The immigrant advantage

In some racial and ethnic groups, children of immigrants are outperforming children of U.S.-born parents, according to Diverse Children, a Foundation for Child Development study.

For example, black children of immigrant parents do better then their native counterparts in income level, parent education and employment and high school graduation.

Overall, children of immigrant families are more likely to be poor and to do poorly in school than are children of native families, notes Ed Week‘s Inside School Research. However, immigrant families have some advantages.

Regardless of ethnicity, children of immigrant parents were as or more likely than children of native families to have parents with secure jobs, and less likely to live in one-parent families. Moreover, for all groups except Asians, immigrant families tend to move less frequently than U.S.-born families; that could be a benefit, in terms of stability and school continuity, but less helpful if it signals families trapped in segregated low-income neighborhoods.

Hispanic immigrant families struggle financially: 71 percent of Hispanic children of immigrants are in lower-income families with a median income of $33,396. However, that’s higher than the median household income for black children of native parents, $29,977.

The median income of white and Asian families — regardless of immigration status — ranges from the mid- to high-$70,000s

Fourth-graders who speak English as a second language do nearly as well as native speakers on NAEP exams, but the racial/ethnic achievement gap is wide.

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High school graduation rates are higher for children of white and black immigrants, but lower for children of Hispanic and Asian immigrants. “Moreover, children from immigrant families were less likely to be disconnected—out of school without a diploma or a job— than students from U.S.-born parents,” the study found.

Florida sets lower goals for blacks, Hispanics

Florida’s race-based achievement goals are raising hackles, reports the Palm Beach Post. To qualify for a No Child Left Behind waiver, the state board of education set new goals based on race, ethnicity, poverty and disabilities.

. . .  by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent.

The new goals are realistic, state education officials said. Blacks and Hispanics will have to improve at faster rates than whites or Asians.

. . .  the percentage of white students scoring at or above grade level (as measured by whether they scored a 3 or higher on the reading FCAT) was 69 percent in 2011-2012, according to the state. For black students, it was 38 percent, and for Hispanics, it was 53 percent.

If each subgroup follows the trajectory in the strategic plan, all students will be 100 percent proficient by the 2022-2023 school year, according to the state education department.

Most of the states applying for NCLB waivers have set lower goals for black, Hispanic, low-income and disabled students. As long as the goals require low-scoring groups to improve more quickly, the U.S. Education Department has endorsed differential targets.

Professional derangement

Professional development is snake oil, writes Mary Morrison, a Los Angeles teacher, in American Renaissance. Useless in-school training cuts students’ instruction time, but the out-of-school training is even worse, she writes.

They always start with an hour or two of silly “getting-to-know-you” games. One began with a tug-of-war, and then proceeded to a “blind walk,” where one teacher led a blindfolded teacher around, supposedly to build trust. Next, we were matched with someone according to our favorite day of the week and according to the results of a personality test we had taken. We were supposed to cozy up to a “camp fire”—blankets thrown over half a dozen flashlights—and confide our innermost thoughts and feelings to each another. Often a school administrator lurks nearby, noting if anyone lacks enthusiasm for this silliness.

Workshops, training sessions, and professional development are mainly about how to teach the majority of LAUSD students, who are “of color:” non-English speakers who enter school two grade levels below whites and Asians of the same age. Asians are not white but are not exactly “of color” either, since they do well in school.

In these sessions we invariably learn that in order to teach students effectively we must foster “trust.” To do so we must have “compassion, sensitivity and understanding,” and acknowledge our students’ “cultural authenticity.” This is because they will not learn from teachers they see as “hostile to their reality.” Most of the people who run these sessions have never taught a class in their lives but believe me, the LAUSD is deadly serious about this stuff.

Teachers can’t discuss intelligence or racial differences in “behavior, focus or drive,” Morrison writes. If black or Hispanic students score below average, it must be due to “racism, oppression, cultural differences and textbooks.”  White or Asian students who don’t learn must be victims of “poor teaching methods, run-down school buildings, or lazy and uncaring teachers.” Above all, “students are never to blame if they misbehave, fail to study, or can’t understand the curriculum.”

The fads come and go and then come again with a new name.

Professional developments I have been subjected to include: Left-brain/Right-Brain Strategies, Self-Esteem, Relevance, Alternative or Authentic Assessments, Values Clarification, Critical Thinking Skills, Inventive Spelling and Writing, SLCS (small schools within schools), Rubrics, Metacognition, Tapping into Prior Knowledge, Differentiated Instruction, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, Learning Centers, and Multi-Sensory Education. And there are many more.

A huge PD bureaucracy makes lots of money selling snake oil, Morrison writes.

Asian students win bias settlement

Beaten and bullied at South Philadelphia HIgh, Asian immigrant students were credited for forcing the district to agree to provide translators and parental notification in future cases of harassment and violence, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. In addition, the district agreed not to portray victims of attacks as perpetrators or gang members.

Hao Luu, an immigrant from Vietnam, was beaten badly by 10 to 15 students who followed him after school. When his grandmother complained, the school blamed Luu for the attack, falsely accused him of being a gang member and banned from the school.

At one point, officials accused Luu of taking part in a fight in Philadelphia in 2008, when he was living in Virginia. A notice of his suspension hearing went to his family in English, a language they struggle to understand.

Luu, now 18, has not returned to South Philadelphia High, which houses a program for students learning English. Nineteen percent of students are English Learners, most of them from Asia.

Asian students complained of being targeted by black classmates. Federal investigators found the district had deprived Asian students of equal protection by remaining “deliberately indifferent” to “severe and pervasive” harassment and violence.

Via Learning the Language.

After race riots, is there hope?

Last year, Asian immigrant students walked out of South Philadelpha High to protest the administration’s failure to protect them from attacks by blacks. The school is 70 percent black and 18 percent Asian; many are recent immigrants.

A new principal has installed security cameras, hired bilingual staffers, ordered diversity training and started a club to take Asian and black students on group trips. Immigrant students no longer will be isolated (and sheltered) on the second floor. Can South Philly High be saved?

Duong Nghe Ly, a victim of violence and a walk-out leader, is back for his senior year, AP reports.  Ly praises the English as a Second Language classes, the caring teachers and the computer lab.

“If I study hard I will get a lot of opportunities, scholarships, grants…,” he says. “It’s rewarding to work hard and study hard here, more than in Vietnam. I can go to a better school, go to college, get a career, then I can take care of my parents. So I like it more here.”

Wali Smith, who  holds workshops on anger management and conflict resolution in various schools, said black students resent Asian immigrants “studying on their special second-floor sanctuary,” which offered language classes and a welcoming environment.

“Those (black) kids feel the majority of the staff there does not care about their education,” Smith says. “They see these Asian kids come in and be nurtured, and they want that same kind of comfort.”

Then there is a small group of troublemakers with a value system that says, “it’s cool to be gangster,” Smith says. “But really you’re afraid, a scared coward. So you take advantage of weak people.”

In a Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, Ly called for zero tolerance for racism. In the past, some staff members “mimicked our accents, ignored our concerns when students were attacked at school, and showed a lack of understanding.”

Students of different races need a “chance to safely communicate and eliminate misunderstandings,” he wrote. Immigrant students have campaigned “to keep everyone safe regardless of race or language.”

We immigrant students gave up everything in our countries to come to the United States, hoping for a good education and a better future. Getting a good education in a safe school should be a right, not a privilege. We never thought we would have to fight for that right, but we are glad we did.

Ly came to the U.S. speaking very little English in 2008.  His parents are poorly educated. His father works as a cook; his mother is unemployed. This summer, Ly held an internship at the University of Pennsylvania on Asian health issues, took a psychology class at a community college and started work on his college essays. He is going to succeed no matter what.

His classmates — black and Asian — will be much more likely to get an education and a decent future if South Philly High stops letting gangstas rule the school.

UC ‘diversity’ means more whites, fewer Asians

University of California’s new admissions policy will increase the number of whites, reduce Asian enrollment and give a very small boost to Hispanics and blacks. The university no longer will require applicants to take three SAT II subject tests. From the San Jose Mercury News:

“It’s affirmative action for whites,” said UC-Berkeley professor Ling-chi Wang.

. . . Under the new policy, according to UC’s own estimate, the proportion of Asian admissions would drop as much as 7 percent, while admissions of whites could rise by up to 10 percent.

California’s Asian-American students are much more likely to take college-prep classes, earn high grades, do well on subject-matter and math tests and apply to public universities.  However, they don’t do quite as well as whites on the SAT I “reasoning” test, which relies on verbal skills, because so many speak English as a second language.

Asian-Americans make up 37 percent of UC students, though they’re only 12 percent of California’s population. At UC-Berkeley, 46 percent of the freshman class is Asian. Giving preferences to students from low-income families qualifies more Asian-Americans for UC.

The only policy change that’s boosted admit numbers for Hispanic and black students is relying more heavily on class rank:  Students with good grades at heavily minority high schools may qualify for UC despite weak test scores.