September 18, 2020

REWARDING THOSE WHO WORK HARDER: Not all stereotypes are true. But the belief that the average Asian American student studies more than their counterparts of other races is correct. Or at the very least, that’s what students’ self-reported data reveal. According to a Brookings scholar, Asian American high school students spend about twice as much time studying as whites (almost 2 hours per day vs. almost one hour per day). As a group, they study more than three times as much as African Americans (who, on average, study a little more than a half hour per day). The amount of time Hispanics spend on studying is, on average, only slightly lower than that spent by whites.

The study found that the differences were not the result having to care for other household members. Working a job affected the numbers only slightly.

Parental education was associated with more time spent studying, but racial gaps persisted even after that factor was taken into account. Income level was also associated with time spent, but not nearly enough to account for the racial gaps.

The report goes out of its way to suggest some possible non-judgmental explanations for these numbers. It mentions the possibility that African American students are not being sufficiently challenged because of teachers’ low expectations or because too few advanced courses are being offered at their schools.

No matter what the explanation, the figures are worth noting. Time on task is hugely important to the success of nearly all kinds of human effort. Academic pursuits are no exception.

During the 1996 campaign for Proposition 209, I twice heard the argument (put forth with apparent earnestness) that race preferences in admission are necessary, because Asian American students study too much and it’s just not fair. When I heard that argument, all I could do was blink my eyes and stare.  Interestingly, that was enough to get the speakers to backpedal.

All this is one more reason for Californians to vote NO on Proposition 16 in November.

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