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Community Forces, Social Capital, and Education Achievement: The Case of Supplementary Education in

Min Zou and Susan S. Kim, co-authors of this article, argue that Asian Americans maintain higher grade point averages and complete college at higher rates than people of other racial backgrounds. They state that cultural factors such as ethnic language schools, private after-school institutions, and the practice of Confucianism, which emphasizes education, discipline, and honoring elders, contribute to this trend. For support of their arguments, the authors relied on statistical reports from the 2000 U.S. Census, which indicate that a larger percentage of Asian Americans attend become valedictorians of their high schools than non-Asian students and that high profile universities such as Yale, Harvard, and Berkeley have a
greater percentage of Asians enrolled than non-Asians. Moreover, the article points out that Chinese Americans and Korean Americans differ in why they excel academically.

The authors argue that social class is not the only factor that determines whether or not people become successful in life. While many studies suggest that affluent students are more likely to do well in school than less affluent students, the authors attempted to refute these arguments by arguing that Asian students have higher rates of academic success across all socioeconomic statuses. This holds true not just for Asian Americans that are born from upper class parents in fields such as engineering, but also Asian students coming from less affluent backgrounds, including those with refugees as parents. The authors assume that religion plays a greater role at influencing the work ethic of students than socioeconomic status.

A strength of this article is that it was well balanced on identifying the different factors that contribute to academic success among Asian Americans, as well as their economic successes. This is particularly true on the parts of the article that compared the achievements of Chinese Americans and Korean Americans, as the authors not only gave a well-rounded amount of information on each ethnicity, but the variety of media sources used were diverse. The section on Data and Methods was also insightful because it contained multiple procedures in gathering information, including interviews, field observations, surveys, and research from newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. A weakness of the article was the lack of visual data used to back up the arguments made by the article. If there were more charts and graphs, for instance, then the points made in the article would have been more compelling. An additional weakness was the inconsistent explanation of the impact that religion has on shaping the academic skills of Asian Americans. While the beginning of the article states that Confucianism motivates Asian Americans to excel in school, other parts of the article suggest that Confucianism encourages success among Chinese Americans while Christianity motivates Koreans to study hard.

An implication that this article has for future studies of the topic is the failure of public schools to meet the educational needs of immigrant children. Moreover, this article also implies that private agencies such as community-based nonprofit organizations and churches can offer services for underprivileged children that public schools may not. Some of these services are afterschool programs that provide both academic assistance and recreational activities for students. Other themes highlighted in this article that can be studied for future readings are the role of entrepreneurship in the classroom and the benefits that schools can offer to students through partnerships with ethnic businesses. With the recent growth of charter schools and magnet schools, these topics of study will become more relevant.
 

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