Advancing Educational Opportunity

Advancing Educational Access and Opportunity for All California Students

The issue of higher education is a very complex one for California’s diverse communities.  Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5, introduced by California State Senator Ed Hernandez, is currently the center of much debate. Unfortunately, much of that debate has been driven by misinformation and misinterpretations about affirmative action programs in general and the legislative proposal in particular. And to a large extent, this debate misses the larger picture that all Californians must address together: the significant and long-term disinvestment in our state’s public education system and its impact on all California students.

To help provide a more accurate picture of the issues Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) face in accessing higher education, as well as to provide facts, data, and research regarding diversity and higher education (including but not limited to just AAPIs), we are compiling relevant resources on this page.

Our Statement

Advancing Justice - LA Urges State Legislature to Expand College Opportunity for All Californians

March 18, 2014

LOS ANGELES – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles called on the leadership of the state legislature to expand educational opportunity for all California students, especially those who are disadvantaged and underserved, in light of the news that, upon the request of State Senator Ed Hernandez, Assembly Speaker John Perez has sent Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5 back to the Senate without taking action on the bill. News stories also reported that Speaker Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plan to create a task force to examine admission to California’s public universities. 

In response, Advancing Justice - LA released an open letter to Speaker Perez, Senate President pro Tem Steinberg, and other members of the state legislature urging the legislature to focus on expanding educational opportunities for all California students.



Our Open Letter

Dear Speaker Perez, Senate President pro Tem Steinberg, and Senator Hernandez:

On behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA), I want to thank Senator Ed Hernandez for raising the important issue of lack of access to California’s public colleges and universities.  But given the political tensions that have emerged over Senator Hernandez’s bill (SCA 5), we commend all of you for sending the bill back to the Senate, which now paves the way for thoughtful discourse on the critical issue of educational access and success.

As the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs), Advancing Justice-LA has been urging for several weeks that the state legislature address the broader issue of educational opportunity raised by Senator Hernandez’s bill.  After decades of disinvestment, California’s public colleges and universities are in crisis.  Now is the time for a broad, bold, and inclusive solution to this problem – one that must necessarily expand the pie for all California students (e.g., expanding slots in California’s colleges and universities), instead of just redistributing currently limited resources.


[Download the PDF]


Statement of Principles: Expanding College Access and Success for All Californians

As organizations and individuals that believe in the critical importance of quality education in creating a pathway to socio-economic success, we support the following principles regarding access to and success in public higher education:

  • Reversing disinvestment in public higher education
  • Finding common ground amongst all impacted communities
  • Ensuring college admission for more California students
  • Better preparing more students for college
  • Better retaining enrolled college students
  • Making higher education more affordable
  • Addressing racial discrimination
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion



Asian American Civil Rights Organization Advocates for Expanding Educational Opportunities for All Californians

Feb 28, 2014

LOS ANGELES – This morning, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA) met with California State Senator Ed Hernandez, whose district includes a large portion of the San Gabriel Valley, regarding Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5, a bill that would repeal Proposition 209’s ban on affirmative action programs in higher education. Advancing Justice - LA met with Senator Hernandez to discuss how we could work together to expand educational opportunities for all Californians and we are pleased that the senator has agreed to collaborate with us.  

Advancing Justice - LA has long supported and continues to support programs to ensure equal educational access as well as a diverse and inclusive society. At this time, we have not taken a position on SCA 5 in its current form. As a legal organization, we believe it is premature to support this bill because there is a legal case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court (Schuette vs. BANM) that may affect the constitutionality of Proposition 209 in California. The Schuette case involves a constitutional challenge to a Michigan ballot proposition similar to California’s Proposition 209. Our affiliate, Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, is co-counsel for one of the plaintiffs in that case. 


Our Policy Report

As a coalition primarily of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights and higher education groups, we present this policy report to dispel public misconceptions that have recently surfaced around efforts to diversify higher education. In fact, AAPIs have deep and abiding reasons to support college and university diversity. Reports in the media about Proposition 209 (which banned affirmative action) greatly benefiting AAPI admissions and about the role of SAT scores are misleading and contradicted by the evidence. Contrary to the harmful “model minority” myth, many AAPI ethnic groups face considerable educational disadvantages and have lower rates of college access. A substantial body of social science shows that AAPI students benefit from exposure to diversity in the classroom. Finally, public higher education is a “positive sum game” investment that supports the hopes and aspirations of California’s young people and it also pays off economically. More opportunities for AAPIs will be created if we turn our collective focus toward reversing the tide of long-term higher education disinvestment that has eroded opportunities and threatens California’s future global competitiveness.

Download the full report: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California: How Higher Education Diversity Benefits Our Communities

Download the one-page summary (English)

Download the one-page summary (Chinese)

Download the one-page summary (Korean)

Download the one-page summary (Vietnamese)

Other Resources

Sample Support Letter - English

Sample Support Letter - Chinese

AAPIs and Affirmative Action Factsheet

Race Still Matters: Making the Case for Race Conscious Admissions in Higher Education (Infographic)


Advancing Justice-LA Advancing Justice-LA's helplines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: discrimination, family, immigration, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights. 

English: 888.349.9695
中文: 800.520.2356
한글: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ภาษาไทย: 800.914.9583
Tiếng Việt: 714.477.2958


Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.