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Asian Americans Protest Law Collecting Data in Schooling Districts on Asian Americans

Rhode Island State House
Photo by Ad Meskens – via Wikimedia Creative Commons

Asian American students gathered on Thursday to protest a new law in Rhode Island that requires school  districts to collect data on Asian Americans.

Fifty protestors showed up at the State House and questioned why the bill only targets Asian American groups, the Providence Journal reports.

“If it’s all students, it really should be all,” said Brown University professor Zhijin Wu. “If we are really trying to figure out who needs help, let’s not just pretend that only the Asian population is diverse.”

The All Students Count bill was introduced by Providence Democrat Rep. Grace Diaz and signed by Governor Gina Raimondo on Wednesday. The bill requires schooling in elementary and secondary education “to use separate collection categories and tabulations for specified Asian ethnic groups in every demographic report on ancestry or ethnic origins of Residents.”

It was supported by The Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education.

After the bill was passed, Diaz said it was a victory for Asian Americans so they can assess the needs of Asian communities and better serve them. It is break down the broadness of the label “Asian” and factor in the more than 48 ethnicities within the category of Asian.

“We have so many youth – many first generation – that need to have their own identity,” Diaz said told The Providence Journal. “When a school district categorizes them into one pot – they don’t have pride in where they are from.”

Senator Calkin added, ” This bill will help close the achievement gap for students in districts that may not be receiving federal funding. The community advocates should be proud of all the work they have put in over the last few years on this bill, and I’m happy their efforts have led to the passage of this act.”

According to the Southeast Asia Resource Center, Rhode Island is the third state that requires its school districts to disaggregate Asian American student data.

Protestors chanted “United we stand, divided we fall” and “education not discrimination.” Some believe the law is intrusive.

“This data will easily be manipulated to advance race-based policies,” said Jianhao Chen, the organizer of the protest, in a letter to the governor.

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