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After-School Institutions in Chinese and Korean Immigrant Communities: A Model for Others?
By Min Zhou and Susan S. Kim
University of California, Los Angeles
The extraordinary educational achievement of the children of Asian immigrants has attracted a great deal of media and scholarly attention. The 2000 US census shows that about one-third of Asian Americans are US born and that 50 percent of US-born Asian Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have at least a bachelor's degree — a rate more than 20 percent higher than non-Hispanic whites.
What is more striking is that young Asian Americans — not only the children of foreign-born physicians, scientists, and engineers, but also those of uneducated, low-skilled, and poor immigrants and refugees — have repeatedly shown up as high school valedictorians and academic decathlon winners, and have enrolled in prestigious colleges and universities in disproportionately large numbers.
Past studies have consistently found that ethnicity has varied effects on the educational outcomes of immigrant children. Asians fare significantly better than whites in school outcomes such as grade point average, while blacks and Hispanics fare significantly worse. Social scientists have attempted to account for significant intergroup differences either from a cultural or a structural perspective.
The exceptional educational achievement of Asian Americans has often been attributed either to Confucianism, which places high value on education (the cultural argument), or to immigration selectivity, which generally favors individuals from urban middle-class backgrounds (the structural argument). In the end, however, social scientists have used the "ethnicity" dummy variable to measure "culture" as well as "structure" but have kept the exact meaning of ethnicity in a black box.
This article seeks to explain the effect of ethnicity on educational outcomes by comparing the ethnic systems of supplementary education in the Chinese and Korean immigrant communities in Los Angeles. We trace the development of ethnic language schools and other private, ethnic, after-school institutions to illustrate how ethnicity can create tangible resources and an advantageous social environment conducive to education.
"Culture" Versus "Structure"
Why does ethnicity have opposite effects on the same outcome measures for different groups? Specifically, why does being Asian — Chinese or Korean in this study — have a significant advantage for educational achievement, but being black or Latino, a distinct disadvantage, holding constant other key socioeconomic and contextual factors?
The cultural argument emphasizes the effects of an ethnic group's traits, qualities, characteristics, or behavioral patterns with which the group is either inherently endowed or which it develops through the process of immigrant adaptation.
Based on the primordial view of the cultural argument, different ethnic groups possess identifiable characteristics that encompass cultural values, practices, and types of social networks; these characteristics were formed in the homeland and transplanted with minor modifications by immigrants in the new country, where they were transmitted and perpetuated from generation to generation.
The emergent view of the cultural argument, in contrast, posits that cultural traits and related behavioral patterns are not intrinsic to a group but can be transmitted from the first generation and reconstructed in subsequent generations. For example, sociologist Oscar Lewis maintains that urban ghettos gave rise to a particular way of living constrained by poverty, which in turn generated particular value systems. Poor families rely on these values and behaviors as a means of coping with poverty, and gradually absorb them. As a result, the urban poor establish a stable and persistent way of life and pass it on from generation to generation.
Following similar reasoning, the contemporary public debate on the urban underclass also stresses the devastating effect of a "deficient" culture. In this view, an underclass culture that has arisen from residential segregation, social exclusion, and extreme poverty nurtures values that are at odds with those of mainstream society. These values, in turn, give rise to a set of self-defeating behavioral problems.
The assumption is that certain minority groups lack the necessary cultural criteria to push their members ahead. These cultural arguments can be dangerous because they tend to blame the victims for their position in the lower socioeconomic strata of society.
The structural argument, on the other hand, considers ethnicity a key determinant for social mobility but assigns different meanings to it. The structural explanation for differences in educational and mobility outcomes emphasizes the role of broader factors, including a group's position in the class and racial stratification systems, labor market conditions, and residential patterns. These factors interact with individual socioeconomic characteristics and ethnic social structures to define the meaning of success, prescribe strategies for status attainment, and ultimately determine a group's chance of success.
According to the structural argument, cultural values and behavior patterns can be conducive to upward social mobility only when they interact with a wider set of structural factors, including a relatively advantageous class status with which a particular group arrived and a favorable structure of opportunity in the host society that the group encounters.
Data and Methods
Another way to look at cultural and structural arguments is by focusing on ethnic social structures. For this research, the term ethnic social structures means institutions, along with interpersonal networks, that have been established, operated, and maintained by group members.
Thus, the primary unit of analysis is the institution rather than the individual. Specifically, we focus on Chinese and Korean language schools and other educationally oriented ethnic institutions in two immigrant communities in Los Angeles.
The data are drawn from multiple case studies. The first set of data comes from larger qualitative studies of several immigrant communities in Los Angeles — two ethnic enclaves (Chinatown and Koreatown) and two middle-class suburban communities with large Chinese or Korean populations (Monterey Park and Torrance). The current analysis employs close-up field observations in ethnic language schools, private after-school establishments, churches and community centers, as well as phone or face-to-face interviews with ethnic-language school principals, church leaders, private institution owners, and adolescent participants and their parents.
The second set of data is extracted from three other in-depth case studies of specific ethnic-language schools and private academic programs in Southern California. These three cases include a high school Sunday service and Bible study class at a Korean church in Torrance; a suburban weekend Chinese school in Thousand Oaks; and a Chinese-owned tutoring center in Monterey Park that provides daily after-school services.
In all these case studies, we kept extensive field notes and wrote memos documenting significant patterns, themes, and insights that emerged from the fieldwork along with our own interpretations and preliminary conclusions.
In addition, existing literature, newspapers and popular magazines, the Internet, and ethnic-business directories were surveyed to construct a brief history of the development of ethnic language schools and systems of supplementary education in the Chinese and Korean communities in Los Angeles. We also conducted a content analysis of media accounts, newspaper advertisements, and ethnic-school curricular material from ethnic newspapers and organizational brochures.
Even though the combined data sources are by no means representative and generalizable, they serve the exploratory purpose well, since the primary aim is to show how cultural factors interact with structural factors to foster unique social environments and create resources conducive to educational achievement.
Immigration and the Development of the Ethnic System of Supplementary Education
Chinese and Korean immigrants in the United States share certain similar characteristics. However, they are also ethnically distinct in important ways. Aside from linguistic and religious differences, they differ in their respective histories of immigration, homeland conditions, socioeconomic backgrounds prior to immigration, and the ways they adapt to life in the United States.
The Chinese Case
Chinese Americans are the oldest and largest ethnic group of Asian ancestry in the United States. They have endured a long history of migration and settlement that dates back to the late 1840s, including some 60 years of legal exclusion. The Chinese American community has increased more than tenfold since 1960, from 237,292 to 1,645,472 in 1990, and to nearly 2.9 million (including nearly half a million mixed-race persons) in 2000. Much of this tremendous growth is due to immigration. The majority of Chinese-American children are under 18 and are coming of age in large numbers at the dawn of the 21st century.
Contemporary Chinese immigrants come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, unlike their predecessors, who were mostly uneducated peasants. They have left a country where growing economic opportunities are reserved for those with either political connections or advanced degrees from the very best universities, which are highly selective and competitive. Many migrate for permanent resettlement, seeking better economic opportunities for themselves and better educational opportunities for their children; they hold a strong belief that they have a better chance in the "promised land."
Chinese-language schools have been an integral part of the Chinese immigrant community in the United States, and in the Chinese diaspora worldwide. In the United States, Chinese-language schools date back to the late 1880s, having survived legal exclusion and associated adversarial circumstances.
Just like other ethnic-language schools in German, Scandinavian, Jewish, Greek, and Japanese immigrant communities, Chinese-language schools in much of the pre-World War II era aimed to preserve language and cultural heritage in the second and succeeding generations.
Today, Chinese-language schools have evolved to include a much broader range of functions. The majority aim not only to maintain language and culture, but also to serve the educational needs of immigrant children. As of 2004, there were nearly 800 registered Chinese-language schools in the United States, covering 47 states and serving more than 100,000 K–12 students, according to the National Council of Associations of Chinese Language Schools (NCACLS). Nearly a third of the Chinese schools are in California, and the Los Angeles area has approximately 80.
Suburban Chinese schools usually operate on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons, offering two hours of Chinese-language classes and one hour of enrichment electives, including fine arts, classic Chinese painting and calligraphy, handcraft, origami, chorus, band, dancing, weiqi (a board game called go in Japan and baduk in Korea), calculation with an abacus, martial arts, ping-pong, tennis, and basketball.
There are also academic tutoring classes, such as math, English reading comprehension, English composition, and SAT and SAT subject test preparations. Chinese schools located in Chinatowns or Chinese ethnoburbs (meaning suburbs where no single ethnic group dominates) open on weekday afternoons and on weekends.
Tuition, donations, and fundraising activities are the main sources of the school operating budgets. Tuition varies from school to school. A typical weekend school's tuition is $250 to $450 per child per semester.
The development of Chinese schools has also paralleled the development of private institutions targeting children's education since the late 1980s, such as buxiban and kumon, early childhood education programs, and college preparatory centers. For example, in 2004, the Southern California Chinese Consumer Yellow Pages listed 90 Chinese schools, 135 academic after-school tutoring establishments, including buxibans, 50 art schools/centers, and 90 music/dancing schools, mostly located in Los Angeles's suburban Chinese community in the San Gabriel Valley.
Students enrolled in these after-school institutions are almost exclusively Chinese from immigrant families of varied socioeconomic backgrounds. Daily programs tend to draw students who live nearby, while weekend programs tend to draw students from both the local community and elsewhere in Greater Los Angeles.
Major Chinese-language media, such as the Chinese Daily News, Sing Tao Daily, and China Press, publish weekly editions with educational news and commentaries and carry numerous advertisements for these private after-school institutions. These child- and youth-oriented institutions have sprung up to join the existing Chinese-language schools to constitute a comprehensive system of supplementary education. The core curricula of these various ethnic institutions supplement, rather than compete with, public school education.
Many Chinese youth interviewed agreed that going to a Chinese school or a Chinese-run buxiban or kumon program had been a common shared experience of being Chinese American, even though they generally disliked the fact that their parents made them attend these ethnic institutions.
The Korean Case
The history of Korean immigration to the United States differs from the Chinese, and may be divided into three distinct phases. The first wave of Koreans arrived in the Hawaiian islands as laborers between 1903 and 1949, followed by a second wave, from 1950 to 1964, of primarily young Korean women married to American servicemen, Korean war orphans adopted by American families, and a small number of elite students and professional workers.
The third and the largest wave is the contemporary period of family immigration since 1965, following the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965 (also referred to as the Hart-Cellar Act). The generous family reunification category of this act largely benefited the wives of American servicemen, Korean students who stayed to find work in the United States after the completion of their education, and professional workers, mostly doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.
The ethnic Korean population grew more than tenfold in just three decades, from less than 100,000 in 1970 to more than 1.2 million in 2000. The majority of US-born Korean Americans, who are still quite young, grow up in immigrant families.
Like their Chinese counterparts, Korean immigrants have come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. However, the migration of largely urban, well-educated, and professional immigrants makes up the foundation of contemporary Korean immigration, differentiating them from the Chinese.
Many post-1965 Korean immigrants also came with families and family savings. More importantly, they relied on entrepreneurship as the dominant mode of economic integration into American society. For example, the self-employment rate for foreign-born Koreans 16 years or older who were in the labor force was nearly 20 percent in 2000, twice as high as that for all American workers and the highest of all racial/ethnic minority groups.
A noteworthy aspect of the Korean immigrant community is their Christian faith, setting it apart from the Chinese immigrant community. The Korean church is perhaps the single most important ethnic institution anchoring this community. It serves multiple functions, including meeting religious and spiritual needs, and offering sociopsychological support, economic assistance, and educational resources for immigrants and their families.
Another difference is that Korean immigrants are more geographically dispersed than the Chinese at the neighborhood level, but they are highly concentrated in just a few large metropolitan areas, namely Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
Korean-language schools are a post-1965 phenomenon, thus having a much shorter history than Chinese-language schools. They initially emerged in the 1970s as weekend schools intended to maintain the Korean language and culture, enhance ethnic cultural identity, and facilitate children's selective assimilation. Similar to Chinese schools of the time, Korean schools also offered various after-school tutoring programs in addition to language and culture classes.
By the end of the 1980s, nearly 500 Korean language schools were registered in the Korean School Association of America (KSAA) in addition to numerous semiformal Korean-language schools run by small groups of concerned parents or by small churches. In 2005, the number of registered Korean-language schools in the Los Angeles area stood at 254.
Most Korean-language schools are nonprofit, and there are three main types: church affiliated, secular formal schools, and secular informal schools. More than three-quarters of the schools registered in the KSAA are church affiliated, highlighting the centrality of the church in the Korean community.
In smaller churches, parents volunteer as teachers, and classes are taught on Sundays after the service. Larger Korean churches, the "megachurches," usually have more formal Korean schools that operate on Saturday mornings for three or four hours and offer various academic and recreational programs.
The secular, formal, Korean-language schools resemble church-affiliated schools in structure. Like the suburban Chinese-language schools, secular Korean-language schools are held on Saturday morning. They offer two hours of Korean-language courses and one hour of extracurricular activities, such as Korean folk dance, calligraphy, and martial arts.
Korean schools are much more affordable than Chinese schools. The average tuition per semester for a Korean school is about $180. The cost is even less at church-affiliated Korean schools because the home church subsidizes part of the expense. The principals of the Korean-language schools, both secular and church based, emphasize that Korean schools are affordable for everyone and that a family's economic background should not hinder their children from learning the "mother language."
While Korean-language schools have steadily grown, a wide range of nonprofit and for-profit educational institutions have sprung up and grown rapidly since the 1990s. The most noticeable are hagwons, which means "study place" in Korean. Students study in small groups with an instructor who specializes in a particular subject.
Unlike Korean-language schools, hagwons in the United States focus on academic tutoring and, similar to the Chinese buxibans, may not have a core curriculum for Korean language and culture. Hagwons are mostly private businesses established and operated by Korean immigrant entrepreneurs to meet an ethnic-specific demand carried over from Korea.
In 2004, the Korean Business Directory of Greater Los Angeles listed 209 private hagwons, 36 of which offer only SAT preparatory courses for high school students. The directory also lists a large number of private after-school establishments, including 116 art and music schools and 145 Tae Kwon Do studios. These enrichment programs not only aim to help provide high school students with well-rounded portfolios to support their college applications, but they also offer instruction for preschool, elementary, and middle-school students.
Because hagwons are for-profit businesses, they are much more expensive than Korean-language schools. Monthly tuition can range from $90 to $500, depending on the grade level, subject matter, and if the schedule is weekly or on the weekends. Despite the high tuition, Korean and non-Korean hagwon entrepreneurs are well aware that Korean families are willing to make sacrifices in order to pay for this supplementary education for their children.
Two major Korean newspapers are circulated widely in the United States, Korea Times and Central Daily. Both newspapers have a weekly section devoted to education. This is one of the primary ways Korean immigrant parents learn about the American education system, average SAT scores of local high schools, rankings of top American colleges, etc. In addition, education-related articles published in mainstream newspapers or weekly periodicals, such as Time or Newsweek, are translated and published in the Korean newspaper the next day.
Ethnic newspapers are also where education-related advertisements are found. A typical education section has advertisements for SAT schools, Korean-language schools, day care and preschools, college-preparatory summer camps, and Ivy League campus tours operated by Korean immigrant tour companies.
Over half of the Korean youth interviewed attended a Korean-language school for some time during their primary-school years. However, with the availability of the SAT Korean-language subject test, more high school students are taking a renewed interest in improving their competency in Korean.
As for hagwons, the majority of Korean youth interviewed has attended or was currently attending one or more hagwons. The two most common types were kumon and SAT preparatory schools. Like their Chinese counterparts, attending hagwons has become a common experience among Korean American youth and one of the defining characteristics of being Korean American.
Causes of the Ethnic System of Supplementary Education
Prior to migration, both the Chinese and the Koreans lived in a country of origin where education is the single most important means of attaining social mobility; where access to quality education is fiercely competitive (and in the Chinese case, highly restricted); and where families invest a disproportionate amount of their resources in supplementary education in order to improve their children's future opportunities.
Direct involvement in or exposure to institutionalized supplementary education in the homeland adds to the cultural repertoire with which both middle- and working-class immigrants carry with them when they migrate.
Upon arrival in the United States, immigrants encounter a relatively open education system and abundant educational opportunities on the one hand, and "blocked" mobility on the other. Their belief in education is not simply carried over from the homeland, but also reaffirmed by the reality that education is the only possible means for social mobility.
Asian immigrants also encounter the "model minority" stereotype frequently imposed on Asian Americans, which on the surface is a positive image but in fact sets Asian Americans apart from other Americans and holds them to higher-than-average standards. In this paradoxical situation, the value of education is heightened not merely as a means to enrich the self and honor the family, as Confucianism dictates, but as the most effective means for getting ahead in American society. The value of education and the means for achievement have been accepted by both middle-class and working-class Chinese and Korean immigrants.
While the value these immigrant families place on education is constantly adapting to contextual changes, its actualization always requires material support. American public education is open to all, but easy access does not ensure quality, nor does it guarantee success.
The family's higher socioeconomic status can affect educational success by adding class-based resources, such as financial, social, and cultural capital, along with access to safe neighborhoods, quality schools, and various extracurricular activities. In contrast, low socioeconomic status may subject children to poverty, unsafe neighborhoods, inadequate schools, and disruptive social environments harmful to educational achievement.
For ethnic minorities, however, family socioeconomic status may not be the sole determinant of educational outcomes. The ethnic community can also be a source of support. Chinese and Korean ethnic communities are supported by robust coethnic entrepreneurship.
Even more importantly, the relatively high socioeconomic status of Chinese and Korean immigrants before they immigrated to the United States enables these groups to carry over and revitalize a practice that originated in the homeland. As the demand for education exceeds what public schools can offer, ethnic entrepreneurs provide after-school programs to their coethnics.
Also, because of the higher standards imposed on Asian American children as a model minority, parents increasingly turn to these ethnic institutions in the hope of giving their children an extra boost in the race for admission to prestigious schools. While contemporary ethnic businesses are a mixture of small mom-and-pop retail stores and large, upscale commercial enterprises, there are also small, mom-and-pop, after-school establishments and childcare services as well as extensive and costly buxibans, hagwons, and early-childhood development centers in the Chinese and Korean communities.
The growth of ethnic-language schools in the Chinese and Korean immigrant communities has not led to significant or satisfactory improvements in ethnic-language proficiency in the second generation. For example, more than two-thirds of US-born Chinese and 78 percent of US-born Koreans speak only English at home, as opposed to about 28 percent of US-born Mexicans in Los Angeles.
Apparently, preserving the parental language is not the only goal of language schools. A Chinese-school principal said their mission is also to enlighten children about their cultural heritage. A Korean-language school principal agreed and added that it was important to create a sense of community so that students "feel comfortable being here and being Korean Americans."
Private ethnic after-school institutions, on the other hand, tend to be highly specialized and have concrete objectives that are often more academically oriented than linguistically oriented. They are also marketed more to the parent than the child. As advertised in ethnic-language media, they make promises such as "bring out the best in your child."
The Chinese and Korean systems of supplementary education have consequences far beyond children's educational experience, though these effects are often implicit or unintended.
The most significant unintended effect for the parents is that many ethnic institutions, especially weekday after-school institutions in urban ethnic enclaves or ethnoburbs, serve as community centers that meet the social and cultural needs of immigrants while providing child care and after-school services for dual-worker families.
For Korean parents, social and cultural needs are met on Sundays at immigrant churches. For Chinese parents, and particularly for those who do not reside in Chinatown or Chinese ethnoburbs, needs are often met in newly established ethnic organizations.
For Chinese and Koreans, ethnic-language teaching is balanced with other academic enrichment and recreational/cultural programs. During traditional Chinese holiday seasons, Chinese schools participate in celebratory parades, evening shows, and other community events, such as sports and choral or dance festivals. Korean-school students also learn about and celebrate traditional Korean holidays.
Participation in these activities exposes children to their cultural heritage, thereby reaffirming their ethnic identity. Thus, ethnic schools provide a unified cultural environment where the children are surrounded by other Chinese or Koreans and are under pressure to feel and act Chinese or Korean. In addition, Chinese and Korean teachers take on the role of teaching values such as filial piety, respect for authority, and hard work.
Nonprofit ethnic-language schools also serve as intermediate ground between the immigrant home and American school, helping immigrant parents — especially those who do not speak English well — learn about the American education system. Through these ethnic institutions, immigrant parents are indirectly but effectively connected to formal schools and are well-informed about the factors crucial to their children's educational success.
In this sense, social capital arising from participation in ethnic-language schools, immigrant churches, and other ethnic institutions is extremely valuable in promoting academic achievement. Furthermore, ethnic-language schools and immigrant churches foster a sense of civic duty in immigrants who are often criticized for their lack of civic participation. Many parents volunteer their time for tasks ranging from decision-making to fundraising, and they also organize community events, such as ethnic and American holiday celebrations.
For children, there are multiple unintended consequences of the ethnic system of supplementary education. First, ethnic-language schools and other relevant ethnic institutions offer an alternative space where children can express their feelings of growing up in immigrant families.
Second, these ethnic institutions provide unique opportunities for immigrant children to form different peer networks. In immigrant families, parents are usually more comfortable and less strict with their children when they hang out with coethnic friends. When children are doing things that would cause their parents anxiety, they can use their coethnic friendship network as an effective bargaining chip to avoid conflict. For example, a Chinese girl may simply tell her mother she will be studying with a friend from Chinese school while she is actually spending time with her non-Chinese boyfriend.
Third, these ethnic institutions nurture ethnic identity and pride that children may otherwise reject because of the pressure to assimilate. In ethnic-language schools and other ethnic-school settings, children are exposed to something quite different from what they learn in their formal schools. Such cultural exposure reinforces family values and heightens a sense of ethnic identity, helping children to relate to their parents' or their ancestor's "stuff" without feeling embarrassed.
More importantly, being part of this particular ethnic environment can help alleviate bicultural conflicts. Many children interviewed, especially the older ones, reported that they did not like being made to attend these ethnic institutions and to do extra work, but that they reluctantly did so without rebelling because other coethnic children were doing the same.
However, there are also unintended negative consequences. Tremendous pressure on both children and parents for school achievement can lead to intense intergenerational conflict, rebellious behavior, alienation from the networks that are supposed to assist them, and even withdrawal from formal schools.
Ironically, pressures and conflicts in a resourceful ethnic environment can also serve to fulfill parental expectations. Children are motivated to learn and do well in school because they believe that education is the only way to escape their parents' control. This motivation often leads to desirable outcomes. A nonprofit program organizer said they generally succeed in getting these kids into college.
It should also be noted that access to the ethnic system of supplementary education is more restricted for working-class families than for middle-class families in both Chinese and Korean immigrant communities.
While ethnic-language schools and church-affiliated, after-school programs are affordable for most families, the academic and specialized enrichment programs embedded in these nonprofit institutions are more expensive. Many high-quality private buxibans and hagwons rival costly, mainstream institutions such as the Princeton Review and Kaplan.
Although the value Chinese and Korean immigrants place on education is seemingly rooted in Confucianism, this study of Chinese and Korean after-school institutions shows that the emphasis on education has been constantly shaped and reinforced by broader and ethnic-specific structural conditions.
Without question, these institutions have played a crucial role in helping the children of Chinese and Korean immigrants graduate from high school and gain entrance to prestigious colleges in disproportionately large numbers.
Yet the ethnic system of supplementary education is highly exclusionary. Although Korean and Latino families share the same neighborhood in Koreatown, the children of Latino immigrants generally do not attend Korean-run after-school institutions in the area because of their low socioeconomic status and the language and cultural barriers that block access to Korean social networks.
The Chinese and Korean cases suggest that cultural values and behavioral patterns require structural support. Local social structures need to be strengthened in order to sustain community forces that value education. The ethnic church, ethnic entrepreneurship, ethnic media, and other ethnic institutions — backed by high immigrant selectivity among Chinese and Korean immigrants — play a crucial role in circulating valuable education-related information to immigrant families.
A key policy implication of this study suggests that public schools alone may not be sufficient to ensure immigrant children's educational success, and that a wider range of after-school services are badly needed, particularly in low-income urban communities. The challenge that underprivileged immigrant and native minority parents face is two-fold: how to obtain information about children's education beyond public school, and how to muster or access tangible resources conducive to education.
The Chinese or Korean model may be difficult for other immigrant groups to follow due to immigrant selectivity. However, one feasible step would be to strengthen existing community-based nonprofits and churches in disadvantaged neighborhoods and help fund these organizations so they can provide after-school academic and enrichment programs.
Korean Youth and Community Center (KYCC), a nonprofit organization in Koreatown, Los Angeles, is a good example. KYCC's programs are modeled after hagwons but classes are free. Because a large proportion of its funding comes from public sources, KYCC is obligated to serve low-income children in the local community regardless of their ethnic background. As a result, a visible number of students taking part in KYCC's programs are children of Latino immigrants.
Many local churches already have the infrastructure for providing after-school programs. Public funds channeled into religious institutions may help generate needed after-school academic services for families regardless of their religious affiliation.
Another step may be to promote ethnic entrepreneurship in after-school education in the form of small business loans for prospective entrepreneurs and vouchers for low-income immigrant families. However, more research is needed on the viability of private businesses that can be modeled on Chinese and Korean buxibans or hagwons in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods that lack other coethnic businesses and social institutions.
This article is part of a series on the second generation in the United States, supported in part by the Russell Sage Foundation. For other articles in this series, click here.
This piece is based on "Community Forces, Social Capital, and Educational Achievement: The Case of Supplementary Education in the Chinese and Korean Immigrant Communities" published in the Harvard Educational Review in spring 2006. The authors wish to thank Stella Flores, Soo Hong, and members of the current HER editorial board for their helpful comments and suggestions. We acknowledge invaluable research assistance from Pei-Chuan Joh, Ly Phung Lam, Angela Sung, and Cindy Wang.
Min Zhou is a professor of sociology and the inaugural chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her main areas of research are immigration, ethnic and racial relations, ethnic entrepreneurship, and the community and urban sociology. She is the coeditor of Contemporary Asian America (2000) and the coeditor of Asian American Youth: Culture, Identity, and Ethnicity (2004).
Susan S. Kim received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her doctoral dissertation research examines the varied effects of culture, religious participation, and ethnic institutions on the academic achievement of second-generation Korean and Filipino adolescents, with a special focus on gender differences.
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