By Ed Diokno
Oakland’s Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D), author of AB 1726, the Accounting for Health and Education in Asian Pacific Islander Demographics Act (with the clever acronym will henceforth be known as the AHEAD Act), issued the following statement last week after holding press conferences in Oakland and Sacramento to call for accurate data collection for all AAPI subgroups.
“Good data drives good policy,” Bonta explained. “One way to get good data is through disaggregation. Disaggregating data means breaking it down into smaller subgroups and assessing specific trends that were previously hidden.
“Certain subgroups within the API community are falling behind on public health and education benchmarks, but these facts are hidden within the broader group statistics. That’s why I’ve introduced the AHEAD Act, to help meet the needs of California’s diverse communities.”
Bonta, the only Filipino American lawmaker in the California legislature, gave an example of how disaggregation drives good public policy decisions. “In 2011, Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) in San Jose performed a county health assessment using disaggregated data. That data revealed that Chinese Americans have significantly higher rates of Hepatitis B, which allowed AACI to conduct targeted outreach to Chinese residents. If AB 1726 becomes law, we will have the opportunity to evaluate more accurate data on disease rates, health insurance coverage, and birth and death rates.”
Quyen Dinh, executive director of the South East Asian Resource Action Center, spoke in strong support of the bill at the Oakland press conference. “Diversity and race in America is not something to be afraid of, it’s something to be understood and embraced. Disaggregated data facilitates data-driven, targeted interventions that are a better use of our tax dollars to uplift all of our students, our brothers, our sisters, our cousins.”
“We don’t look the same and are not all the same,” said Phong La, former chair of the API Commission, API American Public Affairs Association. “We speak different languages and have different medical needs. We need to figure out who’s where.”
The AHEAD Act is also a top priority for the API Legislative Caucus. Assemblymember Das Williams (D-Carpinteria), Caucus chair, explained his support. “The API community has historically advocated for disaggregated data because we are uniquely diverse and each community has specific needs. Understanding how long certain students are spending in the community college system, figuring out what specific language needs are needed for certain regions, or identifying how specific communities are affected by certain health problems – all of this information is vital and relevant for our work as public servants.”
The Act is also supported by more than 50 API organizations, and is sponsored by the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, and the Asian Pacific Islander Health Forum.
“The AHEAD Act is a great example of what the API community can do when it stands together, united for the common good of the whole group. With accurate data, we will have a clearer picture of who requires assistance, be better positioned to provide needed support for community members who have been left behind, and, together, create a stronger California,” Bonta concluded.
(Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.)
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