Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13
Topics
Discussion
Announcements
 

Urban Education: Challenges in Educating Culturally Diverse Children


by Min Zhou - 2003

This article provides an overview of America's urban population based on the 2000 Census and the implications of increasing cultural diversity for urban public schools. It addresses three basic questions:

1. What does America's population look like at the beginning of the 21st century?

2. What challenges do children and their families face in this time of rapid demographic change?

3. What role can communities play in helping culturally diverse children do well in school?

Current demographic trends indicate that ethnic minorities, especially immigrant groups, not only grow rapidly, but are also increasingly concentrated in urban areas, and that the level of residential segregation by race and class in 2000 remains as high as in 1990. Demographic shifts create new challenges for the education of racial minority and immigrant children. At issue is not whether children are able to advance beyond their parents' statusmany do so because their parents are insufficiently educated and are struggling at the society's bottombut whether they can move up to and secure a position in the ranks of the American middle class. Research has shown that certain children living in the inner city are able to do well, despite adversarial conditions. A key difference is the availability and accessibility of community-based resources, such as after-school tutoring and other educationally oriented programs, that serve children.


This article provides an overview of America’s urban population based on the 2000 Census and the implications of increasing cultural diversity for urban public schools. It addresses three basic questions:


1. What does America’s population look like at the beginning of the 21st century?


2. What challenges do children and their families face in this time of rapid demographic change?


3. What role can communities play in helping culturally diverse children do well in school?


Current demographic trends indicate that ethnic minorities, especially immigrant groups, not only grow rapidly, but are also increasingly concentrated in urban areas, and that the level of residential segregation by race and class in 2000 remains as high as in 1990. Demographic shifts create new challenges for the education of racial minority and immigrant children. At issue is not whether children are able to advance beyond their parents’ status—many do so because their parents are insufficiently educated and are struggling at the society’s bottom—but whether they can move up to and secure a position in the ranks of the American middle class. Research has shown that certain children living in the inner city are able to do well, despite adversarial conditions. A key difference is the availability and accessibility of community-based resources, such as after-school tutoring and other educationally oriented programs, that serve children.


This article provides an overview of America’s urban population based on the 2000 Census and the implications of increasing cultural diversity for urban public schools. It addresses three basic questions:


1. What does America’s population look like at the beginning of the 21st Century?


2. What challenges do children and their families face in this time of rapid demographic change?


3. What role can communities play in helping culturally diverse children do well in school?


The response to these questions focuses on how increasing racial/ethnic diversity, inequality, and residential segregation have created urgent issues for the education of children in urban schools.

DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN URBAN AMERICA

CHANGING RACIAL COMPOSITION OF THE U.S. POPULATION


The 2000 Census records 281.4 million people residing in the United States. Several distinct demographic patterns have emerged since the 1990 Census. First, America’s population has grown steadily at 13%, but growth is uneven among its racial/ethnic sub-populations. Overall, we have witnessed stagnant growth in the non-Hispanic White population (3%), moderate growth in the non-Hispanic Black population (21%), and rapid growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations (61% and 69%, respectively) due in large part to the immigration that has accelerated since the 1970s.


Varied rates of population growth and immigration have significantly altered the racial composition of the U.S. population, making it racially more diverse than in the past. Table 1 shows that non-Hispanic Whites constitute 69% of the total U.S. population as of 2000, down from 76% in 1990, and non-Hispanic Blacks, 12.6%, are at the same level as they were in 1990. In contrast, Hispanics have drawn virtually even with non-Hispanic Blacks as the nation’s largest minority group. The Hispanic population now comprises 12.5% of the total U.S. population, up from less than 9% in 1990. The Asian population has remained relatively small, but its share of the total population has jumped from 2.9% in 1990 to the current level of 4.4%.


America’s racial/ethnic populations are unevenly distributed, and most are concentrated in certain geographical regions and certain large urban areas. For example, 54% of Blacks are located in the South, 19% in the Midwest, 18% in the Northeast, and 10% in the West (for Whites, 34% are in the South, 25% in the Midwest, 20% in the Northeast, and 21% in the West). New York City has the largest Black population, 2.1 million, followed by Chicago with 1.1 million. Other cities that have Black populations between 300,000 and 1 million include Detroit (775,772), Philadelphia (655,824), Houston (494,496), Baltimore (418,951), Los Angeles (415,195), Memphis (399,208), Washington, DC (343,312), New Orleans (325,947), and Dallas Challenges in Educating Culturally Diverse Children 209(307,957). Nineteen out of 245 cities with a population of 100,000 or more have a Black majority.


[39_11540.htm_g/00001.jpg]


Hispanics are heavily concentrated in the West (43.4%) and the South (32.8%). Only 14.9% of the Hispanic population is in the Northeast and 8.9% in the Midwest. New York City has the largest Hispanic population, 2.2 million (surpassing Blacks to become the largest minority group), followed by Los Angeles with 1.7 million. Other cities with Hispanic populations of more than 300,000 are Chicago (753,644), San Antonio (671,394), Phoenix (449,972), El Paso (431,875), Dallas (422,587), and San Diego (310,752). Fifteen out of 245 cities with a population of 100,000 or more have a Hispanic majority (5 cities have a Hispanic population of 80% or more, all in California or Texas).


Nearly half of the Asian population is in the West (48.9%), 20.7% are in the Northeast, 18.8% in the South, and 11.7% in the Midwest. Even though the Asian population is small in absolute numbers, its share of the urban population in cities with a population of 100,000 or more is impressive. Two cities of this size have an Asian majority (Daly City, California, and Honolulu),1 11 cities have an Asian population of 20% to 49%, and 29 cities have a population of 10% to 19%. New York City has the highest number of Asians (787,047), followed by Los Angeles (369,254). Other cities that have more than 100,000 Asians are San Jose (240,375), San Francisco (239,565), Honolulu (207,588), Chicago (125,974), and Houston (103,694).

INTRAGROUP DIVERSITY


The racial categories of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian are controversial because they are insensitive to intragroup diversity. No doubt, the term White marks within-group differences not only among peoples of European origins, ranging from Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia to the Middle East, but also among people who originate in the Americas: 48% of the Hispanics identify themselves as White.


Among Hispanics, the traditionally largest groups are Mexican, Cuban, and Puerto Rican. As illustrated in Table 2, the largest and the oldest subgroup is Mexican (20.6 million), comprising 58% of the total Hispanic population.2 Mexicans are still mostly concentrated in Southern California and the Southwest, but their presence is increasingly visible in the Northeast and the Midwest. Puerto Ricans form the second largest Hispanic subgroup (3.4 million), 9.6% of the total Hispanic population, and are heavily concentrated in New York. Cubans are recorded at 1.3 million (3.5%) and are concentrated in south Florida.


The New Latinos—immigrants or their U.S.-born offspring (mostly second generation) from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and a range of other countries in Central and South America—have grown rapidly, and these Latinos, at more than 10 million, far outnumber Puerto Ricans and Cubans combined, bringing new complexity to our understanding of the socially constructed term of Hispanic or Latino. As of 2000, there are approximately 1.1 million Dominicans, mostly concentrated in New York City, and 1.1 million Salvadorans, heavily concentrated in Los Angeles. Other Latinos include Colombians (742,000), Guatemalans (627,000), Ecuadorians (396,000), Peruvians (382,000), Hondurans (362,000), and other Central or South American countries (Logan, 2001).


[39_11540.htm_g/00002.jpg]


Particularly noticeable is the fast growth of the new Latinos primarily through immigration. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth, about a third of Mexicans and about two thirds of Cubans are foreign born. In contrast, all other newer Latino subgroups have grown very fast, at a rate ranging from 86% to 154%, since 1990 and remain predominantly foreign born. For example, 63% of Dominicans and 70% of Central and South Americans are first-generation immigrants. Among the foreign born, nearly half are recent arrivals (since 1990) with the exception of Cubans (Logan, 2001).


The Hispanic group is also socio-economically diverse. Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Central Americans in the United States are generally less educated than their Cuban and South American counterparts. Levels of educational attainment average below 10 years for Central Americans and 10.2 years for Mexicans, compared with 12.9 for Cubans. Many Hispanics are struggling in society: About 18% of Cubans live in poverty, compared with 20% of Mexicans, 30% of Puerto Ricans and Central Americans, and 36% of Dominicans. On average, South Americans have much lower poverty rates than even Cubans (Logan, 2001).


Like Hispanics, Asians also come from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds (there is not, however, a common language or religion that unifies this group). Each subgroup has its own distinct language and a variety of religions. As indicated in Table 2, all but the Japanese experienced rapid population growth in the 1990s. Although immigration continues to account for a substantial proportion of population growth, second-generation Asian Americans are coming of age in large numbers, though many U.S.-born Asians are of school age. As of 1998, the estimated proportions of the foreign born for all subgroups, except for the Japanese and Vietnamese, dropped to under about 50%, in contrast with 67% to 82% in 1990. The Japanese have been considered a native group since the 1960s, but the Vietnamese still have 75% of its population belonging to the first generation. The Chinese and Filipinos are the largest Asian subgroups (2.8 million and 2.4 million, respectively), followed by the Asian Indian (1,899,599), the Korean (1,228,427), and the Vietnamese (1,223,736). Not surprisingly, the Japanese have dropped from the third rank in size (1,148,932) to the sixth, due to slow growth and low migration rate (Logan, Stowell, & Vesselinov, 2001).


Compared with Hispanics, Asians tend to be better educated and economically affluent, with levels of education ranging from a high of 15.2 years for Indians to a low of 12.1 years for Vietnamese. But there are observable intragroup differences. Poverty rates among Filipinos, Japanese, and Indian are below the national average, whereas the rates for Chinese and Korean are somewhat higher (14%). The poverty rates are even higher for Vietnamese (26%) and other Asians (30%), which comprise groups such as the Hmongs and Cambodians (Logan, Stowell, & Vesselinov, 2001).

RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION


Levels of racial segregation have remained more or less the same despite growing racial and intragroup diversity in the United States. The recent report by the Mumford Center for Urban and Regional Research shows that the average White person continues to live in a neighborhood that looks very different from those communities where the average Black, Hispanic, or Asian lives; that is, Whites tend to live among other Whites.


Diversity is experienced very differently in the daily lives of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. In the metropolitan areas3 where most Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians live, there is little, if any change, in segregation levels from 1990. As of 2000, the typical Black lives in a neighborhood that is 54% Black and 33.2% White. The typical Hispanic lives in a neighborhood that is 42.1% Hispanic and 40% White. The typical Asian lives in a neighborhood that is 19.3% Asian and 58% White (Mumford Center, 2001).


Black-White segregation remains very high in the metropolitan areas with the highest Black populations. Among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, 5 have a Black-White Index of Dissimilarity (D)4 score higher than 80.0, indicating extremely high segregation, 28 have D scores between 60 and 79 indicating very high segregation, and 11 have D scores between 50 and 59.9, indicating moderately high segregation, and none of these areas have a score below 40.


Hispanics are also highly segregated from Whites. Unlike Blacks, however, only 5 out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas have a Hispanic- White D score higher than 60 (none has a D score over 70), 16 have a score between 50 and 59.9, and the rest show low segregation (D ranging from 28.7 to 49.5). Asian-White segregation is relatively lower than Black-White or Hispanic-White segregation. Out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, only one (New York) has a D score of 50.5, whereas all the rest show low levels of segregation (D ranging from 28.1 to 49.5; Mumford Center, 2001).

CHARACTERISTICS OF AMERICA’S CHILD POPULATION


The discussion so far has focused on demographic patterns in the general U.S. population. What kinds of patterns are reflected among school-age children? Approximately 27% of the U.S. population is under 18 years of age. Racial and intragroup diversity in this segment of the population is even more pronounced than in the general population. On the whole, 44% of all children in urban America are Black, Hispanic, or Asian. Figure 1 shows the racial composition of five selected metropolitan areas (PMSAs)-Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. The upper panel shows the racial composition of the metropolitan population, and the lower panel shows the racial composition of children under 18. Most observable is the visible drop (6–12%) of the proportion of Whites in each of the metro areas, except for Miami and the significantly higher proportions of Blacks and Hispanics. Except for Washington, D.C., where Whites are slightly more than half the population (50.2%), all the four metro areas have become minority-dominant in the case of children. Also noticeable is that in Miami and New York the proportion of Black in the child population is more than 5% higher than in the general population, whereas in Los Angeles the proportion of Hispanic in the child population is 15% higher.


Children also experience higher levels of segregation than the general population. According to Logan and his associates (Logan, Oakley, Stowell, & Stults, 2001), children of all racial groups are growing up in communities where the size of their own group members is highly inflated, but the average White child lives in an increasingly mixed neighborhood that is experiencing the rapid rise of minority population. In contrast, the average Black or Hispanic child is likely to live in a neighborhood where at least half of the neighbors belong to the same racial group. In these segregated communities, children tend to have fewer opportunities to interact with members of other groups in their schools, social clubs, sports teams, and friendship networks, regardless of race (Logan, Oakley, Stowell, & Stults, 2001).

CHALLENGES OF EDUCATING CULTURALLY DIVERSE CHILDREN IN URBAN AMERICA


Why is the education of culturally diverse children such an urgent issue, especially for urban public schools? The reason is straightforward. As I have just shown, racial and ethnic minorities are highly concentrated in metropolitan areas, especially the large cities, and they are coming of age in disproportionately large numbers. In Los Angeles, for example, more than half of the metropolitan population is either foreign born (the first generation) or U.S. born of immigrant parentage (the second generation), compared with 20% of the total U.S. population, and more than 80% of the child population are culturally diverse: 58% Hispanic, 11% Asian, and 11% Black (see Figure 1). This racial composition of the child population is reflected in public school enrollment. In Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, more than 70% of the 700,000 students is Hispanic, about half are from poor families, and more than a third are categorized as LEP (limited English proficiency). More than 40% of LEP students in the United States are located in California, and this number is larger than the number of all students in public schools in at least 38 states (California State Department of Education, 2001).


[39_11540.htm_g/00003.jpg]


The issue we should be concerned with is not whether children are able to advance beyond their parents’ status—many of them have parents who are insufficiently educated and are struggling at society’s bottom—but whether they can move up to and secure a position within the ranks of the American middle class. In today’s society, where the social mobility ladder is missing several rungs in the middle, children have to do well in school to succeed in the future labor market where both the demand for advanced training and the prospect of upward mobility are high, or they will become trapped in permanent poverty. The first hurdle is the high school diploma, a credential that most adult Americans have attained, at higher levels with each subsequent generation. Figure 2 illustrates the percentage distribution of high school dropouts among youths aged 16 to 19 in the United States and college attendance among younger adults aged 18 to 24 by generational status and race, using data from the Current Population Survey (1994–1998).


[39_11540.htm_g/00004.jpg]


The intergenerational pattern within each of the major racial groups is quite predictable. The second generation generally fares much better than the first- and third-plus generations for all groups, except for Mexican Americans, in terms of high school completion. However, intergroup variations are easily observable within each immigrant generation. The soaring high school dropout rate for first-generation Mexican youths (40%) and other Hispanic youths (20%) is particularly depressing. The exceptionally high dropout rates of Mexican immigrant youths, and to a lesser degree other Hispanic immigrant youths, may be a statistical artifact because a large number of Mexican youths simply fail to ‘‘drop in’’ the school system upon arrival in the United States. Recent research attributes the problem either to the inability of Mexican adolescents to catch up with their peers in the same age cohort or due to the pressing need to support themselves and their families upon arrival (Vernez & Abrahams 1996). Thus, even though U.S.-born Mexican youths fare much better than their foreign born counterparts, they still have a substantially higher dropout rate than other groups. Moreover, the higher dropout rates among third-generation Black, Mexican, and other Hispanic youth signal the possibility of third-generation decline.


The lower panel of Figure 2 shows college attendance among those aged 18 to 24. Second generation progress among young adults aged 18–24 is impressive. However, across ethnic groups, first-generation Mexicans and other Hispanics show a persistent disadvantage in terms of college attendance. The second-generation generally fares better than the third generation for all groups, but Mexican Americans are still trailing by a large distance, primarily because of the first-generation disadvantage. However, what causes concern is not the second generation but some segments of the third generation. As shown, third-generation Black, Mexican, and other Hispanic young adults are significantly less likely to attend college compared with their non-Hispanic White or Asian counterparts, whose rates also drop from those of the second generation but remain higher than the national average. The long-term impact of this third-generation decline is unclear, but it may well contribute to reinforcing ethnic inequality in the future.


For culturally diverse children, especially those from poor, immigrant families, going to school is a daily struggle, and succeeding in school is a daunting task. In the past, there were abundant factory jobs for workers with relatively low skills, and hence initial disadvantages could generally be overcome in one or two generations. Today, the economy has obliterated much of the low-skilled sector, and hence that scenario is no longer functional. To get ahead in society, one needs more than a high school diploma. Although a portion of today’s culturally diverse children comes from middle-class backgrounds and are well protected by resourceful parents, the majority still face considerable risks.


A major risk is associated with the concentration of poverty. Today, America’s inner cities are dominated by racial/ethnic minorities, by new immigrants, and by the poor. In the three immigrant communities that I studied in Los Angeles, more than 85% of the residents are Mexicans, Central Americans, or Asians; more than two thirds are foreign born; and more than half of the households have family incomes well below the county or national average (between $16,000 to $21,000 in 1989 dollars). These disadvantaged communities have a profound impact on children, who find themselves (1) socially isolated from mainstream American society; (2) culturally exposed directly to ghetto cultures and to a materialistic mainstream culture through television; (3) devastated by poor living conditions, unsafe streets, and economic distress; and (4) handicapped by inadequate and turbulent schools (overcrowding, a high dropout rate, a high rate of below-grade level enrollment, and a problem with English).


Another main risk is the adversarial youth subculture. Middle-class suburban children can afford to try drugs, dress and act like a gangster, and mimic inner-city youth cultural forms, but they are cushioned by wider and stronger safety nets that their parents provide and hence are likely to finish school. Also, they are unlikely to be perceived as ‘‘bad kids’’ and penalized by negative stereotypes. By way of contrast, children living in the inner city are vulnerable to the negative influence of the adversarial subculture. These children often suffer from racial profiling and negative stereotypes attached to ghetto youths. They are likely to adopt an attitude that entails the willful refusal of mainstream norms and values. A staff member of the Salvation Army in downtown Los Angeles told me, ‘‘When suburban kids say school sucks, they say it just to sound cool. When our kids here say school sucks, not only do they have a point but they don’t have the option of a better school.’’


Children of immigrant parents face additional risks. First, in major immigrant-receiving cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, the majority of immigrant children live in families with both parents working full-time (often at several jobs on different shifts). Frequently, these parents worry that their children have too much free time, too little adult supervision, and too many risks on the street. But they do not have the authority to exercise parental power. Moreover, the parents’ lack of English language ability pushes children into parental roles. The children read report cards to their parents, tell their parents what goes on in school, and interpret for their parents at teacher-parent conferences. For example, a teacher was puzzled at the smiling face of a parent when she told him that his son had been suspended from school. What the teacher didn’t know was that the student interpreted her words to his father in a positive manner: He was doing so well in school that the teacher had decided to give him a vacation.


The language problem also has a negative impact on children’s school life. Many immigrant children enter the American classroom with insufficient English proficiency, and some even lack basic literacy. When they experience difficulties in understanding teachers and expressing themselves in classrooms, they are likely to be discouraged and bored, which may lead to cutting classes and dropping out. It appears that the chance of school success for inner-city immigrant children is very slim, even though many parents and the children themselves know that education is important for increased social mobility.

HOW DO COMMUNITIES MATTER?


We know that communities are crucial contexts in influencing the educational experience of culturally diverse children. Whether communities manage to create resources to combat disadvantages or to allow adverse conditions to get worse depends on how they are organized. In a study I conducted of three immigrant communities—Chinatown, Koreatown, and Pico-Union—in Los Angeles, I examined how well communities are organized across three dimensions. The first is the variety of neighborhood-based organizations, the second is the density of these organizations, and the third is how these organizations are interconnected and how they involve local residents and children in the neighborhood.


In this study, I examined four types of neighborhood-based social structures (see Zhou, Adefuin, Chung, & Roach, 2000, for detail). One is the public facilities—that is, libraries, reading rooms, parks, and other recreational facilities that are available in the neighborhood. The school facilities are an important neighborhood structure because many children spend their after-school time on the school playground. A second type of organization is the nonprofit and ethnic service organizations. I was interested in investigating how these organizations provide services to immigrants and what goals these organizations are serving. The third type is the religious organizations. Churches and temples, for example, are important community-based organizations. I also included a fourth type of organization—ethnic businesses or private businesses—to determine what kinds of businesses exist, the types of ownership they reflect, and whether private businesses serve the educational needs of children.


A central problem facing many inner-city communities is disinvestment, along with the pulling out of ethnic businesses and community-based organizations and even nonprofit organizations. Generally, what happens is that many businesses withdraw from the inner city and invest somewhere else because of high risk and low profit. Moreover, nonprofit service organizations often run out of funds and then close down. There is also a major problem regarding the disconnection between the local residents and their upwardly mobile middle-class coethnics or the American middle class in general.


There are salient differences among the ethnic groups along the three dimensions—variety, density, and interconnectedness of neighborhood-based organizations. Koreatown, for example, is surviving with a high variety and density of ethnic churches and businesses, including many private enterprises servicing the educational needs of children, despite a relatively large proportion of non-Korean residents, even after the civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992. Many of the Korean-owned businesses are interconnected, offering opportunities for working-class Koreans living in Koreatown and their middle-class coethnics from the suburbs to meet and socialize in multiple organizational settings.


Chinatown has experienced a certain degree of decline, largely because of the growth of the nearby middle-class immigrant Chinese community. But there is also evidence of revival by entrepreneurial Southeast Asians who reside in Chinatown. Ethnic organizations are densely located in Chinatown but are less diversified and less interconnected compared with those in Koreatown.


Pico-Union geographically overlaps with Koreatown. Although it has a very high density of ethnic businesses, they are mostly owned by Koreans and other Hispanics, and they are less diversified and less interconnected than those in Koreatown and Chinatown because of the internal heterogeneity among Hispanics. In fact, ownership and variety of coethnic businesses constitute key differences in these communities. If more businesses were owned by coethnics and services went beyond the survival needs to include a wider variety, then more coethnic members would make use of them, creating an ethnic community that attracts the participation of local coethnic residents and suburban middle-class coethnics. In Koreatown, many of the ethnic organizations are, indeed, able to attract the suburban middle class so that they become a site for interclass coethnic interaction.


With the increasing presence of the Korean middle-class that caters to the ethnic private institutions serving children and youth in Koreatown, ethnic businesses have become more diversified and are thriving. For example, many Korean parents send their children to Korean language schools, SATcram schools (hagwons), or music schools, and they themselves attend church or other adult recreational activities in Koreatown. As a result, there is a very high level of interaction between the children who are from poor Korean families and their middle-class coethnics. In this way, both the parents and the children are able to get access to important resources that would not otherwise be available in the neighborhood.


The Hispanic children also live in the neighborhood, but because of the language and culture barriers they are not able to gain access to Korean ethnic organizations. I think that if more organizations were owned by Hispanics (especially by Mexicans or Central Americans), it would ease some of the difficulties Hispanic children face. It is interesting to note that Asian children are doing much better in school than Hispanic children, even when both groups of children are living in the same neighborhood and going to the same school. The key difference appears to be that Asian children have greater access to a wider range of after-school activities, both privately owned and publicly funded, in their neighborhood than Hispanic children. As a result, they have a very clear advantage over Hispanic children. It is, of course, important to bear in mind the way in which communities are organized depends a great deal on premigration social economic status and host society reception of different groups.


My research also underscores the significance of the ethnic economy on providing social capital at the neighborhood level. To begin with, the density of commercial activities in the communities run by ethnic entrepreneurs can enhance the condition in communities for investment and other types of business activity. Moreover, the density of commercial and social activities allows people to go out on the streets into a public space to interact. When people from the same ethnic background are interacting, they are likely to agree on certain goals and also the means of achieving those goals—which forms an important mechanism of social control. For example, a Chinatown teenager told me, ‘‘You can talk back in front of your parents at home but you cannot do it in public because that would make you look stupid.’’ This statement reveals the awareness of being part of a larger community; that is, knowing the common code of conduct means that people agree on certain types of social norms and act on them. Thus, if you are connected to the community, you are likely to be subject to these controls.


Finally, the density of privately owned educational institutions not only supports educational goals but also compensates for a lack of public funds and public facilities in the neighborhood. The ethnic language schools, for example, do not just teach the parental native language, which children and youth are usually not interested in learning. These schools do, however, provide a range of academic and recreational programs that supplement regular school curricula and, more important, serve as an important site for children to interact with one another, to do homework, and to do other kinds of activities. Finally, the density and diversity of ethnic businesses create job opportunities, role models, and cultural-specific goods and services that attract suburban middle-class coethnics, as well as tourists, into the communities.


To conclude, I would like to argue that how we invest in communities can affect how well children do in school. The school dropout rates are high in many communities within inner cities, but social organization at the local level can help to mitigate the negative effects associated with a high dropout rate. State and local governments have paid a good deal of attention to enhancing school quality and classroom instruction, but not much effort has been directed toward strengthening neighborhood social structures that really matter for immigrant families and their children. It is crucial that existing neighborhood organizations be strengthened so that they are able to help immigrant families keep their children productively occupied during the time they are neither at home nor at school. Also, there are ample resources at the neighborhood level generated by certain ethnic groups to the exclusion of others. So efforts should be directed toward to bridging cultural gaps among different ethnic groups and making neighborhood-based resources available to all. We have a great deal to learn about how neighborhood structures can be improved to yield positive educational outcomes for culturally diverse children in urban settings.

REFERENCES


California State Department of Education. (2001). Education in California: Looking through the prism. Retrieved November, 2001, from http://www.cde.ca.gov/iasa/california.html


Logan, J. R. (2001). The new Latinos: Who they are, where they are. Retrieved September, 2001, from http://mumford1.dyndns.org/cen2000/report.html


Logan, J. R., Oakley, D., Stowell, J., & Stults, B. (2001). Living separately: Segregation rises for children [Report by the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, State University of New York at Albany]. Retrieved May, 2001, from http:// mumford1.dyndns.org/cen2000/report.html


Logan, J. R., Stowell, J., & Vesselinov, E. (2001). From many shores: Asians in Census 2000 [Report by the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, State University of New York at Albany]. Retrieved October, 2001, from http://mumford1.yndns.org/cen2000/report.html


Mumford Center. (2001). Ethnic diversity grows, neighborhood integration is at a standstill [Report by the Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research, State University of New York at Albany]. Retrieved April, 2001, from http://mumford1.dyndns. org/cen2000/report.html


Vernez, G., & Abrahams, A. (1996). How immigrants fare in U.S. education. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.


Zhou, M., Adefuin, J.-A., Chung, A., & Roach, E. (2000). How community matters for immigrant children: Structural constraints and resources in Chinatown, Koreatown, and Pico-Union, Los Angeles [Project final report submitted to the California Policy Research Center, University of California, Berkeley]. Unpublished manuscript.


MIN ZHOU is professor of sociology and chair of Asian American Studies Interdepartmental Degree Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her main areas of research are immigration and immigrant adaptation, ethnic and racial relations, Asian Americans, ethnic entrepreneurship and enclave economies, the community, and urban sociology. She has done extensive work on the educational experience of immigrant children and children of immigrant parentage, the employment and earnings patterns of immigrants and native-born minorities, immigrant communities, ethnic economies, and residential mobility. She is author of Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave (Temple University Press, 1992); coauthor of Growing up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States (Russell Sage Foundation Press, 1998); and coeditor of Contemporary Asian America (New York University Press, 2000). Currently, Dr. Zhou is writing a book based on ethnographic research in three immigrant communities in Los Angeles, which examines how neighborhood environment and neighborhood-based institutions influence adolescents’ after-school life and their current academic and future occupational aspirations. She is coediting a book on Asian American youth culture and collaborating with a research team to conduct a major research project on immigration and intergenerational mobility in metropolitan Los Angeles.




Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 2, 2003, p. 208-225
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11540, Date Accessed: 11/27/2021 7:17:53 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
 
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
 
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Min Zhou
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    MIN ZHOU is professor of sociology and chair of Asian American Studies Interdepartmental Degree Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her main areas of research are immigration and immigrant adaptation, ethnic and racial relations, Asian Americans, ethnic entrepreneurship and enclave economies, the community, and urban sociology. She has done extensive work on the educational experience of immigrant children and children of immigrant parentage, the employment and earnings patterns of immigrants and native-born minorities, immigrant communities, ethnic economies, and residential mobility. She is author of Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave (Temple University Press, 1992); coauthor of Growing up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States (Russell Sage Foundation Press, 1998); and coeditor of Contemporary Asian America (New York University Press, 2000). Currently, Dr. Zhou is writing a book based on ethnographic research in three immigrant communities in Los Angeles, which examines how neighborhood environment and neighborhood-based institutions influence adolescentsí after-school life and their current academic and future occupational aspirations. She is coediting a book on Asian American youth culture and collaborating with a research team to conduct a major research project on immigration and intergenerational mobility in metropolitan Los Angeles.
 
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue

Submit
EMAIL

Twitter

RSS