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Filipinos, although now the second-largest Asian-American group, make up less than ten percent of the Asian-American population at Harvard, and are the only Asian-Americans to benefit from affirmative action programs at the University of Cali fornia. Do flgures like these point to the emergence of a disadvantaged Asian-American underclass? It is still too early to tell, but the question is not receiving much attention either. Harano also points out that the stragglers find little help in traditional minority politics. In September , for example.

In Harlem some blacks have organized a boycott of Asian-American stores. Another barrier to complete integration lies in the tendency of many Asian-American students to crowd into a small number of careers, mainly in the sciences. If we are all tracked into becoming computer technicians and scientists, this need will not be fulfilled.

Nor will they worry as much about joining large institutions where subtle racism might once have barred them from advancement. It is a tradition that causes problems for Japanese-Americans who wish to avoid current career patterns: In short, Asian-Americans face undeniable problems of integration. Still, it takes a very narrow mind not to realize that these problems are the envy of every other American racial minority, and of a good number of white ethnic groups as well.

Like the Jews, who experienced a similar pattern of discrimination and quotas, and who first crowded into a small range of professions, Asian- Americans have shown an ability to overcome large obstacles in spectacular fashion. Now they seem poised to burst out upon American society. The clearest indication of this course is in politics, a sphere that Asian-Americans traditionally avoided. Now this is changing. And importantly, it is not changing just because Asian-Americans want government to solve their particular problems.

Who thinks of Senator Daniel Inouye or former senator S. Hayakawa primarily in terms of his race? And when this occurs, Asian-Americans will have to face the danger not of discrimination but of losing their cultural identity. It is a problem that every immigrant group must eventually come to terms with.

For Americans in general, however, the success of Asian-Americans poses no problems at all. On the contrary, their triumph has done nothing but enrich the United States. Asian-Americans improve every field they enter, for the simple reason that in a free society, a group succeeds by doing something better than it had been done before: Korean grocery stores provide fresher vegetables; Filipino doctors provide better rural health care; Asian science students raise the quality of science in the universities, and go on to provide better medicine, engineering, computer technology, and so on.

Indeed, as successive waves of immigrants have shown, each new ethnic and racial group adds far more to American society than it takes away. This Fourth of July, that is cause for hope and celebration. B rian Taylor is director of Ivy Coach, a Manhattan company that advises families on how to get their students into elite colleges. A number of his clients are Asian American, and Taylor is frank about his strategy for them. That a hard working, high achieving Asian-American student would want to appear less Asian on a college application may seem counterintuitive.

But Asian-American students already make up a disproportionate percentage of the student body at many select schools, compared to their share of the general population. By most measures, Harrison Kim is a successful high school student. Not only does he have stellar grades, the year-old senior from Sammamish, WA, also plays guitar in a high school rock band and regularly performs volunteer work.

Now, he faces one of the most daunting rites of passage into young adulthood: To earn the badge, he played a central role in revitalizing a local stormwater retention pond. Kim, along with a team of volunteers he assembled, spent two sweaty summer weeks pulling shrubs and trees that had rendered the pond completely useless. But one attribute is out of his control. Kim is Korean American. Coupled with the fact that he wants to matriculate to such prestigious universities as Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Stanford, Kim fits the profile of a student who could very well be disadvantaged by the admissions process.

The existence of obstacles to Asian Americans gaining admission to elite universities stems from the perception that, as a group, they have performed relatively well in higher education. From to , the percentage of Asian American college students increased from 1. Most Ivy League schools now have undergraduate Asian-American student populations between 15 and 20 percent; Caltech and the University of California, Berkeley, regularly top 40 percent.

Considering that Asian Americans make up only 4. As the newest generation of Asian Americans like Kim seek college admission, the landscape they face shifts continuously. Some schools have historically held Asian Americans to a higher standard, whereas others have opened their doors and held out enticing offers to attract more Asian American applicants. Caught in the middle are students focusing on the balancing act of matching their own attributes and career interests with the academic programs and student preferences of colleges. But Asian Americans also deal with the added challenges of meeting higher academic standards, disproportionately applying to the most competitive majors, and picking a school that welcomes them and values diversity.

Often, several factors limit admissions for Asian Americans at elite universities, making it harder for seemingly qualified applicants to get in. Dan Golden, the author of The Price of Admission , which documents the advantages given to white applicants at elite universities, believes subtle quotas for Asian Americans come from three primary factors. First, many seats at these schools are simply not available for Asian Americans because few are children of large donors, are athletes or are relatives of alumni, otherwise known as legacies. These groups receive preference in the admissions process and typically comprise about one-third of an entering class.

Moreover, Asian Americans are not typically considered for affirmative action, unless the applicant hails from traditionally underrepresented groups, such as Southeast Asians. This means that most Asian Americans, as well as working- and middle-class whites, compete on only their merit for about half the seats available in any freshman class. Second, Golden believes admissions officials consciously limit the number of Asian Americans for fear that they would become too large a part of the student body. Harvard, for example, has kept their Asian American enrollment under 20 percent over the last decade.

Finally, Golden thinks admissions officers sometimes stereotype applicants. In his book, he points to a civil rights inquiry into discrimination against Asian Americans at Harvard. From to , Harvard accepted Asian Americans at a rate of The university maintained that preferences for athletes and legacies — predominantly white applicants — are not racially discriminatory. While writing his book, Golden spoke with many Asian American applicants who were denied admission to elite universities despite their stellar credentials.

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My interviewees all had a wide range of interests and were very qualified individuals. In , Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade offered quantitative evidence that Asian Americans are disadvantaged in the elite university applications process. He estimated that Asian Americans, on average, must score more SAT points than white applicants in order to be admitted to the eight elite universities in his sample. The University of California was not included.

Jean-Luc Sala

But there is little pressure on these universities to change their admissions biases. Mitchell Chang, a University of California, Los Angeles, professor who does research on Asian Americans in higher education, cannot think of an instance of collective legal or political action from the Asian American community on this issue in the last three decades. Instead, parents have simply resorted to putting more academic pressure on their kids.

Oiyan Poon, a former University of California, Davis, student affairs staff member, is a veteran of the college application review process. Now a researcher at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, studying higher education access issues, she thinks a disconnect exists between how Asian Americans approach college admissions and what admissions offices actually look for.

She also discovered that Asian Americans, as a whole, apply disproportionately to study the most competitive disciplines, namely science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This likely reinforces the higher standards that Asian Americans must meet to gain admissions to top-tier institutions. Harrison Kim faces a higher standard because of his profile.

Both of his parents immigrated to the United States as children and have college degrees. His father is a Boeing engineer and his mother is a homemaker. Kim hardly has the story of struggle that many admissions officers find touching when they look at minority applicants.

He also wants to be a doctor — but only after some convincing from his parents. Kim originally wanted to follow his passion for music. He has played the piano since age 4 and counts bass guitar, acoustic guitar and drums in his repertoire. He plays in a church band and a school band and even pens his own songs. Indeed, Kim has the skills to pursue a more creative, non-stereotypical career. After doing some research and speaking with them, I think being a doctor is ideal for me.

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With Koreans, you want to make your parents proud. Kim never considered applying to a school that was hoping to attract more Asian Americans, as many liberal arts colleges around the nation do, actively seeking greater diversity. Students have to dig for these gems. She originally wanted to go to Yale, but her parents heard recommendations from colleagues at work about Whitman, ranked 38th among liberal arts colleges in US News and World Report. And Whitman does not fall short on prestige, consistently garnering the highest average SAT scores of all colleges in Washington.

With only 1, students at Whitman, Kode was concerned about diversity. She had grown up in a predominantly white, middle-class suburb of Seattle and yearned for a college environment where she could become more closely connected with her Indian roots. At the time, Whitman had only a 7 percent Asian American student body, making a critical mass of Indian culture hard to come by.

Still, colleges like Whitman have one key advantage: They are keen to attract more Asian Americans in order to diversify their student body. At the time, students of color made up only 6 percent of the student body. Today, Whitman has increased its minority enrollment to 23 percent, with about 11 percent Asian American. Louis are eager to move up on rankings and would want a high-performing group like Asian Americans in their student body as well.

So Whitman, like many liberal arts colleges, has turned to creative minority recruitment strategies. The school partners with many community-based organizations, especially those that mentor and provide college prep services to underprivileged high school students, and offers a diversity scholarship for students it really wants.

Whitman even flies in up to low-income students each year to see the campus, because Cabasco believes doing so provides a better opportunity to judge the university and Walla Walla on its merits. It is hard to imagine Berkeley or Harvard flying in non-athlete freshmen prospects. In , Whitman admitted 46 percent of all applicants, but it accepted 53 percent of all Asian American applicants and 54 percent of all students of color.

When Kode arrived on campus in fall , she did not find the Indian American community she was looking for. The ethnic social events were a bit lacking, and her best friends were predominantly white and lived in her dorm. In her first year, she became jealous that her Indian friends at the University of Washington, the bigger state school in Seattle, had Indian parties, festivals and events to attend — even its own bhangra team.

Then, during her sophomore year, while walking to an event on racial diversity and tolerance, someone tried to run her over with a car. Other incidents followed, including one instance where campus security targeted minority students for security checks during a concert on campus. And they saw results. Besides an increase in students of color, there was a shiny new multicultural center on campus.

To support the increase in minority students, 15 to 18 percent of faculty and staff are people of color, twice what it was 10 years ago. Espenshade, the Princeton sociologist, suggests that applicants would do well to look beyond big-name, elite universities that attract large numbers of Asian American applicants and focus on those that still treat them as a minority in admissions. Courtney Lee does not want to follow the stereotypical path of studying math, engineering or natural sciences at an elite university. The Chinese American San Francisco native seeks the smaller learning environments of liberal arts colleges.

She is leaning toward a major in the social sciences and has strengthened her application with a plethora of nonprofit and community service experience. She volunteered with Valencia, where she tutored writing to low-income students. She also worked for Garden for the Environment, a nonprofit that cultivates small urban gardens. But her dream schools carry a hefty price tag. She hopes her scholarship applications and financial aid will come through for her. As a hedge, Lee applied to some schools on the opposite end of the spectrum, namely large public universities: Many of her friends and family members convinced her to apply to these schools as an alternative because they believed that the University of California provided quality education at a more affordable price.

When California passed Proposition , banning the use of race as a factor in admissions in , the Asian American student population system-wide increased from 25 percent in to 40 percent in But black and Latino enrollment has suffered since Proposition Because of this, University of California administrators began considering how to make their system more accessible to minority communities, and in , they revised the rules determining applicant eligibility.

These rules, which will go into effect for fall , are meant to reduce barriers for underrepresented students. The biggest change was to remove SAT subject tests as a requirement. The University of California also increased the percentage of students guaranteed admission from each high school in the state.

The old eligibility policy only gave the top 4 percent of students in each high school a guaranteed space at a University of California campus, though not necessarily their preferred campus. Now, the top 9 percent will have a slot, which benefits students from low-income communities who suffer the most serious achievement gap. A third change reduced the percentage of students statewide who receive guaranteed admission, from the top Instead, the UC will make up the difference by admitting an additional 2. But for Asian Americans who excel in tests and tend to make up a greater percentage of high achievers statewide, these changes might negatively impact their enrollment.

African American admissions were predicted to drop by 27 percent, while Asian American and Latinos registered a 12 and 3 percent drop respectively. Several Asian American professors and lawmakers called on the University of California to repeal the new rules. Retired UC Berkeley ethnic studies professor Ling-Chi Wang is one who has called on the University of California to hold off implementation of the new policies pending further studies and most importantly, consultation with minority communities.

Wang argues that this policy, along with other changes the University of California made under the current era of fiscal austerity decreasing total enrollment by 4, in the last two years and increasing tuition by 34 percent over the past year , would turn into a disaster for minority enrollment. The University of California is thus implementing a policy that runs counter to its supposed objectives, Wang has concluded. The new policy, in short, is a false promise, and if I may even put it more bluntly, a cruel hoax!

UC Davis professor Mark Rashid, who chaired the committee that recommended the new rules, said they had not originally planned to do simulations but were asked to do so later by those who opposed the reforms. Rashid argues that the University of California has an obligation to eliminate the unnecessary barriers that prevent many qualified minority students from applying, especially since research has shown that the SAT subject tests do not really predict how a student would perform in college. Besides, she argues, predicting actual enrollment is impossible. The new policy is only about eligibility to apply.

It is pretty far removed from actual enrollment. Other Asian American student groups are backing this approach.

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When the policy changes were being considered between and , Asian American student organizations joined with other minority groups to support the change as a means to increase access for all minority communities. Those of Southeast Asian heritage, for example, have college education attainment rates that match closely with the black and Latino communities. In April, the high school seniors met their college fate: Courtney Lee, who had highlighted her community work and scored above average on the SATs, was accepted to all 10 liberal arts and public colleges she applied to, including UCLA, Hampshire College and Connecticut College.

It becomes too easy to pin this result solely on the existence of Asian disadvantage. The choices that Kim and Lee made, such as the schools they applied to, the majors they picked, and the way they approached their college essays, could have affected this outcome. However, what also influences this result is the black box known as the admissions office. Each has a particular reason why they accepted or rejected these students — but the schools are not telling. As admissions offices begin a new round of recruiting, a new crop of Asian American students likewise plan on trying their luck in overcoming the odds stacked against them.

Lin Yang is a writer currently based in Taipei. This story was funded in part by the Spot. The report, by New York University , the College Board and a commission of mostly Asian-American educators and community leaders, largely avoids the debates over both affirmative action and the heavy representation of Asian-Americans at the most selective colleges.

But it pokes holes in stereotypes about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the perception that they cluster in science, technology, engineering and math. Setting the Record Straight. The report, based on federal education, immigration and census data, as well as statistics from the College Board, noted that the federally defined categories of Asian-American and Pacific Islander included dozens of groups, each with its own language and culture, as varied as the Hmong, Samoans, Bengalis and Sri Lankans.

Their educational backgrounds, the report said, vary widely: The SAT scores of Asian-Americans, it said, like those of other Americans, tend to correlate with the income and educational level of their parents. Clayton-Pederson, vice president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, who was a member of the commission the College Board financed to produce the report. The report also said that more Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders were enrolled in community colleges than in either public or private four-year colleges.

But the new report suggested that some such statistics combined campus populations of Asian-Americans with those of international students from Asian countries. The report quotes the opening to W. That question, too, is problematic, the report said, because it diverts attention from systemic failings of K-to schools, shifting responsibility for educational success to individual students.

In addition, it said, lumping together all Asian groups masks the poverty and academic difficulties of some subgroups. The report said the model-minority perception pitted Asian-Americans against African-Americans. Some have suggested that Asian-Americans are held to higher admissions standards at the most selective colleges. The report also notes the underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in administrative jobs at colleges.

Two new reports document the continued growth in the overall number of students coming to the United States from other countries. But within that broad picture are some surprising trends involving China and India, the two countries that supply the largest number of students see graphic, above. One is that the flow of Chinese students into U. Another is the recent spike in graduate students from India occurring despite a continuing small presence of Indian students at the undergraduate level.

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And yesterday the Institute of International Education IIE issued its annual Open Doors report , which covers both undergraduate and graduate students from elsewhere enrolling in the United States as well as U. China makes up nearly three-fourths of that subtotal. In fact, the number of Chinese students equals the total from the next 12 highest ranking countries after India. For example, foreign students compose only 8. Their presence has long been visible within graduate programs in science and engineering fields, of course. But the new Open Doors report documents a surge in undergraduate enrollment from China, to the point where it almost equals the number of graduate students in the country—, versus , In , the ratio was nearly 1-to Trying to understand such trends keeps university administrators up at night.

And the more they know, the better they can be at anticipating the next trend. Chinese undergraduate enrollment in the United States has grown from in to , last year. Almost all of that growth has occurred since , and there has been a doubling since It requires years of high-stress preparation, however.

A growing number of parents choose to remove their children from that pressure cooker, Blumenthal says, and look for alternatives abroad. The chance for a liberal arts education at a U. The cost of out-of-state tuition at a top public U. Recent changes in immigration policies have made the United Kingdom and Australia less desirable destinations among English-speaking countries, according to Blumenthal. She also thinks that U. Thanks to that dip, the growth in the overall number of Chinese graduate students on U. IIE puts the number last year at ,, and the CGS report says they represent one-third of all foreign graduate students.

Chinese graduate students have more options at home now. An increasing proportion of the professors at those universities have been trained in the United States and Europe, she says, and upon their return they have implemented Western research practices. At the same time, she says, the added value of a U. In the United States, a tight job market often translates into more students attending graduate school in the hope that it will give them an edge.

And if a larger proportion of those students can build a career in China, fewer need apply to U. India barely registers on a list of originating countries for U. And the overall total for —12,—actually reflects a drop of 0. India has also never had a strong connection to the United States at the undergraduate level, according to Blumenthal. The incoming class of Indian students for U. For the United Kingdom, tuition increases, visa restrictions, and a tightening of rules for those seeking work permits after college have all created greater barriers to entry, Blumenthal says.

A recent strengthening of the rupee against the U. And sluggish economic growth in India has meant fewer jobs for recent college graduates. New report provides breakdown on international enrollments by discipline and institution, showing that there are graduate STEM programs in which more than 90 percent of students are from outside the U. International students play a critical role in sustaining quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics STEM graduate programs at U. It will come as no surprise to observers of graduate education that the report documents the fact that foreign students make up the majority of enrollments in U.

However, the report, which analyzes National Science Foundation enrollment data from by field and institution, also shows that these striking averages mask even higher proportions at many individual universities. For example, there are 36 graduate programs in electrical engineering where the proportion of international students exceeds 80 percent, including seven where it exceeds The analysis is limited to those programs with at least 30 full-time students. That would lead to a shrinking of U. At Stanford, 56 percent of graduate electrical engineering students and The report also emphasizes the value that international students can bring to the U.

There is now more competition for international graduate students. CGS data on applications to U. Amory Blaine and Doogie Howser went to Princeton. Charles Foster Kane was thrown out of all three. In his informative but often vexing new book, Jerome Karabel, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, looks at the admissions process at the so-called Big Three and how the criteria governing that process have changed over the last century in response to changes in society at large. Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.

The solution they devised was an admissions system that allowed the schools, as Mr.


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Karabel says, in this period. Bill and the growing influence of faculty members, the Big Three still looked in much as they had before World War II: Karabel reports that on the eve of President John F. With federal research money and foundation grants pouring into the Big Three, the schools became less dependent on the largess of their alumni, and a radically altered social environment — galvanized by the civil rights and student protest movements — spurred the impetus for change. While at the same time it shows, in minute detail, how the likes of Nick Carraway, Oliver Barrett IV and Amory Blaine went from being typical students at the Big Three to being members of just one segment of coed, multicultural and increasingly diverse student bodies — if, that is, they could even manage to be admitted today.

In all advanced societies, income is correlated with IQ. Those three correlations guarantee that every standardized academic-achievement test shows higher average test scores as parental income increases. But those correlations also mean that a lot of the apparent income effect is actually owed to parental IQ. The same income shift moved the average PIAT score to the 82nd percentile from the 30th—a jump of 52 percentiles. They were in the top quartile of income distribution in , but they probably live in an unremarkable home in a middle-class neighborhood and send their children to public schools.

Why should almost all of the income effect be concentrated in the first hundred thousand dollars or so? But her IQ is only average. Which child is likely to test higher? Sebastian is predicted to be at the 68th percentile on the PIAT. Jane is predicted to be at the 78th percentile. For example, consider my wife v. Harvard social scientist Robert D. On the other hand, I was an only child, while my wife has three siblings. This was especially true since I went to Catholic schools for 12 years, where very large families were common.


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  7. How privileged was I by being one of a family of three rather than one of a family of eleven? My friend from the huge family has had a long, successful career as a TV sportscaster, along with some TV and movie credits as a comic actor. If you live in L. For example, I have had a pleasant life, but looking back I can see wasted opportunities. After my freshman year at Rice I came home and got a summer job at Burger King. After my sophomore year, I repaired dental equipment. Finally, after my junior year I worked as the assistant to the Chief Financial Officer of a big weedwacker manufacturing company.

    But what did the Burger King and repair jobs do for me other than teach me not to be a fry cook or repairman? These days I would have plotted to get internships in Silicon Valley or D. Quantifying how big a privilege that was seems challenging but doable. It seems to me that measuring the effects of being an only child ought to be the first thing we do when we decide to theorize about Privilege.

    By the way, however, there are other factors that may matter more in determining how Privileged you are. For example, my parents happened to turn out to be winners in the Great American Random Lottery of choosing a neighborhood to buy a home in during the s — the demographics of their neighborhood have barely changed since the s.

    In contrast, my in-laws had the bad luck to draw what nightmarishly turned out to be one of the shortest straws in America: It was almost all white until Martin Luther King came to Chicago in to demand integration. Being good liberals, my in-laws joined a pro-integration group of neighbors who all swore to not engage in white flight. But after three years and three felonies against their small children, my in-laws were pretty much financially wiped out by trying to make integration work in Austin.

    And thus after they finally sold out at a massive loss, they wound up living in a farmhouse without running water for the next two years. Bizarrely, while the once-pleasant street where my wife grew up in Austin looks nowadays like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a couple of miles to the west is Superior Street in Oak Park, IL where my father grew up in the s.

    It looks like an outdoor Frank Lloyd Wright museum today. Et cette ignorance est un atout sur lequel les chinois peuvent jouer. The complaint, filed by a coalition of 64 Asian-American organizations in , alleges a pattern of bias against Asian Americans. The lawsuit alleges that Harvard and others are covertly using race as a factor in admissions in order to keep Asian Americans out. A separate Princeton study found that students who identify as Asian need to score points higher on the SAT than whites to have the same chance of admission to private colleges.

    In briefs to the Supreme Court, Harvard defended itself, claiming that its reliance on subjective admissions criteria is a model of assessment that does not rely on quotas. But the subjective criteria are precisely how Harvard once enforced its quotas against another minority. Indeed, for Jews, this scenario is all too familiar. As I reported in City Journal last year, Asian Americans are facing the exact same discrimination that was once used to keep Jews out of Harvard.

    The anti-Semitic history is mind-boggling. This shift to a more academic emphasis coincided with the arrival in America of increasing numbers of Jewish immigrants, and Jews quickly began to make up a significant share of the student population. If you think about the fact that in , only 3. This trend did not sit well with some Harvard alumni and staff.

    There were Jews to the right of me, Jews to the left of me. These concerns found a sympathetic ear in President A. The impact was immediate and drastic. But while discrimination against Jews in the Ivies is no longer a problem, admissions records at Harvard and other elite colleges over the past quarter century reveal an uncannily similar treatment of Asian Americans. It then spiked after the federal Department of Education began an investigation in into an earlier discrimination complaint, peaking at And these figures actually understate the decline in Asian representation in the Ivies, as they do not take into account that it has occurred while Asians have been the fastest-growing racial group in the United States.

    This is also true at the most selective University of California campuses, where racial preferences were barred by the passage of Proposition in Asian enrollment at Harvard and the other Ivies has increased in recent years, though it is still far below that at the California schools.

    Anecdotal evidence of prejudiced attitudes about Asians among otherwise devoutly antiracist college officials backs up the statistical inference of discrimination. Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Golden chronicled some of these anecdotes in a book on college admissions. Dennis Saffran is a Queens, NY-based appellate attorney and writer. You can follow him on Twitter dennisjsaffran. He has written about this topic for City Journal. This scene often involuntarily flitted across my mind during the past winter, when I spent a lot of time watching people glide across expanses of ice on skates.

    The reason is that my year-old son, also an Alex, was playing in a hockey league. Having grown up in the Deep South, I was entirely innocent of ice matters when I first got into this. Two, three, four times a week, we had to drive our children 30, 60, 80 miles to some unheated structure for a practice or a game. For Alex Portnoy, athleticism was something alien.

    In the Portnoy household nobody played sports—bodies existed only to generate suffering—and there was only one thing that really went well. The goyim were wasting their time with all those sports. What the Jews had was the real ticket. All over the ice were little Cohens, little Levys, their names sewed in block letters on the backs of their jerseys. It was amazing how many there were. Occasionally, an entire front line would be Jewish, or even the front line and the defensemen. The chosen people were tough competitors, too. In fact, a Portnoy of the present, a kid with his nose pressed up against the window to borrow the self-description of another ghetto-bred Jewish writer, Theodore H.

    White would surely regard these stick-wielding, puck-handling lads as representing full, totally secure membership in the comfortable classes of American society. Some Lysenkoist suburban biological deviation, or else intermarriage, has even given many of the hockey-playing Jewish boys blond hair and even blue eyes.

    More to the point, these Jewish kids and their parents have decided to devote endless hours of childhood to an activity with no career payoff. What all the hockey-playing Jewish kids in America are not doing, during their hundreds of hours hustling to, on, and from the ice rink, is studying.

    Meanwhile, there is another ethnic group in America whose children devote their free time not to hockey but to extra study. These parents pressure school systems to be more rigorous and give more homework. This group is Asian-Americans. At the front end of the American meritocratic machine, Asians are replacing Jews as the No. They are winning the science prizes and scholarships. Jews, meanwhile, at our moment of maximum triumph at the back end of the meritocracy, the midlife, top-job end, are discovering sports and the virtues of being well-rounded.

    Which is cause and which is effect here is an open question. The one extracurricular venue where I run into a lot of Asian-Americans is a Very Serious music school in Scarsdale, the suburban town in the New York area that because of its famous school system has the most name-brand appeal for transferred Japanese executives.

    Music is a form of extracurricular activity that Mrs. Portnoys approve of, and the atmosphere at this school would be familiar to earlier generations of American Jews. In the lobby, children waiting for music lessons bend over their homework, mom perched at their shoulder. Musical exercises drift through the air, along with snatches of conversation about AP courses, recommendations, test prep, tracking, and nursery-school admissions. The hockey ethos is to be elaborately casual and gruff about competitive achievement: Outstanding performance gets you a little slap on the helmet, a good-natured insult.