Why are Southern California's Chinese schools losing students?

Chinese-language schools in Southern California have seen a steady decrease in enrollment in the last 10 years, Shan Yan Wang reports in the World Journal (世界新闻). Private institutions and schools in the 107-member Southern California Council of Chinese Schools — many of which are in the San Gabriel Valley — have reported losses ranging from 30 percent a decade ago to over 75 percent now. 

The decrease in enrollment is a result of rigid teaching styles and the increasing prevalence of Chinese-language classes in both public schools and private institutions that are not part of the Council of Chinese Schools, according to World Journal. The continued use of traditional as opposed to simplified Mandarin is also hurting these largely Taiwanese-run schools, as the number of Taiwanese migrants decline and migration from mainland China rises.

Perhaps part of the decline also has to do with the increasing bureaucratization of the Southern California Chinese Schools Association, where officials are allegedly embroiled in political infighting, the World Journal reports. Amid accusations that previous council members are engaging in "publicity stunts," the decision-making board eliminated Executive Committee positions in hopes that a less hierarchical structure will encourage members to work more selflessly for the greater good rather than personal gain.

As the association nears its 40th anniversary, those familiar with its work told World Journal they would like to see it focus more on improving the student experience and regaining its position at the center of the Chinese community by promoting cultural heritage. With these steps, the flow of students away from the Chinese schools can potentially be stemmed, World Journal reports.

Versions of this article were originally published in World Journal. The stories were translated from Chinese to English by a volunteer translator. If you notice a mistake in translation, please email our editors at editor@alhambrasource.org.

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