The Wall Street Journal editorial wants it to be about immigration policy, specifically about H-1B visas offered to exceptionally talented people. It argues that America needs immigrants because American schoolchildren cannot compete. But, it does not distinguish between immigrants from different parts of the world. Of course, the people who have for the most part been targeted by the Trump immigration ban are not here on H-1B visas.
The data tells us that all immigrants are not created equal. But it also tells us that American schoolchildren are being outperformed by children from certain other parts of the world.
At issue is the Regeneron Science Talent Search… which judges the scientific research produced by high school students. The Journal notes that “the ranks of prodigies are increasingly dominated by progeny of immigrants.” 83% of the finalists in last year’s competition were children of immigrants. In 2004 the number was 60%.
Does this not suggest that the decline and fall of the American school system and American childrearing has been rapidly accelerating? But, think of it this way: American children have high self-esteem and believe in diversity. Apparently, diversity training does not make you a whiz at math. The children of recent immigrants have largely been able to avoid these aspects of American secondary school education.
Where did these immigrant children come from? Did they come from Mexico and Central America? Did they come from the Muslim countries that were targeted by the Trump administration?
No, they did not. Mostly, they came from the countries you would expect them to have come from. That is, from Asian countries:
While most of the finalists’ parents immigrated from India (14 of 40) or China (11), some came from Canada, Cyprus, Iran, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Nigeria. Ingenuity and its genetic antecedents span the globe.
In fact, the finalists did not span the globe. They mostly came from the same Asian countries whose students systematically outperform their American peers. I recall that during his State of the Union address President Trump suggested that immigration be based on merit, on what immigrants might contribute to the United States. The Regeneron competition sustains his point.
The larger point is: what’s wrong with American students?
Evidently, American parents do not care to inculcate the values and the good habits that would translate into great academic performance. The nation debated the issue when Tiger Mom Amy Chua wrote a book showing how she had overcome the American way of parenting and had brought up her daughters in a more traditional Chinese way. She seemed to believe that it was important to shield her daughters from the more pernicious trends in American culture.
Most American parents, their beliefs sustained by so-called experts, detested the Chua book. They believe that hard work and rigorous discipline, accompanied by less partying, would make their children unpopular and incapable of having lots of fun. American parents do not want their children to be grinds. They want their children to flourish.
Well, children who flourish cannot compete with children whose parents adopted a more martial approach to bringing them up.
The Journal and Mr. Anderson offer the opinion that children from certain cultures are brought up differently. Surely that seems to be the case.
The Journal explains:
One question the study raises is why children of immigrants are outperforming native Americans in technical fields. Mr. Anderson observes that immigrant parents may be more likely to cultivate in their children values such as perseverance, independence, a love of learning and interest in innovation.
This tells us that merit-based immigration policy has much to recommend it. It also tells us that the American way of bringing up children is a bust. In the clash of civilizations, American children are falling behind.