Poor kids aren’t supposed to do well in school. But Vietnamese students in a low-income, low-performing San Jose school district earn test scores comparable to students in affluent districts where most parents are college-educated. Most of the Vietnamese kids are the children of refugees with limited education and English fluency. Even if the parents can’t help with homework, they make sure their children do well in school.
At the Khai Tri tutoring center in San Jose, the two-story building of classes is packed with Vietnamese students on a Wednesday evening. Parents rely on high school and college-age tutors to guide their children through an educational system they often do not understand.
“My mom is always saying don’t waste the opportunities we have here,” said Tina Huynh, a tutor at Khai Tri and a senior at Andrew Hill High School. “I went to tutoring centers when I was young and now I’m helping younger kids in the same way.”
. . . Franklin-McKinley’s students continue to do well after elementary and middle school: Every 2004 valedictorian at nearby Oak Grove, Yerba Buena and Andrew Hill high schools was Vietnamese-American.
The story is part of a series on Asian-Americans. It includes a survey of attitudes about education. I noticed that 96 percent of Asian parents think it’s very important for their children to go to college; another 3 percent said it was somewhat important. And 84 percent pay “a lot” of attention to their children’s grades, with another 11 percent at the “somewhat” level.
Here’s the obligatory story about pressure from parents to excel in school.