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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Asian hordes in the NYT and WSJ

Stuyvesant High School (traditionally the top high school in NYC; admission is by exam) is now over 70% Asian-American. Meanwhile, at elite universities that do not practice race-blind admissions (from earlier post Demography and destiny; IIRC, currently the Asian-American fraction at all Ivies is lower than at Harvard in the early 1990s):
OCR = Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which conducted an investigation of anti-Asian bias in Harvard admissions around 1990.
The Chosen, p.510: ... Asian-Americans had the highest SATs of all [among groups admitted to Harvard]: 1450 out of a possible 1600. In 1991 the Asian-American/white admission ratio [ratio of percentages of applicants from each group admitted] stood at 84 percent -- a sharp downturn from 98 percent in 1990, when the scrutiny from OCR was at its peak. Though [this ratio] never dropped again to the 64 percent level of 1986, it never returned to its 1990 zenith. Despite Asian-Americans' growing proportion of the national population, their enrollment also peaked in 1990 at 20 percent, where it more or less remained until 1994. ... by 2001 it had dropped below 15 percent.
So the "subjective but fair" measures used in admissions resulted in a record high admit rate for Asians during the year Harvard was under investigation by the federal government. But mysteriously the admit rate (relative to that of white applicants) went down significantly after the investigation ended, and the overall Asian enrollment has not increased despite the increasing US population fraction of Asians.
A child of privilege:
NYTimes: Ting Shi said his first two years in the United States were wretched. He slept in a bunk bed in the same room with his grandparents and a cousin in Chinatown, while his parents lived on East 89th Street, near a laundromat where they endured 12-hour shifts. He saw them only on Sundays. ...

The afternoon his acceptance letter to Stuyvesant High School arrived in the mail, he and his parents gathered at the laundromat, the smell of detergent and the whirl of the washing machines filling the air. “Everyone was excited,” Ting recalled.
As usual the article makes a big deal about test prep. Academic studies show that test prep is of limited value in raising scores (see figure below). On the other hand, very intense study over many years probably results in actual learning. We can't have that, can we?

This WSJ article is entitled "Rise of the Tiger Nation":
WSJ: ... The subtle vying for success in various realms of American life between Asian-Americans and American Jews makes one wonder what mores and tastes will look like when Asian-Americans begin to exert their own influence over the culture. Will the verbal brio and intellectual bent of Jews, their edgy irony and frank super-competitiveness give way to Asian discretion, deference to the community, and gifts for less verbal pursuits like music, science and math? Will things become, as they once were under WASP hegemony, quieter?

Not if the mercurial nature of culture has anything to do with it. Think of the wild Korean-American comedian Margaret Cho, who belongs on the same family tree of comic art as the wild Jewish-American comedian Sarah Silverman. Jeremy Lin himself, in his video for the class of 2012 at Stuyvesant, included an antic rap song performed with an Asian-American friend. And the speaker who addressed the high school's graduates in person last June was the 32-year-old Chinese-American actor Telly Leung, a star of the hit TV series "Glee."

Mr. Leung spoke for over 20 minutes, joking, shouting, making ironic quips, teasing and provoking. At one point, he boasted that he had overthrown his parents' middle-class expectations of stability and security and made them redefine their idea of the American dream. He sounded, dare I say it, like a certain type of Jew. Which is another way of saying that he sounded like everyone who comes to America from somewhere else and ends up exemplifying, anew, a native irreverence and vitality that is as old as the American hills.

Congratulations Stuyvesant High School Class of 2012!

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