As I was having my morning coffee and reading the news online, AOL, and NY Times I came across an article about the NY City major wanting to drop the NY city high school entrance exams which it seems Asian students dominate. Imagine penalizing an ethnic group for excellence? It is no secret that ethnic groups in New York city that support and emphasize schooling and learning at home tend to excel on entrance tests. Why? Because the social pressure from their community does not allow for failure. An Asian or Indian student must succeed for his or her community, not just for themselves. When an Asian student gets into a high rated New York city high school they bring honor to their family and community. At family, religion and community functions these brilliant students are honored for their success.
How about the rest of New York? Well the families are more dysfunctional than ever before. Black families and minority families suffer from economic plight; lack of jobs, discrimination, hatred, crime, violence, gangs and poverty. Compare an average white family to a Chinese family. In the average white family the children learn that anything free is good and to cut corners and try to get to the top anyway possible. In the Chinese family succeeding brings honor to the ancestors of the family. Chinese children are told that they must study harder and longer to beat the white students that dominate the majority of NY city High schools. Chinese families have rules about study time an discourage play on electronic toys. Chinese families often have their children work in the family business at an early age. They learn accounting and numbers and the importance of working hard.
Sorry to say it the average white American family is lazy. They want everything handed to them. In the Jewish families the cliche’ “my son the Doctor,” points out the influence of the overbearing and motivating Jewish mother. In the Italian family having family is most important above education. Italian families have many traditions, but excellence in academics is not one of them. How about the Irish families? Why is it that so many Irish became Police and Firemen at the turn of the century? Because after the potato famine and the Irish invasion to the USA, Irish were hated and discriminated against, much the same as blacks are today. What ever ethnic group that is on the bottom of the ladder in American society, the harder it is to climb upward and succeed. Again the Chinese family or Indian family are strong because they treat girls as equals with boys in terms of academic success. Doing well in school is as important as being wealthy for Chinese and Indian families. Especially in New York city, the melting pot of the East coast. The Chinese immigrants whether legal or illegal must struggle from day one when they come to America. First there is the language barrier and the cultural barriers, and then there is the level of poverty. The Chinese overcome these barriers by working harder than their natural born American families. An average American wants to work a short day of 6 hours and get paid for 8 hours. The immigrant Chinese family works from sun up to 11:00 p.m. at night. Chinese food places open at 6 or 7 in the morning to chop vegetables and cook the meats and seafood. At 10:00 or 11:00 they open for retail business and work all day with almost no breaks until 11:00 at night. They do this seven days a week. Chinese children learn that hard work helps them to succeed. American children learn the weekends are for play and relaxation. I don’t think the word relaxation exists in the Chinese mind. It is all work and more work and work rewards. The Japanese children spend 6 days a week in school including Saturday. They all work toward the exam to gain entry to College. Tutors are hired, parents pressure their children to succeed in school or else. Failure is not an option.
In the American society if you fail at College, you become a carpenter, a builder, a framer, a plumber, an electrician, all trades working with your hands because you cannot understand calculus. For a Chinese, Asian or Indian student failure is not an option. The pressure from the parents and the ethnic community is so great that Chinese students study 7 days a week. They do not go out and play or waste time doing nothing. Every day leads to excelling on the New York city high school entrance exams.
If the Mayor of New York city wants to drop the entrance exams for the high end high schools like Bronx School of Science, Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant High school and others, then he needs to change the family culture in New York City not drop the entrance exams. If the entrance exams are dropped, what criteria will be used to determine the best students get into the elite High Schools? If you shut out the Asian students they will form their own charter high schools and ignore the public school system. Because they study 24/7 they are going to succeed and eventually many will become politicians and change the system bak to entrance exams.
The Mayor of New York City cannot prevent Asian students from entering elite high schools no matter what. What he will allow is students that are destined to fail in these elite high schools with very high academic standards. The Bronx School of Science wins the various Science awards every year in New York State because they have a culture of excellence and they are proud of it. Students wear sports jackets with the Bronx school of Science patch on it and they are proud they are part of the school. Pride can go a long way toward academic excellence.
Let’s talk about the faculty. Good teachers tend to work at excellent schools where the rewards for helping a brilliant student are better than the salary. Students that are accepted to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stamford, and other high standard universities bring honor to their teachers and school. Success breeds success. Smart students help one another. At Bronx School of Science in the depressed Bronx borough they excel at Science because they have great Science teachers that are brilliant and because their students are allowed academic freedoms to research and try new medical or technical methods in Sciences.
Drop the entrance exams and the quality of the elite New York city high schools will drop over time. Drop-out rates which previously did not exist, will become a problem. Quality teachers will transfer to other high schools and charter schools to get out of the dying elite high schools. Chinese parents and Indian parents will form their own Charter schools and seek additional funding from the State, private corporations and the US. Dept. of Education. Eventually, the Elite high schools will not longer be elite and they will suffer from a poor reputation and a lack of success in placing it’s students in high level Universities.
So go ahead Mr. Mayor and see what happens when you try to level the field with Chinese and Indian families regarding academic excellence. It will backfire and take down a system in New York city that has flourished for over hundreds of years. You cannot change the culture of the Asian and Indian families. It is what they are bred for, success at all costs, especially time and community support.