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Education: Mastering the !@#$% Material, not Diversity is Job 1

This section of my Index of Diversity gathers my notes on education issues as to what is the key to an education. My thesis is that every fashionable race or class based intervention, affirmative action, multiculturalism, "inclusive" history, integration / desegregation, outcomes based education, fuzzy math, inquiry based science, whole language, funding equalization, bilingual education has failed in the quest to equalize minority achievement. If anything, such a focus may be keeping the "achievement gap" firmly in place when data from WASL test scores show that WASL has preserved or magnified math gaps rather than erasing them as was the justification for such a draconian testing program.

It is my belief that the bottom line is not politics, race or class, but working hard and mastering the !@#$% material. Belief in hard work, not racial justice is the key. Nobody argues that test scores of black and Hispanic lag behind other groups even after test bias is accounted for. Nobody argues that Asians often do better than whites (though not always and not in every subject for every group). My data shows also show schools should not be blamed when Whites and Asians often do just fine in the same districts that are accused of underserving minorities. There is not much point in asserting that zero hypothesis that in the absence of historical or present discrimination, all groups should be equal when every measure of academic performance is worse.

It's not just a matter of income or segregation. African Americans are already quite well represented, much better so than Asians in the areas where politicians choose to put their effort - representation among superintenents, principals, teachers, administrative staff, afrocentric curriculums and academies, and school boards. Asians are nearly as likely to attend "segregated" mostly minority schools as other minorities. Activists focus on affirmative action and desegregation. Yet these are areas where Asians lag even other minorities, yet Asians test scores are fine.

But well kept secrets like Whitney Young in Chicago and Barclay in Baltimore and the calculus course by Bosangue show that poor black kids can outdo even Asians when properly taught and motivated, such schools should become the rule, not the exception. These examples are the best evidence that minority potential may well be equal to whites and Asians, but such results can only be achieved very carefully through tough academics. NOT by

Reform-based math and whole language both pretend to teach "beyond" drill and memorization, but actually teach less.

My specialization on Asian Americans shows that the primary reason for racial inequaltity is individual committment to excellence, not discrimination. Asians are advantaged compared to whites by most if not all measures of outcome even when they are disadvantaged by many inputs and incomes. No strategy based on demanding parity with a leading group will result in higher than average scores or grades.

Education is the foundation to the model minority "myth", but the myth is only incomplete, not false. Data here shows that the are some Asian / Pacific Islander groups that live in poverty who show signs of distress and failure, but they are the exception, not the rule. For all the hoopla over the superiority of Asian education system, Asian Americans score as high and as far ahead compared to their classmates as their counterparts abroad, and the American born score nearly as high in math SAT as their immigrant counterparts. It is a myth is that high Asian achievement is because many live in upper income suburbs like Cupertino. But even poor Asians who go to some of the worst large urban school districts in the US, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Oakland get fairly decent if not stellar test scores.

The book by "Beyond the Classroom" by Laurence Steinberg et. al (Simon & Schuster) is the best book that carries the message that the problem is students and parents who are not serious about achieving, and that race transcends class. "Of all the demographic factors we studied in relation to school performance, ethnicity is the MOST important... In terms of school achievement, it is more advantageous to be Asian than to be wealthy, to have nondivorced parents, or to have a mother who is able to stay at home full-time(p.86)".

On p.185, he lists 1) Hard Work and Not Cutting Class 2) Worry about Failure 3) Believe in Hard Work, not Racism and / or Innate Ability "The factors that contribute to the relative success of Asian students -- hard work, high personal standards, anxiety about doing poorly, and the belief that success and failure are closely linked to the amount of effort one exerts - are keys to academic success in all groups of students. The superior performance of Asian students in American schools, then, is not mysterious, but explainable on the basis of their attitudes, values and behaviors."

Few have have done the simple exercise of ranking schools across different districts in the US by percentile and SAT scores, and broken down by race which show that black and hispanic under-achievement occurs even in the best schools. Books like Kozol's Savage Inequalities and Gary Orfield's desegregation books assert that it is obvious that putting poor minority children in the same schools, or same quality schools as suburban over-achievers is all that is need to bring equality. Yet they fail to examine the wealth of evidence that this has never worked, even for the minorites who already attend such top districts.

Orfield has the gall to say that low test scores are the biggest proof for the need to desegregate, and then admits that desegregation has at best a slightly postive effect on test scores. When even working-class white districts have SAT scores as poor as the black national average, would busing kids from working class towns like Revere into elite suburbs like Newton equalize their test scores? Of course not.

I also have the SAT breakdowns which show that SAT scores for poor Asians and middle class whites with far less education are comparable to affluent blacks with college degree.

Race is NOT the same as class, and Asian prove that poverty is not destiny when it comes to success in education.

For even more, check out my section on affirmative action and college and test scores to see how Asians fare in college and selective institutions.

Asians Are Doing It All Wrong According to Traditional Solutions - So Why Are They Succeeding?

(Could it be because traditional progressive solutions don't work?? Naaah.)

Myths Of Why Blacks (and White Americans) lag

Popular things that DON'T matter, especially to Asians


Things that DO matter, but aren't important to underachieving groups

* We need Asian style schools (longer school years, etc.) says Harold Stevenson (But Asians do just as well in American schools, watch just as much TV as American kids)

* Class size must be smaller Like massive California reform - But Asian nations have even larger class sizes.

* Equalize funding says Jonathan Kozol. But Poor Asians score = middle whites and upper blacks on SAT and most standardized tests. Yet whites in urban school districts score well above national average, as do Asians. Even in Spokane, Palo Alto, silicon valley school districts. Poor districts now get even more money because of special programs and state fund equalization. It's the race and income of kids, not budgets that matter

* Desegregation says Gary Orrfield. But nearly half of Asians are in "segregated" schools. They are actually harmed by Lowell HS "desegregation" decree. Students in SF and Oakland that are "integrated" do no better than Ravenswood and Alum rock which are predominantly minority. White schools have better test scores not because the schools are better, or black schools are worse, whites simply get better test scores, and this is what has to be fixed. There is absolutely no evidence that students actually get better grades or test scores simply by being moved to schools with better grades/scores. Many parents are demanding separate or neighborhood schools again since there is no academic advantage to going to a far away school. Now it is white school districts that protest a return to neighborhood schools because now they benefit by exposing their culturally "deprived" white students to children of other cultures. Asians are harmed by busing and racial caps in San Francisco.

* Create Segregated Afrocentric Academies - There are no predominantly Asian institutions other than saturday Chinese culture classes. Asians prefer upper class predominantly white suburbs when they can afford it. Seattle's African American academy has test scores only slightly less dismal than city average, and test score are worst in the district.

* Minorities have Higher Poverty Rates Poor blacks and Hispanics might get rotten scores, but poor Asians do OK if not great. Asians in Alum Rock = state average. Poverty rate in seattle comparable to blacks, = per capita income, but best math scores in Boston, SF, close to white in SEattle. Rich blacks get SAT test scores no better than middle class Whites or poverty level Asians.

* Minorities Have Less Educated Parents Asians are, on average better educated, but even Asians who have the highest percentage with less than 9th grade education get better test scores than the most educated Blacks. In Spokane, Asian parents have less college education than blacks, yet still have the best test scores.

* We Need More Minority Teachers To Reflect the Student Body Asians are as low or lower than blacks in every school district in terms of teacher representation, yet routinely get the highest math test scores.

* Cupertino has a hiring rate double that of whites for Asians compared to equally qualified whites - why lower standards? Asian parents want the best teachers, not the most Asian. Only liberal whites have this idea.

* There are no studies which show any advantage to students having teachers of the same race, despite all the acedotal statements that carry so much weight.

* Black teachers are equal to population in Seattle. Principles are equal to students in Spokane despite demands for more Black principals.

* We Need more ethnic history But Asians have almost no presence in American history books outside of building the railroads and the internment camps. Some books look like AfAm history textbooks with blacks on every other page. This has not resulted in equal minority achievement.

* We Need Less Biased Tests says Fairtest and CLAS advocates. Tests have no Asian content. CLAS tests had a positive effect on Asians who did better on math and verbals than Whites, but blacks and Hispanics and poor neighborhoods that got the worst scores still got the worst scores and the rich whties still got the best scores, despite addition of authors of color. In fact, multiple choice answers are easier to use by minority students. Leading edge authors of color such as Alice Walker are often more difficult to comprehend than previous passages which were written to the appropriate grade level. Despite philosiphy that there are no incorrect answers, even with controversial grading guidelines, well prepared whites and Asians still outscored ill prepared minority students. CLAS was designed to modern Objective Based Education rules, and still hammered the poor and minorities.

Myths as to why Asians do better.

* Asians are better educated - even in Spokane, Asians get better math scores, though a high percentage of parents have no formal education and college levels are equal to blacks in the city.

* Asians make more money nope - per capita income is less, and in cities it's often only half. Seattle is the only city where Asians do worse and whites are better educated there with 2:1 income advantage. SAT scores show poor Asians score better than middle class whites and blacks over $70,000

* Ten-One - Asians express "eleven" and "twelve" as ten-one and ten-two, thought to give Asian youth a language advantage in concepts. But there is no significant difference in math ability between us born and foreign born, US citizen or Taiwan with English or Chinese as a first language.

* Blacks live in worse neighborhoods, Asians live in better neighborhoods. Not in the cities where poverty and p/c income can be as bad as blacks, and worse among SE Asians, yet they still do better. Blacks still lag in Palo Alto and Spokane, perfectly integrated by any standard. Blacks in SF and Oakland, both supposedly properly integrated still same as state average and E Palo Alto and Alum Rock

* Blacks go to schools with less money - Silicon Valley Districts show almost no difference between best an worst school districts in spending. Experiments like Kansas City prove no amount of money alone gives you equality of achievement. The big difference is parent income and education, not school spending.

* Blacks stereotyped as poor, Asians are stereotyped as good students. If that's all there's to it, all you have to do is get the ministry of stereotypes to start stereotyping your minority as smart. While you at it, tell them to stop saying jews and upper income whites are smart too. All that is needed to create a stereotype of high achieving blacks is for Blacks to start dominating the honor rolls, and perfect SAT scores.

Why Asians really do better

Asians suceed for reasons that are generally completely unrelated to the conventional explanations for black failure. As a matter of fact, Asians are weakest precisely in the areas where Blacks put a top priority: affirmative action, multicultural curriculum, staff, funding, etc. Conversely, Blacks are weakest in areas where Asians put top priority - hours spent on homework, choosing the most difficult areas with highest payoff, getting highest grades and test scores, and lowest rates of sexual experience and sex/drug based problems. It is based not on conditions imposed on Asians by more powerful groups, but rather individual effort in spite of discrimination. Careful study of these factors might be a better path to seek success for other minorities than conventional reliance on discrimination theories.


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