Oakland high school students form legislation with school board member to transform the way OUSD reports API student data, bringing invisible communities to the forefront; resolution passes unanimously.
A resolution to disaggregate Asian Pacific Islander (API) student data was passed early this week on June 8th, following a presentation and advocacy by youth from three different community organizations (Banteay Srei, Asian Health Services Youth Program, and AYPAL: Building API Community Power) at the May 25th school board meeting. The resolution was put forth by District 2 School Board member Aimee Eng and calls for the publishing of disaggregated data for API students in the Oakland Unified School District; adding “Mien/Lao”, and “Tongan” as categories as part of the resolution. This resolution, which was backed by the support of several community and statewide organizations, as well as Assembly member Rob Bonta’s office, Superintendent Antwan Wilson, and members of the city’s Life Enrichment Committee, passed unanimously with a vote of 7-0. It is the first of it’s kind to be passed in California school districts and will effectively break out several different groups within the category of “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” to provide more visibility to underrepresented API populations such as Cambodian, Mien, Tongan, and other Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students.
For news coverage on this story, please see the following link to NPR/KQED news story:
On Wednesday May 25th, 2016 twenty high school youth in Oakland attended the Oakland Unified School District Board Meeting with signs that read things like “Count me in: 68% of Cambodians DO NOT have a high school diploma”, to present their stories in an effort to back legislation that would change the way data is reported for underrepresented students. Youth presented their own set of data about Asian American youth in Oakland, and provided personal testimony to encourage the School Board to change the way data is tracked and reported to make the experiences of their communities more visible. Currently, data about Asian American and Pacific Islander students is reported in large clumps, which often masks the data of groups such as Southeast Asians, and other refugee and new immigrant communities. The youth who attended today’s meeting spoke about the importance of having data that represents their stories.
Despite the diversity of Oakland’s large Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) population, OUSD only publishes disaggregated data for a few of the major AAPI groups: Asian, Filipino, Pacific Islander populations. By failing to measure a large portion of the AAPI population, Oakland is unable to track the progress of the most disadvantaged segments of that population.
Without disaggregated data, policymakers and researchers must rely on less detailed data released by state agencies or local data that may be collected inconsistently in different jurisdictions. Without disaggregated data, support services cannot provide adequate data to show the needs of the API community, thus inhibits the ability to request funding for grants and resources to implement programs. Without programs focused on supporting our API communities, our API youth remain invisible and underserved.
During the 2014-2015 academic calendar, Oakland community based organizations Banteay Srei, Asian Health Services Youth Program, and AYPAL: Building API Community Power, felt the urgency to conduct an API youth assessment in order to better understand the needs and landscape of the API population within OUSD. In collaboration with Oakland High School and the Shop 55 Wellness Center, they collected data from API youth and young adults (between ages 12-24). About 500 surveys were collected from 8 OUSD schools, and several community college students, and data was disaggregated by the organizations by API ethnicity to demonstrate the differences and similarities with the API community experience. A focus group at Oakland High School with 5 Asian and Pacific Islander students was completed to better understand the survey data from youths perspective. The results of this survey have been shared by youth and staff at both city council and Alameda county levels, and has caught the attention of statewide media and legislation efforts.
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