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Los Angeles Unified Renews Commitment to AANHPI AMEMSA students, Marks Day of Activism (05-29-20)


CONTACT: Shannon Haber, (213) 393-1289

Los Angeles Unified Renews Commitment to AANHPI AMEMSA students, Marks Day of Activism

LOS ANGELES – May 29, 2020 -- Los Angeles Unified today renewed its commitment to protect and advance the rights of students and employees of color by increasing equity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.

On their behalf, and in recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, May 31 was acknowledged as a Day of Activism in honor of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American man who was killed in a race-related hate crime in 1982.

More than 85,000 students of AANHPI AMEMSA background are enrolled in Los Angeles Unified, about 18% of the total student population. Following the Board of Education’s adoption last year of the Everyone Counts Resolution, Los Angeles Unified is disaggregating data by ethnicity to better support the unique academic and social-emotional needs of AANHPI AMEMSA students.

“We continue to take steps to better engage our AANHPI AMEMSA communities,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “This additional student information will help us better support the unique needs of each student.”

The Los Angeles Unified AANHPI AMEMSA Steering Committee for Educational Equity, created in response to the resolution, is working with leaders of those communities on issues and recommendations for additional initiatives.

“Our students come to school speaking 99 languages other than English,” Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg said. “They all deserve the best possible education at Los Angeles Unified. Asian students are not monolithic. When we actually look at each group of Asian and Pacific Islander students, we can learn how to help them do their best.”

“Anyone who teaches in a classroom in Los Angeles knows that no racial or ethnic group is monolithic,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “Collecting, disaggregating and analyzing student data allows educators to determine strengths, weaknesses, trends, and importantly how to target scarce resources.”

“Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Day of Activism,” Board Member Mónica García said. “Diversity is strength and when we stand in solidarity with one another, we push on the system to do better. We honor the legacy of Vincent Chin and stand firmly against racism, xenophobia and intolerance. We are committed to making sure all of our communities feel seen and heard. No one should feel invisible, because everyone counts!”

“Now more than ever, it is important that the District continues to honor the rich diversity of our Los Angeles Unified family and to ensure success and equitable representation for all including our AANHPI and AMEMSA students and employees,” Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson said. “Continuing to disaggregate subgroup data in order to monitor instructional and individual progress will help us achieve this goal.”

“We passed the ‘Everyone Counts’ resolution last year to reaffirm our commitment to recognizing and supporting our AANHPI and AMEMSA students,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “One year later, an unprecedented global pandemic has shown us precisely why this commitment is necessary. The effects of the Covid-19 virus are being disproportionately felt by the Asian American community, and, as with education, we know these effects vary among different Asian American communities. We need to understand these differences in order to better provide the support each community needs, during and after this crisis.”

“At Los Angeles Unified, we not only celebrate our AANHPI AMEMSA students, we are committed to serving them well,” Board Member Kelly Gonez said. “In order to fulfill that promise, we must look closely at how our students are doing and how we can support each learner’s unique needs.”

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month also celebrates the long history and contributions of the AANHPI AMEMSA communities and the challenges they faced in the past and continue to encounter today. Community leaders cited prejudice and hate incidents targeting their communities and the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By cultivating and celebrating a love and appreciation for diversity of all kind, including our AANHPI AMEMSA students, we give our children and communities a hope for a better future,” Chief Academic Officer Alison Yoshimoto-Towery said. “Pride in our culture and heritage, an essential part of identity and self-worth, fuels our capacity to contribute positively to others and society.”

Approaching May 31, leaders from these diverse communities also cite the recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic including prejudice and hate incidents.

“On this Day of Activism, and every day, we celebrate the assets of AANHPI AMEMSA communities while also recognizing the obstacles to educational equity still present,” Andrew Murphy of Teach For America-Los Angeles and community member of the Los Angeles Unified AANHPI AMEMSA Steering Committee for Educational Equity said. “We are proud of last year’s unanimous passage of the Everyone Counts resolution and look forward to full implementation of its commitment to disaggregate data for all students and employees of color. In partnership with dozens of community organizations, we express urgency for growing systems-wide awareness of the needs of each and every unique student and employee group.”