And Joanne Jacobs has a post that offers a reason why: Asian parents push their children harder.
When a Chinese-American student wrote about the Asian-Mexican achievement gap in the Alhambra High newspaper, many Latino students were angry, the LA Times reports. But Robin Zhou's column, which argued Asian parents push their children harder than Latino parents, eventually sparked discussion.
(Psychologist Laurence) Steinberg's research further suggested that an "attitudinal profile" influenced academic success, and that Asians tended to have the most students that fit the profile.
The first variable wasn't parental involvement, as Zhou concluded, but something more subtle: parental expectation. Steinberg asked students what was the worst grade they could get without their parents getting angry. For Asian children, it was a B-plus; for Latino and African American children, it was a C.
. . . Steinberg found two other differences that seemed linked to success. Asian children were much more likely to attribute their grades to hard work rather than aptitude. They also were more likely to believe that doing poorly in school would harm their chances for success in life. (My emphasis.)
Joanne's post goes on to note how Latino students complained about teacher low expectations. While I certainly believe that teachers should expect the same from all students, I don't necessarily blame teachers if they don't. I blame the "diversiphiles" and "edu-babblists" who tell teachers, for example, that different groups "learn differently" and how they "may not be able to relate to you" as a [white] teacher ... and all the peripheral edu-garbage that goes along with those two beliefs. For example, a couple years ago I heard from teachers at a nearby school whose administration once considered not allowing teachers to grade homework -- because students that come from poorer backgrounds frequently don't do it.
What is that, if not lowered expectations, hmm?
UPDATE: In a semi-related piece, Greg reports on a Washington Times article that says Americans' fast-paced lifestyle has resulted in a severe decline in manners:
A whopping 93 percent blamed parents.
Peggy Newfield, founder and president of Personal Best, said the generation that came of age in the times-a-changin' 1960s and 1970s are now parents who don't stress the importance of manners, such as opening a door for a female.
. . . Miss Newfield also blamed "the media."
Sulking athletes and boorish celebrities grab the headlines while television and Hollywood often glorify crude behavior.
At school, I'm frequently referred to by just my last name (no "Mr."), students interrupt me or another student when I'm (they're) having a conversation, and bumping others in the hallways is frequently not accompanied by "excuse me" or "sorry about that."
Not all, or even a majority (at least my students) are culprits, and I must say many of my students are incredibly polite. But I have indeed seen manners wane in my 15 years in the classroom, that's fer sher.
UPDATE (2:27pm): The LA Times has more on the reaction to Zhou's column.