Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Not All Immigrants are Equal

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.


trigger warning said...

SS: "American children are falling behind."

Gotta disagree. American children have fallen behind. Irretrievably, for the current and prior generations. I have taught 12th grade dropouts in GED Math that were incapable of solving 3rd grade problems, and college freshmen and sophomores with high school diplomas who couldn't deal with parentheses and exponents in the order of operations.

I note in passing the general teacher strike organized by The Pussyhat Brigade, depriving the ignorant little studentoids of yet another day of "education".

If Donald Trump achieves nothing else, the replacement of Ted Kennedy Delirium Tremens immigration policy with an immigration policy advantageous to America will be reason enough for his election.

David Foster said...

My impression is that most of the people here on H-1B visas are not here because they are doing esoteric tasks such as neural network research in computer science and advanced vibration analysis to predict the behavior of turbomachinery, for which tasks there (may be) a shortage of Americans to perform the work, but rather such tasks as low-level programming, system administration, technical support, etc, for which American citizen employees could indeed be found by simply paying higher $.

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: Well, children who flourish cannot compete with children whose parents adopted a more martial approach to bringing them up.

The word martial is telling, being based on the Roman god of war, Mars. And more generally we can consider Mars represents a masculine quality. And for that matter flourish represents a more feminine quality, suggesting all you need is good nutrients for positive change to happen.

So this is being framed as a gender battle of sorts, and that's probably true. And it does seem like society has moved towards a distrust of masculine power, and keeping it properly caged and shamed into submission.

So teachers, male or famale, are not allowed to keep discipline in their own classrooms, and rather than enabling a 1 second ruler slap on the back of a hand, rebels are treated by "higher authorities", going to the principal's office or detention for talking back to teachers or whatever. So we can contrast the efficiency of a ruler slap to a later bigger choice between holding back a student a grade because he was rarely in class, or letting him slide forward in ignorance, but his self-esteem propped up by keeping the same classmates to show off in front of.

I'm sure actual physical punishment is only a small part of this debate, but it does seem symbolic of numerous other levels where people in positions of authority are disrespected without consequences.

And perhaps this "collective weakness" is what makes Donald Trump seem strong. Whether or not he says things as they are is an open question, and whether his attacks are honest or just trying to deflect from his own weakness, he's willing to act like an asshole, and be disliked, knowing at least he'll be respected.

I recall this article or one like it, where Trump slapped Jr in college.
"Don Jr. opened the door, wearing a Yankee jersey. Without saying a word, his father slapped him across the face, knocking him to the floor in front of all of his classmates," Melker writes on Facebook. "He simply said 'put on a suit and meet me outside,' and closed the door."

The story was meant to show Trump's intemperance, but would Jr. have flourished better if Trump had catered to Jrs needs for affection and admiration for being a drunk in college?

You almost think we should have parent classes that allow us to learn how to slap and beat our children so we'll be ready when those special moments come when your child needs to know he's crossed a line that should not be crossed.

And I'm half serious. The main problem is it can feel good in the moment to hurt someone who has made you look bad by association, and that's a dangerous place, and most adults will feel remorse later. So ideally action chosen should not cause remorse later. And ideally a young man will later admit "I deserved that".

trigger warning said...

It's not just a matter of expertise, David. I know from experience that it's difficult to get young Americans to simply show up to work on time. Iny retirement, I "create" a couple of yard jobs on an ongoing basis. I've had both Americans (young and middle age) and Latinos working for me. The Americans can't seem to get here on time. They want to debate my choice not to be "organic" and use products like Roundup and Preen. I had one young snowflake who demanded he be immediately driven home because he got a bee sting. Said sting was, by the way, was not visually detectable. Give me a Latino, and particularly a Mexican, any day.

And, by they way, I pay well over the local minimum wage.

As an aside, the best American yard guys I've hired were, to a man, homeschooled.

Sam L. said...

Schools could be a part of the problem, too.