FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — Parents and students of Thomas Jefferson High School came together to protest proposed changes to the school’s admissions system.

Fairfax County residents assembled on the school’s property around 1 p.m. on Sep. 20, holding signs that read “Lottery has no place in schools.” Parents and students spoke out about their frustration about the inequality that the new proposal would create through a new lottery-based system.

“People being able to determine how they do based on hard work, merit, etc…and this system takes that away from the individual and turns it into blind luck. And that’s a horrible message to send to children,” said Glenn Miller, a Thomas Jefferson parent.

The proposal states that admission to the elite science and math magnet school would switch over to a lottery system, in which any student with a 3.5 GPA and algebra background can enter. In addition, an entrance exam usually taken for admittance would be eliminated.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced the proposal on September 15, saying that the change is to allow more diversity within the student body.

“We have been working to understand why the talent at TJHSST does not reflect the talent in FCPS,” Brabrand said in a press release. “We believe there has been over-reliance upon the current admissions test, which tends to reflect upon the socioeconomic background of test takers or the ability for students to obtain private test preparation instead of students’ true academic potential. This can discourage potential candidates from applying or advancing to the pool of semifinalists.”

Scott Brabrand, Fairfax County Superintendent

Parents of Thomas Jefferson students say that the proposal sends the message to children that only race matters, and not hard work.

“They came here to America, many of our families — Asian and immigrant families — fighting for the American dream. And now, today, we’re standing here together for the American dream that believes in meritocracy,” said Asra Nomani, a Thomas Jefferson School parent.

The school is ranked among the top high schools in the U.S. for its science and technology. Parents fear that the new proposal could lower the school’s status.