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Laurel Galanter: Assemblyman Mike Eng represents the 49th District of California. It includes parts of Monterey Park, Alhambra and El Monte. When he was elected in 2006, he noticed there were plenty of statistics about African Americans and Latinos in his district but very little information about other cultures.
Assembly Mike Eng:But when I asked for information about the 40 percent that represent my constituents, there was very very little information about the some 48 distinct separate communities that make up the Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian groups.
Galanter: He partnered with the UC research program to gather more information. They found out that high school Pacific Islander students have high drop out rates. About 1/5 of those students don’t graduate. Stewart Kwoh is from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. He says the study breaks down the myth that Asian Americans are the model minority.
Kwoh: There is no model minority stereotype, but 40 percent of our Cambodian and Laotian community members don’t have a high school diploma.
Galanter: This study released today didn’t just focus on education. Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of parole violations of all ethnic and racial groups. Sefa Aina agrees. He’s on the president’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He thinks this type of work is important because it helps bring resources from policy makers, funders and the community.
Aina: When this myth is coupled with power, power that’s not always in the hands of our communities, power and resources that are not available to us, then that’s when it becomes problematic.
Galanter: The report analyzed data from several public and non profit sources. Eng hopes the release of the study will help those in his district.