For Immediate Release
May 22, 2019
Washington DC: On May 20, 2019, Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) successfully held the First National Conference on Equal Education Rights at the National Press Club of Washington, DC.
In his opening remarks, AACE President Mr. Yukong Zhao challenges policy makers, researchers, educators, journalists and citizens of our nation to look at the big picture of equal education rights as pertinent to not only the use of race in college admissions, but also other broad sociopolitical and economic issues. These factors include: America’s competitiveness in education, the real purpose of American schools and colleges, the root cause behind a lack of racial diversity in higher education, the ineffectiveness of racial preference in college admissions, as well as the role of the federal government and that of the media in this important national dialogue. Mr. Zhao urges America to develop effective, racially harmonious and sustainable education policies to eliminate anti-Asian discrimination and to enhance racial diversity in higher education.
In the section entitled “Anti-Asian Discrimination in College Admissions”, Mr. Lee Cheng reviewed the long journey of Americans’ fight for equal education rights as well as relevant laws and U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Next, in his much-anticipated speech on the compelling evidence of Harvard’s discrimination against Asian-American applicants, Mr. Edward Blum revealed a shocking fact that Harvard gives poor black and Hispanic applicants much less preference than applicants of the same racial backgrounds from well-off families.
In the same section, Dr. Richard Sander disclosed some under-reported evidence: After Proposition 209 was implemented in California in 1996, the state government finally took meaningful actions to improve K-12 education in black and Hispanic communities, which helped double the graduation rate of students from these communities in the University of California system, compared with a decade earlier.
As the highlight in the morning session, Ms. Holly Ham, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders delivered the keynote speech, in which she introduced various federal programs aimed to help Asian Americans in education and other areas. Ms. Ham reaffirmed that the American spirit stands for equal opportunity, not equal results for all!
Section 2 of the conference examined “The Concept of Diversity and the Better Approaches to Enhance Diversity in Higher Education” with a speech and a panel discussion. Equal education rights icon Mr. Ward Connerly offered a sharp critique of racial preferences in school admissions on account of unconstitutionality and immorality. Mr. Connerly’s speech won many rounds of applauses from the audience and was echoed by Mr. Mike Gonzalez and Ms. Manga Anantatmula in the following panel discussion on the same subject. In the same panel, Dr. Neal McCluskey took a different perspective that private colleges shall have the freedom to decide on their admissions practices, including the use of race. Nevertheless, none of three panelists believes that race-based college admissions is effective in improving educational attainment in minority communities.
Notably, all three panelists concurred that diversity should not be narrowly defined as racial diversity. Diversity of ideas and that of social-economic backgrounds in higher education are at least as important as, if not more than diversity of skin colors. To enhance diversity in higher education, Gonzalez emphasized the importance of best-practice-sharing across all racial groups, which has been long overlooked in our national dialogue on education.
Representing AACE, Anantatmula argued that the primary approach to enhance racial diversity is through improving K-12 education in disadvantaged communities, which can be supplemented by reasonably structured, socioeconomic-based affirmative action. She also emphasized that most admissions should be merit-based.
The first afternoon section focused on the expansion of racial balancing in K-12 education and beyond. Ms. Wai Wah Chin shared with the audience how the New York mayor Bill de Blasio has attempted to impose racial balancing in the city’s Specialized High Schools in order to cover up his failures in improving K-8 education for black and Hispanic communities. Then Mr. Alex Zhong gave a presentation on the appalling evidence of anti-Asian discrimination in Montgomery County, Maryland: Asian-American children’s enrollment in the county’s public magnet programs has dropped 20% consecutively in the last two years after the school district changed the selection criteria to achieve its racial balancing goal. Ms. Jessica Xie exposed the shameful practices of politicians in Washington State to redefine preferential treatment in order to pass Initiative-1000 that restores racial preference at the state level. All three speakers are grassroots community leaders who also told their courageous stories of fighting against such horrendous infringement of Asian-American children’s constitutional rights.
Next, Mr. Scott Jaschik and Ms. Swan Lee entered a heated panel discussion on the role of media in its reporting on equal education rights. Mr. Jaschik discussed the behavioral guidelines of news reporting. He strongly believes that a good journalist should engage and challenge viewpoints of both sides. He also acknowledged that journalists have room for improvement regarding covering educational issues. In response, the audience challenged the press to put enough focus on the root cause behind a lack of racial diversity in higher education and to hold politicians who have failed K-12 education in black and Hispanic communities accountable in their media coverage. The media has done so little in helping disadvantaged communities improve their K-12 education.
As another much-anticipated highlight of the Conference, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, Mr. Kenneth Marcus delivered a featured speech on equal protection of the laws for ALL American children. Mr. Marcus told the audience that he has noticed the widespread discrimination against Asian Americans in college admissions. After he took the office in June 2018, his Office for Civil Rights has taken concrete steps to redress cases of anti-Asian discrimination in education, including its investigations into Yale University and the Montgomery County School District of Maryland, among many others. He encouraged Asian-American communities to continue our courageous fight against such social injustice.
In the last section of the Conference, Mr. Ron Lessardshared with the audience various educational challenges in Native-Indian communities with vivid recounts of personal stories and experience. Dr. Hans von Spakosky reviewed comprehensive evidence of the discrimination against Asian-American children.
Then, Ms. Gwen Samuel gave a touching and inspirational speech on the harms of racial quotas and the necessity of building bridges across different communities from all racial backgrounds to fight for our children’s equal education rights. She touched on a rarely reported fact that racial quotas not only harm Asian-American children, but also hurt black and Hispanic children in her district Hartford, Connecticut, where magnet schools’ failing to fulfill the 25% minimum for Asian and white students is limiting black and Hispanic children to obtain quality education in these schools, ending up wasting admissions slots and public resources. Her powerful words resonated with the audience: Black parents love their children, Hispanic parents love their children, Asian parents love their children. Most parents love their children. That’s the reason that we should unite to fight the social injustice in our education systems!
In closing, AACE Vice President Dr. Jack Ouyang applauded all speakers and the conference participants for starting a comprehensive and in-depth national dialogue on this important issue. Dr. Ouyang also urged our nation to continue to adopt open-minded, fact-based and solution-driven approaches to address its educational challenges.
Asian American Coalition for Education
Ms. Swann Lee, telephone: (617) 906-6380, email: [email protected]
Dr. Wenyuan Wu, telephone: (786) 393-8028, email: [email protected]
About the AACE: www.asianamericanforeducation.org
Asian American Coalition for Education (AACE) is a non-political, nonprofit, grassroots national organization, the proven leader in fighting for Asian-American children’s equal educational rights. On May 15, 2015, the founders of AACE united 64 Asian-American organizations and jointly filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to request that they conduct investigations into Harvard University’s discriminatory admissions practices against Asian-American applicants. As the largest joint action taken by Asian-American communities over the last few decades, this complaint is now being investigated by the Justice Department. Over the years, we have advanced the cause of equal education rights for the Asian-American community.