NYT last weekend has 2 opinions, pro and con on mayor DiBlasi’s attempt to change the admission standards for elite high schools in NYC. It’s standard arguments by liberal intelligentsia on both sides trying to be reasonable, yet totally missing the point. The fact is student population at Stuyvesant is less than 5% African American, and more than 60 % Asian, or more precisely, more than 50% Chinese American. I myself have mixed feelings on this topic, as I attended a public HS in the early 60s that’s 75% Blacks and Puerto Ricans and still managed to get in an Ivy League school. My son attended Stuyvesant and hated it with the 3 hours round trip commuting and lack of sleep, and I regretted pushing him to attend it.
The conflict pits Chinese American community against African American and Hispanic communities with charges of discrimination, quotas, and diversity arguments flying back and forth. Obvious it has implication on the Ivy League schools’ admission policy with regard to the limits on Chinese students. I am in favor of some form of affirmative action as China do by adding 20 points to minority nationality students in their college entrance exams and actively trying to eliminate poverty in those areas. The question here is why the education system here is failing students except in some of the elite schools? It’s certainly not the financing or teachers per se. If we go into the deeper reasons, whether it be income inequality, residential segregation, family values, or residual effects of slavery, we can’t avoid going into the big elephant in the room, Capitalism and profit motive, which nobody wants to touch. Liberals are losing to Trumpism by emphasizing politically correctness, standing on high ground and looking down on the deplorables while losing the cultural war.
DiBlasi’s proposal whether it passes the state legislatures will not solve the problem, but it will visually soothe some feelings while structurally left the system in tact. Chinese parents can easily skirt it by enrolling their children in low performing middle schools and saving them a bundle by not needing those cram courses, and they will automatically be granted entry to elite schools being in the top 10%. 10 years from now there will be another outcry on why elite schools are still predominantly Chinese and new proposals restricting enrollments to neighborhood middle schools or segregation will be enacted.
China has started the ambitious “China 2025” to challenge U.S. dominance in technology. The U.S. has responded by throttling ZTE and showing the bottle neck in semiconductors. This action only reinforce the need for independence and accelerates the drive. The fact that West is always cognizant of Chinese threat and various events has delayed that response. Certainly 9/11 and 2008 financial meltdown gave China extra 17 years to face the reaction. The neocons were ready to target China over the spy plane incident when 9/11 diverted it to anti-terrorism. 2008 financial meltdown caused emphasis on strengthening economy and Wall Street.
China has used the intervening years well, from building the “Great Fire Wall”, enlarging the South China Sea Islands, to elevating Xi Jinping as leader with vision for future. Some may disagree with GFW for censorship and disrupting free communications. Yet censorship is necessary for filtering out harmful diseases like greed, pornography, and ideology detrimental to harmonic society we aspire. Certainly elites or scientists have no problem accessing internet by jumping through GFW with minor delay. The South China Sea assertion of sovereignty is important in limiting U.S. Seventh Fleet on encroaching on Chinese sea coast and expanding Chinese naval presence. And we only need to compare the biography of Xi and the accomplishments of last 5 years with Trump’s disasters to see the opposite directions of 2 countries. China has sent hundreds of thousands of students to Western countries annually in investing for the future. Yet the return is not that obvious when without inoculating them against hostile ideology and values, many become infected and turned against her.
The liberal values of Ivy League colleges portrayed U.S. as freedom loving, free thinking, without giving any historical contexts. One good thing about Trump’s ascension is open the façade of humanism in Capitalism. Historically we have Rockefellers, Fords, or Carnegies, having philanthropical foundations ameliorating the worst aspects of Capitalism, but now Trump has make racism, white superiority, and immigrant bashing if not totally respectable, at least publicly bearable. The liberals always hide behind the “Constitution”, “Lady Liberty”, or “Founding Fathers”, to divert any criticism against Capitalism. Americans are always proud of their exceptionalism, that we did not participate in colonialism as Europeans did, discounting Puerto Rico and Philippines. Yet the 2 greatest crimes against humanity occurred in U.S.. That’s the extermination of Native Americans and slavery. We sent Native Americans blankets infected with small pox as gifts and celebrate Thanksgiving as historical drama of Native Americans helping Pilgrims to survive. We make “The Rule of Law” a mockery by tearing up hundreds of treaties whenever we need their land for farming, or oil, or gold is discovered in their barren reservations. The Constitution was a compromise that treated slaves as subhuman and the resulting effect on society I do not need to belabor other than China eliminated slavery 2,500 years ago.
China has been establishing Confucian Institutes around the world to push soft power Chinese values, and even that minimal goings face push back by West. I do think China’s education ministry should require a course of Chinese and American history before allowing students to go to West for higher learning. I learned Opium Wars in grade school and “Brain Washed” to not touch drugs even when it makes me socially awkward in refusing a joint. The soft power push should start at home and young. I think the recent offerings at CCTV on “Reading Aloud”, second season, which gave interviews to people having a story to tell before letting them recite from books or poems is great in soft power education.