Asian Students Don’t Deserve Praise? (by Guest Blogger Wen Li)

Note: This post was written in response to a recent NY Times article titled “For Asians, School Tests are Vital Stepping Stones” (written by Kyle Spencer).

The attached article illustrates a good example of hard working Asian students, and in return, the acceptance into the elite schools. In order to get into these elite schools, students need to pass the admission test, which requires tremendous amount of test-preps beforehand, and they cost about $2,000 a year.

Some are arguing that such thing as admission test is not fair, and the elite school should take into accounts the student’s overall grade, teacher’s recommendation, and leadership skills when matriculating students. Moreover, the black and Hispanic activists are also going against this idea of admission competition, saying that it’s discriminating, because many of their students can’t afford such score raising tutoring, and thus can’t get into the elite schools.Not surprisingly, the majority of students accepted into elite schools are Asians or of Asian descents.

However, I would want argue that what’s wrong with Asian parents sacrificing their own leisure time to work over 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to pay for their kids’ test prep classes? Is this a form of jealousy or racism, because Asian students are more academically successful? What is really causing the low performance of other minority students besides the tiresome argument over the availability of test prep?  Most importantly, I want to draw out the big picture: Has the world ever been fair? Is Bill Gates obligated to share his money with me? Is it wrong to work so industriously


7 thoughts on “Asian Students Don’t Deserve Praise? (by Guest Blogger Wen Li)

  1. Wen,

    I don’t think that the world is fair but I don’t think that gives us reason to stop working toward fairness and equality in the world. Yes, everyone will have a different experience when it comes to life, and I do think that there will be times where someone work harder than someone else for something (I am totally owning this statement: I can think of several people that work their butts off and have totally earned that iPad that they bought…me, not so much) but there is also a time where we have to level a playing field that has been stacked against others.

    I do favor a holistic approach to looking at students when it comes to admissions. And I’d also like to point out that a parent can also be working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and still not have the money to afford test prep. There are a lot of components that go into student achievement and I think evaluation should reflect that.

    • Savannah,

      Thank you for responding. I totally understand your point of many factors can go into the evaluation of student’s achievement, and I also like your idea of a holistic approach to make the system more fair and equitable. However, what should a holistic approach look like? How difficult is it to attain?

  2. Wen,

    This is a good subject to talk about and I appreciate that you had the gusto to bring it up. It’s hard for me being white, and as we’ve talked about I hold a position of racial power, to fully comprehend what anyone else of color goes through on a daily basis. When I hear arguments about racial equality, I feel like it is hard for me to step in and say what is right or wrong. However, I feel like I should add my two cents here.

    I have had friends of many races growing up. Each family worked hard and the parents wanted the best for their children. However, from my personal experience, I did notice that Asian parents seemed to work the hardest and encouraged their children to do the same. That is not to say that the black, white, and native parents didn’t also encourage their kids to work hard, it was just a different way of going about it. So when I see Asian students making it into elite schools, it makes sense to me. They’ve always been pushed harder in academics because that what their culture is geared towards.

    So is it racist that Asian students are getting into these elite schools more often? No, I do not believe so. Like you said Wen, their parents sacrifice a lot of time and energy to make sure their children are provided for. I am in no way calling any body in any race more or less lazy. I am merely speaking from personal experience and using that to broaden out an argument.


    • Eli,

      Thank you for replying. It’s always been a sensitive issue when involving different race/ethnicity in any background setting, whether education, employment, etc., but I just want to make it clear that some form of stigmatization in society is usually associated with whether or not we are White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian. And I don’t think that this is fair to any of us, particularly when someone say to me:”You are Asian, and You are meant to be smart.” To tell the truth, I don’t know if I should take it as an insult or a compliment when that person doesn’t really see the full picture.

    • You brought up some very interesting points, however, I don’t feel that schools should just take one test into account while deciding admissions, or at the very least, not a test that has no scientific proof of being able to determine the success-fulness of a student.
      This test based admittance, with focus on numbers being of the utmost importance has also carried over the school in general, which leads to things like 70 students being caught cheating on test.

      While the type of environment at Stuyvesant will always lead to some sort of cheating, perhaps if they didn’t focus so much on numbers numbers numbers from the very get go, students wouldn’t feel the need to cheat to try to do better.

  3. Wen,

    This is a difficult issue, especially if we are still pushing towards equity in education. I can see the arguments on both sides. Certainly, students should never be punished or made to feel illegitimate when they have clearly worked hard. However, we cannot assume that students who are unable to pass a test are not hard workers. Further, we can’t assume that parents who are too poor to help their students prepare for a test are any less than those parents who can help their students prepare.

    What is undeniably wrong with this situation is the mode that is used for admission into this particular school. There has been a lot of discussion in this class about standardized testing, and about how it generally discriminates heavily against racial minorities and impoverished students. It isn’t the best way to look at a student “holistically,” as Savannah pointed out. A student may study well, but can they think critically about a topic? Can they participate in class discussions in a competent way? Can they work well with other students? I have a hard time imagining a test that could show any admissions committee what a student looks like as a whole.

    Further, anything that so clearly discriminates against members of society is not just a matter of “fair” and “unfair,” or “hardworking” and “lazy.” It’s cultural. Maybe many of those Asian students have cultural values that are focused differently than Hispanics or African Americans. Does that mean that they deserve more or better opportunities? Besides for that, how can we really tell if a student is a hard worker based upon a test? I know that, because of the type of learner that I am, I can pass a test without any studying just fine. Others aren’t necessarily the same way.

    In the end, it comes back to the standardized test. It’s not an equitable way to assess a student, or a teacher, and shouldn’t be used as the sole admission tool for any kind of school, whether it is a private school, public school, or a charter school.

  4. I think that race does not have a place in who gets admitted to the school. Its should be based on the students performance race is irrelevant to the matter. As for me i don’t think that bill gates owes me anything he made his own money and he should be in charge of who he gives it too.

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