First of Its Kind Study Reinforces Importance of Accurate, Disaggregated data
Betty Hung, Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA.
LOS ANGELES (Sept. 15, 2015) — More than one in seven Californians identify as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI). As the state’s fastest growing racial or ethnic group, 6.3 million Asian Americans and 347,501 Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI), represent 14 percent of California’s population. In the context of higher education, a new report reveals great disparities in access and success for this tremendously diverse community.
“Nowhere is the model minority stereotype of Asian Americans more prevalent than in the arena of education,” says Betty Hung, policy director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. “This report debunks the model minority myth by exposing, through ethnically disaggregated data, the real barriers and needs of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who struggle amidst hardships to achieve the dream of a college degree.”
Among the report findings are data that illustrate the stark contrasts that exist across the AANHPI spectrum. For example, the report finds a 21% variance in high school graduation rates across AANHPI ethnic groups. The A-G completion rates for AANHPI students also vary by 49 percent. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) students, only 37 percent are eligible for admission into a University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU) institution. And contrary to common perceptions of where AANHPIs attend college, nearly half or 47 percent of all Asian Americans and 55 percent of NHPI students start at a California community college.
The report finds a wide disparity in educational attainment, showing a 60 percent variation in college graduation rates across the AANHPI community. Specifically, 70 percent of Indian adult individuals, 25 years and older, have a bachelor degree or higher compared to 10 percent of Laotian adults. Notably, comparative figures among the following Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups fall below the overall state average of 31% for all adults with a bachelor degree or higher: Vietnamese (29 percent), Cambodian (16 percent), Hmong (13 percent), Guamanian or Chamorro and Samoan (12 percent).
The report also highlights the financial needs of AANHPI students, highlighting significant barriers to educational access and success. Hmong and Cambodian children, for example, have the highest rates of poverty in California, 42 and 33 percent, respectively, slightly higher than their Black and Latino counterparts. Comparably, the poverty rates for Laotian, Tongan, Burmese, and Samoan children are between 22 to 30 percent. In the University of California (UC) system, data show that almost half of Asian American undergraduate students receive Pell Grants, a federal need-based program. This includes 46 percent of Chinese American students entering the UC system in Fall 2013.
“This report challenges many common misperceptions and paints a more accurate picture of the complexity of the AANHPI community and higher education,” says Stewart Kwoh, President & Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles.
“Policymakers and higher education leaders must stop treating our community as a monolithic whole. Our most disadvantaged AANHPI students face significant barriers to educational access and success, including high poverty and low graduation rates, and all AANHPI students are impacted by California’s decades of disinvestment in public higher education which has resulted in rising costs and fewer seats in public colleges.”
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles is the nation’s largest Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) legal and civil rights organization and serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year. Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice – LA’s mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society. Through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, leadership development and capacity building, Advancing Justice – LA seeks to serve the most vulnerable members of the AANHPI community while also building a strong AANHPI voice for civil rights and social justice.