By George Tsai
Our colleges have perhaps turned out hundreds of thousands of topnotch educators, scientists and political leaders from many countries, while our own high school students are far behind their counterparts from other nations in international contests in science.The contrast boggles the mind, doesn't it?The frequency of violence at local high schools has deeply bothered me as a Queens resident. High school violence incidents, it seems, have drawn more public scrutinies after the fatal shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado about six years ago. Obviously, there have been lots of similar incidents since then.The primary dissimilitude between high school students and college students is that the former by nature are rebellious, while the latter tend to grow mature because campus environment has begun broadening their horizons.I am no stranger to teen rebellion. It's a phase through which I have guided my own two children with love, patience and discipline.Of course, there are other factors causing school violence.Recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted his efforts to control violence in the city's most dangerous schools. As a result of that, five of 16 schools singled out for special attention last year would be removed from the program, he said. To some parents and schools, it's gratifying news.According to reports published in the TimesLedger newspaper and The New York Times, the mayor and the city's schools Chancellor Joel Klein focused on schools like Queens' Far Rockaway, where the total number of criminal incidents dropped to four from 16 over the previous year.They averaged the performance of all 16 schools to produce a statistic that showed a 43 percent fall in major crime and a 33 percent decline in overall crime over the past year.Nevertheless, six other schools that have had persistent problems with disruptive students would take their place as impact schools, where extra police will patrol the school hallways, the mayor said.It's incomprehensible how some high schools in the world's most civilized society need police to discipline students on a daily basis.Regrettably, John Bowne High School in Flushing and Springfield Gardens High School in Springfield Gardens are both on the impact schools list.About 30 percent of the 4,000 students at John Bowne are children of Chinese immigrants, according to the World Journal, a Chinese-language daily in New York.Traditionally, Chinese parents are strict with their children in conduct and academic activities at schools. In fact, they want their children to excel in everything among their peers. After 25 centuries, Confucianism still plays a vital role in traditional Chinese families.As far as I can recall, eight out of 10 valedictorians were Asian at Northern Indiana high schools about two decades ago when I was in that area. Most of them attended prestigious colleges with scholarships and have come up in the world.Were those young people smarter than any other ethnic group? No, absolutely not. It's only that their parents are stricter.John Bowne is a small melting pot with a lot of foreign-born students. Undeniably, cultural differences are partially to blame for some unhappy incidents that have occurred at the school.Still, the density of student population and class size also are considered factors contributing to frictions between students. These problems can be solved only with money, which the city apparently doesn't have.Over the years, I have read news reports that some parents have tried to vent their anger by suing school authorities for their children's behavioral problems and academic failures.Bear in mind, parents, ethical education starts at home. Moral values are by far more important than academic excellence. Therefore, parents, not schools, should be held responsible for their children's wrongdoings at school.Nowadays, working parents can spare little time talking to their children about school activities and homework. Some new immigrants work long hours and six days a week.I know a local couple who, struggling to make ends meet, leave for work early and come home late. They spend little time with their teenage son, believing the school would take good care of him, giving him knowledge and shaping his character. It's wishful thinking.Instead of doing homework at home, the 17-year-old whiles away after-school time playing, eating and at times sleeping at an unidentified “church.” God alone knows what he is doing there.