García: New ‘Everyone Counts’ Resolution Will Break Down Data for L.A.’s Diverse Asian Student Body — & Battle the Model-Minority Myth

Flanked by Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, and LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, right, board president Monica Garcia speaks during a June press conference in Los Angeles. (Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

I know what it is like for a whole community to feel invisible.

Before I began my service on the L.A. Unified School District Board of Education in 2006 as just the third Latina elected in 155 years, questions about whether Latino/a students could succeed academically were answered only by assumptions due to our lack of representation.

Since my first election, I have done my best to listen to all diverse voices, including the call from Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities for L.A. Unified to do more for its 85,000 students (18 percent) of Asian descent.

In Board District 2, we responded by creating dual-language immersion programs, naming schools after historic local community leaders like Young-Oak Kim and Sammy Lee, and holding roundtables with neighborhood partners from Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh and more.

This past year, we heard a bold message from our community partners — now is the time to disaggregate data in L.A. Unified.

Data disaggregation is the primary civil rights issue in education for the community. Without inclusive demographic data and disaggregated reporting showing disparities in higher- and lower-performing groups, the model-minority myth that all Asian students are doing well persists, and groups of students of color continue to be viewed as monolithic.

On a practical level, I think about the Mien student who has no box to check on enrollment forms. I think about the immigrant student from Ghana whose life experience is vastly different from that of African Americans. I think about the bilingual Portuguese-speaking student grouped in with Spanish-speaking English learners.

We know that is not equity. Kids far too easily fall through the cracks when we do not seek to understand, value and embrace their diversity.

Our conversations with community partners led us to present the “Everyone Counts: Increasing Equity for All of Our AANHPI AMEMSA Students and Employees” resolution, which the board unanimously passed.

Passage of this resolution will not only make L.A. Unified the largest school district in the nation to institute data disaggregation policies for all students of color, including Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander and Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian students, but will make ours the most progressive urban school district in the nation on race and ethnicity.

I am grateful to my fellow board members and our community partners who joined in to ensure the passage of this resolution and to make all our communities feel seen and heard. No one should feel invisible, because everyone counts.

Mónica García is president of the Board of Education at L.A. Unified School District.

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