Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) is the proven leader in fighting for Asian-American children’s equal education rights.
Our records have proven: AACE is the most effective and impactful civil-rights organization fighting for Asian Americans’ interests.
The following highlights AACE’s major accomplishments in chronological order.
May 15, 2015, the founders of AACE united 64 Chinese-American, Indian-American, Korean-American, Pakistani-American and other Asian-American organizations and jointly filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education and Department of Justice to request that they conduct an investigation into Harvard University’s discriminatory admissions practices against Asian-American applicants. The founders of AACE also held a news conference at the National Press Club of Washington, DC and a satellite news conference in Irvine, California. We also met with congresswomen Grace Meng and Virginia Foxx, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher joined us in the news conference and spoke about the issue of anti-Asian discrimination in college admissions.
May15-June 30, 2015, more than 60 news reports from the U.S. and other parts of the world covered AACE’s complaint against Harvard. More than 20 editorials on this complaint were published in English-language newspapers. On June 5, 2015, the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Mr. Yukong Zhao, who then chaired the AACE Organizing Committee. Featured in America’s #1 newspaper, Mr. Zhao’s interview was the most comprehensive and in-depth one on this subject in years.
June 22, 2015, US House Representatives Ed Royce, Dana Rohrabacher, Pete Olson, Glenn Grothman, and Dan Donovan issued a letter to the Department of Education and Department of Justice in support of our complaint.
June 25, 2015, AACE received a letter from the Department of Education, dismissing the complaint for the technical reason that there had been an ongoing lawsuit against Harvard by the group Students for Fair Admissions. AACE has vowed to continue our fight for equal education rights.
July 20, 2015, in response to AACE’s call for action, an Asian-American father from New England filed a complaint with the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against Yale University, Columbia University, Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, the University of Chicago and Amherst College. All nine schools unfairly rejected his daughter who attended college abroad. More than 16 of her non-Asian classmates with lower grades, lower test scores and less impressive extracurricular accomplishments were accepted into Ivy League schools or other top schools. This case is merely one example of the outrageous and widespread discrimination against Asian-American applicants.
August 4, 2015, Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus— Representatives Judy Chu, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Michael Honda, Mark Takano, Grace Meng, Ted Lieu and Mark Takai—issued a letter to the Department of Justice in support of our complaint against Harvard.
September 3, 2015, in response to AACE’s call for action, an Asian-American father in Florida filed a complaint with the OCR against Harvard University. His son is an outstanding student in every respect, excelling academically and at sports while volunteering in community services and winning several national competitions in economics and rocketry. Yet he was unfairly rejected by Harvard due to his being Asian. The top four of his graduating class at a Florida high school were all Asian Americans, none of whom got accepted by any elite university in the U.S. Meanwhile, five non-Asian classmates were admitted into Ivy League schools, a fact that cries out for an explanation as the latter’s academic and extracurricular qualifications were not as impressive as their Asian-American peers.
September 10, 2015, representing 117 Asian-American organizations, AACE and the Asian American Legal Foundation (AALF) jointly filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging a total ban of racial discrimination in college admissions. This document was filed in support of the petitioner in Fisher vs University of Texas case.
September 28, 2015, AACE issued a letter to Ms. Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary of the OCR, rejecting the findings in its letter to Princeton University on September 9, 2015 in regards to the school’s alleged discrimination against Asian-American students. In this conclusion to its investigation, the OCR failed to examine whether or not Princeton University’s use of race had unduly burdened Asian-American applicants, which was essential to determine the school’s compliance with relevant Supreme Court Rulings. The investigation relied on flawed methodology and omitted Michael Wang’s individual complaint. As such, AACE requested that the OCR reopen its investigation of Princeton University with rigorous and credible methods and consider all the pending complaints relevant to the case.
December 9, 2015, on the day of the Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments in Fisher vs UT. AACE organized a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting equal education rights for all students and urging a total ban on racial discrimination in college admissions.
January 31, 2016, AACE issued a policy statement, denouncing a report by the Harvard Graduate School of Education titled “Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good through College Admission”. The report proposes drastic changes in the college admissions process across America by lowering academic requirements and improperly emphasizes narrowly defined “ethical engagement” admissions criterion. Though we welcome some of the recommendations, AACE believes that Harvard’s proposal will significantly reduce America’s educational and economic competitiveness and harm the country’s high-tech industry. In particular, Asian Americans are deeply concerned about being further victimized by this proposal because it would dramatically increase the subjectivity and opacity of the college admissions process.
May 23, 2016, representing 132 Chinese-American, Indian-American, Korean-American, Pakistani-American, Japanese-American and other Asian-American American organizations all over the nation, AACE submitted an administrative complaint to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the OCR to request that they conduct an investigation into the admissions processes of Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College for their discriminatory practices against Asian-American applicants. In the afternoon, an AACE delegation held a successful news conference at the National Press Club of Washington, DC. U.S. Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, participated in the conference and delivered a powerful speech in support of our efforts.
May 23-June 10, 2016, AACE’s complaint against Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College received extensive news coverage from NPR, NBC, CBS, Fortune, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Inside Higher Education, The World Journal, SinoVision and 50 more media outlets in the U.S. and Asia. Notably, former Dartmouth admissions officer, Dr. Michele Hernandez, published an article on the Huffington Post that revealed severe discrimination against Asian-American students by Ivy League schools, reaffirming our allegation.
June 23, 2016, AACE released a statement, calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Fisher vs University of Texas “a dark day for the hard-working children of Asian Americans and other Americans who are discriminated against by race-based college admissions policies”. AACE President Mr. YukKong Zhao said: “Asian-American communities are extremely disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling because it fails to reflect the equal protection and color-blind spirit of the U.S. Constitution. However, I would like to point out today’s ruling is not a green-light for Ivy League schools and other colleges to use racial quotas, racial stereotypes, just-for-Asian higher-standards and other unlawful practices to blatantly discriminate against Asian-American children in the college admissions process. Such discrimination is clearly illegal, as AACE’s complaints make clear. AACE will continue our fight against such discrimination until our children are no longer judged by their skin-color, as Dr. Martin Luther King once dreamed.”
August 24, 2016, AACE Vice President Jack Ouyang issued a letter to Ms. Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary of the OCR in support of the individual complaint filed by Mr. Hubert Zhao against Columbia University and Cornell University. With a 5.3 GPA, Hubert Zhao received a National Merit Scholarship. He also served as president of both the science and debate teams at his school, attended the world championships of a robotics competition twice and spent numerous hours volunteering at a hospital and other local organizations. Mr. Ouyang wrote, “The members of AACE are outraged by such blatant discrimination. Mr. Yukong Zhao’s child is not alone—tens of thousands of talented Asian-American children are treated as second-class citizens who are less ‘diverse’ solely because of their race. OCR must launch an impartial investigation into the admissions processes of Columbia University and Cornell University to ensure that Hubert Zhao’s equal rights under the law are protected.”
November 30, 2016, after learning that the President-Elect Mr. Donald Trump had started a process of soliciting citizens’ suggestions on how to move America forward, AACE called upon Asian-American parents and concerned citizens to go to the President-Elect’s website to urge a ban on the illegal use of race in college admissions and to request that all Americans, regardless of their race, enjoy equal education rights.
Spring 2017, the leaders of AACE traveled to multiple cities to meet with U.S. Government officials and other policy influencers. Our delegation stressed the importance of relevant laws and facts regarding discriminatory admissions practices of Harvard and other Ivy League colleges and urged the U.S. Government to take appropriate actions to protect Asian-American children’s constitutional rights.
Summer 2017, in response to AACE’s call for action, one Asian-American student joined our complaint against Yale University and another filed an individual complaint against Ivy League colleges with the OCR.
August 4, 2017, AACE issued a statement, welcoming the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement to investigate Harvard University. The statement says: “It is long overdue to the Asian-American community, who follows the laws, works hard and has been making tremendous contributions to American economic prosperity and technology leadership in the world. We expect that the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education will take concrete actions to help restore the spirit of the American Dream: reward individual efforts and merits, and treat all individuals equally.”
August 15, 2017, in response to a recent Washington Post opinion piece claiming that Asian Americans’ complaint against discrimination is “used” by conservatives, AACE Board Director Henry Yang published an Op-Ed on the Daily Caller refuting that claim. Mr. Yang argued that “after enduring decades of open and widespread discrimination in college admissions, Asian Americans finally woke up and started fighting for our equal educational rights. We are not used by anyone, instead we are standing on our own feet, fighting for our own rights.”
August 29, 2017, AACE issued a statement, condemning Senator Feinstein and other Congressional Democrats for their baseless and bigoted intervention of the Department of Justice’s prospective investigation of Harvard University. AACE calls their action as politically motivated, illustrative of their ignorance of relevant laws, and evident of their disregard for the U.S. Constitution.
October 3, 2017, Mr. Yukong Zhao attended the Education Writer Association’s panel discussion on “Affirmative Action’s Next Big Test,” in which Mr. Zhao explained to attending education journalists that the U.S. Supreme Court has banned the use of racial quotas, racial stereotypes and higher standards that unduly harm Asian Americans. He provided compelling evidence from reputable researchers, former Ivy League admissions officers and Asian-American students to illustrate that Ivy League schools and other colleges’ discriminatory admission practices against Asian-American children are in violation of Supreme Court rulings that need to be stopped. Mr. Zhao also emphasized that unlike other ideologically driven organizations, AACE is fighting for our children’s interests and their constitutional rights to pursue their American dreams.
November 3, 2017, AACE issued a letter, urging the Common Application Organization to halt its action to subdivide Asian-American applicants into 10 subcategories in the Common Application. In a statement issued by AACE, Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “All children, either born or naturalized in America, are American citizens and should be treated equally. The subdivision of Asian-American applicants in Common Application is discriminatory, immoral and divisive. It only enables some colleges to discriminate against hardworking and high-performing Asian-American students. The Common Application Organization should immediately stop this discriminatory practice. All Asian-American applicants should reject this unauthorized intrusion of their privacy and refuse to select these divisive subcategories.”
November 3, 2017, AACE issued a statement, denouncing the racist campaign mailers that were sent out during the Edison (NJ) Board of Education campaign. “As an Asian-American organization that champions equal rights for all Americans, we are totally shocked and disgusted by the hateful mailers happened during the Edison Board of Education election…Mr. Shi and Ms. Patel’s participation in school board election illustrates their great hearts to serve the local community, and to share proven Asian-American education experiences to help children of all racial backgrounds. Their patriotism and spirit of citizenship should not be viciously attacked and intimidated!”
November 22, 2017, AACE issued a statement, applauding the Justice Department’s investigation of Harvard University and urging all American colleges to treat Asian-American applicants fairly and lawfully. Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “It has been more than 10 years since the first Asian-American student filed a complaint against Ivy League schools’ discriminatory admission practices. Today, we finally saw that the U.S. government is taking concrete action to strive for equal protection of the laws to Asian-American children. This sends a strong signal to many other universities: Please stop unlawful admission practices; treat Asian-American students fairly and lawfully…Our children deserve to have equal rights to pursue their American dreams!”
March 5, 2018, led by Mr. Yukong Zhao, an AACE delegation formally presented our policy recommendations on college admissions to officials in the Federal Government, including Ms. Holly Ham, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Mr. William E. Trachman, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Development at the OCR. In the AACE Policy Recommendations document, AACE advises that the Federal Government prohibit the uses of racial quotas, racial stereotypes and higher admissions standards that unduly harm Asian American children. AACE also suggests that the Federal Government rescind Obama-era guidelines which promoted racial balancing and condoned discrimination against Asian-American children in college admissions.
May 28, 2018, AACE issued a statement, commending Dr. Althea Nagai’s report on elite colleges’ anti-Asian discrimination in admissions as a critical research project that identifies an insurmountable ceiling for Asian Americans seeking prestigious education. After attending a panel discussion on that report which was co-hosted by the Federalist Society and the Center for Equal Opportunity on May 22, 2018, Mr. Yukong Zhao commented: “Selective universities’ blatant discrimination against Asian-American students is also immoral. Our children should not have to conceal their heritage in college applications in order to pursue their American dreams. Hard-working and multifariously proficient, they are as deserving as others in their pursuits of higher education opportunities.”
June 6, 2018, AACE issued a statement to denounce New York Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to phase out the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) as politically motivated, unconstitutional, and unjust. The statement also sharply pinpoints the de Blasio plan as a gross cover-up for his administration’s failures to improve educational quality for New York’s black and Latino communities. AACE calls upon the New York State legislature to reject Bill A10427A and De Blasio’s divisive act to undermine the fair, effective and merit-based admissions system adopted by New York’s specialized high schools.
June 15, 2018, AACE issued a statement, condemning Harvard’s systematic and blatant discrimination against Asian-American children after Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) disclosed unequivocal evidence of Harvard’s de facto racial quotas, racial stereotypes, and higher standards. These unlawful acts are often committed under the politically correct name of diversity, undertaken by reputable institutions like Harvard, simply because Asian Americans are not politically powerful and rarely vocal about the injustices they endure.
July 3, 2018, AACE issued a statement, applauding the Trump Administration’s education policy reform to systematically roll back an Obama-era policy guidance that promoted the heightened use of race in college admissions and to issue new guidance. Recognizing the reform as a triumphant moment for Asian-American communities, Mr. Yukong Zhao commented: “If the new policy is faithfully implemented, American colleges can no longer use unlawful racial quotas, racial stereotypes and higher standards to discriminate against our children. This will significantly reduce a major barrier in these students’ pursuits of the American Dream.”
July 30, 2018, representing 156 Asian-American organizations, AACE in collaboration with AALF filed an Amicus Brief with the United States District Court in Boston to oppose Harvard University’s discriminatory admissions practices and to support the plaintiff (SFFA) in its lawsuit against Harvard University. This joint action presents Asian-American communities’ compelling demands for equal protection of the laws and for the end to Harvard’s unlawful discrimination.
August 30, 2018, AACE issued a statement to applaud the Justice Department’s Statement of Interest supporting Asian Americans’ fight against Harvard’s discriminatory admissions practices. Hailing the statement as a responsible government move to provide equal protection of the laws to Asian American children, AACE is pleased and encouraged that the U.S. government has taken an affirmative stance siding with Asian Americans’ civil rights fight against Harvard.
August 30, 2018, AACE issued a letter to Chancellor Carol Christ of University of California (UC), Berkeley to denounce her blatant promotion of racial quotas during her August 20 welcome address and to urge her to reverse the illegal and unconstitutional racial balancing. AACE is particularly concerned about a 10-year goal outlined in the Christ plan to shift UC Berkley into a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), which equates to making its student population at least 25% Hispanic. Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “The University of California, Berkeley is a public educational institution receiving government financial assistance on both federal and state levels. As such, the university must comply with pertinent federal and state laws as well as relevant government guidance on higher education.”
September 26, 2018, in response to AACE’s civil rights complaint filed in May 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice started a joint investigation of Yale University’s discriminatory admissions practices against Asian-American applicants. AACE issued a statement to welcome this government action. Mr. Yukong Zhao, the president of AACE said: “As one of the smallest racial groups who has marginal political power, Asian American communities are truly grateful to the Trump Administration for protecting our children’s constitutional rights. OCR’s investigation of Yale University sends a strong message to many other American colleges: Please stop your unlawful admission practices and treat Asian-American students fairly and lawfully.”
October 3, 2018, as an official response to AACE’s letter of August 30, 2018, U.C. Berkeley’s Assistant Vice Chancellor, Dan Mogulof sent a letter to AACE, reinstating the school’s commitment to complying with the law and upholding meritorious enrollment in its admissions practices. AACE welcomes U.C. Berkley’s pledge not to engage in racial discrimination of any kind and to prohibit racial quotas in admissions, specifically. Moving forward, Mr. Yukong Zhao said: ”AACE will vigorously protect Asian-American children’s equal education rights by continuously monitoring U.C. Berkley’s future developments with regard to admissions.”
October 14, 2018, in collaboration with 15 other Asian-American organizations, AACE successfully organized a historic rally in Boston to protest Harvard University’s blatant discrimination against Asian-American children and to support SFFA’s lawsuit against Harvard. In this rally, community leader representatives with Chinese, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Bangladesh, Caucasian and black backgrounds made inspirational speeches, condemning Harvard University’s anti-Asian discrimination in admissions and expressing unwavering support to SFFA. Meanwhile, over 10 students spoke passionately at the rally, challenging the kind of unlawful discrimination imposed by Harvard and many other universities nationwide. Hundreds of people attended the rally and thousands of supporters watched the live-streamed video all over the nation. The event was also covered positively by major news media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
November 18, 2018, AACE endorsed the lawsuit sought by Dr. Richard H. Sander of UCLA and former California state senate Candidate Mr. George Shen against the University of California (UC) for its unlawful consideration of race in the holistic admissions. This court action is aimed at gaining access to the UC’s admissions data on socioeconomic and academic metrics to reach a better understanding of its admissions practices. AACE welcomes socially responsible researchers in the intellectual communities to pursue justice for Asian-American children.
December 9, 2018, AACE sent Netflix a letter, solemnly condemning its broadcasting of a Patriot Act segment titled “Affirmative Action”, for its blatant intimidation of civil rights activism in Asian-American communities and acquiescence for widespread anti-Asian discrimination by our nation’s selective colleges. This October episode, hosted by Hasan Minhaj, showcases vicious personal attacks on AACE leaders and mischaracterization of the honorable cause AACE pursues. In this letter, the vice president of AACE, Dr. Jack Ouyang wrote: “If Netflix wants to retain your standing among the American public and in Asian-American communities… you will not present any programs that distort and intimidate Asian-American civil rights activism in the future!”
December 12, 2018, AACE issued a statement in support of a courageous fight against racial quotas taken up by several black and Hispanic parents in Hartford, Connecticut. These parents have filed a lawsuit, Robinson v. Wentzell, challenging the race-based magnet school choice lottery adopted by Hartford’s Regional School Choice Office (RSCO) under various city and state education agencies. As a national organization who fights against racial quotas of any kind, AACE strongly supports the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. What is happening in Hartford is a vivid example of how politicians place their ideology and their politically correct perception of “diversity” above the true purpose of their school districts—to provide quality education to the residents.
December 13, 2018, AACE made an official announcement to join a group of Asian-American parents and organizations in New York City as a plaintiff in filing a federal lawsuit against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s racial balancing act to expand the city’s Discovery Program as a part of a reform on its Specialized High Schools. Mr. Yukong Zhao commented: “Cowardly politicians such as Mayor de Blasio wants to impose race-based admissions in New York’s elite high schools, not to fundamentally improve education in black and Hispanic communities, but for personal political gains.”
January 8, 2019, AACE filed an updated Amicus Brief, in collaboration with AALF on behalf of 269 Asian-American organizations, to oppose Harvard University’s discriminatory admissions practices and to continue to show support to the plaintiff (SFFA) in its lawsuit against Harvard. This updated Amicus Brief filing reaffirms Asian-American communities’ overwhelming demands for equal protection of the laws and for an end to Harvard’s unlawful discrimination. Harvard’s use of race in college admissions is misguided and ineffective. It is at best a “Band-Aid” that conceals rather than addresses the real root cause behind a lack of diversity on many college campuses—the abysmal state of K-12 education in too many minority communities. A group of Korean-American and Indian-American organizations joined our unprecedented joint action.
February 28, 2019, AACE issued a statement regarding the Pew Research Center’s new survey which finds that the majority of Americans (73%) say colleges and universities should not consider race or ethnicity in their student admissions. AACE is pleased to learn that another well-respected national survey organization has reaffirmed that an overwhelming majority of Americans support our long-standing policy position: Race or ethnicity should not be a factor in college admissions.
March 14, 2019, AACE issued a statement to condemn the college admissions cheating scam recently charged by the U.S. Department of Justice as a glaring demonstration of the corrupted higher education entrance system. Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “AACE is outrageous by the entrenched corruption and cunning deceit displayed by this large-scale college entrance scandal. The broken college admissions system hurts hard-working children from ordinary families, especially working-class Asian-American children.
March 22, 2019, AACE and Association for Education Fairness (AFEF) jointly issued a statement to applaud a recent decision by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to open a probe into the selection process of Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) middle school magnet programs. AACE stands firmly with Asian-American parents in Montgomery and our local partner AFEF who has been fighting vigilantly to oppose the school district’s de facto racial balancing in transforming its magnet programs.
April 10, 2019, AACE issued a statement to welcome a resolution agreement to discontinue the use of race and national origin in its admissions policies, which is reached by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) with the OCR. Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “We commend the Education Department’s steadfast commitment to enforcing Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that forbids racial discrimination in federally funded institutions.”
May 2, 2019, AACE issued a release to protest Initiative 1000, which was passed by the Washington Legislature on April 28, 2019 to restore Washington’s divisive, race-based affirmative action policies. Under a false pretext of promoting diversity and equality, I-1000 is unconstitutional, illegal, and ineffective. Passing this problematic measure greatly infringes the equal education rights of Asian-American children in Washington State.
May 20, 2019, AACE successfully held the First National Conference on Equal Education Rights at the National Press Club of Washington, DC. Taking an in-depth look into broad issues related to equal education rights, this historic conference featured presentations and speeches by leading scholars, community leaders and government officials from all racial backgrounds. The conference calls for effective, racially harmonious and sustainable policies to eliminate anti-Asian discrimination and to enhance racial diversity in higher education.
May 31, 2019, AACE sent an official letter to Mr. David Coleman, CEO of College Board, urging the College Board to halt its hasty proposal of expanding the “S.A.T. Adversity Score” to 150 more colleges nationwide. In the letter, Mr. Yukong Zhao wrote: “While we support initiatives to help the truly disadvantaged children, we strongly oppose the College Board’s irresponsible and precipitous attempt to use the Adversity Score as a tool of social engineering to NORMALIZE every American child’s future. We also reject your opaque process that does not allow the students and their families to review their adversity scores.” AACE also launched a petition campaign aimed at stopping the irresponsible, large-scale rollout of the SAT adversity score.
June 12, 2019, AACE released a statement condemning a recent “pro-diversity” workshop held by the Department of Education (DOE) in the New York City for its school administrators as anti-Asian, hypocritical, and insidiously divisive. Mr. Yukong Zhao said: “It is a shame for the Department of Education of New York City to sponsor such an anti-Asian event. The department should concentrate efforts on improving the K-12 education for black and Hispanic children, which is the #1 issue that needs to be addressed.”
Our records have proven: AACE is the most effective and impactful civil-rights organization fighting for Asian American interests.