After seven high schools in Fairfax, Va., acknowledged failing to tell students of their national merit recognition, Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) sharply criticized the schools, saying their focus on equal outcomes is “hurting” Virginia’s students.

“They have a maniacal focus on equal outcomes for all students at all costs,” Youngkin told 7News reporter Nick Minock. “And at the heart of the American dream is excelling, is advancing, is stretching and recognizing that we have students that have different capabilities.”

“Some students have the ability to perform at one level, others need more help, and we have to allow students to run as fast as they can to dream the biggest dreams they can possibly dream and then go get them,” he added.

Thirteen high schools in Northern Virginia failed to notify students of national merit recognition ahead of significant college scholarship and admissions deadlines, 7News reported.

The National Merit Scholarship program requires applicants to take the PSAT test. About 50,000 students are chosen as commended students or as semifinalists in the program based on their qualified test scores. Although commended students do not have a chance to continue in the competition, those who qualify as semifinalists must submit an application to advance to the next portion of the competition, according to the program’s website.

The semifinal application was due to the program no later than Oct. 5, 2022. Some of the students across the Virginia schools qualified as semifinalists, but the schools’ failure to notify them in September caused them to miss the October deadline, 7News reported.

Youngkin says he will work to increase education standards across the state. He also criticized the superintendent of the Fairfax schools for hiring outside consultants for up to $450,000 to help create equal outcomes for all students.

“This overarching effort for equal outcomes is hurting Virginia’s children, and it’s hurting, even worse, the children that they aspire to help — children in the Black community and children in the Hispanic community and children who are in the socioeconomically challenged community and Virginia’s kids with disabilities,” Youngkin said.

“Now we know the price includes paying $450,000 to a liberal consultant to come in and teach the administrators in Fairfax County how to do this,” he added. “What it appears happened is that principals in schools decided that they were going to systematically withhold accolades and a path to college admission and scholarships from high-performing students.”

–Updated on Jan. 18 at 7:14 a.m.