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A Structural Analysis of Success and Failure of Asian Americans: A Case of Korean Americans in Urban Schools


by Jamie Lew — 2007

In this article, the author examines how variability of socioeconomic backgrounds affects parental strategies and academic achievement among Korean American youths. The study compares experiences of high- and low-achieving Korean American high school students in New York City urban schools: 1) academically achieving students attending a competitive magnet high school; 2) high-school dropouts attending a community-based GED program (General Educational Development test for high school equivalency diploma). Although Korean Americans have been homogeneously touted for their entrepreneurial success and middle-class status, this study points to the socioeconomic variability within co-ethnic networks, and examines how the difference of social class backgrounds impacts educational strategies employed by the two groups of parents and their access to social capital. The two groups of Korean students, with different socioeconomic backgrounds, operate under different parental strategies of education, as well as gaining different sets of resources from their first-generation parents, co-ethnic networks, and schools. Using Korean Americans as a case study, the findings illustrate the significance of structural factors of social class, social capital, and school context when accounting for academic achievement among Asian Americans in urban schools.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 2, 2007, p. 369-390
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12795, Date Accessed: 10/24/2017 1:52:08 AM

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About the Author
  • Jamie Lew
    Rutgers University, Newark
    E-mail Author
    JAMIE LEW is assistant professor in the Department of Urban Education at Rutgers University, Newark.
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