East Meets Plano West. There Blows the Curve!

So the Morning News on Wednesday reported on a battle brewing in Plano ISD over attendance boundaries between Plano West and Plano East senior high schools. Pretty dry stuff, unless you're a parent who gives a shit, so you likely missed this nugget from the story:

Along with some others, [parent Lily Jiang] believes parents fear that an influx of Asian students will make Plano West too competitive for their children.

Apparently Ms. Jiang possesses a pretty good grasp of non-Asian America's attitudes towards competition with the East. Allow us to summarize it: "Holy shit, how are we going to compete with these people? They, like, study math 'n' shit. No fair! NO FAIR!"

Now, we know that stereotyping is wrong -- even if it seems complimentary -- but these are fearful times, and rationality is in short supply (ref: Rick Perry), so it's easy to empathize with Plano West parents who might dread pitting their kids against an influx of Asian calculus whizzes. What's a frightened white parent to do?

We called Eunice Kim Nakamura, president of the Dallas Asian American Bar Association, to see if we could negotiate some sort of break for America's disadvantage suburban youths. (OK, the truth: We spoke with her because she answered her own phone and was too polite to hang up. She was very nice, so we feel kinda bad about that.)

Nakamura said she herself has confronted the stereotype of the "model minority" slavishly devoted to academics. While there might be some limited kernel of truth to it, it's no more accurate than any other broad generalization about a diverse group.

Exactly, I agreed. For instance, how much did she study in high school?

She paused. "My mom wasn't a tiger mom," Nakumura said.

Uh-huh. Right. How much?

"I don't think I spent an unbelievable amount of time studying," she said, maybe two to three hours a night. "Is that a lot or a little?"

I gagged. I work for a newspaper, for God's sake. Three hours?

"How about one to three hours?" she said, hedging. The time varied depending on whether she had a test, she insisted modestly. Why, she was just a normal kid who attended Garland High School and made mostly A's -- in the school's International Baccalaureate program.

Another gag.

Okeedokee, things were not looking good for the Occidental team. Figuring -- in typical, white, dummy newsguy fashion -- that since she's Asian American she could speak for more than a quarter of the world's population, I asked her if there was anything Asians could do to level the playing field, academics-wise: leave the liquor cabinet open, say, or introduce their children to beer at a young age. Maybe require them to watch reality television ... anything to give the rest of us a fighting chance.

"I'm not going to say anything like that," she said, declining the bait. Parents worried about today's competitive environment should "just focus on their children."

In Plano? The suburban junkie capital of America?

On a positive note, Nakumura said it appears Asian American parents attitudes are shifting with assimilation. "It's not just all about academics," she said. "I think the newer Asian American parents are more balanced ... everything in moderation."

So, there's hope yet, Plano young people. Hang in there. America might just weave its spell and make your Asian competition just as dumb as the rest of us. In the meantime, you could crack open a book -- after you're done watching this for grins:

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