(From Caixin Online)
A cultural fault line in Silicon Valley has divided the American high school into labels of those from families of Asian background and everyone else
By Samuel E. Liu
Tiger parenting is by now a well-documented phenomenon that has given pundits everywhere an extra column or two, and, for a certain original tiger mother, a New York Times bestseller.
I have something of a strange tie to tiger parenting. I grew up in Silicon Valley, home of Apple, Google and the new American dream, a place where almost all my friends had Asian immigrant parents. I also go to Harvard, which is coincidentally the same school that Amy Chua’s children attend, or attended. I recall Lulu, the younger daughter, walking into a dorm room and introducing herself to me while I struggled mightily to pretend that I had not already pored over her life story as told by her mother.
In my hometown, tiger parenting could be seen as a sort of litmus test to see which culture you were most familiar with. For a long time, Saratoga, my hometown of 20,000, was almost entirely white. And then the tech revolution brought new-money immigrants like my Chinese-born parents into the tech sector, where after a stock market boom or two they could afford a house in Saratoga, in all its suburban glory, with pristine lawns and an allegedly-pristine school system.
To say that whites resented Asians or Asians resented whites would be a gross exaggeration of a largely utopian merger. Youth soccer leagues were run by parents of multiple ethnicities: Indian, white, Chinese, Korean. Often, they were co-workers in their fields. Parental involvement was unified in activities spanning musicals to the Parent-Teacher Association.
But it was in academics where one could smell the distinct coded scent of a split. There’s a nearby high school called Lynbrook, which by now is probably upwards of 90 percent Asian. I had a friend there who used to joke that they called the white people “the few five,” as it seemed there were only five of them. Everyone knew the one black student by name.
The Wall Street Journal came out with an article a few years back documenting “The New White Flight,” a twist on a term used to describe the phenomena of white people moving out of poor neighborhoods, taking their tax dollars with them, and often leaving the largely-black schools derelict and underfunded. At Lynbrook and nearby schools, the Journal writes, whites weren’t quitting schools because the schools were bad. And they weren’t harming them academically when they left; more Asians just moved in. “Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they’re leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurricular activities like sports and other personal interests. Read more
Categories: AT Opinion