“Why do Asian students generally get higher marks than Latinos?” – this is a question that a Los Angeles Times reporter asks a group of eight Asian and Latino students, some teachers, administrators and parents of students of a Lincoln High School in Los Angeles (Boyle Heights, El Sereno and Chinatown.) Lincoln High has about 2,500 students, where both the neighborhood and student body are about 15% Asian. But “as stereotypically usual,” Asians make up 50% of students taking Advanced Placement classes, 90% of the Academic Decathlon team is Asian.
Based on census data, the academic differences don’t appear to be due to economic differences – 84% of the Asian and Latino families in the Lincoln High area have median annual household incomes below $50,000. Basically, the primary reason that is distilled from this informal conversation was unsurprisingly (at least to me), parental expectations as well as peer expectations:
“Many factors influence academic performance: class size, poverty, and school and neighborhood resources. But as the discussions at Lincoln show, expectations loom large… Frank D. Bean, a professor of sociology at UC Irvine’s Center for Research on Immigration, Population and Public Policy, has studied the Mexican work ethic and found that work and education occupy the same pedestal, and in some cases, work is even more valued. “Latino and Asian families in Lincoln Heights were essentially in the same socioeconomic boat, she [UCLA sociology professor Min Zhou] said, but Asian immigrants were more likely to have been more affluent and had better education opportunities in their native countries.”
Now this makes a lot of sense to me, since historically, education has been highly valued in Asian societies. Sadly, especially living in California in Silicon Valley, I really do not know really any Latinos or much about Latino culture. So I don’t know if the comments regarding work vs. education’s value in the Latino community are true.
The article goes on about how teachers give Asian students the benefit-of-the-doubt in a lot of cases, from things like not being as strict with Asian students without hall passes versus Latinos – as well as teachers not necessarily encouraging Latinos to take Advanced Placement courses.