Progress & Potential of Teach For America's AAPI Initiative

Asian American & Pacific Islander Appreciation Month

In May 2014, I embarked upon a nationwide listening tour to meet with students, families, educators, and partners to better understand the challenges and assets of AAPI communities in our education system, and to explore how Teach For America can be a trusted and effective partner. What I learned from visiting these communities has allowed me to gain a better understanding of the educational experiences of our AAPI community, given me resources to support our teachers, and has profoundly shaped the work the AAPI Initiative has done since launching.

While there’s more work to be done, I’m proud of the progress that has been made this past year. We’ve focused on a multitude of issues, including advocating for data disaggregation for students and teachers; hosting summits for corps members, alumni, staff, and undergraduate students; and expanding the network of AAPI teachers to include individuals who are Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.

Data Disaggregation

​We’ve seen many among our TFA Family advocating for data disaggregation. The AAPI community is diverse, consisting of more than 48 ethnicities, over 300 spoken languages, varied socioeconomic status, and distinctions across immigration history, generational status, culture, and religion.. But too often, our AAPI students are faced with the limited option of bubbling in “Asian” on official documents, and not allowed to identify by their ethnic communities. Not only does this affect a student’s developing sense of self, it also contributes to a national data narrative which lumps all AAPI communities together, and ignores those who need the most help.

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