Many discussions about affirmative action or demographics in higher education start with the assumption that Asian American students are outperforming everyone else and don't need any help. That view is frustrating to many Asian Americans and some educators who say that -- even if true on average -- it results in too little attention being paid to members of some groups that are not doing well at all educationally.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report  Thursday that backs up those concerns. The report notes that by most measures Asian Americans have a higher educational attainment than other groups, with almost half of Asian Americans aged 25 or older having a four-year college degree, a percentage far greater than those for white adults (almost one third) or black or Latino adults (less than one fifth). But this overall success, the GAO found, "masks" the realities of many Asian subgroups in educational preparation and attainment.
For example, the report found that half of Southeast Asian high school students are not enrolled in college preparatory programs, more than half of Southeast Asian and Native American and Pacific Islander students are in the lower socioeconomic quartiles, and many Asian groups set aside less money for their children's college education than do members of other racial and ethnic groups.
Educational Attainment and Average Income of Asian-American Groups, 2005
|Group||% of Adults With at Least 4-Year Degree||Average Income|
|Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan||54%||$48,000|
|Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai||44%||$40,000|
|Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander||17%||$38,000|
|Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong||13%||$32,000|
The GAO also found significant differences in terms of how much money families from different Asian groups were saving for a child's future college education.
Amount Set Aside for Higher Education by Asian-American Families, by Group
|Group||None||Up to $10,000||$10,001-$20,000||>$20,000|