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As Asians Enter, White Students Leave

Posted November. 22, 2005 08:34,   


San Jose and Cupertino, the center of Silicon Valley, are the regions where the number of Caucasian students is on a notable decline. In more than 200 high schools in this region, cited as an emerging rich district, the ratio of white students accounts for 30% of all students.

Many white students, who made up 70-80% of the area’s student body in the late 1990s are moving out of schools in this region. The situation is even worse for juniors and seniors, and in some prestigious high schools famous for sending many students to universities, white students account for less than 20%.

Prestigious high schools on the outskirts of New York, Chicago, and Florida are no exception to this rule: Asian students account for 60% to 70% of the student bodies there.

Schools with high percentage of Asian students are even called a “wonton schools.”

White students transfer to private schools or public schools in the outskirts, far from downtown, where it is not too crowded with Asian students. Some white households even move to another region to escape from the flood of Asian students.

According to white students, they avoid schools with many Asian students because “the competition is too keen and the diversity in curricular subjects cannot be guaranteed.” Since according to some, the curriculum is designed in favor of the Asian students, it is more focused on math and science subjects rather than liberal arts and art education. Therefore some say there is an imbalance of subjects, and extracurricular activities, including physical education, are being largely neglected.

On top of that, other than Korean and Japanese immigrants, who were dominant in the 1970s and 80s, immigrants from India and China, who have high enthusiasm for education, have flowed in since the mid 1990s, so the competitiveness among the Asian students is getting even fiercer than ever.

A new colloquial phrase dubbed “white student syndrome” is being used in U.S. education circles, which refers to the isolation and inferiority complex that white students sometimes go through in Asian-dominated schools.

However, it is not only the white students that feel isolated. Asian students, who account for 60% to 70% of the whole school sometimes do not have a chance to get access to various cultures, and thus experience a “cultural isolation” of their own, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Mi-Kyung Jung mickey@donga.com