Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology: An Asian American Plurality – 45% Of Freshmen

(Yuqing Zhang will be a freshman at Thomas Jefferson in the fall. With him are his father, Ronald Zhang, and mother, Yehong Zhou. (By Michael Alison Chandler — The Washington Post)

Early in June, New York University and the College Board had published a study about Asian Americans attempts to dismantle the stereotype that Asian-Americans are all a bunch of math & science geeks focused on nothing but academic achievement and without legitimate needs, titled “Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight.“ 8Asians’ blogger Bo blogged about it in her post, “Breaking News: We’re not homogenous!” To possibly reinforce the stereotype and possibly suggest a rising yellow peril, today’s Washington Post, the newspaper reports on its front page, “At Magnet School, An Asian Plurality.”

“At Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the Alexandria area this year, more than 2,500 applicants vied for 485 seats. Asian American students got 219, or 45 percent of the total, while white students got 205, or 42 percent… A plurality of Asian American students in a high school class would be an anomaly in the Washington region, where fewer than one in 10 residents is Asian American. In Fairfax, which supplies most of the school’s students, people of Asian descent account for 16 percent of the population, census data show. That percentage has doubled since 1990 and is the highest in the area…The rising concentration of Asian Americans at T.J. mirrors demographic trends in other elite math and science magnet schools. In New York, the selective and specialized Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School have Asian American majorities, although about 10 percent of the metropolitan population is of Asian descent. In San Francisco, Asian Americans make up more than 60 percent of the students at selective Lowell High School and about a third of the city’s population.”

There are more Asian Americans than whites in Thomas Jefferson – it must be news! And of course, Asian Americans are good at math and science and are filling up all the science & math magnet schools across the country! Perhaps there will be a “New White Flight” in Fairfax County? Well, I am being a bit sarcastic – if you read the whole article, it really isn’t being too alarmist and raises the typical Asian American “model minority” stories and questions issues around affirmative action and college admissions.

The newspaper also references Jenny Tsai, “a recent Harvard graduate” who wrote her senior college thesis on “‘Too Many Asians at this School’: Racialized Perceptions and Identity Formationwhich I blogged about earlier this year.

Do you think the Washington Post is simply reporting the news? How do you feel about articles like these – proud? awkward? ashamed? or apathetic?

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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