Washington, DC – On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education unanimously passed the “Everyone Counts: Increasing Equity for All of Our AANHPI AMEMSA Students and Employees” resolution. The resolution, authored by Board President Mónica García, makes LAUSD the largest school district in the country to disaggregate race and ethnicity data to ensure that all communities are seen and accounted for by policymakers.
The resolution, which is the product of more than 40 community organizations working powerfully for educational justice for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) students, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) students, and all students of color, will:
- affirm AANHPI AMEMSA students as an important community with unique and important needs;
- meaningfully collect and disaggregate data for all students and employees of color, including AANHPI AMEMSA students and employees;
- establish an AANHPI AMEMSA Steering Committee for Educational Equity that issues recommendations for the implementation of the resolution;
- provide annual updates on the state of AANHPI AMEMSA students and employees during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May) each year; and
- advocate at the state level and with other California school districts for similar practices, especially data disaggregation, to duplicate efforts throughout California.
“Disaggregating data is a civil rights issue,” said Quyen Dinh, executive director of SEARAC. “Without detailed data, Southeast Asian American communities are made unseen, and our needs are ignored in critical policy decisions. SEARAC applauds the Board of Education, Board President García, and the many community advocates who fought to pass this historic civil rights milestone. We now call on LAUSD to implement the resolution fully and expediently to make educational equity a reality for all students of color.”
While our country has made significant strides in collecting data about student achievement for the major race and ethnic groups, data policies in most states and districts continue to fail to represent our diverse communities accurately. The monolithic “Asian” or “Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander” categories gloss over the immense variation in outcomes for different AANHPI ethnic groups, such as for Southeast Asian Americans (SEAAs). In the aggregate, only 14% of Asian American adults have less than a high school diploma. However, disaggregated data show that 34% of Cambodian, 30% of Hmong, 30% of Lao, and 28% of Vietnamese American adults have less than a high school diploma – twice the percentage or more of Asian Americans overall.
California is home to more than 1 million SEAAs, including more than 764,000 Vietnamese Americans, more than 118,000 Cambodian Americans, more than 101,000 Hmong Americans, and nearly 83,000 Laotian Americans. LAUSD alone educates 85,000 students-or 18% of the district-who are AANHPI. This incredible diversity underscores the absolute importance for education data to reflect all communities accurately. SEARAC thanks the LAUSD Board of Education and strongly urges districts nationwide to follow in its steps.