coker_4_gary in suit

Circa 1987

True research has a fascinating quality that I enjoy. I hasten to add, however, statistical analysis is not part of that enjoyment. Arriving in Nashville in 1965 and serving as adjunct Faculty member at Peabody College I had the fortune to be a part of an investigative team on several research projects. It was always amazing when research indicated certain interventions, behaviors or approaches which produced a specific result that was desirable.   However, at times it would take years before the result would be implemented in society and especially in the schools. For example, during the 1970’s the investigative team of which I was a member embarked upon a project to determine differences between boys and girls and their learning styles. The results of this project were landmark on several fronts. However, the project was delegated to the shelves without implementation, primarily because the results went contrary to the trends and political correctness of that time.  In 2003 the research emerged when “No Child Left Behind” was implemented by President Bush.

Recently I reviewed several research projects comparing different ethnic, racial, and socio-economic groups and their progress or lack of progress in America’s public schools. In each of these projects the results were similar and went contrary to ‘the word on the street.’ In addition, the results went contrary to cultural mores and that of many educational practices.

The most noted of these projects compared admission standards to New York City’s three most prestigious public schools. All three schools practiced opened enrollment based upon an entrance test. The ethnic groups of white and non-white were treated equal in the admission process. It is noteworthy the overall population from where these students lived is primarily composed of black students and white students with 14 percent classified as ‘other.’ From this group, Asians comprised the lowest socio-economic standards as measure by household income. Also the Asian families were classified as the most impoverished. However, it was the Asian students who made up the majority of the students who were admitted to each of the three schools. . Also, it was the Asian students who finished at the top of the graduating classes by a statistically-significant degree.

Interviews were conducted with a cross-section of the ethnic and racial groups to ascertain the reason the largest number of successful students came from the smallest representative sample of the population in the city.

The result of the research explained how diligently the Asian families prepared for school and specifically for the admission tests. The parents push their children to do well academically, and the students in turn encourage one another. The Asian culture placed a high value on education. One can make the inference that while multiculturalists are busy complaining about teaching methods and civil rights leaders are busy complaining about standardized tests and racial inequality, the Asian students are busy studying. The results speak for themselves.

The research document is too involved to reproduce in a blog. When reading the results it is very clear that academic progress is not correlated with race, ethnicity or socio-economic status but to the family and to the culture mom and dad create in the household. In other words academic progress in schools is not associated with your race, your financial status or ethnic heritage but on the culture the parents develop in the ‘raising’ of their children.

Let’s follow the result of this research and answer the following questions: (1) is your household a place of learning and do both parents participate in the learning process? Margaret Mead said that the ultimate test of any culture is whether it can successfully socialize men to willingly nurture their children. (2) Is there a norm of “maximum effort”, a kind of attitude of I’ll do my best?” A child never rises to low expectations. (3) Is there an atmosphere of “no excuses” and accountability with responsibility and respect present? (4) Have you adopted standards clearly eliminating low-slung pants and oversize T-shirts and hip-hop music that immortalize drug dealers and murderers. (This was a prevalent attitude among the lowest scoring group in the research project where “learning was not cool.”

Mom, Dad, taking this information into account.  I would encourage you to sit together and develop a profile of what you want your child to ‘look’ (all dimensions) like upon graduation and then the two of you decide how to strategically reach these goals in your household. You will be glad you did……….

……………………………and the greatest of these is love.


Back to the original premise for writing this blog. The result of this longitudinal research project produced monumental results. However, I have not read or seen any reports of this study in local news, educational journals or research reviews.



Jason L. Riley, Please Stop Helping Us, 2014, Encounter Books


Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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