In “Whitewashing of Asian students and a report that launched a reckoning,” MA in Education alum Kristin Leong wrote about the fury the North Thurston Public School district sparked after grouping Asian and white students together because their test scores are roughly the same. Students of color—not including Asians—were a separate category. The message was clear: ‘Person of color’ meant underperforming.
Leong, a former teacher with the Bellevue School District wrote:
The controversy hit home for me. I was a teacher at the International School, a majority-Asian school in Bellevue. I’m also biracial — Chinese and white.
While some Asian students come from families with privilege and education, many face poverty and language barriers that make school more challenging. Grouping Asian and white students together reinforces the harmful “model minority” myth, erasing these more vulnerable Asian students, who, like their Black and brown peers, face higher rates of discipline and lower rates of graduation with fewer opportunities to succeed. When data on Asian students is disaggregated by ethnic groups, the evidence shows that not all Asians are alike, and some Asian communities are struggling significantly. Compounding this is a lack of Asian representation in equity goals and curricula, even within districts with large Asian populations.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Leong’s reporting on the erasure of Asian students by watching KUOW’s Meet the Newsmakers: A Conversation with Kristin Leong on Asian Erasure that includes interviews with Leong and one of her former students who was featured in the article.
Leong is KUOW’s community engagement producer and Seattle Story Project editor. She is an international TED-Ed Innovative Educator and three-term Washington State Teacher Leader. You can read more about Leong who was featured in an alumni profile story Building Bridges for Self-discovery.
Photo credit: Keri Zierler