May 1, 2006

10億人の未来を担う子どもたち:Faria A+ School

My friend in Cupertino told me how 'lottery' elementary schools have maximized their grade point average in the last few years so much as to raise their average API to 99.9999/100.  "How can that be possible!"she said.  Yeah, that's even creepy.

One of the names she brought up was a lottery school Faria Academic Plus School, which claimed state-wide top honors in 2001, beating Whitney High (LA) by 7 points. It received a perfect API score of 1000 in 2003/2004, and 999 in 2005!

"We look at the API measure as a benchmark of where we are, and each year we try to improve against ourselves," said then-principal to The Cupertino Courier back in 2001.

Approx. 94% of the student body are Asians, mainly from India and China; the most competitive, academic-oriented ethnic groups in Silicon Valley. The Hindu's article "Get SAT go"(2004) tells us interesting stories behind the scene.;
To ensure those straight A's and SAT scores as close to the perfect, the Valley is now home to a host of franchised coaching institutions like Princetone Review, where an afternoon's SAT preparation class costs $900! Then there are tutors who charge $250 an hour to help students to reach the SAT peak.

"What is needed is to come as close as possible to that magic perfect score, 1,600, in the nationwide Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)."

"[...] some towns have a 'lottery' elementary school or two as well — and that is what parents aiming for the best, target for their children. To gain admission to a 'lottery' school, parents send in applications of intent for their wards and then wait in hope for their children to be short-listed for a test. Based on the results, a few score children are selected for each 'lottery' school. "
Silicon Valley youths don't rebel much. When they do, they take completely different paths. From the same article;
Eight computer-savvy students at Saratoga High hacked into a teacher's computer and stole tests and answers. A few days later, one of those suspended was arrested for stealing from a chemistry lab material that could be used to create an explosive. Students at Cupertino Middle School went further. Twelve of them drew up a plan to burn down their school before an exam.
I remember the incident because Cupertino Middle is where Japanese Language School takes place on every Saturday.

You may remember that Steve Jobs set an explosive to his teacher's desk when he was the 3rd grader. He was reading this a couple of years ago.

***

先日クパティーノ在住のお友だちとの会話。

A 「ファリアって知ってる?ディアンツァ・カレッジ隣の小学校なんだけど、偏差値が満点近いのよ。ありえなくない? Lottery School(くじ引き校)っていう公募と抽選で入学が決まる学校なんだけどね」
B 「裏金?」
「裏金で100点は採れんわなあ」
A 「“自分の子なら絶対ついていける”って自信のある人しか応募しないみたいよ」
家に帰って調べてみたら、お友だちの話は本当だった。クパティーノでは”Lottery School”が偏差値戦争の最前線。で、「くじ引き」とは名ばかりで厳正な出願審査があるみたいね。

Aさんの話していたファリア小は2001年から州内偏差値トップで、A+の生徒しかいないので「Faria Academic Plus School」なんて呼ばれてる。2003/2004年度はAPI平均1000点、先々月発表2005年度版は999。LAの名門ホイットニーを抜いた2001年、当時の校長はThe Cupertino Courierに「APIは当校の位置を知るベンチマークですよ」と語っていたが、いやあ…。

生徒の94%はインド系か中国系、俗に言う「IC」だ。親の83%は院卒。The Hindu紙は「SAT対策の塾が月900ドルで、家庭教師は時給250ドル。SAT産業はバレーのドル箱」、「インドの名門ITT(インド工科大)の激烈な受験地獄とそっくり同じことがバレーで行われている」と伝えている。

「中国の上流家庭の子は”読み書き・数理・碁や将棋・音楽・武道”が教育の基本よ。もう、忙しくて忙しくて」―中国系のボンと結婚した別の友人は笑う。ほんまもんのエリートは点採り虫じゃないってことね。

でも、身一つで渡ってきた一世は高スコアが成功に至る唯一の王道だ。学べや励めで「学校対抗スポーツ大会でインドの子が出たのはテニスだけだった」とHindu紙も諦めモードである。

おのおの10億人の未来を背負ってるせいか、いくら勉強漬けでも不思議と校内暴力とか自殺の話は聞かない(パロアルトの高校は鉄道に隣接しているので飛び込み多いけど…)。学校絡みの事件としては以下2つが有名だ。
  1. 名門サラトガ高のギーク8人が教師のコンピュータをハックして試験の答案を盗用。停学処分中の一人が事件発生から数日後、起爆性物質の生成に必要な成分を実験室から盗んでご法度。
  2. 名門クパティーノ中の在校生12人が試験前に学校を丸ごと炎上させる計画を練ったものの未遂段階で発覚し逮捕。
2.は日本語補習校の借用校なので記憶に生々しい。

そういえば、小3のときに先生の机に爆弾を仕掛けて怒られたのはジョブズ氏だっけ。数年前にもこんな本を読んでいた。

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