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July 1, 2008

Is There An Asian Ceiling?

By Russell Nieli

Several years ago a Korean-American student in one of my politics classes at Princeton described the reaction of his Asian classmates in the California private school he attended when the college acceptance and rejection letters arrived in the mail the spring of their senior year. A female Black student, he explained, had applied to more than half a dozen of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation and got accepted to all of them, deciding eventually to enroll at Stanford. Many of his Asian friends, he said, along with many Whites, reacted bitterly to the Black student's success, some in open disbelief that this student could be so phenomenally successful in her college search. Why was there such bitterness among his classmates, I wanted to know. "Were there better qualified Asian and White students with higher SAT scores than the Black student?" I asked. "Better qualified?!" he said, "there were loads of Asian and White students who were much better qualified, with much higher SAT scores, much higher grade point averages, and who were much more active in student government and a host of other extra-curricular activities than this Black student." To add further fuel to his classmates' anger, he went on, this particular Black student had a cold, off-putting, self-centered personality which hardly endeared her to her classmates. "She didn't make it on charm" was the gist of his further remarks here.

This Korean student's story was in the back of my mind as I read the newspaper accounts about the racial discrimination complaint lodged not long ago with the Department of Education against Princeton University by Jian Li, the Chinese-American student at Yale who had a perfect 2400 (i.e. three 800s) on the newer version of the SAT. Li was a stellar student in high school, who in addition to his perfect SAT score achieved near-perfect scores on several of the College Board achievement tests (SAT IIs), took nine Advanced Placement courses, and had a near-perfect grade-point-average that placed him in the 99th percentile of his graduating class in a competitive suburban high school. In addition to his top-of-the line academic performance, Li was active in a number of extracurricular activities, and was a delegate to the prestigious Boys State. All of this would be an impressive achievement for anyone, but Li was the son of Chinese immigrants, his first language was Chinese, and English was not spoken in his home. Li's academic achievement was a truly remarkable and inspiring story of talent, persistence, and the immigrant work ethic in pursuit of the American Dream.

Li was happy at Yale and lodged his complaint not because of any animus against Princeton -- Princeton was only one of five elite universities that rejected his application (Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Penn were the others) -- but because of a general sense that Asian applicants to elite colleges were being unjustly disfavored in comparison to the members of other minority groups, especially Blacks and Hispanics, and were not being evaluated fairly under the same set of academic standards as others. For anyone familiar with the admissions policies at the more selective colleges and universities over the past thirty years, Li's complaint not only rang true but has been well-documented again and again wherever the situation has been adequately studied. The simple fact is that a Black or Hispanic student with Li's credentials would almost certainly have gained admission to every elite institution he or she applied to. Indeed, an "underrepresented minority student" would have stood a decent chance of gaining admission to some of the schools Li was rejected at with test scores a hundred to two-hundred points below each of his scores on the three-part SAT exam.

While policies differ somewhat from college to college, generally speaking elite institutions strive to have a minimal representation of 5-7% Blacks and a similar percentage of Hispanics in their student body (i.e. roughly half the Black and Hispanic proportion of the general population), though they will almost always deny publicly that they have such numerical target goals in mind. What motivates them is a combination of "social justice" for previously disadvantaged groups, a fear of being charged with "institutional racism" by Black and Hispanic activists, a perceived social need for more Blacks and Hispanics in leadership positions in the U.S., and a peculiar form of post-60s white-guilt-expiation (the latter brilliantly analyzed by essayist Shelby Steele). All of these reasons and motivations, however, are concealed and fraudulently packaged under the beguiling rhetoric of "diversity" in order to make college admissions policies more palatable to the general public and more in tune with the requirements of the two major Supreme Court decisions in this area regarding the constitutionality and legality of racial preferences. (There is no other area of academic life, with the possible exception of the relaxation of standards for athletic recruits, where college administrators, admissions deans, and college presidents are more likely to lie -- and to engage routinely in deception and double-talk -- than on the question of racial preferences in their respective institutions.)

A rough rule-of-thumb is that in checking off "Black" as one's racial category on an application to a highly selective college or university one gains the equivalent of about 75-150 points (out of a possible 800) as a "plus-factor" on each of the parts of the SAT exam and a boost of approximately .4-.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in one's high school grade-point-average. Hispanics enjoy a racial enhancement roughly two-thirds to three-quarters as great as that given to Blacks.

A 2004 study of the admissions policies at three of the most selective private research universities in the country by sociologist Thomas Espenshade and his colleagues has documented some of these racial advantages. At these three elite institutions, "being African American instead of white" was found "[to be] worth an average of 230 additional SAT points on a 1600-point scale [math + verbal]," while "Hispanic applicants gain[ed] the equivalent of 185 points." But "coming from an Asian background is comparable to the loss of 50 SAT points."

The Espenshade team, however, goes on to explain that as sizeable as these preferences are "their magnitudes are biased down[ward] by relying on SAT scores as the sole indicator of academic merit. When such additional measures as high school GPA and class rank are included ... the African-American and Hispanic advantage [in admissions] increases, as does the disadvantage if one has an Asian background." Again, one can well understand the consternation of people like Jian Li.

Although private colleges and universities will usually not disclose data regarding the past or present academic performance of their students categorized by race (they are aware that such disclosure would document the huge racial preferences they grant and the resulting racial stratification of subsequent college grades), we can get a fairly good indication of what is going on by a look at some of the more prestigious public institutions which have been forced to disclose such data either by court order or action upon Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) petitions. The University of Michigan is perhaps the best case to look at since it has operated recently under the watchful eye of the federal courts since the 2003 Grutter decision rejected as too mechanical and not sufficiently individualized its previous policies of racial preferences. Michigan now apparently scrutinizes each applicant's file more carefully but it is still up to its old tricks of counting "being Black" or "being Hispanic" as very huge "plus-factors" in making up its entering class. Indeed, the SAT gaps between recent Black and Hispanic admits, on the one hand, and Asian and Whites, on the other, has actually increased since Grutter. For those admitted to Michigan as undergraduates in 2004 the median SAT scores for the four major ethno-racial groups were as follows: Blacks 1160, Hispanics 1260, Whites 1350, Asians 1400.

These entering scores would closely parallel the cumulative GPAs earned by members of the four ethno-racial groups their first and second year in college (i.e. there was no tendency for the lower scoring groups to out-perform their entering SAT scores and do better in terms of classroom grades than their SAT numbers would predict). Broken down by race, the cumulative grade point averages (as of 2006) for the class entering in 2004 were as follows: Blacks 2.82, Hispanics 2.99, Whites 3.33, Asians 3.26. For those not familiar with the pattern of grade-inflation and grade-compaction at most elite colleges in America these differences may not seem large, but they are actually very large indeed, since many humanities and "soft" social science courses have effectively eliminated grades in the "C" range except for clearly substandard work that in pre-grade inflation days would have received a "D" or an "F". Blacks and Hispanics at Michigan were clearly not catching up to the better qualified White and Asian students, were receiving substantial numbers of mediocre-to-poor grades, and were no doubt viewed by many of their White and Asian classmates as intellectually inferior.

A similar pattern can be seen at the University of Virginia, which published, under FOIA prodding, odds-ratios of being accepted for admissions in various academic years. UVA's statistics show that in 2003 a Black student with an SAT score in the 950-1050 range had a substantially better chance of getting admitted to UVA than an Asian student with SAT scores in the 1250-1350 range. If a Black applicant had an SAT in the 1150-1250 range his chances of admission were about the same as an Asian student with a 1450-1550 SAT. The Black/White disparity in the odds-ratios of admission was even greater than the Black/Asian difference.

These are, by anyone's reckoning, very large differences and explain much of the ill-will that racial preference policies often create, especially in view of the fact that the typical Black or Hispanic student at an elite college or university comes most often from a middle class home and has almost always had the advantage of a decent, usually mixed-race public or private high school education. (Students from impoverished families attending a typical inner-city school system dominated by poor Blacks and Hispanics almost never achieve at the level considered the minimum for acceptance at the more highly competitive colleges).

In an ongoing longitudinal study of students at 28 highly competitive colleges and universities, sociologist Douglas Massey and his colleagues found that White and Asian students expressed a great deal of "social distance" between themselves and the "beneficiaries of affirmative action" and that this had clearly negative consequences for the quality of race relations on campus. "Whites and Asians tended to perceive a great deal of distance between themselves and blacks who benefited from affirmative action," the Massey team writes. Students in general tended to rank each group in terms of their academic promise, "with Asians on top, followed by whites, Latinos, and blacks." The Blacks and Latinos, they found, were clearly perceived by their Asian and White classmates as "underqualified," the Asians as the most qualified.

The Massey group, which surely started out with no bias against current racial preference policies (its study was funded by the pro-affirmative action Andrew W. Mellon Foundation), warned against the harmful effects on college campuses of this general disdain for current affirmative action policies and their beneficiaries. "Such perceptions of distance from 'affirmative action beneficiaries,'" they write, "carry important implications for the general tone of race relations on campus because one stereotype that emerges... is that without affirmative action most black and Latino students would not be admitted. To the extent that such beliefs are widespread among white students at elite institutions, they will not only increase tensions between whites and minorities on campus; they will also increase the risk of stereotype threat by raising anxiety among minority students about confirming these negative suspicions." And we might add here, such beliefs may sour not only Black/White and Black/Latino relations, but relations between Asians and the lower-achieving minority groups as well.

Underlying the huge admissions preferences that Black and Hispanic students receive at the most competitive colleges is the simple fact that college bound students in these groups do not exist in sufficient numbers to satisfy the 5-7% representation goal that most elite institutions strive for. Were college administrators to enroll students primarily on the basis of academic performance without regard to race or ethnicity, projections show that Asian students would increase substantially at the most competitive colleges, while Black enrollment would sink to the 1-3% level, and Hispanic enrollment would similarly plunge, though somewhat less steeply. Instituting class-based preferences rather than race-based preferences, as many have suggested, would not significantly raise the proportion of currently underrepresented minorities for the simple reason that there are a lot of poor Asians and poor Whites with much superior academic credentials to poor Blacks and poor Hispanics.

The reason for these hugely disparate admissions outcomes is very simple: ethnic groups do not perform in the educational arena at anything like parity and over the last 15 years at least, their differential performance has remained remarkably constant. In 2004, for instance, when the average combined math and verbal score on the SAT test was 1026, the scores for the four major ethno-racial groupings distinguished by the College Board were as follows: Asians 1084, Whites 1059, Hispanics 916, Blacks 857. Two years earlier the College Board published data on SAT scores by religious groupings and revealed that Jews, the academically most successful group in the latter half of the 20th century, had an average SAT score of 1161, substantially higher than any other ethno-racial group.

There are very few Hispanic students, and even fewer Blacks scoring at the very high levels on the SAT from which the most selective colleges typically draw their students. In 2004, for instance, while constituting almost 10 percent of all SAT test takers, Blacks comprised only 1.4 percent of those who scored 700 or above on the verbal part of the SAT, and only 1.0 percent of those scoring 700 or above on the math. Since the nation's most selective colleges and universities choose most of their incoming student body from those who have scored at these levels, college administrators are faced with the choice of either forming an entering class that is well outside the 5-7% Black representation range they desire, or according to Blacks a huge racial preference.
Virtually all elite institutions choose the latter option (Cal Tech may be the one exception).

At the 750 SAT level, where schools like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford recruit many of their incoming students, the situation looks even more ethnically skewed. In 2004, for instance, 25,403 students nationwide scored 750 or higher on the verbal SAT, and 31,316 scored at this level on the SAT math. But more than ninety-five percent of these very high scoring students were either White or Asian. In the entire country that year only 303 Blacks scored 750 or higher on the verbal SAT (1.2 percent of the total), while only 203 Blacks scored that high on the SAT math (a mere 0.6 percent of the total). The situation with Hispanics was only moderately better. The message here is clear: if elite colleges seek to enroll the most academically talented and accomplished, they will be drawing from a pool that is overwhelmingly White and Asian (and among the Whites disproportionately Jewish). If they are unwilling to have an entering class that is only 1-3% Black or Hispanic, they will have to resort to huge racial preferences, even if they try to conceal this fact from the public -- or lie about it, as they almost invariably do.

Our current affirmative action regime is criticized for many things -- its tendency to foster a sense of racial grievance on the part of the disfavored groups, to reinforce negative stigmas and stereotypes about those racially favored, to generate a climate of lies and deceptions among academic administrators, to create a chilling effect on interracial relations on college campuses. But perhaps worst of all is its tendency to distort the incentive structure for members of the lower-achieving minority groups to improve their academic performance. "I can attest that in secondary school I quite deliberately refrained from working to my highest potential," writes the linguist and Manhattan Institute scholar John McWhorter, "because I knew that I would be accepted to even top universities without doing so." From an early age, McWhorter goes on to explain, "almost any black child knows ... that there is something called affirmative action which means that black students are admitted to schools under lower standards than white; I was aware of this from at least the age of ten. And so I was quite satisfied to make B+'s and A-'s rather than the A's and A+'s I could have made with a little extra time and effort."

And it isn't only the students among the lower-achieving minority groups who know about "this something called affirmative action" but their parents and teachers as well, who have less to be concerned about in terms of college admissions when Blacks and Hispanics perform at very mediocre levels in school. Everyone knows that Black and Hispanic students can get into the same colleges and universities as their similarly talented -- or greater talented -- White and Asian classmates doing much less work in school, taking easier courses, and getting much lower grades. As McWhorter concludes, "in general one could think of few better ways to depress a race's propensity for pushing itself to do its best in school than a policy ensuring that less-than-best efforts will have a disproportionately high yield."

If the past is any guide, nothing of any consequence will come from Jian Li's complaint to the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights. Princeton and other top universities will continue their mantra, "We don't discriminate against Asians or any other racial or ethnic group!," while continuing to plus-factor in "underrepresented minorities" at the expense of those like Li unlucky enough to be categorized among the "overrepresented." This, they will say (when forced to confront policies they would prefer to keep secret) is legitimate "diversity enhancement," not discrimination. Which is really a shame, since in the long run the benefits of abandoning "race sensitive admissions" and returning to the older color-blind ideal that inspired the original Civil Rights Movement would be enormous, and would redound to all parties concerned. It would not only improve race relations on college campuses and eliminate the sense of racial grievance among Asians and Whites, but would help to refocus the energies of the Black and Hispanic communities into avenues where they might really do some good -- like improving the educational outcomes of Black and Hispanic youngsters in the nation's k-12 school system.

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Russell Nieli is a lecturer in the Department of Politics at Princeton University



Comments (17)

It's true that a Black or Latino candidate with Jian Li's qualifications would be certain of admission. What Nieli doesn't mention is that a white candidate with Jian Li's qualifications would also be certain of getting admitted. This is discrimination against Asians, not discrimination against non-underrepresented groups. Whatever the arguments about affirmative action, everyone on all sides can agree that Whites should not be given preference over Asians in admissions.

Steven R:

I've often heard rumblings that schools seek to limit the percentage of Asians because of a perception that they tend to add little to campus life aside from being academic high-achievers.

Personally though, I have always had the sneaking suspicion that it is merely a reflection of the left's intellectual dishonesty. So invested are they - in the classroom and out - in the notion that "people of color" have the deck stacked against them and advancement (aka "the American Dream) are denied them by external forces that every additional Asian student makes it an incrementally more difficult sale. It is a detestable state of affairs. Though I believe that ultimately it will be to the benefit of the conservative cause, however, as it opens more and more Asian's eyes to the lie that is the victim of white oppressors narrative just as an increasing number of people of the Jewish faith - traditionally liberal - have been jarred into reevaluating their world-view by the left's equally pernicious perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

William H. Driver:

Dr. Nieli addresses issues that are points of contention within the public concerning racial preferences in education. As a former teacher, I can attest to the fact that these issues are of import to many educators who witness first hand the inequities you set forth so soundly.

Every parent who has a student in our nation's schools knows that - at least in some schools - "diversity" is a poor word substitute for what the British call (onymoronically) "postitive discrimination."

Politicians are as much to blame for this shameful disregard for the Constitution and civil rights of all in order to placate a noisome few.

Thanks, Dr. Nieli, for your insights. Too bad, so sad, that those who need to consider these issues the most will not read your work.

William H. Driver

Almost all these discussions fail to mention another potent factor behind these selective admissions policies. That factor is that university administrators are parents themselves, with a far-above-average propensity to want their children to succeed academically.

Imagine someone in a position to influence admission policies at a prestigious university. Chances are that such a person isn't particularly brilliant to start with. Those who are, go into academics and not administration. There's also a factor called 'regression to mean.' A couple with respectable IQs of say 130, will have children with an average IQ of 115, hardly impressive. As administrators, they can certainly pull a few strings and get their children admitted, racial quotas or no quotas. But that doesn't alter the fact that their kids are rather mediocre, particularly compared to their potential Asian and white classmates.

That's where racial quotas come in. By excluding the more talented for merely being Asian or white, and including many far less qualified blacks and Hispanics, they shift the curve in favor of their own sons and daughters. Among other things, that would explain the indifference many of these administrators display to the low graduation rates of blacks and Hispanics. The purpose of affirmative action isn't to include, it's to exclude enough gifted Asians and whites to help their son or daughter succeed. And never forget that 'making good' is the most important value among people such as these. They will do anything, including lie, to help their children (and those of their colleagues) get ahead. This isn't exaggerated good. It is a conspiracy of evil.

Note that this trick in not new. Almost a century ago, when the sons of Jewish immigrants began to overwhelm prestigious schools on the East coast, geographic diversity was used to keep them out. Because most Jews lived in a few large Eastern cities, quotas for those cities were quickly filled. But a family of wealthy Bostonian blue bloods with homes for each season, could easily have their son apply from a region of the country where the quotas were less demanding.

Something quite similar came up when I was discussing abortion with a neighbor. She was blunt in her defense of legalized abortion. Her own son was neither clever nor hardworking, and she resented the children of Asian immigrants who were. By hitting new immigrants while they were still poor, she believed, legalized abortion would reduce the number of smart Asians that her son would have to compete with some eighteen years later. If she's thinking that far ahead, then admissions administrators are certainly thinking something similar. They're simply less honest than she.

In politics, "follow the money" is a good rule. In academia, "follow the ego" is a better rule.

--Michael W. Perry, editor of Chesterton on War and Peace: Battling the Ideas and Movements that Led to Nazism and World War II.


Pao-Chu Tseng:

Thank you for the detailed explaination of the anti-Asian biases at Princeton University. Asian students' higher academic achievement has come from their hard work. We have been told that they are competing with other Asian students in college applications. The outcome is that Asian students face a tremendous amount of pressure starting from elementary school. Who will provide them with comfort? What can be done to cease their stress? This has always been a burden faced by Asian Americans. What can we do to make them feel proud of being an Asian American? Do colleges think about this as a social responsibily for the care of Asian American?

Johann Donner:

Interesting article, but I wish that Professor Nieli didn't group Asians and Whites together. In fact, the anecdotal evidence suggests that Asians have an even tougher time than whites in getting into competitive universities. Is it plausible that Whites benefit as much from anti-Asian quotas as underrepresented minorities do? It looks like the number of White admitted students in the University of California system is declining as the number of Asian admitted students is rising.

Lisa:

The problem is this lowered expectation exists far down the educational ladder. I'm a middle school math/science teacher; I've taught in three different states but I see the same pattern over and over again.

Students of different races are disciplined with different severity.

Most school districts track the statistics for suspensions but not detentions. In the schools I have taught in (10-20% AA typically, 10-20% Asian, the remainder Cauc.), a majority of the suspensions go to our AA students with very few going to our Asian students. The district realizes this and starts talking about the need to have equitable discipline. So what happens is that principals are harassed about their disproportional suspensions. Equitable discipline should mean that if our student body is 10% AA, then they should only get 10% of the suspensions, right?

Well, that assumes the conduct of all three groups is the same. It isn't. So what happens? Principals become MUCH MUCH harsher on their Asian students and harsher on their Caucasian students given both groups suspension for lesser infractions but give less suspensions and more detentions (which aren't tracked remember) for misconduct to African Americans.

The worse part is... the Asian and Caucasian kids are well aware of this. They are extremely frustrated.

The African American kids think they are being picked on because their black and rarely seem to consider their own behavior to be the problem.

Daniel:

Having attended an LA suburban high school that was comprised mainly of Asian and Hispanic students (followed by whites) I do believe there is a ceiling for Asians (and to a lesser degree whites). The question then becomes--is that the right thing to do--have affirmative action? I believe the answer is yes and for all the reasons that were stated here (and as a disclosure I am hispanic). In fact I've probably given this question more thought than you have. Having had many close Asian-american and Hispanic friends, I can draw on parallels that Asian and Hispanic cultures but I can also see some differences (cultural differences matter). White privilege is not myth either, especially if you consider that the American education system historically benefited whites the most from the very founding of our nation, though less today, and a tool so to speak to correct this is affirmative action. Now I also want to point out that you seem to be using a broad stroke when considering SAT score averages by race (as can be easily found online). For one thing I can tell you from personal experience that those averages don't look at individuals. I went to a school for example with a mix of mostly middle class, but also many working class kids, and yes even poor white, hispanic, and some asian kids--overall though most were in similar class backgrounds. I as a hispanic took and passed the most amount of Advanced Placement tests at our school in my class--my parents were working class. Our valedictorian was Asian, our salutatorian was Hispanic--no whites were in the top 10% of our class nor took or passed Advanced Placement exams , despite the fact that there was a sizable group of white kids who were for the most part solidly middle class. Like I said you paint a broad stroke when you use SAT averages by race (also many Asian-Americans in my area are second generation--many of their parents went to colleges like UCLA, and some that had the highest GPAs benefited from this, whereas most if not all Hispanics were first generation). The only way to tell who has a higher command of math, english, or critical thinking skills is to assess them individually and you seem to miss that point.

Daniel:

Having attended an LA suburban high school that was comprised mainly of Asian and Hispanic students (followed by whites) I do believe there is a ceiling for Asians (and to a lesser degree whites). The question then becomes--is that the right thing to do--have affirmative action? I believe the answer is yes and for all the reasons that were stated here (and as a disclosure I am hispanic). In fact I've probably given this question more thought than you have. Having had many close Asian-american and Hispanic friends, I can draw on parallels that Asian and Hispanic cultures have, but I can also see the differences (cultural differences matter). White privilege is not a myth either, especially if you consider that the American education system historically benefited whites the most from the very founding of our nation, though less today. A tool, so to speak, to correct this is affirmative action. Now I also want to point out that you seem to be using a broad stroke when considering SAT score averages by race (as can be easily found online). For one thing I can tell you from personal experience that those averages don't look at individuals. I went to a school for example with a mix of mostly middle class, but also many working class kids, and yes even poor white, hispanic, and some asian kids--overall though most were in similar class backgrounds. I as a hispanic took and passed the most amount of Advanced Placement tests at our school in my class--my parents were working class. Our valedictorian was Asian, our salutatorian was Hispanic--no whites were in the top 10% of our class nor took or passed Advanced Placement exams , despite the fact that there was a sizable group of white kids who were for the most part solidly middle class. Like I said you paint a broad stroke when you use SAT averages by race (also many Asian-Americans in my area are second generation--many of their parents went to colleges like UCLA, and some that had the highest GPAs benefited from this, whereas most if not all Hispanics were first generation). The only way to tell who has a higher command of math, english, or critical thinking skills is to assess them individually and you seem to miss that point.

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Rupert Murdock, Rebekah Brooks, David Cameron, Andy Coulson... yeah, they're all in it together alright, and it gets more obvious every day.

China is protesting because the Dalai Lama is formally meeting President Obama soon. The Chinese don't want any recognition of Tibet. Why not? Because the Tibetan plateau controls a great deal of China's water supply. Some big old rivers start up there and run from there down into China, irrigating a lot of it. If the Tibetans shut off those rivers, China would have huge problems. President Obama, we might assume, is well aware of this. Soon, he's meeting the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader. Coincidence, of course :-)

What's really disturbing about the Tories allegedly not knowing that Andy Coulson was still being paid by News International (read; spy for Murdoch) when he was hired by David Cameron to work at No 10 Downing Street is that he could have been being paid by anybody, Iran, Russia, um, Labour, anybody at all! Aren't these people supposed to be securely vetted before they can work close to a high-level security environment? It would be nice to see that absurd stuffed shirt Cameron get some serious criticism over this but beyond that it's just not funny...

Emory Eledge:

Very good article. And some great comments by many intelligent people. Get the money out is a fantastic idea, too. Campaign finance should be front-and--center in every debate and platform this coming year. Unfortunately, IMO, while Independents would carry that torch, will the other half of the voting public (dems and repubs ... TPers??) do the same? Or will they continue to vote for the two big parties that haven't done anything BEFORE now?

Perk:

Your material is great. I love to read intelligent articles and this is one reading I have really enjoyed. There's no denying how much research you did for this content.

I often speak about the two initial walls of Chinese studies. The first wall a student has to climb is that of pronunciation. Tones and the limited Romanization of Chinese that Pinyin represents is a major obstacle to learning the language. The second wall is that of mass vocabulary learning. For a western student, the concept of characters is difficult for mainly two reasons, one small and one large.

In other words: it is not only the necessary for students to learn a new type of language, with new types of elements, there is also a strong need for students to acquire a new way of conceptualizing syntax on a fundamental level. To form a new pattern of thinking takes time even for the most adaptable and gifted students, this time period is what I have started thinking of as the second barrier. This time period is different from student to student and it is hard to set a time frame for how long the period can be expected to last. At least, however, several hundred hours should be expected until this barrier can be overcome by most.

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