Saturday, November 19, 2005

The new white flight

Instead of white students fleeing academically weak school districts dominated by disadvantaged blacks and hispanics, in Silicon Valley white students are fleeing overly strong school districts dominated by Asians. Who needs all that math and science anyway?

See related post on Asians and affirmative action here.
WSJ: CUPERTINO, Calif. -- By most measures, Monta Vista High here and Lynbrook High, in nearby San Jose, are among the nation's top public high schools. Both boast stellar test scores, an array of advanced-placement classes and a track record of sending graduates from the affluent suburbs of Silicon Valley to prestigious colleges.

But locally, they're also known for something else: white flight. Over the past 10 years, the proportion of white students at Lynbrook has fallen by nearly half, to 25% of the student body. At Monta Vista, white students make up less than one-third of the population, down from 45% -- this in a town that's half white. Some white Cupertino parents are instead sending their children to private schools or moving them to other, whiter public schools. More commonly, young white families in Silicon Valley say they are avoiding Cupertino altogether.

Whites aren't quitting the schools because the schools are failing academically. Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they're leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurriculars like sports and other personal interests.

...In the 1960s, the term "white flight" emerged to describe the rapid exodus of whites from big cities into the suburbs, a process that often resulted in the economic degradation of the remaining community. Back then, the phenomenon was mostly believed to be sparked by the growth in the population of African-Americans, and to a lesser degree Hispanics, in some major cities.

But this modern incarnation is different. Across the country, Asian-Americans have by and large been successful and accepted into middle- and upper-class communities. Silicon Valley has kept Cupertino's economy stable, and the town is almost indistinguishable from many of the suburbs around it. The shrinking number of white students hasn't hurt the academic standards of Cupertino's schools -- in fact the opposite is true.

...white students represented 20% of [Monta Vista's] 29 National Merit Semifinalists this year.

...At Cupertino's top schools, administrators, parents and students say white students end up in the stereotyped role often applied to other minority groups: the underachievers. In one 9th-grade algebra class, Lynbrook's lowest-level math class, the students are an eclectic mix of whites, Asians and other racial and ethnic groups.

"Take a good look," whispered Steve Rowley, superintendent of the Fremont Union High School District, which covers the city of Cupertino as well as portions of other neighboring cities. "This doesn't look like the other classes we're going to."

On the second floor, in advanced-placement chemistry, only a couple of the 32 students are white and the rest are Asian. Some white parents, and even some students, say they suspect teachers don't take white kids as seriously as Asians.

9 comments:

bay area didnt fly yet said...

us Caucs better get somma dose smart genes

the day of designer babes may be hastened by sheer competitive survival considerations

Anonymous said...

This puts a whole new spin on the private school thing.

Imagine private schools pitching to wealthy whites from Palo Alto, based on how easy their math courses are. Send your kid here and he won't have to learn calculus!

steve said...

This option is already available at the university level -- it is called the "liberal arts college" ;-)

Who needs calculus to flip mcmansions?

Anonymous said...

I suspect it is more of a culture thing than a hard school thing as this article implies. If you're white and have ever been to Cupertino, you might understand why. I feel like a foreigner there despite having grown up in an ethnically diverse area and going to a college that was thirty percent Asian. I suspect that white kids there have a hard time fitting in and making friends with the locals. Why put your kids though that if it is easily avoidable by living in Los Altos or Palo Alto? BTW, Gunn in Palo Alto is considered the best public school in the area and plenty of Whites go there.

Anonymous said...

i live in cupertino and go to monta vista, one of the high schools mentioned by the article. This article was trying to tie race to an unrelated issue. In cupertino, there is a value on hard work. Most parents were are immigrants who have worked hard to be able to afford living in Cupertino. The majority of us have gone back to our parent's countries and have seen that we are not entitled to BMW's and Mercedes. In Los Altos and Palo Alto, the largely white student body is not first generation in the U.S., and probably not the first generation to be driving bmw's. The difference in Cupertino is the work ethic, not the race.

Anonymous said...

There are many underlying trends here that need attention.

First, white families treat their children like adults. They respect their academic/career choices even though they vaguely believe in the saying "parents know best". and then they make excuses for them. Like taking them out of a so called "hard" school and putting them in a different one where they can compete with their own kind (is there such a term?).

So when these children do go in the job market, will they change their jobs because their co-workers are Asian? I believe that these parents are interrupting natural selection by altering the adaptation pool.

Second, what is hidden behind this is of course the "nature vs. nurture" argument. It is not that these Asian kids are born with the "nerd-gene". It is an environment they are brought up in where excellence is the only acceptable option. Where arts/humanities are second/third best to science and math. It is an extreme situation and one only needs to visit the art/religion/comparative literature/philosophy departments at a major university around here after borrowing a book from the science library.

It is a pity that Asian (many third world "under-developed" countries included) have been so extreme in choosing professions for their youth if only to increase the chances of successfully developing the "Asian" country. This paradigm has been ingrained in the minds of most Asians and it is a stereotype that is a double-edged sword. I remember a religious scholar said to me once: "how many children in the third world country are brought up with the idea that they can be a religious scholar? most are taught to be doctors and engineers. So there are no great minds left to study religion which is opposite of how it has been in history". There is the key, I think, to the rise of fundamentalism.

Anonymous said...

It's a competitive world out there. Yes, Monta Vista is fairly competitive (I go there) but, then again, so are good colleges, and whether or not you want to accept it, you are going to have to compete with asian people whereever you go, so either you can learn to thrive in an enviornment like Monta Vista, or you can bury your head in the sand.

Markku said...

Second, what is hidden behind this is of course the "nature vs. nurture" argument. It is not that these Asian kids are born with the "nerd-gene". It is an environment they are brought up in where excellence is the only acceptable option.

Across the world, both in their ancestral homelands and elsewhere, Northeast Asians and their descendants do better at visuo-spatial than verbal tests of intelligence with respect to European norms. It appears that their visuo-spatial abilities are somewhat higher and verbal abilities somewhat lower than those of Whites, their overall level of intelligence being somewhat higher and the standard deviation being smaller than that among Europeans.

Where arts/humanities are second/third best to science and math. It is an extreme situation and one only needs to visit the art/religion/comparative literature/philosophy departments at a major university around here after borrowing a book from the science library.

American whites are not into those subjects. They are into business and law. Because Americans are so utterly ignorant of the rest of the world, they are capable of buying into and electing leaders like GWB. The situation is dangerous.

It is a pity that Asian (many third world "under-developed" countries included) have been so extreme in choosing professions for their youth if only to increase the chances of successfully developing the "Asian" country. This paradigm has been ingrained in the minds of most Asians and it is a stereotype that is a double-edged sword. I remember a religious scholar said to me once: "how many children in the third world country are brought up with the idea that they can be a religious scholar? most are taught to be doctors and engineers. So there are no great minds left to study religion which is opposite of how it has been in history". There is the key, I think, to the rise of fundamentalism.

Religious fundamentalism is not a problem at all in any Northeast Asian country. And the Islamic world hasn't got a problem with fundamentalism because of religious scholarship. On the contrary. Mainstream Islam does not permit lasting peaceful co-existence with other religions and worldviews. According to Islam, Muslims are to wipe out everybody else unless they convert to Islam or belong to the People of Book (Christians and Jews, later Zoroastrians were added). The latter are to pay a heavy poll-tax and literally feel themselves subdued unless they convert. It's a huge relief than most Muslims in the world are illiterate and thus relatively ignorant of Islam. This means fewer people will be putting it into practice.

Africa is a chapter of it's own. It's completely fucked up. There is rampant superstition mixed up with everything else.

Markku said...

And the Islamic world hasn't got a problem with fundamentalism because of religious scholarship.

Should read "too little religious scholarship".

Blog Archive

Labels