single schools like TJ. Consider Princeton's efforts to curb grade inflation. Perhaps the Fairfax County School Board, instead of unwittingly justifying Mark Twain's witticisms, should address the problem in a similar manner. Or, if Princeton's model doesn't fit TJ or FCPS, maybe the school board can address the problem in an original fashion. Is that possible?

Posted by: seven | August 17, 2008 11:31 AM

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