WASHINGTON (Dec. 8, 2011) — Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) members — the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC) and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) — applaud the Departments of Justice and Education for releasing two new guidance documents – one for school districts and one for colleges and universities – that provide a roadmap for K-12 schools, colleges and universities to implement voluntary efforts to promote diversity and integration in accordance with standards set by the Supreme Court’s decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Parents Involved v. Seattle Schools (2007).
“This guidance shows a commitment to alleviate racial and economic isolation in our schools and to the success of our nation’s young people,” said Jacinta S. Ma, AAJC’s deputy director. “Exposure to a wide range of people, cultures and perspectives is necessary for students to succeed in a nation that is not only growing in its own diversity, but also increasingly interwoven into a global economy.”
The guidance also provides examples of efforts that K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions can take to further diversity or reduce racial isolation, including how colleges and universities can take race into account for admissions and other programs to achieve diversity.
“The invaluable benefits to all students of learning in a racially and ethnically diverse environment are well-documented and recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Yungsuhn Park, senior staff attorney at APALC. “For that reason, APALC has long supported the efforts of educational institutions to combat racial segregation and has represented parents, students, and community organizations in cases supporting the consideration of race to avoid segregation and enhance student diversity.”
The guidance underscores the value of diversity in education–a view long held by the Asian American civil rights community. APALC has advocated for increased diversity in admissions at the University of California and has defended public school districts’ ability to consider race in order to avoid segregation. Last year, AAJC submitted an amicus brief in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, specifically discussing the university’s compelling interest in maintaining a diverse student body and how Asian Americans benefit from learning in racially diverse environments. In Fisher, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court ruling that the university was permitted to consider race as one factor in its undergraduate admissions policies.
Christopher Punongbayan, ALC’s deputy director, added: “Education remains an essential tool to advancing in today’s society, but for many poor and working-class people of color, including under-represented Asians and Pacific Islanders, the promise of educational equality is not being met. Our government should continue to play a role in preventing the racial re-segregation of our schools and reversing segregation in public institutions where it has already occurred.”
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (www.advancingjustice.org) is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center (www.advancingequality.org), the Asian American Institute (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org). The mission of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice is to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.