Sacrificing scholastic excellence and high achievement in the name of “equity” is destructive to the health of our society as a whole. Though this story presents more of an India-rooted angle, we’ve known for decades that Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other east Asian nations’ pupils blow ours away mathematically at the same age levels. This has been such a sustained phenomenon that to ignore it is profoundly foolhardy.
It’s not racial, it’s cultural. Culture is changeable. The malignant American culture of familial brokenness, parental uninvolvement/apathy, valuing materialism and entertainment over knowledge and diligence, artifice and appearances over results and work, “equity” that undermines excellence, and other contributors to academic underperformance, needs to change for the better here. We must also strip sociopolitical agendas out of education and return to curricular fundamentals: reading, writing, mathematics, and factual history. Apply to it the rigor of late-1800s to early-1900s grade-level texts, but the updated factual knowledge of today, under stern and unyielding expectations of excellence, encouraging the hardcore work ethic of the Asian study model.
I’ve seen first-hand, even back to my childhood as a “gifted student” with such classmates, the readily apparent, tremendous value and time investment that these cultures place on education. Such families (most certainly including first-generation immigrants) are doing something right, and it should be replicated, not ignored nor discouraged.
And yes, poor kids can and do achieve high academically despite the economic handicaps. I have some first-hand experience there as non-immigrant yet economically poor “white trash”, as did many of those first- to second-generation immigrant Hmong, Han Chinese (escaping Maoist communism), non-Hmong Vietnamese, and Korean and Japanese students I knew who mostly had been treated like trash in their native lands, except for the Koreans and Japanese. Yet they succeeded in school despite their socioeconomic and linguistic limitations, and because of ferociously diligent work ethics imparted in a close familial setting. For them there was family honor in high scholastic achievement, not just personal reputation, with family valued over self.
This offers non-scholastic lessons from which we can learn.