June 19, 2012
Contact: Tia T. Gordon
202-756-4851 or 202-906-0149
Higher Education Leaders Disappointed In New Pew Research Center Data Stating Asian American Students Are "Best Educated"
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE)--the leading AAPI student- and research-focused organizations, respectively--are extremely dismayed with today's release of the new Pew Research Center study, The Rise of Asian Americans, which only reinforces the mischaracterizations of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students that contribute to their exclusion from federally-supported policies, programs, and initiatives. Presenting such findings offer nothing in the way of positive changes for this historically underserved student population. This data only further burdens down Asian American students who have to fight against the "model minority myth;" a misleadingly falsehood that deems them to be well-educated and financially successful.
APIASF and CARE believe the Pew Research Center report is disparaging on many fronts, including: Failure to explore the higher education experiences of Southeast Asians, omission of data on Pacific Islander students, suppression of poverty rates, and dismissal of un-satisfaction levels. In fact, there are significant differences between AAPI student sub-groups in their rate of college enrollment, persistence, and degree attainment. While many Asian Americans have a high rate of college attendance, a large concentration of Pacific Islanders (50.2 percent) and South East Asians (40.3 percent), ages 25-34, have not attended college. A large concentration of Pacific Islanders (56.1 percent) and South East Asians (45.1 percent), ages 25-34, who attended college, left without earning a degree; more than half of these students left before completing one year of college. Similar to Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders have a very high rate of attrition during college. Among Pacific Islanders, 47.0 percent of Guamanians, 50.0 percent of Native Hawai’ians, 54.0 percent of Tongans, and 58.1 percent of Samoans entered college, but left without earning a degree. In addition, among its scholars, APIASF says nearly 60 percent are first-generation students and nearly 60 percent are from families living at or below the poverty line. Finally, AAPI students have some of highest rates of stress, anxiety, and depression--in response to the "Tiger Mom" influence--which all lead to high suicide rates.
If reports, such as the one presented by the Pew Research Center, continue to tell only part of the AAPI student story, APIASF and CARE believe it can cause harmful consequences. We speak out against any and all such data and policy that does not help to realize the full degree-earning potential of the AAPI student population. We encourage all to engage in purposeful research and action that aligns with the reality of AAPI students' lives, rather than continuing to overlook the barriers that hinder their ability to earn a degree.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) is the nation's largest non-profit organization devoted to providing college scholarships for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). APIASF works to create opportunities for students to access, complete, and succeed after post-secondary education; thereby developing future leaders who will excel in their career, serve as role models in their communities, and will ultimately contribute to a vibrant America. Since 2003, APIASF has distributed more than $60 million in scholarships to deserving AAPI students. APIASF manages two scholarship programs: APIASF's general scholarship and the Gates Millennium Scholars/Asian Pacific Islander Americans funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE), consisting of a national commission, research advisory group, and research team at New York University, aims to engage realistic and actionable discussions about the mobility and educational opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) and how distinctions of race, ethnicity, language, and other factors play out in the day-to-day operations of America's education system. Our goal is to provide much needed and timely research on key issues and trends related to access and participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in higher education.