Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California: How Higher Education Diversity Benefits Our Communities

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.

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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.