U.S. News’ Gold Medal High School List & Asian American Students

U.S. News and World Report put out their “Gold Medal” list of the top 100 public high schools in the United States. As expected some of the real estate forums in the San Francisco Bay Area picked this up and it started some lively debates on buying housing for the schools and school district; and of course conversations on the Asian American population in those neighborhoods and attending one of those schools.

The first comment in the forums was that ten of the top 100 high schools are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, 10% of the top schools are in area where approximately 2% of the population of the United States lives. The second comment was of the 10 Bay Area schools, four were predominantly Asian, which led to someone quoting Principal Skinner from the Simpsons: “Well, Edna, for a school with no Asian kids, I think we put on a pretty darn good science fair.” The latest comment talked about building a “Great Wall of Cupertino” (in reference to the large Chinese population in Cupertino, CA).

These discussions intrigued me a bit, and I researched the top high schools a little further. It turns out U.S. News also gives out the student population break-downs by ethnicity and ranks the schools that way. For example, there is a list of high schools in the top 100 ranked by their Asian American student population. To my surprise the top of the list wasn’t one of the 4 from the Bay Area mentioned earlier. It’s the “High School for Dual Languages and Asian Studies” in New York City, with an 87.7% Asian American population. California high schools did take spots 2 through 7 (84.9% to 70.5% Asian American) before giving up spot 8 to Stuyvesant (64.8%), another New York City area high school. Even in the other 6 top high schools in the Bay Area, the Asian American population is much higher than in the population in general.

That of course leads to the obvious question: oo Asian Americans make a high school rank higher, or does the high ranking drive more Asian Americans to the school? Or is it just a self-fulfilling prophecy? Finally, if all these Asian Americans are rushing to get their kids into these schools, and I’m not, does that reinforce that I’m the worst Asian American parent ever?

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Author: Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.