Phi Beta Cons

Of Course Asian Students Aren’t Monolithic

Since so many students of Asian ancestry do extraordinarily well in school that elite universities have taken to using de facto quotas to keep their numbers down, people assume that all of them are academic stars — but of course that is not the case. This story in the Sacramento Bee focuses on the school’s “Full Circle Project” (FCP) which is intended to address the statistical gaps between various sub-groups. We learn, for instance, that 70 percent of Indians and 52 percent of Chinese in California have a college degree, only 16 percent of Cambodians, 13 percent of Hmong, and 10 percent of Laotians do.

At Sacramento State, some of the Asian students struggle with their courses, just like many non-Asian students.

Naturally, this gap has been exploited to wrangle a $1.8 million grant from the US Department of Education to create a “freshman learning community” intended to boost retention and graduation rates among Asian and Pacific Islanders. This is good, we read, because the program will “bust the (model minority) stereotype” that “has harmed many communities by erasing their unique struggles and depriving them of needed attention and resources.”

That’s the kind of blather than wins you grants from the federal bureaucracy. The relatively low college graduation rates among some Asian groups is not due to the “model minority” stereotype and those students are not “deprived” of attention and resources. There is no reason why Sacramento State couldn’t just encourage professors to help any student who needs it, no matter what his ancestry might be. No doubt most did so prior to this program, launched in 2012.

Ah, but the FCP puts the targeted Asian students through “introductory courses on Asian American studies and ethnic studies.” Sounds like a waste of time to me.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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