Monday, November 26, 2007

The Asian "problem"

Post below excerpted from Discriminations. See the original for links

I have referred to Asian-American resistance to racial preferences many times before. My very last post, in fact, mentions criticism of similar Canadian programs by the Asian Pacific Post. I discussed some of these old and ongoing complaints here, and have pointed out a number of times that when racial preferences in admissions are eliminated the proportion of admitted whites stays the same or actually declines while the proportion of Asians increases dramatically, as I noted here:
... the racial group most affected by the ending of race preferences in California is whites: their proportion of entering freshmen [in the University of California] fell from 40% in 1997 to 34% in 2005. Two minority groups saw their proportion of entering freshmen increase: Asians, whose proportion rose from 37% in 1997 to 41% in 2005; and Latinos, who rose from 13% to 16%. The proportion of blacks fell from 4% in 1997 to 3% in 2005.

[ADDENDUM: As I discussed here, a recent study published in the Social Science Quarterly found that "if preferences based on race, legacy status, and athletic talent were all done away with, Asian-American enrollment would jump 40 percent (while white enrollment would drop by 1 percent)."]

I have the impression - so far it is no more than that the pace and volume of Asian-American opposition to racial preference policies may be increasing. If so, an article reported earlier this week in the New York Post, "In `Wrong' Minority," may be a harbinger of things to come.
November 19, 2007 -- Three Chinese parents in Brooklyn are expected to file a federal lawsuit today challenging a popular city-run tutoring program on the grounds it discriminates against Asians, The Post has learned. The Specialized High School Institute preps gifted but "underrepresented" minorities to ace the competitive exam to get into top city high schools like Stuyvesant or Brooklyn Tech.

But the parents say it is unfair - and illegal - for the Department of Education to limit eligibility to blacks and Latinos. "The program only selects certain kinds of minorities and unfortunately my daughter didn't fall into that category," said Peggy Foo-Ching, 47, a mom from Bensonhurst who said her 12-year-old daughter's application last year was ignored.....

A Department of Education internal memo obtained by lawyers trying the case indicated that eligibility criteria excludes whites and Asians. "What this memo reveals is blatant and categorical discrimination by race. If you are white or Asian, you're not supposed to get an application," said Christopher Hajec, an attorney with the Center for Individual Rights, a conservative advocacy group. "It's not the business of the government of New York City to be counting up the Asians or whites in, say, Stuyvesant High School and concluding there are too many of them."

In an odd twist, the short notice of this lawsuit in the New York Times noted that "[s]ince the institute's creation more than a decade ago, the proportion of black and Hispanic students at the city's most elite high schools has actually decreased; last year, 2.2 percent of Stuyvesant students were black." The Center for Individual Rights, as usual, is invaluable, in part because it is indefatigable. Its press release explains that
White and Asian students are prevented from even applying to the program. One parent, Stanley Ng (pron. "Ing") was denied an application by his daughter's junior high school guidance counselor. When Ng contacted the Office of Teaching and Learning in November 2006, an official told him the program was not open to white or Asian applicants.

Read CIR's entire complaint here.

Asians As The "New Jews"

I have written before about Asians as the "New Jews." See here and here. In the first of those I quoted the following from an impressive article in the Detroit News:
Until the early 20th century, even the most elite American universities, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton, were largely regional campuses. But faced with a high influx of academically talented Jewish students, they sought to reduce the numbers of that group. Aware that Jews (and to a lesser extent Roman Catholics) were concentrated in Northeast cities, they devised a system of national recruitment to restrict numbers of Jews while avoiding charges of overt discrimination.

Then as now, a key concept was diversity, only then it meant (in public) geographic diversity. Then as now, quotas were publicly denied even while an elaborate system to maintain de facto quotas evolved. Then as now, administrators argued that other things besides grades and examinations mattered as much or more - character, for example, or obstacles overcome. Then as now, the result was to transfer places that would have gone disproportionately to members of an academically talented minority group to members of other groups.
And then as now, the ends were felt to justify the means.... There is a final "then as now" worth noting: In both cases, administrators sought to hide their practices.

As Jerome Karabel demonstrates in The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (discussed here, here, and here and here), when the Ivies decided to restrict the number of Jews they admitted early in the 20th Century, they did so by de-emphasizing pure academic merit as measured by grades, tests, etc., and elevating the importance of intangibles such as "character" and "leadership," along with taking care to cast their admissions net in waters less populated by the pesky Jews.

That process continues, or has resumed, now aimed at Asians, who are stereotyped as math/science nerds, grinds, etc. In that regard, reader Ed Chin, who gathers and distributes via email reams of interesting information dealing with discrimination against Asians, recently sent this fascinating Harvard senior thesis by Social Studies major Jenny Tsai, "Too Many Asians at this School": Racialized Perceptions and Identity Formation, about attempts to restrict Asian enrollment at New York City's highly selective Hunter College High School. From Ms. Tsai's Introduction:
My thesis investigates the origins of the perception that there are "too many Asians" in magnet public high schools....

This question grew out of my own personal experience. I attended Hunter College High School (HCHS), a magnet high school in New York City. My entering class in 1997 was 30 percent Asian, but the incoming class when I was a senior in 2003 was over 50 percent Asian. During my senior year, the view emerged among both the students and the principal was that there were too many Asian students, to the detriment of the school.1 The school's 2003 curricular review had a sub-committee devoted to HCHS's admissions process. The main concern of the admissions sub-committee was to determine the school's success in educating the brightest young talent in New York City. After comparing the demographic of the primarily white and Asian student body with that of New York City as a whole, the sub-committee deemed that the current admissions process unsatisfactory. Suggestions for improvement focused on ways to increase diversity at HCHS. Proposals included eliminating automatic admissions from Hunter College Elementary School, capping high school admissions per district in New York City, increasing the percentage of low-income students, which was hen at 10 percent, and increasing outreach to underrepresented neighborhoods.

The Chinese Parent Teacher Association reacted negatively to the proposal of capping the number of students by district, as many of the Asian students were from three or four neighborhoods in Queens-Flushing, Forest Hills, Bayside, and Fresh Meadows. They argued that the proposals would directly target the number of Asian students.... Discussions revealed that students from a variety of racial backgrounds felt that the increasing percentage of Asian students at the school threatened the culture of the school. HCHS prided itself on being a school that fostered student leadership through a plethora of student clubs, sports teams, and artistic groups. Students attested that the growing Asian student population had detracted from the creativity and independence that had defined HCHS's activity scene as the Asian students focused primarily on their academic studies. Those Asian students who were active in extracurricular activities were perceived to be disingenuous. Students felt that Asian students knew how to manipulate the college admissions committees, but lacked passion for the activities they participated in.

Sounds like deja vu (or deja Jew) all over again.

Disruptive children are prison fodder

Most prisoners have always been on the bottom rungs of the education ladder. The claim that discipline turns kids into criminals is just politically correct propaganda. The article below admits that the problem is mainly a black one and blacks have an extraordinarily high rate of offending anyhow

Something went horribly wrong after Texas decided to crack down on mayhem in public schools by mandating zero tolerance for weapons, drugs and violence on campus. Given broad discretion to remove unruly pupils from class, teachers and administrators restored order. But they also created a terribly efficient fast track to prison for a shocking number of Texas schoolchildren.

According to an analysis of statewide data for 2001-2006 and thorough studies of more than a dozen Texas school districts, the number of students suspended and the number removed to alternative discipline campuses skyrocketed after the Legislature's 1995 overhaul of school discipline laws. This, the public interest law group Texas Appleseed states, has caused a "school-to-prison pipeline" that puts inordinate numbers of youngsters on a path to dropping out of school and into the juvenile justice system. The far end of the pipe pours into Texas' massive adult prison system.

Appleseed's report, "Texas' School-to-Prison Pipeline, The Impact of School Discipline and Zero Tolerance," argues that schools that suspend and expel students to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs for minor misbehavior not covered by the zero-tolerance mandates unwittingly funnel kids into this life-stunting pipeline. Infractions that have gotten children suspended or expelled include profanity, rough play, bringing prescription medicine to school and disrupting class.

For many at-risk youths, suspensions lead to lost academic ground and more behavior problems. Once in a DAEP, students are five times more likely than mainstream counterparts to drop out. The link to crime is clear: In Texas, one in three juveniles in a Texas Youth Commission lockup is a dropout. Dropouts comprise 80 percent of the adult prison population.

The school-to-prison pipeline is filled with black, Hispanic and special education students, who are far more likely to be given discretionary referrals for discipline than their numbers in the school population would predict. Also, contends the American Civil Liberties Union, pressure to do well on high-stakes standardized tests pressures schools to suspend poor academic performers in order to raise overall scores.

Much of this damage is avoidable: Fully two-thirds of Texas students sent from their school to a DAEP campus are transferred at campus officials' discretion. (The remaining third are mandatory removals under state law.) What's more, the harm is haphazard. Some school districts employ discretionary referrals at much higher rates than others, so where a child goes to school, rather than the offense, is a better predictor of whether a student ends up at an alternative campus.

Groups such as Texas Zero Tolerance, a statewide organization to reform public school disciplinary codes, complain that schools have taken zero tolerance to extremes, often involving police in minor student misconduct - even in elementary school. Students are being arrested at school for breaking campus rules and prosecuted in court. Schools fail to immediately notify parents when their children are interrogated by police.

School districts can improve this grim picture by employing research-based strategies and offering teachers more classroom management training. Parents must be more involved in their children's education, and schools should provide them the tools to do so, informing parents right away about behavior issues.

Appleseed says it will urge lawmakers to improve oversight over alternative education programs to ensure that minimum education standards are enforced, and to intervene at schools that make inordinate numbers of disciplinary referrals. Furthermore, lawmakers should revive a bill that passed in the House last session but died in the Senate that would have made it mandatory for districts to consider a student's intent when determining punishment. Such a law might have kept a young Katy Independent School District student out of the criminal justice system for writing "I love Alex" in small letters on a school wall.

Texas can do better. Schools can be safe for learning without turning students into criminals for minor infractions, exacerbating an out-of-control dropout problem and setting kids who are merely unruly on a path toward prison.


Australia: Only a government would provide a third-world school in a first-world country

PARENTS at Victoria's most forgotten school have issued a plea for help as its dilapidated classrooms crumble around their children. Wodonga South Primary School is old, inadequate and unsafe. For 15 years the State Government has promised to rebuild or relocate the ageing school in Victoria's northeast. But, despite significant sections of the school falling down and failing to meet the Government's minimum standards, nothing has been done to fix it. The school has no heating, no counselling room, no canteen and no physical education facilities.

It has seven permanent classrooms - fewer than half the prescribed minimum. Classrooms show signs of structural faults, cracked walls and peeling paint and many have mildew, leaky roofs and broken windows. And the school is so crowded the music teacher has to conduct lessons in a storeroom at the back of the library.

School council president Stephen Hudson said businesses would be fined or shut down if they provided work conditions as poor as those of the school. "It's not fair on the kids," he said. "We're going to have two generations of children that have gone through primary school without the basic things that most kids take for granted."

The school is only 2.2ha, well below the Department of Education's 3.5ha standard. Teachers are so scared some of the school's 500 children will be injured in the tiny schoolyard that they are forced to stagger lunch breaks. Principal David Hinton said parents, teachers and students were desperate for a new school and an end to the government inaction. "It's untenable for teachers to teach in and it's unsafe for children to learn in," he said.

Education Department spokeswoman Melissa Arch said the school would receive funding in the next three years. "The school will be rebuilt on another site and the department is currently negotiating to secure land for the site," she said.


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