December 30, 2011

Waiting for SuperMandarin

A reader writes:

"Can you call 'em or what? I just happened to re-read your review of the education documentary Waiting for Superman last night.  You talked about how the director [Davis Guggenheim] drove past 3 public schools in his area [the L.A. beach community of Venice] because they supposedly had "bad teachers" to send his kid to a private school. You said that instead of "bad teachers", the reason he avoided those schools was likely because their enrollments were nearly all NAM.  And you pointed out that one of the schools was starting a Mandarin immersion program, and that they might be doing that to attract higher scoring kids.

"Now, today's LA Times has an article about that very program, and how popular it is, and guess what?  Almost everyone in the immersion program is white or Asian:"
Broadway Elementary last year joined the ranks of more than 200 schools across the state to offer a dual-language immersion program in which students learn in two languages with the goal of becoming academically proficient in both. In the school's "50-50" program, teachers who use Mandarin in the classroom and those whose instruction is in English are paired, and students spend half their day with each. 
Broadway began the program to help boost plummeting enrollment — the school had reached a low of 257 students in 2008-09. The experiment worked — maybe too well.
With about 130 students in the Mandarin program so far, school enrollment is now at 330. Principal Susan Wang is concerned that the dual-language learners will outnumber the students in the regular school classes. And, by 2013-14, she figures that the Mandarin program will need a bigger home. 
The newcomers to the Mandarin program also changed the demographics of the little neighborhood school. In 2009, 81% of Broadway's students were Latino, 15% were black, six were white and none were Asian. The next year, the new classes of Mandarin immersion students were almost exclusively white and Asian.

I don't disapprove of the contortions that affluent beach-town liberals go through to keep their kids out of classrooms dominated by the children of illegal Mexican immigrants. What I do disapprove of is how those same people demonize less-privileged Americans who want a little of the same thing for their own children when they ask for our border laws to be enforced.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Waiting for Supermandarin.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's like some stores playing classical music to keep the 'youths' out.

dearieme said...

Mandarin nuttin'. Years ago English people living in Wales discovered that it was better to send your child to a school where he would be taught Welsh than one where he wouldn't be. The reason is that teaching any taxing subject keeps the dimwits (or, perhaps, the children of dimwits) out of the school.

Steve Sailer said...

Okay, Anonymous, I will steal your title.

AllanF said...

I'm skeptical that these dual-immersion programs are all they're cracked up to be. We know dual-immersion spanglish doesn't help mestizo kids nearly as much as single immersion, so why should dual-immersion be superior for white & asian kids?

And which, brings up one of my axes I never shirk grinding... if head-start is an utter financial waste in as much as one cannot tell which 6th grade ghetto kids attended it vs. which did not, why should expensive pre-schools make any difference for suburban white kids? I submit they do not make any difference, and I'll save my money for other more useful things than glorified and over-priced babysitters, thank you very much. :-)

Anonymous said...

"I don't disapprove of the contortions that affluent beach-town liberals go through to keep their kids out of classrooms dominated by the children of illegal Mexican immigrants. What I do disapprove of is how those same people demonize less-privileged Americans who want a little of the same thing for their own children when they ask for our border laws to be enforced."

That pretty much says it all. My guess is that the real contortions come in when they try to convince themselves that that's not what they're doing.

Tickle Me Guillermo said...

Yes, border laws should be enforced. But ironically, Hispanics in some communities serve as border between blacks and whites. I recall parts of NY where whites were buffered from blacks thanks to browns. Browns, though problematic, were still favorable to blacks.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if they come up with special programs just so local activist types can protest against the disparate impact of them a few years later, then repeat cycle.

Duke of Qin said...

Steve, reading the article I am unsure as to the method these White and Asian parents are using to muscle out the NAMS. In reading you previous article on the gentrification of urban Chicago, I was under the impression that people were using/abusing any number of laws that blacks are invariably guilty of violating (in that case animal cruelty?) to have them evicted.

In this case though, I do not see how these same parents can have black children thrown out of the school. Or is this dual language educational track similar to a full AP course load in high school which functionally segregates the students into different classes even if they share the same physical premises and the only interaction between the two is in the brief periods to move from one class to the next? I suppose if you stagger class periods for certain students, you can probably avoid interacting with NAM students entirely.

Anonymous said...

Deborah Fallows on Chinese.

Marlowe said...

The Upper class English no doubt learned Greek & Latin for much the same reason.

Did anyone go through Japanese classes in the late '80s on the assumption that by now the Land of the Rising Sun would control the whole world? How did that work out?

stari_momak said...

"Japanese classes in the late '80s on the assumption that by now the Land of the Rising Sun would control the whole world? "

You know, last time I checked Sony owned a major Hollywood studio, and the Japanese have built plants all over the upper South to take advantage of some of our most capable lower priced labor. Seems to me that they are still doing pretty well, even if they failed to take over the world.

Kylie said...

"We know dual-immersion spanglish doesn't help mestizo kids nearly as much as single immersion, so why should dual-immersion be superior for white & asian kids?"

Why indeed. Because mestizo kids are virtually indentical to white and asian kids in terms of IQ, health, nutrition, family structure, exposure to reading, culture, etc.

"if head-start is an utter financial waste in as much as one cannot tell which 6th grade ghetto kids attended it vs. which did not, why should expensive pre-schools make any difference for suburban white kids?"

Why indeed. Because ghetto kids are virtually identical to suburban white kids in terms of IQ, health, nutrition, family structure, exposure to reading, culture, etc.

Tom Regan said...

Forget the contortions the parents are going through, what about the kids?
Having to learn in Chinese just so they can make the school habitable? Is that what its come to?
How narrow must we make the hoops these kids must jump through just to be able to attend the schools their parents and grandparents paid for?

NOTA said...

Where I live, there is at least one public school offering a French immersion education in grade/middle school. This is perfectly sensible--kids learn languages much more easily than adults. The woman I talked to whose daughter is in this school said they mostly avoided the teaching-the-test mania of the rest of the school, because the French immersion kids always did really well on the tests. (Apparently this program is run inside an otherwise low-performing school, so I guess these kids brought the school's scores up, but the low-performing kids got a lot more drilling on how to get through the standarized tests.)

RKU said...

Well, that certainly may be an aspect of the popularity of "dual immersion" programs, but it's not the only one. Lots of those programs are being established in purely affluent or even ultra-affluent schools and districts, without any hidden segrationist agenda. The main reasons are exactly the ones the backers cite, though whether those academic claims are correct or incorrect isn't clear to me.

Also don't forget that the vast majority of dual-immersion programs used to be English/Spanish, and I wouldn't be surprised if they still might be today. And in those programs, upper-middle-class white families were very eager to have their children in classes where half the students were Spanish-only immigrants, students, so the latter could help them quickly become fluent in that language. The main problem with those programs was that the immigrant students sometimes didn't learn English too well, but the affluent white parents didn't really notice that.

Maya said...

Funny that. I am seriously considering learning Latin or Hebrew to improve my working conditions. It would be a long term project, but it could make the difference between a pleasant job with long vacations and daily cancer-inducing stress.

Truth said...

Tokyo will be evacuated within 3 years, and the Japanese will be a dead people within two generations.

Anonymous said...

AlanF said:

I'm skeptical that these dual-immersion programs are all they're cracked up to be. We know dual-immersion spanglish doesn't help mestizo kids nearly as much as single immersion, so why should dual-immersion be superior for white & asian kids?


Indeed, but with a slight twist.

I would predict that the Chinese kids, who are getting Mandarin at home, will do fine, and it will not hurt their English. However, only about 10% of the white kids will pick up any useful Mandarin.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deborah Fallows on Chinese.


As soon as the stupid bint said that "there is no grammar" in Chinese I knew she was a FAIL!

Anonymous said...

"I'm skeptical that these dual-immersion programs are all they're cracked up to be. We know dual-immersion spanglish doesn't help mestizo kids nearly as much as single immersion, so why should dual-immersion be superior for white & asian kids?"

In this case the dual-immersion program is to filter out the unruly minorities.

Anonymous said...

What Dearime said about learning Welsh. Im pretty sure something similar goes on in Ireland. Children learn gaelic at school but only posh kids learn gaelic in depth and you need to be proficient to get a civil service job, thus the oiks are shut out.

But its all dressed up in terms of protecting Irish culture, rejecting English domination etc.

In fact I wouldnt be surprised to find that middle class British immigrants eg 3 out of 4 members of U2 also learnt gaelic.

AllanF said...

@Kylie "Why indeed..."

I'm cognizant of that reasoning, but I don't buy it. The HBD differences are not so great that something as basic as pre-school in 3 & 4 y.o.'s or dual-immersion in grade schoolers could result in no difference in one sub-group and out-performance in another. That doesn't match any of the things we see with higher G.

Higher G at the basic levels allows for faster learning. With advanced topics eventually higher G sorts itself in that some concepts won't stick below a certain threshold. However, dual-immersion and pre-school are at the basic level where higher G cohorts should be expected to learn at faster rates, but nothing is being taught there that lower G cohorts would be expected to be unable to retain.

Finally, I will submit the experience of the Finns where they don't start any rigorous academic work until about 7 years old and yet by jr high they have the highest standardized scores. Are you going to argue if they would only start academic rigor at 3 or 4 they would be lapping the field by jr high? I don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

Do pandas speak pandarin?

Kylie said...

"However, dual-immersion and pre-school are at the basic level where higher G cohorts should be expected to learn at faster rates, but nothing is being taught there that lower G cohorts would be expected to be unable to retain."

You apparently have not spent the time around lower G cohorts and their families that I have. Ghetto kids are so disruptive, active and talkative in a classroom setting that even when their IQs are high enough to retain the same simple info as other cohorts, they quite simply lack the receptivity to do so. You can't learn a language or much of anything else if you seldom sit down and shut the hell up for any appreciable length of time.

Ask Maya if you don't believe me.

bob said...

re dearieme and anonymous: that's simply not true of welsh medium schools. enrolment is basically determined by cultural affiliation and welsh medium school results on national exams are no better.

NOTA said...

Truth:

Huh? Is Godzilla scheduled for another appearance?

Truth said...

The nuclear disaster will prove the end of the island. Mark my words. They have already linked the deaths of 14,000 people to it, and plutonium has a 20,000 year half life.

dcite said...

I recall parts of NY where whites were buffered from blacks thanks to browns. Browns, though problematic, were still favorable to blacks.

Same is happening in DC. There are now DC neighborhoods "gentifying" which are absolutely helped by the large number of hispanics on certain blocks. Immediately when you see the hispanics you feel like it's sort of ok to go in the neighborhood. I don't know about after dark, but I am rarely made nervous by large numbers of hispanics.

Charlotte said...

"You know, last time I checked Sony owned a major Hollywood studio, and the Japanese have built plants all over the upper South to take advantage of some of our most capable lower priced labor. Seems to me that they are still doing pretty well, even if they failed to take over the world."



yeah, it doesn't always happen like Genghis Khan swooping in for the mass kill. Sometimes you just get sushied to death.

My guess is it would have been good if those eager students had stuck with their Japanese.