Parents Condemn Race Categories for Asians in California School Registration Forms

Some Asian parents in California’s Bay Area have banded together to express their concerns over being asked detailed information about their children’s race in school registration forms.

According to Lucy Ye, she was asked to indicate what Asian ethnicity her child was on the forms when she was signing him up for kindergarten in Pleasanton, East Bay Times reported.

Ye noted that among the choices included in the form were specific nationalities such as Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Samoan and nine others, adding that there wasn’t even a general “Asian” option listed.

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Another mom, Sylvia Tian, also found the questionnaire perplexing, and wondered why it was necessary to identify which Asian subgroup her kids belong to since they are both Americans and were born in the United States.

Now, the two moms are part of a small group of Asian parents who want the subgroup designations in the registration forms removed.

Via East Bay Times

Armed with placards condemning the apparent racial classification in the school, members of the coalition expressed their concerns during school board meetings. While this has been going on for months, the group found no resolution of the issue.

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Last week, the group then sought the help of Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon), who immediately asked the school district why there was a need to stratify the specific racial group.

In response, school district officials and the State Department of Education stated that the provision was a result of Assembly Bill 1088 passed in 2011.

According to the department and school districts, it was the bill that birthed the government code 8310.5 requiring school districts to include these Asian subgroups.

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Other race categories were not required to identify their subgroups, just Asians.

According to Ye, the fact that only Asian children had subgroups made her feel uncomfortable, while Tian thinks such classification has no room in a school setting as it could lead to unfairness and inequality.

The bill explained that this is because a general “Asian” or “Pacific Islander” category is too broad, further noting that the groups have “vast social, educational, health and economic differences.”

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School officials claimed that the data is needed to monitor how subgroups are performing.  

“Given the diversity of languages and cultures, separating data for additional Asian and additional Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups and making the data publicly accessible is critical for enhancing our state’s understanding of the needs and experiences of these different communities,” the bill stated.

Baker then pledged that she would research the possibility of introducing new legislation to address this, noting that said the issue is “worthy of state attention.” 

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“The state should not be stratifying people into categories and should look very cautiously at doing that unless there is a clear public health reason,” Baker was quoted as saying.

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