If you'd like to sign on to the "ORGANIZATIONS & LEADERS" letter, use this link: http://bit.ly/CTdataletter_orgsleaders
If you have questions or concerns, please contact:
Mui Mui from Asian Pacific American Coalition at <firstname.lastname@example.org> Souvan from SEARAC at <email@example.com>
As educators and students in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities across the State of Connecticut and the country, we are deeply concerned by recent efforts in opposing the collection of detailed race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data in our state and elsewhere in the country.
We firmly believe that collecting and reporting detailed data for ethnic subgroups are essential in identifying and reducing the disparities experience by underrepresented minority communities, especially in the areas of education, medical and mental health care, addiction, housing, employment, and legal and social services. In Connecticut, over twenty different ethnic subgroups make up the state’s approximate 150,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander population. The incredibly diverse cultures, immigration histories, socio-economic compositions, and acculturation levels of these groups mean they have distinct experiences and social needs that cannot be seen when they are lumped under one racial category. Without high-quality and detailed data, policy makers, institutions, and providers may misunderstand, overlook, under-fund, and ignore the needs of these growing and complex communities in policy and program decision making processes. This is especially pressing given the pervasive model minority myth, which stereotypes Asian Americans as a monolithic and self-sufficient racial group that is doing well across the board.
In education, disaggregated data helps public and private entities better understand and address the challenges that students from different ethnic subgroups face. For example, educational attainment among AAPI subgroups vary substantially between Southeast Asian and East and South Asians. AAPI Data notes that in the U.S., just 1 in 4 Burmese has a Bachelor’s degree or higher compared to about 3 in 4 Taiwanese and Indian Americans. Nearly 62% of Bhutanese and 50% Burmese lack a high school degree. One study shows that Cambodian, Laotian, Native Hawaiian, and Samoan Americans in California have among the lowest community college graduation rates. Another finding reveals that 7th grade AAPI students in California performed significantly lower than their White counterparts in reading but significantly higher in math when aggregated in standardized tests. However, when disaggregated and compared to White American students, a majority of AAPI ethnic groups performed at significantly lower reading and math levels. Student mental health is an emerging area needing our attention. While there is an acknowledgement that AAPI students in all education levels experience mental health challenges, ascertaining specific understanding of and responding to these needs remain difficult due to the lack of detailed data.
AAPI policy makers, educators, community leaders, health and social service providers, and researchers have historically spearheaded the push for detailed data collection. Recent introductions and subsequent passages of data disaggregation bills specific to AAPI in California, Minnesota, Washington, Rhode Island, New York, and Massachusetts exemplify the fruition of such efforts. However, the pushback by some Asian Americans against disaggregated data collection in the past two years are also worth addressing. Comprising a small but vocal group of mostly Chinese immigrants, these highly vocal opponents decry detailed Asian American data collection “discriminatory” and “racist.” Fearing potential “abuse” and “misuse” of such data, they deploy alarmist rhetoric that compares disaggregated Asian American data collection to the Nazis’ registry and isolation of Jews for genocide in Europe. They also allude that such data opens a “backdoor” for affirmative action in higher education and hinders their high-achieving children’s ability to get into universities, particularly elite institutions.
AAPI data experts and supporters of disaggregated data know that these claims are misleading and misguided. Such claims unfairly ignore the history of detailed data collection, misrepresent its goals and purposes, and disregard the desires of underrepresented minority subgroups. They also refuse to acknowledge how disaggregated data has instrumentally enhanced efforts to secure public and private resources to assist underrepresented minority communities in need. Regarding the argument that disaggregated data are linked to college admission discrimination against Asian Americans, it is important to underscore that Asian ethnicity data collected at the K-12 level are designed to “support parental engagement in ethnically diverse schools, and to provide better student support services on matters ranging from mental health and suicide prevention to successful college completion.” They are unrelated to elite institutions’ admission considerations. Lastly, those opposing disaggregated data due to fear of discrimination ironically overlook the fact that concerted efforts to investigate and combat institutional discrimination and racism rely heavily on having access to detailed data.
Thus, contrary to those who oppose disaggregated data collection and collecting, we strongly believe that having detailed data will help uplift diverse AAPI and other communities across Connecticut. We are certain that high-quality and detailed data are critical in ensuring more equitable access and success for all groups.