December 26, 2015

There's what the NYT calls an "ethnic divide" between white and Asian-Americans in "a high-achieving school district" in New Jersey.

The divide is between white parents and Asian-American parents. The headline says "ethnic divide," though the article never refers to ethnicity. The terminology in the article is race:
A packed Board of Education meeting this month at Grover Middle School in West Windsor, N.J., where a districtwide debate that often splits along racial lines is underway about the pressure put on students there to succeed....

[I]nstead of bringing families together, [the principal's] letter revealed a fissure in the district, which has 9,700 students, and one that broke down roughly along racial lines....

Not all public opinion has fallen along racial lines...
I guess a headline saying that a school district was divided along racial lines would get readers hot to see another one of the many stories the Times runs about divisions between black and white people. There are so many of those that I doubt that the NYT wants to dial back the racial divisiveness. Maybe they just didn't want to disappoint readers who hunger for more black-versus-white material.

Anyway, this is a fascinating conflict, with white parents put out that the Asian-American kids are upping the competition. Immigrants from China, India, and Korea have moved to the school district, near Princeton, in large numbers precisely to get their kids into the very best, high level schools. The Asian-American kids are now the distinct majority in the schools — 65%. These families were big supporters of advanced mathematics, instrumental music, and maximizing honors and Advanced Placement credits.

The white parents are agonizing about all the stress on their kids, and the school superintendent, David Aderhold, is responding to them, dialing back the program in what the Asian-American parents tend to see as "dumbing down" and "anti-intellectual."  Aderhold puts his reforms in terms of prevention of mental illness and suicide. He speaks of "a holistic, 'whole child' approach... that respects 'social-emotional development' and 'deep and meaningful learning.'"
Both Asian-American and white families say the tension between the two groups has grown steadily over the past few years, as the number of Asian families has risen. But the division has become more obvious in recent months as Dr. Aderhold has made changes, including no-homework nights, an end to high school midterms and finals, and a “right to squeak” initiative that made it easier to participate in the music program.
So the white people are not the majority nor are they arguing for meritocracy... and yet they seem to be winning. They are winning with the argument that it's not good to have too much winning when they are not the ones doing the winning.

This story made me want to reread Malcolm Gladwell's 2005 article "Getting In/The social logic of Ivy League admissions":
In 1905, Harvard College adopted the College Entrance Examination Board tests as the principal basis for admission, which meant that virtually any academically gifted high-school senior who could afford a private college had a straightforward shot at attending. By 1908, the freshman class was seven per cent Jewish, nine per cent Catholic, and forty-five per cent from public schools... By 1922, [Jews] made up more than a fifth of Harvard’s freshman class. The administration and alumni were up in arms. Jews were thought to be sickly and grasping, grade-grubbing and insular. They displaced the sons of wealthy Wasp alumni....
What Harvard did was redefine merit, to look to the whole person — the "holistic" approach:
The personal interview became a key component of admissions in order, Karabel writes, “to ensure that ‘undesirables’ were identified and to assess important but subtle indicators of background and breeding such as speech, dress, deportment and physical appearance.” By 1933, the end of Lowell’s term, the percentage of Jews at Harvard was back down to fifteen per cent....

Starting in 1953, Arthur Howe, Jr., spent a decade as the chair of admissions at Yale, and Karabel describes what happened under his guidance:
The admissions committee viewed evidence of “manliness” with particular enthusiasm. One boy gained admission despite an academic prediction of 70 because “there was apparently something manly and distinctive about him that had won over both his alumni and staff interviewers.” Another candidate, admitted despite his schoolwork being “mediocre in comparison with many others,” was accepted over an applicant with a much better record and higher exam scores because, as Howe put it, “we just thought he was more of a guy.” So preoccupied was Yale with the appearance of its students that the form used by alumni interviewers actually had a physical characteristics checklist through 1965. Each year, Yale carefully measured the height of entering freshmen, noting with pride the proportion of the class at six feet or more.
At Harvard, the key figure in that same period was Wilbur Bender, who, as the dean of admissions, had a preference for “the boy with some athletic interests and abilities, the boy with physical vigor and coordination and grace.” Bender, Karabel tells us, believed that if Harvard continued to suffer on the football field it would contribute to the school’s reputation as a place with “no college spirit, few good fellows, and no vigorous, healthy social life,” not to mention a “surfeit of ‘pansies,’ ‘decadent esthetes’ and ‘precious sophisticates.’ ” Bender concentrated on improving Harvard’s techniques for evaluating “intangibles” and, in particular, its “ability to detect homosexual tendencies and serious psychiatric problems.”...

In the nineteen-eighties, when Harvard was accused of enforcing a secret quota on Asian admissions, its defense was that once you adjusted for the preferences given to the children of alumni and for the preferences given to athletes, Asians really weren’t being discriminated against. But you could sense Harvard’s exasperation that the issue was being raised at all. If Harvard had too many Asians, it wouldn’t be Harvard, just as Harvard wouldn’t be Harvard with too many Jews or pansies or parlor pinks or shy types or short people with big ears.
That is, meritocracy seemed like a good idea until white people weren't winning, and the notion of judging the "whole person" came about a remedy to the perceived problem of keeping a traditionally disadvantaged minority group from climbing through the use of the meritocracy. Striving for success within the meritocracy got framed as grasping and grade-grubbing — qualities you wouldn't want in a healthy, well-rounded young person. Suddenly, the successful minority group looks sick. When that happens, it really does deserve the term racism.

115 comments:

Tank said...

So the white people are not the majority nor are they arguing for meritocracy... and yet they seem to be winning. They are winning with the argument that it's not good to have too much winning when they are not the ones doing the winning.

I take a different message: even when "diversity" is not more black people (which is almost always what it really means), it is not necessarily good, and more likely, will create problems. No one can say that the white people there are arguing for white supremacy, because that's not what's happening. It is just a clash between "different," but both reasonably capable, groups.

Diversity is not strength, it is conflict.

Gahrie said...

I see merit on both sides.

The problem is differing expectations from the parents. The obvious answer is choice, providing opportunities for both experiences. Have one track devoted to the super competitive style wanted by the Asians, and another geared to a more relaxed atmosphere.

The problem would be the (unpleasant to some) demographics that would result.

sean said...

What I find disturbing in this article is the offhand comment, not followed up, about cheating. My daughter, a math major at Emory, says the same thing, that there is rampant cheating, in classes which are predominantly Asian. (I don't say the Asians cheat disproportionately, necessarily, but they are the majority.) I think the principal should focus on integrity, which would reduce the pressure a lot.

Jack Wayne said...

Nothing surprising here. When I was in high school 50 years ago, it was the parents of good students who put the pressure on for easy grading to keep their children's averages up. Dumbing down has always started at the top. These parents in the article are doing the same thing.

Phil 3:14 said...

Is it possible to run a news story in America about racism where the "racists" aren't white?

Will Cate said...

It seems the not-so-subtle subtext/point the Times is making with this piece is "See? You white folk are in the minority here. It is you now, struggling to keep up, asking that the standards be lowered. Shoe is on the other foot. How does that feel?"

Michael McClain said...

Competition is good. Maybe it'll encourage everyone in the school district to be more serious about their education.

Also, why aren't black families impacted by this influx of serious academic performance? Too secure in their ghetto of privilege to be concerned?

john mosby said...

This dialing down of academic rigor does seem to be a widespread trend, though, beyond some sort of Yellow Peril fear. The removal of hard words from the SAT, the making optional of standardized tests at many universities, etc. Some of it may be down to a desire to hide black/hispanic affirmative action by making admission a function of GPA alone. Some of it may just be a widespread exhaustion after years of cutthroat admissions during the Echo Boom, which just happens to coincide with increased east and south Asian participation.

JSM

Christopher said...

What if you both hate achievement whoring and the dumbing down of education?

Or are they mutually exclusive?

PB said...

Those who don't want to do the work are quick to belittle those that do. When achievers don't fall to social/peer pressure, stronger measures are implemented.

Ann Althouse said...

"It seems the not-so-subtle subtext/point the Times is making with this piece is "See? You white folk are in the minority here. It is you now, struggling to keep up, asking that the standards be lowered. Shoe is on the other foot. How does that feel?""

If you read the article and read my post, you'll see that I was the one who adopted that not-so-subtle subtext. The Times structured it the other way around and is sympathetic to the white parents. I did the inversion, not the Times. I was calling white privilege on the Times.

john mosby said...

Also, the Ivies, at the undergrad level, have always seen themselves as leadership academies - sort of civilian West Points. Breadth of exposure has always been at leas as important as hyper-academic performance. Just learning how to max out standardized tests is not enough, and may indeed display a lack of the outside-the-box thinking needed to be a future world leader.

Always remember that these schools started out as seminaries, and even though they've abandoned a religious mission, they've kept the mission of educating people to serve the community.

JSM

Ann Althouse said...

"What I find disturbing in this article is the offhand comment, not followed up, about cheating. My daughter, a math major at Emory, says the same thing, that there is rampant cheating, in classes which are predominantly Asian."

I'd like to know about this more. Where there is cheating, who is cheating? Your daughter's observation, as you've relayed it, doesn't necessarily mean that it's the Asian-Americans who are cheating. It could be that white students fear they'll be outmatched and resort to cheating.

The solution to cheating is to admit you have a problem and then adopt methods that make it very difficult to cheat. Prevent cheating. Discovering it and punishing it is much more difficult.

rhhardin said...

More interesting would be a gender divide on opinion.

The white women will be in favor of holistic, the men in favor of merit.

The second generation effect will be that the Asian women go for holistic too.

Ann Althouse said...

"Competition is good. Maybe it'll encourage everyone in the school district to be more serious about their education."

There's no way it will encourage everyone.

People adopt different strategies. If you are smart and independent, you might say this game isn't worth playing. Why should I give over all my youthful years to drudgery? Why is this what my mind and consciousness are for? Back in my day, in the 1960s and 70s, many of us decided to drop out, that we didn't want to be part of the system. Life is for love, for beauty, for play. I still think that's smart. Why not use your brains to minimize work and maximize free time, play time, time with friends and family.

Some people decide to devote themselves to God and to charity or to children and things that are not part of the commercial economy.

And frankly, why have children at all if it's just to plug them into a brutal competition based on getting grades and getting into elite institutions and getting jobs? You have this beautiful baby. Why? Where is the spiritual depth? Where is the love and the beauty? The child isn't a future worker on your subsistence farm, so why did you do that? For the sheer pleasure of observing him excel in the meritocratic system?

What do smart people do?

David said...

" Prevent cheating. Discovering it and punishing it is much more difficult."

The voice of experience.

Guildofcannonballs said...

These Leftists hate America, and all white people the NYT writes it's cool to hate (GOP, Southerners, etc.), and any defense of these monsters by people that recieve that hatred is racist. If you defend white Leftists trying to kill you with their unGodliness, you do so because they are white and you are racist.

Any person not a model who is under six foot tall that defends any of this discrimination is proving, or at least providing strong compelling evidence of, What Is The Matter With Kansas. Short, fat, ugly, and effeminate people don't know they advocate against their own interests because they were simply told to do so by their Leftist betters and never questioned anything of relevance.

Hagar said...

"Holistic approach" = Submit or be graded down.

David said...

White people having third world problems.

Bob Ellison said...

Fantastic New Yorker article.

How does cheating at math work? If you can't do the math, you're gonna fall eventually. It'd be like cheating at software programming.

Hagar said...

I have tried cheating to see how that was done. It is easier to go straight and a lot less worrisome.

bgates said...

You have this beautiful baby. Why?

Because you didn't murder it in the womb, when it would have been socially acceptable.

Virgil Hilts said...

I would be happy if Asians took over a lot of our elite colleges.
But. . . I do think there is something a little culturally off/suboptimal in the intense pressure placed by some Asian communities on Asian teenagers to study and excel, and the stories of the disproportionate suicide rates among certain Asian students (for example at MIT) are very sad. Also, as to the cheating problem (which is real) -- see http://www.ibtimes.com/asia-exam-cheating-wealthy-students-seeking-entrance-us-colleges-anything-goes-1844354 . So, I am afraid I may agree with the NY Times for once.

Karen of Texas said...

If there were federal dollars involved in 'superior' school district performance, I wonder who would be winning...

And I agree with Sean. The cheating should be dealt with. My daughter graduated 8 years ago from our relatively high performing district. There were 3 "tracks" offered at the school, but the college-bound track classes, like AP, were weighted higher. Thus, achievement in those resulted in higher GPA and higher class placement. Cheating among 'top' students was rampant. My daughter was beyond angry about it. The students knew it, but the kids who engaged in that were from upper class white families and you didn't want to find yourself on the wrong end of their attention.
Students either didn't care because the whole ranking, prestige college thing didn't appeal or they were in on it or a few, like my daughter, played it close to the vest and quietly went about achieving as highly as they could without engaging in the cheating.

When my daughter received the senior Physics and Chemistry awards over the higher ranked, "known" students, you could literally see parents AND the top-top ranked students looking around like "who the hell is that?" when her name was called. (She was ranked 14 out of a class of almost 600.) The good teachers knew what was going on. Administration didn't want to hear it. Those parents threw around a lot of money and volunteer time with the booster clubs and such.

William said...

Rich and important people are generally smart enough to create or buy an environment where their children will prosper and thrive......,Beyond this, just having rich and important parents gives you the kind of social poise and self confidence that cannot be purchased with hard work and scholastic excellence. Ther are some things that only money can buy.

cyrus83 said...

I wonder in this case if race is more incidental than causal. Growing up, I was in a district that was 99% white that had a group of parents who campaigned successfully to eliminate a program track for gifted students because they whined that it was unfair that not everybody could receive the benefits of that instruction. It seems this is a repeat of the same kind of attitude - having higher standards is hurting my kid, so cut it out.

I would put this down as more of a problem of two different cultures (which happen to be more or less racially homogenous in this case) colliding over differences in what's best for their children, both trying to use the school district to achieve their goals.

ganderson said...

The Education Realist has posted a lot about Asian cheating.

Fernandinande said...

AA I'd like to know about this more. Where there is cheating, who is cheating?

Education Realist says:
Scratch the surface of any cheating story and odds are well above average the school or the class in question is disproportionately Asian. Journalists carefully scrub cheating stories of any racial references—unless it’s rich whites. In fact, it’s obvious that the SAT scandal [link] was first thought to be “white” kids, which is why the reports contained names. Then it turned out they are mostly Iranian Jews, first or second generation immigrant. Oops. Which is not to say that impersonation is the typical cheating profile for Eastern and Southern Asians."

https://www.google.com/search?q=education+realist&gws_rd=ssl#q=site:educationrealist.wordpress.com+%22asians%22+%22cheating%22">Much more

Virgil Hilts said...

Ann said: "And frankly, why have children at all if it's just to plug them into a brutal competition based on getting grades and getting into elite institutions and getting jobs?. . "
Exactly! Looking at people I know who went to the ivies or other top schools, finished at the top of their law school classes, etc. - most have no real desire to push their children to follow the same trajectory; they would prefer that their children remain happy and well-rounded (whatever that is) than study themselves to death to become impressively credentialed.
Amy Chua is certainly an exception, but perhaps her daughters will not feel the same way that she does.

Shouting Thomas said...

This phenomenon (high achievement) begins with the demand for family order, religious observance and respect for the elders. It doesn't just start with cram schools or excessive homework. I lived in Jersey City and worked for some time for a start up in Princeton, so I saw this up close and personal.

You can't get white kids to perform at the level of Asian kids because the demand for discipline is never enforced upon them by their families.

I'm usually the first at Mass on Sundays, because I set up the organ and the hymn board. An entire Filipino family beat me to church on Christmas morning, and that group of about 12 was reciting the rosary together with the oldest man and woman in the group leading the prayers.

Show me some white kids who are living with that kind of direction or who face that demand to respect and obey their elders.

The Filipino and Indian families that I know won't even entertain the notion that their kids would major in a non-career oriented field in college. They won't support it financially.

Michael K said...

"“It’s become an arms race, an educational arms race,” she said. “We all want our kids to achieve and be successful. The question is, at what cost?”

I wonder if you saw the piece by a young Chinese-American woman, I think a physician, who was regretting the pressure her parents put on her to study and compete when she was younger? It might have been in the Wall Street Journal around the time the "Tiger Mom" book came out. Some Asian kids may feel too much pressure. I suspect it's similar to the pressure Jewish kids felt in the 50s when the old joke was around about the mother with the two little boys and she described them as "The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven" when asked their age.

One thing I observe in interviewing military applicants. About a third in Los Angeles are Chinese or Korea, mostly not citizens. I have yet to interview an Asian kid, American or foreign born, who admits to using marijuana. I wonder if that is a factor in the white kids' performance in school ?

It sounds like school competition is heavy in that district and the worries may be valid. Some interesting data on myopia is appearing.

Kids in Singapore have about 87% incidence of serious myopia at age about 14. Chinese ethnic kids in Australia have a much lower incidence of myopia, maybe 40% (I forget the number). The only difference the authors could find was time out of doors. Australian kids of Chinese ethnicity play sports and spend much more time outdoors. Doctors in China have tried to get parents to give the kids more outdoor play time. No luck so China is starting to build classrooms with translucent walls to let more natural light in while they are in school !

CStanley said...

Blogger Michael McClain said...
Competition is good. Maybe it'll encourage everyone in the school district to be more serious about their education.

Also, why aren't black families impacted by this influx of serious academic performance? Too secure in their ghetto of privilege to be concerned?


Because this is New Jersey, and there are likely very few blacks in these particular school districts. Segregation through economic class, because the property taxes are high.

Perhaps things have changed (though I doubt it) but growing up in NJ I never met a black person. Complete culture shock when we moved to the South when I was in sixth grade. I still have a distinct memory of the first time I touched a black person, the hand of a girl on the playground.

CWJ said...

Not that I'm interested enough to read this story, but for me the key statistic is that the schools in the district are 65% Asian. Even with Asians moving into the district, I doubt they make up 65% of the residents, otherwise I'd imagine the NYT would be talking about more than just the schools. I assume there are also some black and Hispanic kids in some numbers so where are the white kids? What educational opportunities exist for the residents of the district outside the public school system, and what is the racial make up of them? Are there achievement differences between whites inside and outside the public system?

Michael K said...

"It seems this is a repeat of the same kind of attitude - having higher standards is hurting my kid, so cut it out."

This is why so many programs for "gifted" kids have disappeared. They have been replaced by programs for "handicapped" kids.

When I was growing up, competition was common. Spelling bees and other intraclass competitions were the norm. When you sat in the classroom was often based on test scores.

No more.

Quaestor said...

So white liberal parents are concerned about the "stress" of their kids competing academically with Asian kids whose parents really know what stress is (Hint: It's not learning. It's something more like starving.)

*Yawn* Next time at least try to surprise me,

CatherineM said...

Ann - call some colleagues at Baruch, NYU or St. John's in NYC. I took some summer electives at Baruch and cheating among Chinese (I don't think it's fair to say Asian...I went to school with lots of Koreans and never saw a difference in character...it was mainland Chinese immigrants) and Russians students was rampant. Chinese kids didn't speak English, or buy the textbooks and slept through class and yet got As. The Russians would not only cheat, but we're always negotiating. "Professor my answer was right, you are not being fair." I took 4 classes there and there was a speech about cheating before the beginning of each class.

I wonder if the cheating comes from being from communist countries. Just a thought because that's what the Chinese and Russians have in common.

Big Mike said...

Dr. Aderhold has made changes, including no-homework nights, an end to high school midterms and finals, and a “right to squeak” initiative that made it easier to participate in the music program.

Sure sounds like the Asian parents are quite right when they call it "dumbing down." I don't know how someone gets ready for college if they haven't had to face midterms and finals beforehand. And as an engineering, and then a math, major in college in the late 1960s our "no homework" night was Saturday. Some weeks we could relax on Saturday anyway. And if you want to participate in the music program and you can't play a woodwind without squeaking, there's always drums.*

Back in my day, in the 1960s and 70s, many of us decided to drop out, that we didn't want to be part of the system. Life is for love, for beauty, for play.

And most of the dropouts returned to the system as useless things, like law professors. (Gotta admit it, Prof. Althouse, you left yourself wide open for that one! And the stinger in the tail of that jibe is that a lot of people who went the "tune in, turn on, drop out" route never did amount to much -- IMAO you are one of the minority who are an exception, if in fact you ever really did go that drop out route.)

However, FWIW, I regard "spiritual depth" as an utterly bogus concept.

The solution to cheating is to admit you have a problem and then adopt methods that make it very difficult to cheat. Prevent cheating. Discovering it and punishing it is much more difficult.

It never bothered me that students collaborated on the homework assignments -- out in the real world professional programmers ask each other for help debugging all the time. My solution as an instructor in computer science classes was to try my best to design the tests to verify that the students grasped the software engineering concepts at an abstract level well enough reapply them to novel problems. Smart phones during exams are an issue, but there are devices that can shut down cell phone signals in a room. However I don't know that this approach generalizes outside of STEM. It may not generalize outside of math and engineering.

I wonder if you saw the piece by a young Chinese-American woman, I think a physician, who was regretting the pressure her parents put on her to study and compete when she was younger? It might have been in the Wall Street Journal around the time the "Tiger Mom" book came out. Some Asian kids may feel too much pressure.

@Michael K, one of my son's best friends in middle school, a second generation Chinese-American, was under so much pressure from his parents to succeed scholastically that at one point my son asked whether we would take him in if his parents threw him out of the house. I would have been proud to have a boy as nice as he was under my roof, even if he didn't bring home straight As.

The boy eventually committed suicide in college.

So the white people are not the majority nor are they arguing for meritocracy... and yet they seem to be winning. They are winning with the argument that it's not good to have too much winning when they are not the ones doing the winning.

Touche, Professor!
_____________________

* What do you call a person who hangs around with real musicians? The drummer.

Chris N said...

In this post, I see hippie and post-hippie Selfhood (holistic...) on the surface (which may belie a more traditional home and upbringing) clashing with more achievement oriented Asian cultures/immigrants in our big cities, much like at the Times.

Except you don't go full liberal gentry 60's activist, as does the Times. The melting pot is not a bad model, after all, rather than a planned collectivist Welfare State where 'racism' is to be stamped out.

We could use a kick in the pants when it comes STEM, global competitiveness, and post 60's educracy/PC bullshit.

Asian cultures have tilted their playing fields towards this form of achievement, and do not necessarily share our values/traditions upon arrival.

As one example, the Chinese are often good shopkeepers and decent craftsman, and we keep getting some incredibly smart, good prople we definitely want to keep here if at all possible. We want intellectual capital. The Chinese have their own traditions however, and en masse can be cheap, collectivist thinkers, into crazy numerology and mysticism, ok with copying and cheating, and mere ruthless striving for the honor of the family above all else.

This creates obvious tensions if all were able to do is sort people by race or class as the Left would have us do...

If our melting pot keeps melting, and our influencers don't believe in too much ideological bullshit, then I figure all of this is less relevant...and we all benefit.

tim in vermont said...

I went back to college to learn software fifteen years after first attending college. I was shocked at the cheating I encountered the second time compared to the first. Both state schools. The second time I took a class called Probability and Statistics, the first test was administered in the class with an open book. Myself and one other student took the two As he did a little better than me and the rest of the students were basically in the dust (it wasn't a great school) The other student was Asian. The second exam was a take home where we were on our honor to do it ourselves, which I did. Every Asian student in the class beat me on the second exam.

Bob Ellison said...

Virgil Hilts, the question is what do you do if you're an atheist? If après moi, le déluge is a parent's philosophy, how does he or she plan a life and raise his/her child?

If you think that when you die, then the world dies with you, then why do you give a crap about your child's life?

In most societies, we tend to assume some degree of theism among people. That assumption tends to work. It can get out of hand in various ways, but it tends to work as a way of guessing how people are going to behave.

In western Europe, it's not working anymore. On the left, since Marx, theism has been famously ridiculed.

We are slow to recognize the results. We still assume theism, and tend not to notice what happens when we're wrong.

FleetUSA said...

I was most interested to read the Gladwell 2005 article about how Harvard and Yale early in the 20th century put emphasis on manliness, athletics, etc. I've noticed that Harvard/Yale graduates in the 1940's always seem to have this aura and attract leadership. Other schools didn't go that way. So Harvard/Yale loaded their lineage and it paid off (e.g. endowment $$$s). Not to say they were stupid but they attracted top jobs.

traditionalguy said...

The NYT will finally have to side with the manderin northern Chinese over the southern Hong Kong Chinese.

Class is everything.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'm curious about this "right to squeak" initiative. Does it mean that the orchestras and bands are actually getting bigger, or is it another damn "holistic" thing aimed at weeding out the "soulless-autonomon" stereotypical Asian players and replacing them with equally stereotypical "flawed-but-individual" white ones? Because the latter divide always pisses me off. Practically speaking, it amounts to "They all look alike, so obviously they all must sound alike." They don't.

My husband is the one who actually teaches HS orchestra, so he's better equipped to speak to this than I, but there's the same diversity of approaches and techniques among Asian-American kids as there is anywhere else.

Another thing: The article briefly mentions Indian parents, and there are people of Indian descent in the photo, but none are quoted. Odd.

CatherineM said...

CStanley. That's interesting. Northerners always think they aren't prejudiced like Southerners, yet I too had the experience of The South being more integrated. I had the same experience on LI. Only ethinici differences were many classmates that were Jewish and Asian. I never saw racism until I moved to "diverse" NYC and even then it was Asians vs black people on the subway.

I had a teacher who assumed her first graders were prejudiced against the Japanese-American kid and that's why she was so unpopular. The teachers went out of their way to teach us about her culture (one teacher even wearing a Kimono one day). It never occurred to them that we weren't racist. She was ostracized for peeing her pants all the time. Puddles under her chair. A puddle while waiting in line. Huge social faux pas. Her sister a year behind us was hugely popular and ruled the play ground like a boss. She wasn't popular because she was Asian any more than her sister was unpopular.

buster said...

Re cheating:

FWIW, I once spent several years on a faculty committee which dealt with, among other things, cases of cheating at an upper-tier law school. There weren't that many cases: cheating was hardly rampant. But the vast majority of them involved an Asian-American student. (Perhaps non-Asians were better at not getting caught.)

It was striking that none of these Asian-American students seemed to be dishonest or cynical in the ordinary sense. Virtually every one of them had a good academic record and was well-regarded by students and faculty. But each of them had fallen behind in some course for some reason, and couldn't bear the prospect of telling his parents that he had failed. (Every one of them was a male.) At least that was the conclusion the committee drew in almost every case.

David Begley said...

After watching that disgraceful video of that Yale undergrad screaming at that professor - with the approval of her classmates - it is clear the admissions process at the Ivies has mostly failed. I make an exception for the Harvard basketball team that played a great game against number three Oklahoma. A narrow loss yesterday. The Crimson could beat the Badgers and Bluejays this season. Scary thought!

Bay Area Guy said...

About 20 years ago, Blue State California passed Prop 209, which banned affirmative action in public universities. White liberal families voted for it, because they recognized that it served their interests and desires - to get precious little Johnny and Jenny into the best California colleges (Cal Berkeley & UCLA) without having to pay private school tuition (Stanford).

Two things happened: black enrollment at Cal & UCLA declined (as expected) and Asian enrollment skyrocketed.

Another thing happened - admission standards got so high that many outstanding white high school kids with 4.0s, excellent extra-curriculum activities and high SATs couldn't get into Berkeley & UCLA. Not good enough, sorry.

So, two more things happened: the student bodies at UCLA & Berkeley became far less well-rounded. The kids now are essentially academic machines, but social misfits.

Further, the cream of the high school crop simply started going elsewhere - the Claremont Pomona schools, San Diego St, Cal San Luis Obispo - historically less prestigious schools, but who now provide good, healthy, rigorous college environments.

I am actively pushing my kids to excel in high school, but actively dissuading them from going to Ivy League or Cal/UCLA. If they can get into those schools, great, they can get into somewhere else good, and not get enmeshed with the liberal distortions of Affirmative Action and the "sensible " response that caused other distortions.

Bob Ellison said...

Fernandinande, thanks for the Educationrealist links. I'm still processing that stuff. Mind-blowing.

The culture of honesty does not exist much outside Judeo-Christian societies. That's difficult for Westerners to understand. Basic dishonesty-- graft, bribery, cheating, etc.-- affects everything. We've all experienced it, but most of us in the West have not seen how it operates when everything depends on dishonesty.

Anyway, again, thanks for the links.

Zach said...

At the top end, "merit" blends imperceptibly into "doing craven things to look good for a college application." You join a club that has only officers, so you can write that on the application. You spend all day practicing an instrument that you will never touch after you matriculate.

It's a basic tension in high school life. Whatever can be measured can be gamed. So do you go all out to game the system, or develop your own interests and inevitably look worse on a five page application?

My own college is going through this right now. It's a hard core math and science school. Their actual targets are kind of bookish and nerdy (in a good way!). But they keep on hoping they can get the firm handshake crowd, with a ten page resume of BS "accomplishments." They already have the real thing, but they yearn for the fakes.

chuck said...

> 'deep and meaningful learning.'

A sweet way of saying ignorance.

Bob Ellison said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said, 'I'm curious about this "right to squeak" initiative.'

Music in schools has been splintered.

Some teachers and programs still focus on capability and talent and all that. Others have made inclusion the primary goal. Anyone can play! That means the girl with the baritone who never actually plays a note is just fine in the band; just hold it up, girl.

My kids' high-school band teacher told me that leadership was one of the big things. They want to teach kids how to lead in band, so they appoint little group leaders. Hey, when I was in band, we led by playing well and setting examples through talent and memorization. Now, they lead by just being appointed leaders. I know this sounds bitter and old-mannish, but really, that's what they're doing nowadays, and it's stupid. When I was in school, we cheered the football quarterback who could win the game. We didn't appoint some five-foot guy to score that touchdown.

exhelodrvr1 said...

There have been several articles, don't remember the source, that I've seen over the past year that discuss the amount of cheating by Asian students in U.S. universities. Driven (at least according to the article) by the extremely high expectations of the parents, and the shame resulting from not meeting them.

Zach said...

It's also interesting looking at things from the other side. I'm a professional scientist now, and not a single one of my colleagues had the Tiger Mom upbringing. I had one friend in undergraduate who went to an elite private high school. She had a genuine interest in robotics -- to the extent of starting up her own company after leaving grad school.

The Chinese students are coming from a totally different background, but even there the people who have staying power are the people with an actual interest and aptitude, not the people who do well on the stereotypical college application criteria.

The Harvards and Yales of the world are conspicuously underrepresented. Harvard is a place people work (I have many friends who've done a postdoc there), but I don't think I know anyone from my generation who was an Ivy League undergrad. Whatever they had an aptitude for, it didn't last through college.

Birches said...

There is a cultural aspect attached to the high suicide rate among Asian Americans. It's not just the pressure to succeed; it's that there is no cultural disapproval to suicide. I think that needs to factor into any discussion.

Terry said...

Did you know that some people think that Gladwell is a social scientist?
He is a journalist and public speaker with an unexceptional degree in history.

n.n said...

Democracy is a political system designed to discover the lowest common denominator. In this respect, it serves the same function as war. It serves the same function as elective abortion in determining the least common value of human life.

That said, principles matter. Class diversity schemes exploit intrinsic biases and for that reason are predisposed to promote development of prejudice based on real and constructed classes, not principles.

Fernandinande said...

Big Mike said...
What do you call a person who hangs around with real musicians? The drummer.


What's the difference between an 18" pizza and a bass player?
The pizza can feed a family of four.

Bob Ellison said...
If you think that when you die, then the world dies with you, then why do you give a crap about your child's life?


Only those whiny voices in your head think that.

CatherineM said...
I wonder if the cheating comes from being from communist countries. Just a thought because that's what the Chinese and Russians have in common.


Interesting idea. Perhaps they view "the system", whatever it may be, as something to be overcome rather than something to work within.

Riot after Chinese teachers try to stop pupils cheating

Gabriel said...

I am so tired of hearing that Asian students only have "book smarts", aren't creative, lack social skills, are only getting ahead by cheating and being driven by their parents to the point of suicide.

With self-serving head-in-the-sand attitudes like that, the white population of this country is going to be eaten alive. When whites are not in the majority anymore, they are not going to be able to keep themselves at the top by social tactics like those once used by Harvard against Jews and against Asians now.

My son is half-white and I prefer not to see his racial compatriots become helots in what was once their own country, because they did not think it was necessary to compete.

robother said...

As credentialling becomes the major role of academic institutions in the USA (trumping even education, especially outside of STEM majors), the view of college admissions as a set of rules to be gamed is bound to take over.

Out and out cheating is merely the extreme of the adaptive behaviors one would expect: obsession with pre-school through prep school tracks, tutoring, dogged pursuit of class standing (or musical/athletic/other "well-rounded" credentials) and test-prep services (which themselves border cheating by gathering SAT/ACT questions via paid test-takers) all come into it.

Asians come from societies where civil service exams have operated to delineate and reinforce caste boundaries for thousands of years, so come better adapted to the gamesmanship attitude required.

Western European culture was founded on different more egalitarian values, but its progressive mandarin caste has been engaged in creating a social order that more and more resembles the caste system of India and China. It should be no surprise that the literal descendants of those cultures are better adapted to such an order.

Otto said...

Our Jersey princess has spoken, Typical traits:
Arrogance- "If you are smart and independent, ........... Back in my day, in the 1960s and 70s, many of us decided to drop out, that we didn't want to be part of the system." Note Ann is telling us she was smart and independent.

Smart but not an intellectual giant - "Life is for love, for beauty, for play. I still think that's smart. Why not use your brains to minimize work and maximize free time ........". Ann sees only banal materialism in being smart, not for making a better world or building better systems.

Pure secular world - "Some people decide to devote themselves to God and to charity or to children and things that are not part of the commercial economy." One of Ann's vivid memory of her upbringing was her father's ubiquitous playboy magazine on the coffee table.

buwaya puti said...

This is becoming a very common situation. The same stress and conflict on the West Coast, in San Francisco and Palo Alto. The usual way of it is the high status white kids can't deal with the Asian competition in math. White girls in particular.
In San Francisco, besides everything else that's been going on (families leaving, extremely low fertility, and large numbers in private schools) the school district has set up schools that are alternatives to the academic high school (Lowell), which is also 65% Asian.
Amy Chua's better book for understanding this situation, taking in a much bigger picture, is "World on Fire". Her market dominant minorities are now making their way up the status pyramid in the US. This causes stress.

Freedom89 said...

We just moved from that county, and those schools were in the same athletic conference as the ones attended by my kids. A few observations in relation to the comments:

1. "Where are the African-American kids?" There are very few in West Windsor-Plainsboro. NJ is highly residentially segregated. The poor AA kids live in Trenton, and the middle-class ones live in Hamilton, Lawrence, and Ewing.

2. Related to #1, the white parents complaining could easily move to "less competitive" districts in the county which have perfectly good schools. But those other schools are less wealthy, have much higher percentages of AA and Latino students, have lower test scores, weaker lacrosse, tennis, and swim teams, etc. Those parents would not be caught dead sending their kids to those schools (and would look at me funny when I told them where I lived and sent my kids to school, even though my daughter goes to a top college they drool over). The vast majority of these parents deliberately chose WW-P because of the highly-rated schools (which keep real estate values sky high), and the schools are highly-rated primarily due to the high test scores earned by Asian-American students. Then their kids get there and are miserable due to the pressure.

3. I know a guidance counselor at one of those schools who says the pressure is incredible, particularly around college admissions. One of the problems is you have kids who are in the 80th percentile on nationwide tests but only in the 40th percentile within the building, and it is hard to convince them not to give up.

4. One data point: Darun Ravi, the Rutgers student prosecuted for spying on his gay roommate who killed himself (Tyler Clementi), was a pot-smoking C student with almost perfect SAT scores at WWP North (there are two high schools WWP North tends to be more South Asian, and WWP South tends to be more East Asian). Burn out is a real problem.

5. And as my daughter says, this doesn't even mention the Adderal use/abuse going on at these schools.

6. The white parents bring pressure, too, it is just of a different kind. I know a coach at one of the schools who had a white parent berate him because their kid was left off the "players to watch" list preview the local daily printed for the upcoming season.

7. Related to number 5, I have noticed that apart from tennis, golf, swimming, fencing, X-Country, etc., the sports teams at the two high schools in that district have struggled lately.

Smilin' Jack said...

Virgil Hilts, the question is what do you do if you're an atheist? If après moi, le déluge is a parent's philosophy, how does he or she plan a life and raise his/her child?

In order to live a meaningful life you either have to believe a bunch of stupid bullshit or have a three-digit IQ. Of course, the latter option is out of reach for many.

...and a “right to squeak” initiative that made it easier to participate in the music program.

Because what the world needs is more shitty music.

And, really, anyone who finds high school science/math "stressful" needs to major in art history or something.

Sebastian said...

"He speaks of "a holistic, 'whole child' approach... that respects 'social-emotional development' and 'deep and meaningful learning.'" Oh yeah, because life is about love and play, and FU if you derive meaning and pleasure from actual work, mastering actual skills, doing actual good for other people, making actual money. The problem with a meritocracy is that after a while the majority of losers will scheme to redefine merit. Same as with other forms of inequality.

Chris N said...

Through my significant other, I've been able to hang out with some top-flight people: One of the principal architects at a local software company for natural language computing, some leading AI folks, one of the guys behind serious machine learning model design...

And I can say that I'm obviously intellectually outclassed and humbled. I pay attention...I listen.

Race is consistently the wrong question to ask, as is culture, as is written/spoken language, not in the moment of learning, getting to know people and such.

When you get to 3 deviations above the mean in IQ...it means a lot. These are often brilliant people, math geeks and people who stay dedicated and focused on learning and manipulating rigorous ideas and solving difficult problems.

There are many different ways of thinking about the world, and many different competing desires, impulses, loyalties within each of us, and they are not all commensurate.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'm a bit old for this discussion (48), but I still don't remember there being any special allegations of Asians in particular cheating. My classes at Cal were nearly all large-majority Asian, and so far as I know there was little cheating. (Granted, this was way pre-smartphones.) We did generally work our butts off -- I say "generally" because there were certainly times that I didn't. But it never occurred to me to kill myself over a less-than-perfect grade.

cubanbob said...

There are more applicants than seats available in the top schools and thus the competition to get in those schools will get harder. Yes some of the High Schools will play the game mentioned in the article but the ambitious white parents will still put the pressure on the kid, will still pay for the tutoring and the test preparation which in of itself is a form of subject learning. The top universities have a mystique to maintain and are not at all allergic to full freight paying foreign students so there is just so far they can go before cheapening the brand. Cheating can get you in the door but once in you have to perform, there is no way to get the major by cheating. Yes the Asians in many cases are driven, it is a common immigrant trait and in the case of many of the students who aren't immigrants they considering a Plan B if things get ugly in their home countries. It is not uncommon to see wealthy Asian parents sending their kids to US High Schools to acculturate them for the top US universities. As for the Asian kids with STEM majors, if English isn't your native tongue and you have the innate maths ability then STEM is probably the better way to go. My elder daughter graduated from a prestigious women's only liberal arts college and the majority of the chemistry, physics and math majors were the Asians. Often times she was only one of the few white girls in the class and of the white girls, half of them were Jewish in many of the classes. One small college in one four year period doesn't represent the complete picture but it is indicative. As for the public high schools dumbing down to favor the whites, that is a losing game. The parents that can afford to and care to do so will send their kids to competitive private high schools and will spend the money on tutoring and test preparation. That is reality and to pretend different is a fool's errand.

Richard Dolan said...

During the time of the Heavenly Kingdom, imperial China perfected the system of national exams as the means of selecting and cultivating the bureaucrats who would run the show. There were many levels and differentiations, all used to place aspiring candidates in different parts of the hierarchy depending on what they achieved. It worked, more or less, for centuries. In France, the same task has been performed for many years by the small number of highly selective Grandes Ecoles -- ENS, Haut Administration, Chimie, etc. -- and entry to all of them is by competitive exam. I took a year at Sciences Po in Paris, a three year feeder school to those ecoles, which had a first year class of 1000 and a second year class of half that -- how's that for instilling a sense of ferocious competition. England had the O levels, which a student took around age 12 or so, and the results determined the path one's life would take ( except for the aristocracy that is ). And so it goes.

It's hard to find a society that has not been structured as a hierarchy. If that's the model, then something has to perform the job of assigning places at the top, middle and bottom. Those already at the top will want to pass on their advantages, and those below will look for ways for their children to rise. Given the perceived (and actual) stakes, expect some elbows to be thrown. That was true in imperial China, France and England and is likely to stay that way here and there.

The very loose system operating in the USA today is far more accommodating to outsiders and strivers than those in use elsewhere, to say nothing of the past. And its results are quite a bit better, in many ways. There's room for everyone, from Tiger Moms and their kids to the peace-love-art crowd of Ann's memories.

Relax. If all that's at stake is whether Junior goes to Yale or Ohio State, he's likely to turn out OK in the end either way.

Ann Althouse said...

"Oh yeah, because life is about love and play, and FU if you derive meaning and pleasure from actual work, mastering actual skills, doing actual good for other people, making actual money."

If you derive meaning from these things then that means that you love them, so how exactly are you getting fucked by the love analysis?

Making money can be done for its own sake or out of fear or shame, then there is no joy or love in that. People who interact with money like that really are fucked. Some people find it energizing or they love what they can buy with it, then it is love/play/beauty/depth.

Owen said...

I think the NY Times was trying to stir the racist sludge here but in fact the only real race is competition. Culture may play some role but whites are (or can be) as hyper-pressurized as any other "group" (I am too tired to use that tour-letter word, "race," any more right now).

Another observation: friends who lived in Manhattan fled to Btonxville and other best-school suburbs as soon as they could when they had kids. They paid the high entry cost (housing prices, real estate taxes) but saved on private school fees and the impossible jockeying among NYC elites to get Junior into Brick Church and Brearley/Chapin. Smart strategy but they didn't escape the game, just moved to a more favorable mix. The point is, the pressure is universal but there is a gradient based on wealth/income/peers.

Birches said...

@ Freedom

Thanks for the insight. Yes, I think a lot of people have a blindspot for the WASPy pressure put on kids to succeed in sports.

cubanbob said...

Making money can be done for its own sake or out of fear or shame, then there is no joy or love in that. People who interact with money like that really are fucked. Some people find it energizing or they love what they can buy with it, then it is love/play/beauty/depth.

12/26/15, 2:25 PM"

Life costs money. Once one gets beyond the needed amount to get by in life ( a very subjective figure) then you may be right but first things first.

Balfegor said...

I wonder if the cheating comes from being from communist countries. Just a thought because that's what the Chinese and Russians have in common.

But South Koreans don't, and South Korea has probably the biggest cheating problem after China. Cheating is, unfortunately, the logical response of mediocrities in a meritocratic system -- you can't compete on a fair playing field, so you either have to (1) get the judges to put the thumb on the scale on your behalf (good luck with that if you're Asian: that's for Blacks and posh Whites, not for you), or (2) game the system itself (by cheating). And China and Korea, just as they have long experience with standardised exams, have long experience cheating on standardised exams.

And the high school education isn't valuable in itself. Students from truly dedicated families have learned the content earlier from tutors and cram schools. High school is just the test where perfect performance allows one to secure positional goods, i.e. admission to the best colleges, which in turn allows access to the best careers. Cheating just short-circuits that cycle -- rather than learning in cram school, just cheat to secure the same positional goods. Learning to write an eight-legged essay didn't make one a more competent imperial administrator: it was just the gate you had to pass through to become an imperial administrator. Learning the mandatory content in high school is more or less the same.

The response here ought to be the same as in any instance of widespread misconduct -- massive retaliation. Cheaters need to be caught and humiliated. However harsh the penalty, it can't be as harsh as the penalties for cheating levied in the old days of the imperial civil service exam.

Tari said...

Isn't there value in teaching your kid - especially if they're a smart kid - to pursue a life well-lived? High school isn't a means to an end (an Ivy admission); it's 4 years in your child's life that can be amazing, interesting and full of growth - if you let it be so. Yes, of course you need to teach kids to work hard, show up for class, study for tests, and so on and so on. But let them have fun with music and sports, act in plays, enjoy their friends, travel (if you have the money), do charitable work - all of that should be as important as academics. My boys are blessed to be at 2 incredible Catholic schools, the mottos of which are "A Man in Full" and "A Man for Others". Yes, the first school (3rd-8th grade) feeds into the 2nd (HS), and yes, they are both academically excellent. But both communities work hard to help the boys understand that they need to develop into WHOLE people - moral, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical. You can't focus on one trait to the exclusion of the others, not if you want to be a healthy, well-functioning grownup.

The one big thing I've never understood about successful public schools is that they don't ever seem to focus on this message. The ones I know who do academics best (and therefore rank high and grab people's attention) focus on that to the exclusion of almost everything else. They also get through those academics as brutally as possible, working their students half to death as they go. My 10th grader is doing 1/2 the homework every night that his public school friends in competitive magnet programs are doing, and yet he's learning an incredible amount, and his standardized test scores are still high. But public schools seem committed to this grindstone of work as the only model for success. I'm sure someone could write a dissertation as to why - it's certainly beyond me.

Another good piece to read on the subject of high-performing high schools and stress is the December 2015 cover story from The Atlantic on suicide clusters in Palo Alto: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/. Great, depressing piece about what happens when Type-A, driven, successful people have kids that aren't like them, and they fail to notice that until it's too late.

Gahrie said...

Cheaters need to be caught and humiliated

I agree, but it can often be hard to do.

When i was a fairly new teacher, i made the rookie mistake of leaving the answers to the weekly quiz out on my lectern, as I greeted the students at the door. I never noticed anything, until one day, I noticed some letters written in the margin of a quiz, and then erased. I was able to make out that they were the answers to the quiz. The student involved was a leader in student government, a 4.0 kid etc etc. I was definitely not an administration favorite, and she was. I knew I needed proof. So the next week, I left a fake set of answers out on the lectern, and proceeded as normal. Sure enough when the quizzes were handed in, there in the margin were the fake quiz answers badly erased, and those answers were circled in on her quiz. I first went to the ASB teacher, who was literally in tears and refused to believe me, even when I showed him the evidence. Then I went to her counselor, and my administrator and informed them that I was giving her a zero on the last two quizzes. This, combined with her lower scores on the future quizzes dropped her to a B+ in my class. That was the grade I submitted. Yet the next year at her 8th grade award ceremony she received an award for a perfect 4.0 in her three years at middle school, and as far as I know, nothing ever went on her permanent record. Her parents were more supportive of me (and I believe believed me more) than my "professional" colleagues.

Gahrie said...

But both communities work hard to help the boys understand that they need to develop into WHOLE people - moral, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical.

Public schools aren't allowed to do this anymore. It is the primary reason Catholic schools still exist.

Michael K said...

"The second exam was a take home where we were on our honor to do it ourselves, which I did. Every Asian student in the class beat me on the second exam."

I took computer science courses when I came back from Dartmouth in 1995. I was retired and thought a bit about getting a CS masters without going though another BS. I had been an engineer before medical school. The courses I took in the local junior college had the exams on line and the students logged in at a Sylvan Learning Center, as I recall. It should be a good way to avoid cheating as these were not multiple choice type exams.

That may not work for all subjects but it does seem like a way to do it for some.

We had one guy who cheated in medical school. We all knew and were satisfied when he went into radiology. Nobody would ever send him a case.

My Asian medical students often had trouble with the subjective side of medicine, such as interviewing patients and taking their history. Many had serious hangups about such things as asking about sex.

Douglas said...

Great post, Ann. It reminded me of my 1L year at Michigan in 1978, hearing classmates complain about how all the Jews in the class were so competitive and making it too hard and unpleasant for everyone else.

CalTech is the future of elite education if it takes the high road: admission based solely on grades and standardized tests, with no racial, athletic or legacy preferences. All the evidence suggests that admitting really smart kids produces as "well-rounded" a group, with a variety of interests and talents, as any purportedly "holistic" admission method. In addition, admitting kids on the basis of smarts and academic performance sends a signal that the purpose of higher education is, you know, education. If a class ends up 50% Asian-American (CalTech is 48% versus ~ 20% at the Ivies), who cares? Actually, I do care, because in a highly competitive world, I think it's important that elite US schools admit the students most likely to take advantage of an elite education. Picking 30-50% (or even more) of the class for on the basis of racial, legacy or athletic preferences or some other "holistic" way to keep the numbers of Asian-Americans down doesn't do that.

RigelDog said...

Ms. Althouse posts: "And frankly, why have children at all if it's just to plug them into a brutal competition based on getting grades and getting into elite institutions and getting jobs?" I'd say that Tywin Lannister explained it pretty well in Game of Thrones:"The house that puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first."

Douglas said...

Balfegor - Your claim that cheating is as widespread in South Korea as in China or Russia is not supported by the linked story you gave. I can tell you (having taught in China for 6 years now) that cheating is extremely common in China. From what I've been told by the Russian students here in China, it's extremely common in Russia, too. I think the widespread acceptance of cheating in both countries is very likely a legacy of communism. If you live in an arbitrary and despotic country where the authorities lie to the public constantly, where privacy is not respected and corruption is pervasive, lying becomes second nature, a needed measure to protect yourself against the state. I have seen nothing to suggest a similar scale of problems in South Korea, even if there is an occasional cheating scandal there.

Gabriel said...

@robother:Western European culture was founded on different more egalitarian values,

Which part are we talking about, the slavery and despotism of the Roman Empire, or the thousand years of feudalism after that?

I'm all for Western European culture but these sweeping generalizations that fit our scoiety today don't fit it very well for the previous 2400 or so years.

Gabriel said...

@Balfegor: Students from truly dedicated families have learned the content earlier from tutors and cram schools.

Or in my case, by reading. Other than algebra and calculus, I didn't learn anything in K-12 that I didn't already know from my reading.

sean said...

To weigh in again on cheating:

I thought I as clear, but not clear enough for Prof. Althouse, I guess. My daughter didn't say that the Asian students cheated more than white students. (In any case, her observations would not constitute a statistically valid sample.) But they are the majority of students in most of her math classes, and they cheat heavily. (In many of her math classes, my daughter is the only white female, so that particular group can't be a significant cause of anything.)

How do you cheat in math? You have a smartphone and text the problems during the exam to a helpful grad student. This method can certainly get you through an undergraduate degree and into med school or a job on Wall Street. It will admittedly fail in grad school, when there is no longer someone smarter and more knowledgeable to help you.

As to preventing cheating: unfortunately, Emory has an honor system. Those systems work for Methodist seminaries where everyone comes from a common background, everyone knows everyone, and there are jobs waiting for everyone anyway. They don't work in culturally diverse environments. It would be nice if Prof. Althouse and her academic friends admitted frankly that diversity erodes trust and community, but intellectual honesty from academics isn't something to wait for. She'll never write that.

Education Realist said...

Hi, Education Realist here (someone linked in my articles).

I write a lot about Asian immigrants in high school, since I live in a very Asian area and have been teaching in both public schools and private instruction (Kaplan, Asian test prep companies) for over a decade, so I've worked with Chinese, Korean, and Indian first/1.5 generation immigrants for quite a while. When I say "Asian", that's who I'm referring to. By 3rd generation, Asians track very closely to whites.

The problem in the paper may seem new because the Times has recognized it, but this is a discussion that's been going on in many localized regions all over the country. This has been going on for well over 15 years; I would say it started in the late 80s. This WSJ piece (http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB113236377590902105) isn't the first one to talk about the rift between whites and Asians, but it's the most well known and it's a decade old.

Asian immigration causes "white flight" in schools, after a while, because the parents simply won't tolerate it. The dominant issue isn't competition, per se. It's not as if the Asian kids are dramatically, or even somewhat, smarter than the kids of high achieving suburban whites. It's that the Asian parents simply don't care about learning whatsoever. All they want is the grade. Similarly, the bulk of the kids with the best grades and scores aren't brilliant, well-read, beautifully rounded erudite intellectuals. They are, to put it bluntly, soulless grinding swots. (On occasion, some are actually just as smart and well-read as their resumes suggest.) Balfegor, above, describes the attitude well.

Some common behaviors:

They send their kids to the many "SAT Academies" where they learn a math subject the summer before their kid takes the class. So the kids are taking material they've already learned once, getting graded on material they already know.

These SAT Academies go well beyond just teaching the subject; they also pay for local high school tests. So if you go to Apex High School, you can ask around and find which SAT Academy has the pre-calc tests for Mr. Jones class.


Kids get TA jobs, then get copies of the teacher's test and send it out. They also change grades if the teacher gives them access to their grading software (many do).


Parents have been known to bribe teachers for grades. They will also do whatever it takes to hassle teachers or administrators into giving better grades. I know teachers who have left 80% Asian schools for slightly lower paying jobs simply because the parents' emails were becoming unmanageable, and the desire to give in to the parents' demands just to stop the emails was overwhelming.

Think of it this way: they all come from countries in which actual knowledge is irrelevant, that academic success is achieved by doing what the teacher wants. They come over here, to a culture that's not set up that way, but for various reasons of our own (https://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/college-admissions-race-and-unintended-consequences/) have decided to reward effort more than just ability, value grades as much as test scores. So Asians do everything they can to achieve higher grades.

Education Realist said...

Part 2, sorry for being so long:

A reasonable question is why don't schools punish the cheating more? I don't know. But then, Asian cheating at college has been a big problem for over 20 years, and they don't punish it at that level, either. I wonder if it's for the same reason--that is, the demographic skew in cheating is so huge that it would embarrass everyone. However, in every case I’ve seen, a school “taken over” by Asians works hard to discourage the Asians and keep the whites. White parents can be a hassle, but Asian immigrant parents are brutal.

The tolerance is likely about money, though. Asian obsession with education credentials (not education, about which they care very little) makes everyone lots of money: the money the public schools make from not expelling cheaters, the money the colleges make in accepting kids whose resumes they know to be lies, the money made by test prep and test companies, the money made by communities whose property values increase because of higher test scores (often the result of cheating)...and I'm sure many more places.

This is not about education per se, nor is it about racism. This is a cultural clash that the vast majority of Americans (all Americans, including Asians going back more than a generation) simply reject out of hand. Few Americans want Asian education models.


If any of this sounds like I don't like Asians, or dislike the kids, it's not true. I love the kids. I mostly like the parents. I hate the culture. And we Americans, of all races, should not be encouraging the culture. So when people start mocking the white parents who don't like the competition, I do what I can to correct that impression.

If any of this sounds invented, I have no hard evidence to back it up other than the links to stories at my blog. This is anecdotal, but you won't find much in the way of counterfactuals. Go to a school that's more than 50% Asian and talk to the teachers, talk to the students, talk to the parents.

Sorry for the long series.

Education Realist said...

A couple responses to comments here:

"CalTech is the future of elite education if it takes the high road: admission based solely on grades and standardized tests, with no racial, athletic or legacy preferences."

It's all sub-media, but Caltech professors are getting very unhappy about the cheating problem, which you can read about here: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:axX523dL_LMJ:blog.sethroberts.net/2014/02/17/cheating-at-caltech/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-some-core-classes-at-Caltech-administering-in-class-exams

The behaviors described are exactly the behaviors attributed to Asian immigrant students.

test-prep services (which themselves border cheating by gathering SAT/ACT questions via paid test-takers) all come into it.

That's not "bordering cheating". That's out and out cheating, it's often fraud and conspiracy, which means it's against the law. And the ones doing that are almost exclusively Asian test prep companies here and overseas.

I have seen nothing to suggest a similar scale of problems in South Korea, even if there is an occasional cheating scandal there.

Cheating is rampant in South Korea, particularly in academics. The College Board has cancelled entire test dates due to cheating, both before and after the actual date. In other international tests it has simply cancelled all the scores of Chinese and Korean nationals. I fully expect that those South Korean "tutor stars" are going to be revealed as frauds and fronts for organized crime--which is what college admissions test cheating is in both Korea and China.

Recently, the feds arrested 15 Chinese nationals for counterfeiting passports for Americans to take tests for other Chinese. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/06/03/sat-cheating-scandal-broadens-with-indictment-of-15-chinese-nationals/ Law enforcement made it clear that the scope of cheating is much broader.

Balfegor said...

Re: Douglas:

I dunno, I am not Chinese, but I am half Korean -- my impression is that after China, Korea has the most advanced cheating technology. Maybe Russia and India are up there too but I have had no exposure to Russian or Indian cheating. The cancellation of SAT scores was a landmark event, but there are smaller cheating scandals all the time and I hear stories about it from my parents' generation, before it was scandalous.

CWJ said...

So 12 hours plus after saying she'd like to know more about cheating, and receiving far more feedback than I could have imagined, Althouse has no reaction that she cares to share. OK then.

Tari said...

Gahrie said "Public schools aren't allowed to do this anymore. It is the primary reason Catholic schools still exist."

I think Catholic and other parochial schools have the advantage because they are able to teach spiritual values. But public schools could - if they wanted to - cover everything else. There's no reason they can't focus on moral, social and emotional development, except in middle and high school they are choosing to not do so. Our public elementary spent a lot of time working on what I would describe as "common community values" - teaching general good behavior, encouraging charitable work, having "social skills" classes for kids who were struggling, and they had a well-developed arts program as well that made the kids more well-rounded. They also hosted a Cub Scout and Girl Scout troop, had a community-wide cultural festival every year, opened their playground to the community outside of school hours - all of those things taught values as well, either directly or by example. But in public middle school, the code of behavior suddenly changes to "don't get caught breaking an official written rule, and you can do whatever you want." Why the change? Who decided that academics were so important, schools could just drop "virtues" when the kids hit 11? I know there are myriad other reasons for the cheating that's being discussed on this post, but maybe there might be a little bit less of it if middle and high schools focused more on simple lessons like "play fair, be honest, etc."

Douglas said...

Balfegor - In China, most students apparently think it's perfectly normal to plagiarize, to copy homework, to cheat on an exam. I've even read about tenured professors whose published works were largely plagiarized. The scale of cheating goes far beyond a few big exams - although the biggest exam in China, the college entrance exam, is mostly if not completely free from cheating scandals. That said, I have found that the vast majority of my students here in China, once they understand the rules at our school, don't cheat, and they want the faculty to crack down on the few students who do. I don't think this is a "Chinese" or "Asian" problem. At least here, it seems to be a "communist" problem. All I know about Korea is what I read in the newspapers and from talking to my Korean colleagues, and from that distance cheating in Korea doesn't sound like anywhere near as big a problem as in China.

cyrus83 said...

A simple defense against cheating is to have uniqueness in the examination. The SAT already does this by having multiple versions of its exams so that cheating off someone else is unwise.

In the academic arena, at least with courses that lend themselves to it, oral examination is a helpful way to cut down on cheating. I had that once in study abroad, 15 minutes mano-a-mano with the professor, and my experience is that it is very difficult to maintain a conversation for 15 minutes on anything without sufficient knowledge. It also relieves the professor of having to examine dozens of exam booklets with poor handwriting.

For courses that require a more traditional exam, a good anti-cheating mechanism is to either mix up the order of questions between each exam or have completely/partially different exam versions. Particularly with modern computer software, it should not be too much effort to simply ask a computer to randomly generate the necessary number of exams from the pool of questions and also the answer keys for them.

Anthony said...

CWJ, it's Saturday night. And Education Realist's answers (which ere much more thorough than the earlier ones, came at least after dinnertime, and possibly after 9. (I'm not sure how blogger does timestamps.) Many people have other things to do besides answer blog comments on a Saturday night.

Nichevo said...

It's like Robert Cook. He or she declares ignorance of a fact which would destroy their argument. They make brave noises about wanting more information. Information is given. Crickets thereafter.

David Davidson said...

They should ban asians from attending white schools and white universities.
Hopefully that will encourage asians to self deport and open up more diversity spots for blacks and Hispanics.


Asians have not contributed anything to America other than pearl Harbor, Vietnam, korea and stealing American jobs.

The asian race is culturally incompatible with white culture.

Keep in mind these subhuman gooks eat cats, dogs, fetuses, tiger penises. They are a savage and untrustworthy race.

Polymath said...

Ann, you are looking at this backwards. I am a math teacher who tutors high school students in these very towns and I can tell you exactly what is happening.

1) there is an extremely severe discrimination against Asian kids in college admissions to top schools that is purely race-based, all the talk about "holistic admissions" is a lie to cover racial discrimination because the Asian kids are penalized despite being creative and well rounded and good at English and having great personalities and attitudes, none of the stereotypical qualities that are attributed to them are actually capable of being used against them, it's purely race
2) THAT is what forces Asian kids in high schools to be insanely competitive and for Asian parents to put pressure on the school districts
3) the amount of work now given to students in districts like this is much larger than it used to be AND much larger than is necessary to actually learn the subjects well and be prepared for college work. Simply graduating with an A average, which used to be achievable by all smart kids who were willing to do a couple of hours of homework a night, now requires three times as much work. There is extreme emphasis on speed and accuracy so that, in courses like Calculus, the tests are twice as long as they used to be with the same amount of time to do them. A smart student who practiced calculus for 5 hours a week would be able to get 100% on the old tests but would have to practice 15 hours a week to get fast enough to get 100% on the new double-size tests WITHOUT ACTUALLY LEARNING ANY NEW CONCEPTS. There is extreme emphasis on having seen every possible problem type many times because there is no longer time to simply FIGURE THEM OUT BY THINKING ABOUT THEM. This is a waste of effort because the only point of making the tests longer is to create more competition between students.

Education Realist said...

I completely agree that there's rampant discrimination against Asians, but which came first? I wrote about this in one of the essays linked in (https://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/asian-immigrants-and-what-no-one-mentions-aloud/):

The universities look at the resumes of all Asian kids—recent immigrants, long-established natives, nationals—and know that many of them are fraudulent. They know that many of the kids they accept will not be able to function on their campus, whereas others will be able to get great grades so long as they cheat. They know that many of the students don’t have the inquisitive mind, genuine interest in intellectual pursuits that universities like to see in students (or pretend they do). But the universities want the great, if often fraudulent, stats to puff up their numbers for the rankings systems, to offset the athlete, the legacies (for privates), and the Kashawn Campbells (for publics). And so they try to minimize it, while still getting what they want—an improved profile, out of state fees for four years, instead of just one, while not overloading the campus with too many Asians.

However, Polymath is incorrect. This is *not* what "forces" the parents to do x, y, and z. The behavior came first. The discrimination came later, for many reasons, but a good deal of which is caused by the fact that the Asian parent pressure produces kids whose abilities simply make a lie of their resumes.

I've taught enrichment English at an Asian academy for many years. I run into kids all the time who got the highest level, Advanced, on their end of year state tests who simply don't have anything approaching the vocabulary or writing skills to back these scores up--and this is simply not the case for whites, blacks, and Hispanics with similar scores (or later generation Asians). I know lots Asian immigrants with 2400 SAT scores, and I know a few whites with same, as well as Americans of all races with over 2100 totals. Again and again, the Asian immigrants are simply ordinary swots, often having forgotten the information they crammed for. The others with equivalent scores are not.

the amount of work now given to students in districts like this is much larger than it used to be AND much larger than is necessary to actually learn the subjects well and be prepared for college work.

Again, this only seems to happen in Asian schools, and it's in part a result of poor teaching. The Asian kids seem capable of keeping up, so keeping up becomes a differentiator. My point is that they aren't really keeping up.

Again, I am speaking broadly--many Asians don't have great scores, many others are bright.

The fix is not: ban all Asians. The fix is: maintain American educational standards, stop rewarding effort, stop assigning barrels of homework, test on retained knowledge to penalize cramming and ruthlessly punish cheating.

Allan Theobald said...

My children also attended a west coast high achieving HS that has about 35% Asian students. I myself am 1/2 Chinese 1/2 white though I was raised in an east coast middle class area with virtually no other Asians and speak only english. The situation with the Asian students is far more complicated than discussed in the article and a very serious problem. Many of the Asian students in our school are the children of foreign high tech parents and in other cases the parents have sent the children here to rent a room alone in the district just to attend the school. There children completely self segregate themselves for the rest of the school, rarely play sports, and help each other cheat at a very high rate. Yes they are high achieving but many of them take the math or science class the summer before the local college and then try to get the teachers to skip the information they already know. Quite honestly the local teachers mostly despise the Asians because of their singular goal of getting an A. My children are 1/4 Asian but they don't know but one or two Asians in the entire large school. Initially I was angry at my children when they complained about the weird Asians but over time I came to see that this new influx of Asian student is unhealthy and the the colleges are probably correct not to admit sole based on grades and test scores. At the honor awards when my daughter graduated around 80% of the students were Asian and the only time these students actually talked to my daughter is after they found out she was accept to a HYPS school. Then they hounded her to find out her secret formula when in truth she had no idea exactly why she was accepted. There will be no easy solutions to this problem.

Hannah said...

Another example of cultural differences that have permeated America and as usual we don't know the correct way to address the situation. My children attend and have graduated from a private Christian school where there are handfuls of Asian students. One of my daughters best friends is Asian and we have seen first hand the culture of "push" by the parents. It's as if they are checking off the box. Piano, Mandarian, math, tennis lessons weekly. Math competitions, internships as sophomores in high school, all AP and honors classes. It is all planned and orchestrated by the parents. This is all fine and good, IF the student has interest in such endeavors. In our experience most Asian parents, but of course not all, put a lot of pressure on their children to be the best at everything for no other reason than " it's what Asian's do" and have to been seen as intellectually superior. I think this is where the cheating comes in for a few, they are under enormous pressure to be the best at everything, instead doing the best at what they enjoy. That being said, every Asian family I encounter values education to a degree that is missing from other ethnicities, including whites.

Birches said...

@ Tari and Gahrie

My kids go to a school that practices Core Knowledge and Core Virtues through 8th grade (where the school ends). It is a charter school though; I've not heard of any public schools that actively do both.

Gahrie said...

There's no reason they can't focus on moral, social and emotional development, except in middle and high school they are choosing to not do so.

That is because we no longer agree on what the proper moral, social and development is.

There are parents and teachers who want to teach our children about explicit (and previously deviant) sexual acts in school.

There are parents and teachers who want to force young girls to share locker rooms and bathrooms with confused young men.

There are parents and teachers who attempt to indoctrinate our children into Leftwing ideology in our schools.

No more prayer, not even a moment of silence, and the Pledge is entirely optional. (I am usually the only one in my room saying it, even though I do force the kids to stand and be respectful)

Freeman Hunt said...

A blogger I sometimes read shows up in the comments on a totally unrelated blog that I read every day. Unexpected! (Neat.)

Sammy Finkelman said...

The New York Times had a front page article today about dumbing down in high school:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/27/us/as-graduation-rates-rise-experts-fear-standards-have-fallen.html

...According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need.

It is a pattern repeated in other school districts across the state and country — urban, suburban and rural — where the number of students earning high school diplomas has risen to historic peaks, yet measures of academic readiness for college or jobs are much lower...


The high school featured here is in South Carolina, in Greenville.


gregq said...

"When that happens, it really does deserve the term racism."

Really? But doing the same to favor black or Hispanic students is perfectly fine?

Because the only difference between what those racists did, and what your racists are doing, is that your racists are promoting people with even crappier grades and SAT scores than the other racists.

Screw the "Holistic" approach. Screw the BS about outside activities (which is currently making the lives of grade school and high school kids a living hell, since they're never allowed to have fun).

By all means save some spots for jocks, save some spots for people whose parents gave a lot of money to the school, but other than that: let people in by academic merit. And if you don't do that, no student loans for your student, no gov't grants for your educators, no government money at all.

End racism, don't "mend" it.

gregq said...

Education Realist said...

"The fix is not: ban all Asians. The fix is: maintain American educational standards, stop rewarding effort, stop assigning barrels of homework, test on retained knowledge to penalize cramming and ruthlessly punish cheating."

"stop rewarding effort"? Do you mean "stop rewarding student based on time put it, reward them based on quality of work"? Which I assume would be "Stop giving X hours / night of mind numbingly stupid homework, instead give far fewer problems, but ones that require actual understanding and insight to solve"?

Or am I failing to understand. My HS was "College Prep", which mean that homework in non-writing classes was ~20% or less of the grade, rather than being 50%+ at most of the public schools in the area. Is that what you're lookign for?

Education Realist said...

Even 20% is too much when (as you observe) the homework is mindnumbingly long and stupid, so that the only kids who do it are kids certain they might not survive a grade lower than an A.

Access to AP classes is usually done by grade, so kids who don't bother doing homework their freshman year are getting Bs, so they are locked out of AP classes.

Assigning lots of homework to kids who have tutors allows teachers to increase the pace of the class (and they're under pressure to increase the pace of the class by the parents who pay for tutors). And of course, the kids who have taken the course before in summer private instruction have often already worked the problems, or have problem sets worked out for them.

That's not the whole solution, but yeah, even 20% of the grade matters. Asian parents want homework to be a higher percentage of the grade.


As for "pure merit", while I'm definitely in favor of rewarding brains, the fact is that Asian immigrants have "broken" our test system, particularly the College Board side of things. I have no idea if it's just a gaming method of decoding the test, or if the cheating is so substantial it turns up in the scores. Certainly the AP Calc tests are too easy or too formulaic--the Bio test was just changed a couple years ago and scores dropped. Similar changes need to be made to the Calc tests. But the SAT scores---Asian scores have increased dramatically in the past 15 years, while every other race average has stayed roughly constant. That suggests something other than just hard work.

The new SAT is dramatically different, much more like the ACT. Asian Americans have a 3:1 preference for the SAT (much stronger than the demographic preference for any other test). Asian internationals don't even bother with the ACT. Given the incredible cheating problems on the SAT, it will be interesting to see if the score gap is quite as substantial. I'm not predicting anything, just interested.

Douglas said...

If you are a very bright Chinese- or Korean- or Indian-American high school kid, and you know you have to get SATs a couple of hundred points higher than the white kids to have an equal shot at an Ivy admit, wouldn't you work like crazy, too, to try to get through that little crack in the wall? Especially since you don't have the kinds of family friends, acquaintances, connections etc. that can open doors for you down the road and all you have to go on is your smarts? I read what some of the posters here said about how awful Asian American students are, how grasping and striving and caring only about grades, but I think that's all b.s. Cry me a river for all the anglo students who can't keep up.

Peter said...

" Where there is cheating, who is cheating?"

And, to what extent does it actually work? Most of us have known academic cheaters who put a tremendous amount of effort into cheating yet, although it may have worked in the short run, it was seldom successful for long because (1) effort that could have gone into improved performance was instead channeled into cheating, and (2) cheaters cheat because they perceive that they lack the talent to compete honestly, and in this they're often correct.

Perhaps cheating works in some domains but, even if academic cheating is sometimes rampant, to what extent is it actually effective?

______
As for the story, to the extent it is true I'd be inclined to assume these white parents must be Liberal, for what self-respecting conservative would demand that rewards not go to those who combine talent with hard work?

As Calvin Coolidge put it: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'press on' has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race."

Education Realist said...

Oh, please. Any below the richest whites, Asians, Hispanics, and blacks in this country have no contacts, no family or friends or acquaintances to open the door for them to top schoos. They don't become obsessed about grades and test scores. They don't cheat constantly, and they certainly don't collaborate to cheat in organized fashion. They don't have businesses set up to help them cheat or game the system.

All of this is cultural baggage brought from another culture, and Americans are right to reject it.

And remember--in many cases, the Asian immigrants didn't come here for jobs. In many cases, they come here solely to give their kids an education via this method of obsession/cheating/whatever, because they don't want to face the competition back home. They are knowingly using a system they see as a joke to be beaten to get their kids a leg up.

This isn't striving.

Ella the Squirrel said...

^ someone's salty

Allen said...

Those comments asserting "Asians cheat" makes me believe the commenters are avid talk radio listeners. Just as Limbaugh, Levin, Beck, et al often allude on their shows, if they (Asians) are better than us, they steal from us. Stop being so salty!!! Get busy! Get your priority straight. There is nothing wrong with hard work or being intelligent for that matter.

Education Realist said...

Well, if you're going to dismiss people, do it properly. Rush Limbaugh and the rest agree with you. They sneer at the New York liberals who don't want to compete.

And since I write extensively on IQ and average racial differences in IQ, rest assured I have no problem with being intelligent. I also have no objection to hard work.

But if you'd read what I wrote (and you clearly didn't), you'd see the accusations are that there is a lot of cheating (undisputed), that the kids in question, even when they don't cheat, do not have any of the knowledge that their resume suggests. If we define intelligence solely by "being able to store information long enough to reproduce it for a test that doesn't want analysis or opinions" then fine, but that's not traditionally what Americans value.

Allen said...

Interesting! What do you think of those extraordinary achievements accomplished by the second generation, many of whom are Asian American? Stuart Anderson came up with a term, the Multiplier Effect, to describe them. Do you also think their achievements are a result of cheating? By the way, the most ridiculous remark you made in a few comments above is regarding the AP Calculus exam. You seem to believe the current Calculus exam questions are mostly rogue formula memorization. You should tell more people who have taught AP Calc and see their reactions.


Education Realist said...

This is much later, but just for completion's sake, over 30% of Asians and over 25% of whites get a 5 on the AP Calculus test. The numbers for BC are just over and just under 50% for Asian and whites, respectively.

Since I'm a math teacher, I'm on conversational terms with any number of AP Calculus teachers. Many of them agree with me about the AB Calculus test being in some way too predictable, but they argue that the BC Calculus test doesn't suffer from the same problem. I'm skeptical, but I'll allow for the possibility.

Incidentally, the high pass rates I'm skeptical of are not purely Asian. It's pretty clear the College Board renorms tests when the pass rates get too high.

Oh, and by the way: it's "rote".


"Stuart Anderson came up with a term, the Multiplier Effect, to describe them"

But the Japanese, after several generations, track very closely to whites. Which is kind of interesting, really.

And as has been mentioned, if second generations are so extraordinary, why is there a "bamboo ceiling"?

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