Asians are projected to become the largest immigrant group in the U.S. by 2065

 

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NBC Asia America (by Suzanne Gamboa):

Today, the U.S. has one-in-five of the world’s immigrants, the most of any country. Pew projected that if immigration trends continue as they are, by 2065, the U.S. will have 78 million immigrants. However, it also notes that immigration has slowed from some parts of the world, in particular Mexico, that have been significant sources of Latino immigration.

Even so, future immigrants and their descendants will continue to be a source of the nation’s population growth. They are estimated to account for 88 percent of the U.S. population increase, or 103 million of the increase of the U.S. population to 441 million, Pew reported.

Between 1965 and 2015, new immigrants, their children and their grandchildren added 72 million people to the nation’s population, which grew from 193 million in 1965 to 324 million in 2015.

Latinos’ presence as this country’s largest minority group – an estimated 54 million – can be traced in large part to the 1965 law and its shift on the origin of immigrants to the U.S.

Latinos as a share of the U.S. population rose from 4 percent in 1965 to 18 percent in 2015. According to Pew’s analysis, without the 1965 law, the nation’s racial and ethnic composition would be 75 percent white, 14 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent Asian.

Half of immigrants, 51 percent, who arrived since 1965 are from Latin America and a quarter are from Asia.

By 2055, no racial or ethnic group will be the majority population in the U.S. By 2065, Hispanics will be 24 percent of the population and Asians, 14 percent.

Pew projects that the country will see another shift in the country’s racial and ethnic makeup in another 50 years because of the slowdown of immigration from Latin America, particularly Mexico. Immigration from Mexico is at the lowest it’s been in half a century, Pew said.

The next group to emerge will be Asian immigrants, whose share of the immigrant population is expected to be the largest by 2055 and 38 percent of the foreign-born population by 2065.

“The Making of Asian America” by Erika Lee

In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured “coolies” who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II.

Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States.

Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States’ Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our “nation of immigrants,” this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.

Washington Post: The ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ of stereotyping Asian American students

“Ophelia” was never a very good student.

The second generation Vietnamese American described herself as “not very intelligent,” someone who got straight Cs. She failed the exam to qualify for Advanced Placement classes at the end of Junior High.

But for reasons beyond her understanding, she was placed on the AP track when she got to high school. There, surrounded by ambitious peers and high expectations, “something clicked,” she told researcher Jennifer Lee.

I wanted to work hard and prove I was a good student,” she said. “I think the competition kind of increases” the desire to “do better.”

Ophelia graduated with a 4.2 grade point average and an acceptance to a prestigious pharmacy program.

Lee, a sociologist at the University of California at Irvine, is an author of the new book “The Asian American Achievement Paradox,” which examines how stereotypes based on race can determine students’ chances for success. For their research, she and co-author Min Zhou surveyed hundreds of students like Ophelia — children of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants who felt they were treated differently because of their race.

Teachers and guidance counselors and peers assumed that they were smart and disciplined and high achieving,” Lee told The Washington Post. “So they were more likely to be placed on advanced tracks, more likely to be directed toward selective colleges. Some admitted to getting grades they didn’t feel like they deserved.”

Paradoxically, though, this was one stereotype that served its targets well. Lee said students who were subject to irrationally high expectations usually rose to meet them. Surrounded by brainy classmates only happy with “As,” they adjusted their own notions of what it means to do well. Assumed to be a “smart Asian,” as Lee put it, they put extra effort into their coursework in order to live up to expectations of their ethnicity.

What you have is a self-fulfilling prophesy where initially what is untrue becomes true,” Lee said. She calls it the “stereotype promise.”

Lee’s findings are the inverse of social science we’ve heard about before. For the past two decades, researchers have been investigating the “stereotype threat” — how negative assumptions about certain groups can undercut their performance. It’s been used to explain why high-achieving African American students sometimes struggle when they get to college, why talented women may underperform in STEM fields.

Social psychologist Claude Steele, who coined the term in 1995, explained how the stereotype threat affects members of groups that are seen as less able or intelligent.

They know that they are especially likely to be seen as having limited ability,” he wrote in the Atlantic in 1999. “Groups not stereotyped in this way don’t experience this extra intimidation. And it is a serious intimidation, implying as it does that they may not belong in walks of life where the tested abilities are important — walks of life in which they are heavily invested. Like many pressures, it may not be experienced in a fully conscious way, but it may impair their best thinking.”

In the Los Angeles area, where Lee and her colleagues surveyed 4,800 first-generation Americans, the children of Mexican immigrants were most likely to be affected by the stereotype threat. These respondents told Lee that they were rarely taken seriously as students. They weren’t offered help preparing for the SAT and weren’t advised to apply for four-year colleges. If Mexican American students wanted to get into a selective school, they had to be their own tutors, their own guidance counselors.

One of the questions it raises is how many students aren’t given the opportunity to meet their potential,” Lee said.

Lee’s finding challenges the assumption that gaps in achievement are purely cultural, that “tiger moms” and community regard for education entirely explain Asian American students’ success. The perception of a culture can be as influential as the culture itself.

That’s not to say that culture isn’t a factor — Lee has previously studied how raised expectations within the Asian American community drive high achievement. But when we adopt stereotypes about Asians and education, we’re crediting the wrong culture, she said. It’s not necessarily Chinese people who value education so highly (only 4 percent of China’s population has a college degree), it’s the highly educated Chinese immigrants who come to the United States, more than half of whom went to college.

It’s not culture reduced to a certain ethnicity,” Lee said. “It’s about who immigrates to the U.S. and what sort of norms they’re bringing.”

Chinese and Korean immigrants are “hyper-selected,” as Lee put it. They are more likely to be highly skilled and more likely to hold an advanced degree than almost any other immigrant group. In fact, they are almost twice as likely to be college-educated than the general U.S. population — only 28 percent of Americans have graduated from college. Since parents’ level of educational attainment is one of the best predictors of their children’s achievement, it’s hardly surprising that academically successful Chinese immigrants will have academically successful kids.

Teachers’ assumptions about Asian culture — misplaced though they may be — affect how they perceive Asian American students. And Asian American students internalize those perceptions. They wind up achieving more than they normally would have based on a stereotype that isn’t even completely true.

We think that grades and test scores and who gets into what colleges is objective, that it’s all about individual effort,” Lee said. “But our work reveals the hidden ways in which biases and stereotypes operate that make certain outcomes more possible for certain groups.”

Most of the students Lee spoke to said that the stereotype promise was a good thing. It helped them do well in school and get into good colleges.

But Lee warns that it can be a “double-edged sword.” Asian American students are also likely to feel a form of the intimidation Steele described in writing about the stereotype threat.

While black students may worry that their failures will reinforce negative assumptions about African American achievement, Asian American students who didn’t meet the high expectations set for them “didn’t feel Asian,” Lee said. One man told her that he was “the whitest Chinese guy she’ll ever meet,” because he didn’t fit the stereotype of a high-achieving Asian. The pressure can lead to mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.

And the positive stereotypes that serve Asian Americans well in school can act against them once they’re in the workforce. They have a harder time attaining leadership positions because they’re seen as diligent and thoughtful, rather than bold and creative, according to Lee. She noted that Asian Americans made up 6 percent of college students (slightly more than their proportion of the U.S. population) but 2 percent of college presidents. In Silicon Valley, Asian Americans are 27 percent of the workforce but just 14 percent of executives.

The stereotype promise may help Asian American students get a degree, Lee said, but the “bamboo ceiling” stops them from achieving as much as they could with it.

A closer look at Asian American night markets: Ramen Burgers & Kimchi Fries calore

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Audrey Magazine:

Ramen burgers, kimchi fries and pho tacos. Stinky tofu. Spiral-cut fried potato skewers sprinkled with a variety of seasonings. And balls — lots and lots of balls: curry fish balls, fried yam balls, takoyaki squid and octopus balls, kimchi fried rice balls with DMZ sauce, gourmet rice balls with honey Sriracha, crispy tofu balls covered with Vietnamese green crisped rice and spicy orange aioli. Truly, the wealth of options at an Asian American night market can be overwhelming for an attendee. After all, we only have one stomach.

Last October’s OC Night Market — the latest extension of the 626 Night Market that has since branched out from Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley (home of the 626 area code) into downtown Los Angeles and Orange County — was filled with over 200 vendors competing with each other for the attention of 60,000 potential customers. Sometimes that involved shouting Korean BBQ menu items from a loudspeaker or flashing eye- catching disco lights; sometimes it took three half-naked Asian girls encouraging onlookers to buy delicious Vietnamese coffee. But the most effective and envied form of attraction was a long line of customers, signifying the food must be worth the wait.

Though many Asian countries have their versions of outdoor food markets — from Singaporean hawker centres to Korean pojangmacha — the term “night market” was popularized in Taiwan, where these nighttime food markets still remain a key attraction for foreign tourists visiting the country, eager to experience the noisy atmosphere, crowded food stalls, mouth-watering smells and cheap eats that you consume on the spot (or while walking in search of your next snack). According to Taiwan’s government information site, food bazaars that operated at night in ancient China were originally called ghost markets, and contemporary-style night markets began to appear in Taiwanese cities during the turn of the century, when the government actively set aside blocks of streets for permanent night markets.

For Asian immigrants and their second-generation children, night markets elicit fond memories. “I always remember visiting the night markets with my family and friends to eat all different kinds of food,” says Jonny Hwang, the founder of 626 Night Market, who was born in Taiwan but immigrated to the U.S. when he was a child. So when his family relocated to Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles with a large Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant population, he wondered, why didn’t they have one?

There are tons of little businesses and good restaurants, but they all have Chinese menus and signage, so it can be very foreign and intimidating to outsiders,” he says. “Because so much good food is hidden, I thought a night market would be a great showcase for the talent and entrepreneurs in the area.

Hwang had heard of a couple successful night markets in Vancouver, as well as previous attempts to start a night market in Southern California that didn’t work out. Assuming it had to do with the challenges working with health departments and government agencies, he and his partners went straight to different cities of the San Gabriel Valley with a night market proposal, figuring that if they had the government backing them, the entire process would be a lot easier.

At first, most of the cities in the area were not interested. “The people running their events recreation departments didn’t even know what night markets were, because they weren’t Asian,” says Hwang. “Which is kind of sad, because they serve a very Asian population. They were used to doing their Lunar New Year Festivals, so they figured they already had an Asian event.”

Pasadena was the only place that was interested, because they happened to have an initiative to attract more Asian businesses to the area. So the very first 626 Night Market was scheduled for April 2012, with plans to shut down a couple streets in Old Town Pasadena for the event.

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Hwang’s team was optimistic that they could get 8,000 attendees, but the Pasadena special events folks, who had years of experience planning signature events like the Tournament of Roses parade, tempered their expectations. As first-time organizers, they’d be lucky to get 500 people to attend, they were told. But come event time, Hwang says the team had mobilized hundreds of thousands of people — many of whom ended up stuck in long lines, trapped in walkways like sardines or unable to even get in.

If we had gotten 8,000 to 10,000 people throughout the day, it probably would have been OK,” says Hwang. “But people were coming from Orange County and Riverside, and all the way from San Diego and Las Vegas.” The surrounding freeways and side streets were packed. A police chopper had to monitor the traffic jams and crowds from above.

Though it seemed like a disaster to attendees (many of whom blasted the event through angry Yelp comments), business-wise, it was a huge success. Vendors were happy because they all sold out, and most importantly, it proved that there was a huge demand for a night market. The 626 team learned a lot of things, and soon, the other cities that had originally shunned their proposal came knocking.

Though 626 Night Market was not the first night market in America — Night Market Philadelphia, for example, though not focused on Asian cuisine, began in 2010 — it has made the biggest impact.

626 are the ones that really started this night market hype,” says Jeff Shimamoto of The Original Ramen Burger, whose ramen-bun burgers have been a fan favorite since his brother Keizo debuted it in New York in the summer of 2013. “Our type of food probably wouldn’t have existed in a regular food market. It’s when the Asian night markets started popping up that we were able to participate.

Shimamoto now has a brick-and-mortar of sorts, offering The Original Ramen Burger at a take-out window in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. Tonight, he’s hanging out at the adjacent Lock and Key bar with his fellow night market veteran friends, Phillip and Carol Kwan of Mama Musubi (who specialize in a gourmet version of onigiri rice balls, a popular Japanese snack) and Matthew Hui of Fluff Ice (a Taiwanese-inspired snowflake ice that takes flavored ice blocks and shaves them into what they call “frozen cotton candy”). They’re celebrating the end of another busy and successful night market season.

Since 626 debuted, night markets have opened up in other areas of Southern California, like Koreatown and Little Saigon in Westminster. Hwang himself was contacted for advice or collaboration requests from groups who wanted to start their own night markets in San Jose, San Diego and St. Paul. There are now night markets in Seattle, Honolulu and New York, and the list goes on. Even the team behind Studio City’s Sportsmen’s Lodge 1st Thursdays Night Market, who Hwang remembers jokingly called themselves “the white night market,” wanted in on the action. Now, you might be thinking, isn’t a Caucasian night market just … a fair? Like every single county fair in America? But this was just an indication of how the term “night market” was catching on. It had looped back into the mainstream.

Benjamin Kang, one of the organizers of the KTOWN Night Market and the MPK Night Market in Monterey Park, California (both debuted in 2014), believes it’s a good time for night markets because Asian culture is trending more than it ever has in America. “All my white friends want to come to Koreatown,” he says, laughing, citing the Koreatown episode of Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown, as well as the numerous Asian American chefs on mainstream TV cooking shows. “They’re always asking me what the best Chinese or Japanese restaurants are in L.A.”

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I think the food industry revolves around the Asian population,” says Hui of Fluff Ice. “When all the Asian people think it’s cool, then the non-Asians flock to it. Because all the foodies on Yelp are Asian girls named Grace or Nancy.” He laughs. “The Yelp elite start reviewing all these places, and they become the definitive source.”

While 626 Night Market also had creative entertainment to go along with the food — Asian American performers, live art battles, eating competitions and the unveiling of the new Guinness World Record for the largest cup of boba milk tea — KTOWN Night Market made use of their Korean American showbiz connections, bringing together high-profile food celebrities, like the guys behind Seoul Sausage Company, who won Season 3 of the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, as well as musicians like rappers Dumbfoundead and Shin-B. Six months later, KTOWN Night Market also hosted a Halloween Food Fest, where there were costume contests and carnival rides.

“Night markets in Asia are open all the time, so they don’t make a festival out of it,” says Shimamoto. “But here, they turn it into a big event, and that’s what makes it fun. We have concerts and beer gardens. And that’s why we get so many people concentrated at one time.”

The Kwans launched Mama Musubi at the first 626 Night Market in 2012. The brother-and-sister duo wanted to test the market and see what people thought about fresh Japanese rice balls. Would people get their gourmet version — with 24-hour braised Berkshire pork belly — or would they assume it was the same as the refrigerated kinds you can get at Mitsuwa supermarkets? Turns out, there was excitement for rice balls not only in the night markets but in non-Asian markets like the Altadena Farmer’s Market, where they are regulars. But though they work these markets and also cater, their ultimate goal is to launch their own store.

Similarly, The Original Ramen Burger started participating in night markets in Los Angeles because California foodies were asking for it. They do pretty well, but they see night markets as a transition into eventually running four to five restaurant franchises.

There are two crowds of vendors at the night market,” says Phillip Kwan. “Vendors like us who have long-term visions of opening up brick-and-mortars. And others that make a comfortable living for themselves doing festival-type events.”

Some vendors may have a full-time job on the side. Others might be there just for fun. “On the last day of the night market, there were these 15 Vietnamese ladies from Orange County [in the booth next to us],” remembers Shimamoto. “They showed up four hours before everybody else, and they were all perky and ready to go with all their juices. And they said, ‘We all go to the same church, and we decided we were going to come out here and try and sell some lemonade!’” He laughs. “And that’s great! Maybe they’re just doing it once a month for a little money. Or maybe they could become the next Mrs. Fields Cookies. Either way, they were just so happy to be there.”

Hwang encourages it all. “In the beginning, most of our vendors had stores, but we really encourage the ones who don’t,” he says. “It’s such a good platform for people to try new ideas for cheap. Just do it for one weekend. If it’s good and you like it, then do it again. Those are the types of food you can’t eat anywhere else. You have to go to our event to find them.”

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Phil and I think that the model for starting a restaurant is going to start changing,” says Shimamoto. “In Los Angeles, you see a lot of restaurants come and go. But [working the night markets] is a way you lower your overhead and costs, and it’s a great way to get some exposure while retaining flexibility to work on other things, like food trucks or developing your brick-and-mortar.”

Even Fluff Ice, which already had a store in Monterey Park when 626 first opened, found that attending night markets is just a good way to network, advertise and grow your business. “There’s just so many layers of income you can get with a business like this, whether it’s night markets, school fundraisers or Hollywood catering,” says Hui, who has catered for How I Met Your Mother, Parks & Recreation, The Office and the upcoming film Paranormal Activity 5. They now have four locations in Southern California.

But these Asian American night markets aren’t without its skeptics. In Taiwan, you go to the night market because you’re craving certain foods, whether it be oyster pancakes, ba-wan (Taiwanese meatballs wrapped in gelatinous dough) or aiyu jelly drinks. You’re also expecting a certain atmosphere — makeshift stalls where you see and smell the food being prepared right in front of you — and a certain experience, a.k.a. cheap stuff, whether it be food, shopping or games.

In the beginning, that was the source of some of the disappointment for night market goers in America. It didn’t look right — health codes in the U.S. require covered canopies so it looked like a typical fair. It’s not cheap: there’s usually a cover charge of $5 to $10 just to get in, and everything, even a tiny plate, usually costs at least $5 (which adds up!). And there was a random mix of foods, both Asian and non-Asian, that weren’t necessarily what you thought of as “street food.” (One vendor at a recent KTOWN Night Market was serving up 100 percent grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised Australian bone-in lamb.)

But I think that’s what makes us different in a good way,” says Hwang. “If you think about the night markets in Asia, it’s all the same foods. We always get a good amount of vendors that are new or tweaking their menu, and it’s exciting to see people experimenting with new things — whether it’s fusion foods like the ramen burger, pho tacos and new types of guabao [Taiwanese pork belly buns] — or if they’re bringing in traditional stuff that we never had before, like yam balls and chicken sausages. It’s a competitive marketplace, so you have to be creative. Don’t do the usual things, or if you do, figure out how you can do it differently.”

You can’t be stale,” agrees Carol Kwan, who recently collaborated with the Shimamoto brothers to create a one-month-only specialty mash-up: the Mama Musubi 24-hour Pork Belly Ramen Burger. “It’s the same even if you’re in a restaurant. You have to innovate and keep creating something new to keep people coming.”

That said, for every food item that’s worth waiting for in the night market lines, there are many, many more that are underwhelming and overpriced. It’s also hard to tell whether something is innovative or just gimmicky, and with so many copycat renditions of almost the same idea (there’s a reason Ramen Burger changed its name to The Original Ramen Burger), it’s tempting to assume the latter.

But one can only hope that the truly tasty, fusion or not, rises to the top — that the prevalence of night markets are giving those gems a place to grow and a community of like-minded food fans a place to gather.

One of the major pluses [of the night markets] is how it impacts the current and hopefully the next generation of Asian Americans,” says Christine Chiao, a food writer who’s contributed to LA Weekly and Sunset. “A regular or seasonal night market can be a platform for more than just the vendors. It can become a channel, too, for young Asian American attendees to seek and express their identity.”

So did Hwang ever imagine that the 626 Night Market he created would become such a cultural touchstone?

Not really,” he says. “At first I really did it for fun, as a side thing, because I knew it’d be something that people would enjoy. I never thought I’d end up working full time to produce night markets.” He laughs. “Who goes to college thinking that? It’s surreal.”

 

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Asian-American domination in elite schools triggers resentment and soul searching

 

Student at Stuyvesant High School
Student at Stuyvesant High School Wikipedia

The rise of Asian-Americans and their dominance in academia may be exemplified by the extraordinary performance of Asian-American students in New York City.

According to recent media reports, Asian-American students account for almost three-fourths of the enrollment at Stuyvesant High School, one of the city’s eight specialized, elite public schools that strictly use test scores for admission. Asians represent less than 14 percent of the city’s entire public school student body, meaning they are disproportionately represented at Stuyvesant by a magnitude of about five. (In 1970, Asians accounted for only 6 percent of Stuyvesant’s student body.) Whites, including Jewish students whose numbers made them prominent as a group at the school, now represent less than a fourth (24 percent) of Stuyvesant’s enrollment, down from 79 percent in 1970.

In stark contrast, the enrollment of blacks and Hispanics (who together account for about three-fourths of the city’s entire public school system) at Stuyvesant is almost minimal — and falling. According to the New York Times, only seven black students were admitted to Stuyvesant this year (down from nine last year), while the number of Latinos dropped from 24 to 21. (Stuyvesant has a total enrollment of about 3,300.)

At two other prominent elite public schools in New York, Brooklyn Technical High School and Bronx High School of Science, the number of black pupils is also small, and it’s declining compared to previous recent years, the Times noted. For example, black enrollment at Stuyvesant peaked in 1975 at 12 percent of the student body.

Some critics blame the low enrollment of blacks and Hispanics at Stuyvesant (and the other specialized schools) on one principal factor: their lack of access to test preparation academies and tutoring classes.

Reportedly, many students in impoverished black and Latino neighborhood schools are not even aware of the testing procedures and how to prepare for them, nor can many afford the costly classes to train for these crucial pretest examinations.

The city’s Education Department said that 28,000 students across the city took the “Specialized High School Admissions Test” last year, and about 5,700 of them were offered admission to the elite schools. Of that figure, 53 percent were Asian, 26 percent were white, but only 5 percent were black and 7 percent Hispanic.

Two of the city’s most powerful voices, newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, have called for a revamp of admission policies and procedures.

We must do more to reflect the diversity of our city in our top-tier schools — and we are committed to doing just that,” Fariña told the Daily News. “In the coming months we will be looking at ways to address the gap that has left so many of our black and Latino students out of specialized high schools.”

De Blasio, whose mixed-race son, Dante, attends one of the elite public schools, Brooklyn Tech, has promised to change the admissions procedures, although any proposal he makes is subject to approval by the state Legislature in Albany, which made the single-test admission requirement state law in 1971.

These schools are the jewels in the crown for our public school system,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “This is a city blessed with such diversity. Our schools, especially our particularly exceptional schools, need to reflect that diversity.”

Karim Camara, a Democratic assemblyman from Brooklyn, is preparing a revised bill that would give the city power to control admissions rules in the elite public schools.

The Brooklyn Reader reported that Reginald Richardson, a high school principal in Brooklyn, said that while the enrollment numbers for blacks and Latinos at elite public schools are unacceptable, the root problem is that there are insufficient educational opportunities available to non-Asian minorities, and the main problem is not the testing.

These outcomes tell us that the education that black and Latino kids are receiving in the elementary schools and middle schools in the city is poor, and that they’re not able to be competitive,” he said. “But those same kids are going to have to sit for the SATs when it’s time to go to college, and you won’t be able to change the metrics for the SATs. We need to address the fundamental problem of all kids getting a great education. And that’s not happening in the city. And these results of these entrance examinations in the schools are just evidence of it.”

Academics are divided over these various issues: why Asians perform so well academically, and whether testing should be the sole basis of admission to top schools.

Guofang Li, an associate professor of second language and literacy education in the Department of Teacher Education of Michigan State University, is one scholar who does not believe that admission-by-testing is unfair to anyone.

In a culture where Asians are still a minority group — and often marginalized in society– tests are actually providing a good pathway for Asians to get opportunities like … attending a good school with good resources … which can help them get into a better university and hopefully better employment in the future,” she said in an interview.

But Jennifer Lee, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Irvine, believes that admission testing is quite unfair to economically disadvantaged Hispanics and blacks.

Access to unequal resources will result in unequal outcomes,” she said. “Until we can provide adequate resources for all New York City children to prepare for admissions tests, we will continue see racial disparities in admissions to schools like Stuyvesant.”

On the other side of the argument, Li  believes that applying affirmative action-type policies to public school admissions would be disastrous.

[Stuyvesant] is diverse, just [with] different [racial] ratios,” she said. “Normally, most schools in suburban areas are 75 percent white and 25 percent other ethnic groups, while urban schools [may typically have a] 75 percent black or Hispanic population and 25 percent other ethnic groups.” She noted that such school racial compositions are accepted by most people as “diverse,” but when Asians form the dominant ethnic group (as in Stuyvesant), suddenly questions and complaints arise.

I do think people have a perception [of] what a diverse school has to be,” she said. “[But] if Asians are in good schools, they have a problem with it.”

Jerome Krase of the sociology department at Brooklyn College-CUNY, author of “Seeing Cities Change: Local Culture and Class,” said that if de Blasio and Fariña want to change admission policies at elite high schools, it would defeat the schools’ very purpose. But he does see race playing a role in denying opportunities to blacks and Latinos.

[It would be] better to improve the local schools and improve the life conditions of those who are disadvantaged,” Krase said. “They could also make sure that all schools provide the best education possible for all students. [But] this is not likely, because it means paying higher taxes to help other peoples’ children. New York City and Americans in general are no longer as generous when it comes to helping those in need, especially as the composition of those in need have become less ‘European’.”

Asians in New York City, who comprise a broad array of ethnic groups, including Pakistanis, Chinese, Indians, and Koreans, among many others, are uncomfortable with comments suggesting that there are “too many” of them in the metropolis’ best public schools. This perception puts many Asian students and their families on the defensive about their cultures’ emphasis on education and personal sacrifice, and many feel it also can lead to racially biased statements about the work habits and intelligence of other ethnic groups.

Jan Michael Vicencio, a Filipino student at Brooklyn Tech, explained to the Times how Asian students are both ridiculed and praised for their academic excellence. “You know, [other kids say] ‘You’re Asian, you must be smart,’ ” he said. “And you’re not sure [if] it’s a compliment or an insult. We get that a lot.”

Other Asian students point out that parental discipline and rigorous scholarship, which are common in their cultures, explain their relatively superior performance in American schools, not any innate intelligence or intellectual superiority.

Most of our parents don’t believe in [the word] ‘gifted,’” Riyan Iqbal, a son of Bangladeshi immigrants and a student at Bronx Science, said. “It’s all about hard work.”

Citing the poverty and hardships his family experienced in their native Bangladesh, Riyan added: “You try to make up for their hardships. I knew my parents would still love me if I didn’t get into Bronx Science. But they would be very disappointed.”

Asians in general value education, according to Li.

“[The] education of their children is often a family affair, and the whole family [invests] a lot of time, resources and efforts, even soon after a child is born,” Li said. “Many Asian families invest a lot of money [in] their children’s studies, including preparing for exams and tests.

But, again, Lee takes a somewhat different view on why Asians perform well on tests. She says that some Asian immigrants — especially Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese — hail from countries where the only means of gaining admission into universities is through a rigorous, national entrance exam.

So, they are more accustomed to the practice of test-taking for school admissions,” Lee said. “And because of the high stakes of students’ performance on this test, Asian parents are more likely to invest their resources in supplemental education for their children to ensure that they perform well on these tests.”

Lee added that some of this supplemental education is offered at no or little cost in ethnic communities through community organizations, while churches also help poor and working-class Chinese overcome their class disadvantages.

So it’s not that certain groups or certain cultures value education more than others,” Lee insisted. “All groups value education. Rather, groups have differential access to available resources to help them gain access into these competitive magnet schools.”

Lee noted that Asian immigrants tend to come from countries in which effort, rather than ability alone, is hailed as the route to achievement.

Because Asian immigrant parents believe that increased effort leads to continuous improvement, they are more likely to invest their resources in supplemental education for their children compared to native-born American parents,” she said.

On a national basis, some Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans are both puzzled and outraged over quota and affirmative action programs that hurt them despite their status as “racial minorities.”

Irwin Tang, an Austin, Texas-based psychotherapist, told Diverse Education that he believes some of the nation’s elite universities impose “unofficial” quotas to limit Asian enrollment, as they once did for Jews. According to reports, up to 18 percent of Ivy League school students are now of Asian descent, and Harvard’s incoming class last year was more than one-fifth Asian. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 28 percent of students are Asian-American, while at University of California at Berkeley, the figure is 39 percent.

Affirmative action lowers the bar for black and Hispanic students,” Tang said. “They don’t have to score high or have as high of a GPA compared to an Asian student. That’s why many Asian students are being advised not to reveal their race.”

Tang added that he would like to see high schools and elementary schools improve across the board. “The solution is not affirmative action. The solution is to have equal standards for everyone and an improved education system,” he said.

Ron Unz, the publisher of the American Conservative magazine, wrote in an op-ed in the Times in December 2012 that quotas on Asians at Harvard and other elite colleges — the allegations are widely denied by university officials — echo similar quotas imposed on Jews decades ago. Unz argued that while the Asian-American population has about doubled since the early 1990s, their presence in Ivy League institutions has either remained flat or fallen slightly.

The last 20 years have brought a huge rise in the number of Asians winning top academic awards in our high schools or being named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists,” Unz wrote. “It seems quite suspicious that none of [these] trends have been reflected in their increased enrollment at Harvard and other top Ivy League universities.”

Despite the stellar performance of Asians in U.S. high schools and colleges, their ascendance to high positions in corporations has not caught up.

Many outstanding Asians from top colleges often experience barriers to promotion and advancement at work,”  Li said. “Few Asians are in leadership or management positions [at top firms].”

Indeed, a report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from 2008 revealed that Asians experience multiple forms of discrimination in corporate America.

There is also a separate issue to consider — given how bewilderingly diverse and large the Asian-American community is, not all segments of this group are doing well, either academically or professionally. Generally speaking, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Indians have excelled academically and earn higher-than-average incomes. But, other Asians, particularly Bangladeshis and some Southeast Asians (e.g., Cambodians, Hmong, Laotians, etc.) remain poor, undereducated and underemployed. These facts would seem to provide evidence that “Asian cultural values” do not necessarily guarantee success, given some harsh socio-economic realities.

It is critical to underscore that ‘Asian-American’ is a broad and diverse category that includes immigrant groups who arrive as highly selected and highly educated, as well as others who arrive as poorly educated immigrants or refugees with little formal education and few skills,” Lee said.

 

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Asian-American domination in elite schools triggers resentment and soul searching