Dept. of Education Announces Major AAPI Disaggregation Federal Grant Initiative

(Photo Credit: WHIAAPI)
(Photo Credit: WHIAAPI)

In an understated YouTube video (after the jump) released by the White House Initiative for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), US Secretary of Education John King Jr announced that the federal government is putting $1 million dollars towards the fight to disaggregate AAPI data.

As readers of this blog already know, data disaggregation is really frickin’ important.

Earlier this week, I wrote a post noting that data disaggregation might very well be one of the core civil rights issues of the AAPI community today. AAPIs are not a monolithic group, yet too often, the experiences of some Asian Americans dominate our discourse, while other AAPI communities — including Southeast Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who collectively make up roughly one-quarter to one-third of those who fall under the AAPI umbrella — are rendered largely invisible and unheard. Yet, it is these communities of AAPIs who face the deepest disparities in income, education access, and upward mobility — and whom we most need to hear from.

Progressive AAPIs have therefore been focused on urging state and federal governments to collect ethnically disaggregated data for the AAPI community, which will allow researchers and legislators to better understand the disparities within our community. To date, the federal government provides Census forms that permit AAPI respondents to choose to self-identify across several ethnic categories. However, the vast majority of state governments fail to collect similarly ethnically disaggregated data for its residents, meaning that most AAPIs are artificially “lumped together” under the homogenizing identifier “Asian”.

In California, home to the country’s largest concentration of Southeast Asian Americans, efforts are currently underway to formalize the collection of disaggregated healthcare and education data, in the form of AB-1726, or the AHEAD Act. But, in other states, there are few (if any) efforts to collect ethnically disaggregated data for AAPIs.

To address this problem, Secretary of Education John King, Jr kicked off Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an announcement that the Department of Education would be launching a new federal grant program, which will offer $1 million dollars to encourage state agencies to pursue data disaggregation for AAPIs.

This latest federal grant initiative is part of a major focus on data disaggregation by the Obama administration. In 2014-2015, 24 federal agencies submitted plans to improve data disaggregation of the AAPI community at the federal level, and this grant program looks to encourage similar efforts by state governments.

“Disaggregated data on student performance are critical for identifying and developing strategies for closing the educational and opportunity gaps among different student groups,” said King, in the video.

You can continue to support data disaggregation efforts by helping to push the fight forward in California to pass the AHEAD Act, which establishes guidelines for the collection of ethnically disaggregated data in healthcare and education.

Check out this page at the SEARAC website for more information on AB-1726. To be get involved in the fight please do the following:

You can also share this post, and your own story about why data disaggregation matters, to #AllCACounts.

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