Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Asian Americans and the Soft Bigotry of High Expectations

Learning to Stand Out Among the Standouts

Some Asian Americans Say Colleges Expect More From Them

By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2005; Page A10

Robert Shaw, an educational consultant based in Garden City, N.Y., was working with a very bright Chinese American student who feared the Ivy League would not notice her at New Jersey's Holmdel High, where 22 percent of the students were Asian American, and she was only in the top 20 percent of her high-scoring class.

So, Shaw said, she and her parents took his daring advice to change their address. They moved 10 miles north to Keyport, N.J., where the average SAT score was 300 points lower and there were almost no Asians. She also entered, at his suggestion, the Miss Teen New Jersey contest, not a typical activity for the budding scholar.

It worked, Shaw said. His client became class valedictorian, won the talent portion of the Miss Teen competition playing piano and got into Yale and MIT.

"As admissions strategists, our experience is that Asian Americans must meet higher objective standards, such as SAT scores and GPAs, and higher subjective standards than the rest of the applicant pool," he said. "Our students need to do a lot more in order to stand out."

Asian American students have higher average SAT scores than any other government-monitored ethnic group, and selective colleges routinely reject them in favor of African American, Hispanic and even white applicants with lower scores in order to have more diverse campuses and make up for past discrimination.

Many Asian Americans and some educators wonder: Is that fair? Why shouldn't young people of Asian descent have more of an advantage in the selective college admissions system for being violin-playing, science-fair winning, high-scoring achievers?

Dat Phan, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing had a part of his comdey routine where he tells the story of being the only Asian he knows who is bad at math. He says he routinely failed math in school and somehow, all the students seated around him failed too: couldn't explain that.

This article does not mention or the percentages of first generation compared to others. My hunch is that the Asian Americans that are excelling are more first generation than second or beyond. Just a hunch. Tends to happen with many immigrant communities.

The article goes on to ask why African Americans who are getting lower scores are being admitted in favor of high scoring Asian Americans. Also that many of these Black students are actually African or Carribean. To me, that question is kind of like asking why Ecclesiastes is in the same Bible with Matthew. You see where it is coming from, but it just doesn't fit, (so you must acquit). What I mean is that the government does owe it to African Americans to rectify the horrors it inflicted on the community. There is no clear, clear cut, short or easy way to do that. That's just the result of getting wealthy on the backs of black, souless, humanoid-looking, beast of burden, imported from the wasteland of Africa.

Rectifying wrongs, is not essentially about depriving anyone else of anything. The Asian American problem is one that needs to be worked on. But it is the closed and narrow mind that plays a zero sum game, Asians Americans or African Americans. Our times are the product of grave injustices and there are no free lunches, the debts come due at some point.

There's also the issue of the school and what it values as a complete education. If the experience of diversity is integral to the school's mission, then diversity is a priority and with that said, diversity should be integral to a school's mission. (For one, it chases the conservatives away--kidding! Any decent school worth its salt should have 8% conservatives but be sure to cap the conservative enrollment at 12%)

Anyway, these things are complicated, that's why people are paid boatloads of money to deal with these problems. If they can't do it, then resign and give me the job.


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