Realizing that education is the road to a better life for immigrants from all
countries, AALDEF provides legal assistance to parents and students asserting
their rights to equal educational opportunities. We also conduct extensive
community education and community organizing support across the country in
places such as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, Detroit,
Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Seattle, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
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. Some of our priority areas include:
English Language Learner Programming
Despite research showing that bilingual education is most effective at promoting
the academic success of English Language Learners (ELLs), school districts
across the country are moving toward mainstreaming and English immersion
programs. Such problems are exacerbated by a lack of linguistically and
culturally proficient school staff who are able to serve diverse Asian American
communities. AALDEF works with ELLs and their parents to protect their
educational rights through direct representation and policy advocacy.
Exposure to diversity is one of the most important parts of education. From
kindergarten on, we don’t only take one subject or read one author or learn one
perspective. Diversity is also necessary in breaking down the racial stereotypes
that Asian Americans face throughout their educational and professional lives.
Now that Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the United
States, it’s more important than ever that Asian American students are equipped
to be leaders in a global workforce. AALDEF works to ensure that all Asian
American students have access to a high quality public school education in a
diverse, racially and economically integrated setting.
Across the country, ELLs and their limited English proficient parents experience
difficulty accessing interpretation and translation to which they have a legal
right. AALDEF works to enforce these rights through direct representation and
Zero tolerance procedures are rapidly transforming inner city schools into
little more than low security prisons. Much has been documented about the
negative effect of such policies on African American and Latino students, but
little has been said about their effect on Asian American students. Community
reports, however, indicate that Southeast Asian youth are subjected to gang
profiling while South Asian and Muslim students face post 9/11 terrorist
profiling. AALDEF defends students facing racial profiling in disciplinary
proceedings and conducts policy advocacy to end these abuses.
Racial harassment of Asian American students – in particular vulnerable recent
immigrants – is a growing problem across the country. Stereotypes of Asians as
smart, but quiet and unlikely to fight back, make students of all Asian
backgrounds appear to be easy targets. Post 9/11 tensions have also sparked peer
harassment of South Asian and Muslim students. AALDEF works with victims of
anti-Asian harassment to protect their rights and advocate for systemic reforms.
The No Child Left Behind Act and other high stakes testing measures are pushing
our public schools to focus unduly on the artificial accountability of test
scores. Fearful of penalties for poor student performance, some schools
encourage struggling students to drop out rather than invest extra time to help
them succeed. Other schools simply fail to intervene with truant students,
allowing them to fall so far behind that they eventually drop out. AALDEF works
to document these problems and advocate on behalf of students targeted by these
The school to prison pipeline funnels “problem” students from school discipline
and truancy proceedings into the juvenile justice system. As a result, there is
an increased likelihood of criminal justice contact for out of school youth.
This makes all too evident the need for effective public education advocacy to
include an examination of juvenile justice policy. To this end, AALDEF advocates
for more rehabilitative and less punitive juvenile justice policies.
National Asian American Advocates Network
The National Asian American Education Advocates Network (NAAEA Network) is 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 NAAEA Network believes in the basic human right to education for all young
people. All youth deserve an equal and just opportunity to learn and realize
their greatest potential. In particular, we seek to ensure that this right is
guaranteed and protected for Asian American youth, an extremely diverse
community with specific challenges that often go unaddressed. The Asian
American community encompasses a wide range of histories and struggles; many
different ethnicities and languages; immigrants, refugees, and native-born
people; and families of every economic and academic level of achievement. We
aim to acknowledge this diversity in our targeted work, and address the often
overlooked needs of our youth.
Download the AALDEF and NAAEA Platform on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)