Educational Equity

Everyone—regardless of immigration status—has a right to public education. For immigrants seeking a better life in this country, education is critical. Meaningful access to education requires addressing language and cultural barriers that immigrant students and their families encounter. For Asian Americans, having full access to education also means combatting the harmful model minority stereotype.

AALDEF provides legal assistance, community education, and organizing support to students and their families asserting their rights to equal educational opportunities. Our educational equity work is conducted in tandem with local community groups with whom we partner to build capacity and who help us keep abreast of local developments and movements for social change. The issues we focus on reflect the diversity of Asian American communities and the broad range of issues affecting these communities.


  • We served as legal counsel for a coalition of community groups and high school students to achieve a consent decree between the Department of Education and the Philadelphia School District to ensure a safe school environment at South Philadelphia High School.
  • We launched the National Asian American Education Advocates Network, which served as a broad collaborative of direct service providers, youth and parent organizers, education lawyers, policy advocates, youth development workers, and community-based organizations that work with and for the Asian American community across the country.
  • In 2018, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts opposing Students for Fair Admissions’ challenge to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy and later filed another amicus brief in the First Circuit on the same case. In 2022, we submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of 121 Asian American groups and educators in support of race-conscious admissions at Harvard University and University of North Carolina.
  • In 2023, alongside five other civil rights groups, we released a comprehensive report comprehensive report that offers guidance for continuing to advance educational equity in higher education institutions. The report provides key recommendations that can increase access to equitable education for a range of communities.
  • We are co-counsel in a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts on behalf of a multi-racial coalition of community groups and families intervening to support the exam schools’ admissions policy that was used by Boston Public Schools for the 2021-2022 school year. In 2023, the First Circuit Court of Appeals re-affirmed the preliminary ruling in favor of the Plan, holding that the Plan was constitutional because it did not use the race of any individual student to determine their admission.

Program Priorities:

  • Advancing race-conscious admissions policies and affirmative action.
  • Advocating for education equity in K-12 and higher education spaces.
  • Ensuring language access for students and families.
  • Combatting anti-Asian harassment.