Monday, December 26, 2011

College Board study groups Pacific Islanders with American Indians and Asians

Last week, we followed up on a post about the ACT properly recognizing Pacific Islanders by reporting on whether the SAT had also come up to speed. (Unfortunately, the answer is no, they have not.)

While researching to answer that question, I also came across another interesting report published by the College Board this year: "The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress." It's an interesting topic, but I was also caught by how they reported data on Pacific Islanders. In some cases, Pacific Islanders were grouped with Asians. In others, rather than showing Pacific Islander stand-alone data or "Asian/Pacific Islander" data, Pacific Islanders were grouped with Native Americans (and I assume they meant American Indians and Alaska Natives).

I was surprised because I haven't seen this kind of grouping, but two possible explanations came to mind:

  • More likely explanation: These two groups (American Indians and Alaska Natives on one hand, and Pacific Islanders on the other) have the smallest populations of the major racial groups, so they were lumped together for expediency.
  • Less likely, but my preferred explanation: As we've mentioned before, the Pacific Islander community includes both immigrant populations and indigenous peoples who are native to land that is now the United States of America. In fact, the three largest Pacific Islander American groups (Native Hawaiians, Samoans, and Chamorro) are indigenous to parts of the USA (Hawaii, American Samoa, and Guam). Together these indigenous peoples account for the overwhelming majority of the total Pacific Islander American community. Other than American Indians and Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders are the only major racial group that includes peoples who are indigenous to the USA.
Want to read the report? Click here: LINK

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The ACT recognizes Pacific Islanders. What about the SAT?

Last week we blogged regarding the ACT's recent move to recognize Pacific Islanders as a distinct racial group by reporting Pacific Islander test scores separately from Asians. After reading the post, one of our regular readers asked me a question: what about the SAT?

(As mentioned in the last post, the SAT and ACT are the two leading standardized tests used across the nation to rank college-readiness.)

After a few days of looking, here's what I have to report back to that reader and the rest of our reader community: I found no evidence that the SAT is up to speed with the ACT when it comes to recognizing that Pacific Islanders are a distinct racial group.

Here's the online paper trail; feel free to let us know if you find something we missed!

The national SAT scores are released every fall by the College Board. In 2010, they issued this press release on their scores, and the news coverage included this article. As you'll see from the article, they released the national average, and broke the scores down by minority groups, including Asians, Whites, American Indian and Alaska Natives, Mexican and Mexican American, Latinos (excluding other explicitly mentioned Latino groups), Puerto Ricans, and African Americans.

Pacific Islanders are not mentioned.

Like last year, this fall the College Board released their 2011 national scores. I found no Pacific Islander scores. One graph did break down "2011 College-Bound Seniors by Race/Ethnicity," but Pacific Islanders are not included. The National Center for Education Statistics tracks SAT scores by race and ethnicity, and as you can see here, they report only "Asian/Pacific Islander" results. Lastly, I found this Atlantic article and this data from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing breaking down 2011 SAT scores by race. The Atlantic graph only lists Asians, and the other one groups Asians and Pacific Islanders as one.

In other words, the ACT is ahead of the SAT on this one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pacific Islanders included in national ACT score reporting

For this week's post, I wanted to share a story published in the Chronicle of Higher Education regarding the racial gap in ACT test performance. (The ACT is a standardized test for college admissions, like the SAT.)

For most readers of the Chronicle, I assume that the main takeaways are that overall scores have increased slightly, and that a racial achievement gap remains -- with underrepresented minorities continuing to score below the national average. But for me, the most important thing was that for the first time, Pacific Islander scores were reported separately from Asian Americans, in recognition of the fact that we are a distinct group.

This is important to the P.I.A. project because it takes data to demonstrate the needs of our community -- from data validating our underrepresentation, to figures like this, which show how we perform on a standardized college readiness test. In this case, the national stats showed that Pacific Islanders, like other underrepresented minority groups scored below the national average.

You can read the full article here: LINK

Monday, December 05, 2011

Pacific Islander America: Utah

For the past few weeks, we've been catching up on our coverage of news and current events within the Pacific Islander American community.

How does this relate to the P.I.A. project's mission of expanding higher education opportunities for Pacific Islanders, and our lead project to end Pacific Islander exclusion from academic programs for underrepresented minorities? It all falls under the larger need to raise awareness about America's Pacific Islander community. After all, if these academic programs were familiar with Pacific Islanders, they'd know that Pacific Islanders should be allowed to apply alongside other underrepresented minorities.

Our series on California's Pacific Islander population is wrapped up, but the tour continues.

Next stop? Utah.

Utah has been a home for Pacific Islander Americans since the mid-to-late-19th Century. (A short article on the history of Pacific Islanders in Utah, dating as far back at the 1870s, authored by Carol Edison and housed on the University of Utah's website and available here: LINK)

Utah has a strong Pacific Islander population, and includes a mix of multi-generational residents and first-generation arrivals, and a variety of Pacific Islander groups. Despite challenges like those mentioned in this 20-year-old Associated Press article on Utah PIs, it is clear that there are also stories of success, from the small business owners who make up the Salt Lake City-based Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce, to the members of the University of Utah's Pacific Islander Student Association, who are working towards their degrees.

This fall one of Utah's online news outlets also shared stories about the achievements of Pacific Islander individuals, who also shared their advice:
Another Utah story that caught my attention this fall was the Pacific Islander youth education conference that the state's community conceived, planned, and executed this September. Here are some articles on that:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A few more stories -- Pacific Islander America, California (4 of 4)

For the past few weeks, we've been blogging about California's vibrant, growing Pacific Islander American community. Even though Pacific Islanders are left out of much of our national dialogue, there have been more than enough Pacific Islander news this year to dedicate a whole month just to one state.

Closing out our California series, here are some of the other stories we wanted to highlight:

San Mateo's Tongan American community, and a study-in-progress on the county's Pacific Islanders: This San Francisco Examiner article describes the challenges and strengths of San Mateo County's Tongan American community. It is also mentioned that Sela Panapasa of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan is overseeing a comprehensive study on the needs of Pacific Islanders in the county, which could be used to validate the need for services like after-school programs for at-risk youth. LINK

Pacific Islander health "navigator" in East Palo Alto: This feature profile, from the Peninsula Press, follows East Palo Alto community health worker Tiffany 'Uhilamoelangi-Hautau, one of two health "navigators" at the Ravenswood Family Health Center. 'Uhilamoelani-Hautau also works with a nonprofit called Collective Roots, to promote healthy eating that's consistent with Tongan and Samoan culinary traditions. LINK

Californian Summits, Conferences and Organizations dedicated to Pacific Islanders: While these last links aren't to news stories, I would be remiss if I didn't mention at least a few of the summits, conferences, and education-related Pacific Islander organizations working to improve access to higher education and well-paying jobs:
  • The National Pacific Islander Educators Network recently held its tenth annual conference in Paramount. LINK
  • A few months earlier, the Santa Monica College Asian Pacific Islander Achievement Project hosted the "Pacific Islander Higher Education Summit: We Rise." LINK
  • On the training and employment front, the Pacific Islander Pipeline continues to work to help Pacific Islander Americans prepare for careers in the health care industry. LINK
(Did we miss an outstanding California-based Pacific Islander organization, or story? Let us know and we'll work to cover it in a future post!)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

California passes new law to improve data on Pacific Islanders and Asians (California news 3 of 4)

California recently passed a law that moves the state further away from the outdated practice of lumping all Pacific Islanders and Asians into a single "Asian Pacific Islander" group. It should also make it harder for unfair employers and landowners to get away with discriminating against Pacific Islanders and Asians.

The law was introduced this year as Assembly Bill 1088 by California Assembly member Mike Eng, passed by the state legislature, and on October 9th, it was signed by Governor Brown.

If I read it correctly, this law should:
  • Expand the number of Pacific Islander and Asian sub-groups that state agencies, boards, and commissions report data on, to include specific data on major Pacific Islander groups such as Samoans, Hawaiians, and Chamorro
  • Ensure that the data collection and reporting practices of the Department of Fair Employment and Housings and the Department of Industrial Relations are consistent with the U.S. Census Bureau, and also report data on Pacific Islander sub groups
  • Require that the two departments report their findings on the Internet by July of next year
This law should bring California's practices in line with long-standing federal policy on data collection, which has long since recognized Pacific Islanders as a distinct racial group. For more on that nearly 15-year-old policy, click here: LINK

Just as importantly, it reflects a slow-but-steady movement at the state and federal level to abandon lumping together Pacific Islanders and Asians, in favor of recognizing Pacific Islanders and doing a better job of understanding the diverse needs of different Asian American populations.
  • Want to learn a little more? Here's a link to a summary press release from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center: LINK
  • Want to read the law for yourself? Follow this link: LINK

Monday, November 14, 2011

California updates terminology in law to teach students about Pacific Islander American history (California news 2 of 4)

There was a lot of coverage this summer about a bill before the California state legislature, which would require the teaching of what some reporter's described as "gay history" in the state's public schools. Tucked into a few of the articles was this detail -- the bill would also require that students learn about the contributions of Pacific Islanders, or in other words "Pacific Islander American history." To quote a portion of a Christian Science Monitor article on the subject:
California already requires that when school districts adopt instructional materials, they seek to ensure that Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and European Americans are accurately portrayed. The new bill would add not only LGBT to that list, but also people with disabilities and Pacific Islanders.
I was curious, so I read the bill, and what the law was before this bill passed. Luckily, you can get all of this info online by visiting the California state senate's website.

Here's what I learned: California law already required that social science instruction is inclusive of the history and contributions of "Pacific Island people," which this bill changed to "Pacific Islanders." (The bill made similar changes to the terms used for other minorities.)

It appears that the change for Pacific Islanders is be more cosmetic than anything else, but it's a sign of progress that the bill's authors were knew enough to use more appropriate terminology.

Want to read the law for yourself? Click here: LINK

A larger question to ask: What would a course on Pacific Islander contributions to America look like? Would it include stories about the Native Hawaiians who immigrated to the Pacific Northwest to work for timber companies, or to harbors, deserts and mining towns in California? What about the Mormon Pacific Islanders who immigrated to Utah to follow their faith? Or would the focus be on big names, like King Kamehameha and Duke Kahanamoku, or modern-day entertainers like Dwayne Johnson (aka "The Rock")?

Monday, November 07, 2011

Pacific Islander America: California (1 of 4)

A number of this summer's stories about Pacific Islander Americans happened in California. And for good reason: California has long-since been home to one of the largest Pacific Islander populations of any State of the Union. In fact, preliminary Census data suggests that California may now have the largest Pacific Islander population in the country.

More Pacific Islander in California than Hawaii?
As the only U.S. State in the Pacific Islands, Hawaii is a natural place for a strong and vibrant Pacific Islander community. But 2010 Census data suggests that California may now have more Pacific Islanders.

Earlier this year, San Francisco Chronicle's Hawaii Insider columnist Jeanne Cooper penned a story referencing 2010 Census data. She wrote, correctly, that the number of "single-race" (individuals who only identify as one race on their Census form) Pacific Islanders in California is now larger than it is in Hawaii.

This is representative of the growth of the Pacific Islander population across America, especially in the continental United States. For California in particular, a growing Pacific Islander community is nothing new -- Pacific Islanders have been immigrating to California since the 19th Century. At the same time, it's important to remember that most Pacific Islanders don't show up in the "single-race" category of the Census, because they report belonging to more than one race.

When we see the Census's full state-by-state data that includes multiracial Pacific Islanders, we'll know if California has indeed overtaken Hawaii as the state with America's largest Pacific Islander community. (Let us know if you see this data before we do!)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Census 2010 updates: America's Pacific Islander community grew over 3-times-faster than nation

Much of the data from the 2010 Census is still be analyzed, packaged, and prepared for publication, but we're already seeing some interesting trends for America's Pacific Islander community. Here are a few:

Breaking the One-Million-Mark
America's Pacific Islander population in now in the seven-figures. In 2000, approximately 870,000 Pacific Islanders lived in the 50 states. In the 2010 Census, those numbers grew to over 1,200,000.

Significant Growth
From 2000 to 2010, the Pacific Islander population in the 50 States grew by more than 35 percent -- over three-and-a-half-times faster than the national growth rate of 9.7 percent. Of the Census's five minimum racial groups (White, African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander), only one race grew at a faster rate (Asians).

Still the Most Likely to be Multiracial
As was the case in the 2000 Census, Pacific Islanders were more likely than any of the basic racial groups to report belonging to more than one race. In fact, Pacific Islanders are the only one of the five groups whose multiracial population is larger than their single-race population.

By the numbers: 56 percent of Pacific Islanders reported being more than one race. This is slightly higher than it was in 2ooo, when about 54 percent of Pacific Islanders reported belonging to more than one race. Nationally, men and women belonging to more than one race comprise 2.9 percent of the population. (This is an increase from 2.4 percent in 2000.)

Rising Entrepreneurship
Along with a rising population, Pacific Islanders are becoming a larger part of the American business community. The most recently released U.S. Census Survey of Business Owners reports that between 2002 and 2007 (the most recent period studied), the number and revenue of Pacific Islander American businesses grew faster than the national average.

By the Numbers: Over five years, the number of Pacific Islander American businesses grew 31 percent (compared to the national rate of 18 percent). The increase in revenue for Pacific Islander businesses was even greater, rising over 51 percent in five years, compared to the national rate of 33 percent.

Further Reading:
  • 2010 Census Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf
  • Census Survey of Business Owners: http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pacific Islander American News - Summer Catch Up

Over the summer, our posts were written specifically for underrepresented minority academic programs, to give them easy access to the reasons why they should choose to include (rather than exclude) Pacific Islanders from their scholarships, fellowships, and other opportunities. Those posts are now archived, and can be accessed in a reader-friendly Question-and-Answer-format by following the link on the top right-hand side of our homepage, or by clicking here.

We dedicated so much time to write posts specifically for underrepresented minority academic programs because they are so important to our mission: increasing higher educational opportunities for Pacific Islander Americans, by increasing the number of underrepresented minority programs that recognize them as underrepresented.

Ultimately, the choice (include or exclude Pacific Islanders) is theirs, and we want to make it easier for them to see why Pacific Islanders deserve to be included in their definition of "underrepresented minority."

At the same time, there are been a lot of news that we've wanted to cover.

Now we can catch up!

First on the List: some of the new data on America's growing Pacific Islander community. Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Choice: Special Section for underrepresented minority academic programs

Dear Scholarships, Fellowships, and other Academic Programs for Underrepresented Minorities --

Thank you for visiting our site!
We developed a series of posts on this website to speak directly to academic programs for underrepresented minorities because we know that you have the power to choose whether your program will include or exclude Pacific Islanders.

If you're one of the growing number of academic programs that already recognizes that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented -- thank you! Please don't hesitate to contact us with questions, or let us know if there's something we can do to help you. And if you're one of the academic programs that includes some Pacific Islanders groups (but not others), we're giving you access to information about how the entire Pacific Islander American community is underrepresented.

If your program does not include Pacific Islanders, we want to help you make an informed, educated decision about whether you should choose to continue to exclude them. We've set up this site, and a series of posts written for you, so you have easy access to the facts.

Below are links to the Question-and-Answer-style posts we wrote to help you come to an informed decision. If you have a question we haven't addressed, please let us know by following the "more questions" link at the bottom.

We hope that this information helps you make an informed choice, and we hope that you choose to include Pacific Islanders along with their fellow underrepresented minorities.

Aloha!
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Terms

Facts on Pacific Islander underrepresentation

Knowing the difference: Pacific Islander vs. Asian/Asian Pacific Islander

Your Choice: Including or Excluding Pacific Islanders from your Underrepresented Minority program

For More Information

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What if my academic programs includes some Pacific Islander groups, but not others?

Q. Our academic program already includes one specific Pacific Islander group, but not all. Why should we include Pacific Islanders as a group?

A. When you're only including part of the Pacific Islander community, you're leaving out others.

And the data is clear: as a whole, Pacific Islanders are significantly underrepresented in higher education. You've already taken an important step by including at least one part of the Pacific Islander American community -- Why not go all the way?
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Have you already taken the step of including one or more segments of America's Pacific Islander community, such as Native Hawaiians or Polynesians? Bravo! You are ahead of the curve, and we applaud you for taking an interest in including part of America's Pacific Islander community.

Now that you've already made the decision to include some Pacific Islanders, why not take the next step by including the rest of the them? Over 20 years of U.S. Census data shows that as a group, Pacific Islanders have been -- and continue to be -- underrepresented among college graduates. By allowing all otherwise qualified Pacific Islanders to apply, you can reach more underrepresented minorities. Who knows what difference you could make in their lives.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What if my academic program already includes Pacific Islanders?

Q. What if my academic program already includes Pacific Islanders?

A. Please let us know if we can help you, and thank you for following the data and including this deserving underrepresented group!
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The Pacific Islander Access project came into existence for this reason: despite the fact that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education, they're excluded from many academic programs for underrepresented minorities. We wanted to reach out to the programs that exclude Pacific Islanders, and help them make an informed decision about choosing inclusion instead.

The fact is that a growing number of programs already include Pacific Islanders, and we hope that more will join them in the near future. Thank you for being an example to your peer organizations by following the data!

If there's anything we can do to help your program reach out to more Pacific Islander applicants or organizations, please let us know. You can reach our CEO directly by emailing us at piaproject@hotmail.com

Friday, September 23, 2011

I have more questions... can you answer them?

Q. I serve an academic program for underrepresented minorities, and I have more questions before I decide whether my program should include or exclude Pacific Islanders. Can you answer my questions?

A. We'd love to.
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The Pacific Islander Access project is available to answer any questions you have after reading the posts we wrote specifically with underrepresented minority academic programs. We're upfront about the fact that we have an agenda -- to help you reduce the number of underrepresented minority programs that exclude Pacific Islanders despite the data showing that they're underrepresented -- but we can share honest facts to explain why this is good for your program and good for Pacific Islander Americans.

Academic programs for underrepresented minorities can hear directly from our CEO by writing us at piaproject@hotmail.com

We look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Other Sources to Learn More about Pacific Islander Underrepresentation

Q. Can you link to other sources that will help me learn more about Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education?

A. Yes. There are many resources out there to help people learn more about Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education.
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The Pacific Islander Access project is just one source for information about Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education. We're a micro-nonprofit corporation run on a part-time basis, so we largely rely on the wealth of research and analysis done by other organizations on this topic.

Perhaps the best source of information is the U.S. Census. To tap into over two decades of data they've reported on this topic, click here: LINK

In addition to the U.S. Census, here are a few other publications available online with data on Pacific Islander Americans:

Friday, September 09, 2011

Have others taken a stand for Pacific Islander inclusion in underrepresented minority programs?

Q. Have others taken a stand regarding Pacific Islander inclusion in academic programs for underrepresented minorities?

A. Yes. Many academic programs for underrepresented minorities already include Pacific Islanders. In addition, leaders in the government, academia and the Pacific Islander community have taken a stand on this issue.
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Perhaps the most important actions have been the ones coming from underrepresented minority scholarships themselves, especially the thirteen that have changed their policies to include Pacific Islanders since hearing from the P.I.A. project.  You can learn more about those scholarships and fellowships by clicking here: link

In 2010, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs (one of the largest and oldest community-based Pacific Islander American organizations) unanimously passed a resolution calling for Pacific Islander inclusion in academic programs for underrepresented minorities. In doing so, they joined the following other organizations that have taken a stand for the inclusion:
  • The University of Hawaii's Center for Pacific Islands Studies
  • The National Pacific Islander Educators Network
  • The Pacific Islander Pipeline Program
  • The Indigenous Pacific Islander Alliance
You can learn a little more about each of these groups by clicking here: LINK

This issue has also received attention at various levels of government. In 2005, the Hawaii State House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging all academic programs for underrepresented minorities to include Pacific Islanders. While in committee, this resolution also received favorable testimony from statewide organizations like the University of Hawaii (you can still see their testimony here: LINK). That same decade, U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) together urged the U.S. Department of Education to review its definition of "underrepresented minority" to ensure that Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders were not being left behind.

Citing data from the U.S. Census and other sources, scholars continue to highlight the underrepresentation of Pacific Islanders. One great example is this joint paper from the UCLA Asian American Studies Center: LINK

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Can you show me census data on Pacific Islander Underrepresentation?

Q. Can you show me data from the U.S. Census on Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education?

A. Yes. For over two decades, the U.S. Census has collected and published data reflecting the significant underrepresentation of Pacific Islander Americans among college graduates.
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As we've mentioned before, recent Census data shows that compared to the national average, Pacific Islanders are 50 percent less likely to graduate with a bachelors degree, and 60 percent less likely to graduate with an advanced degree.

Here are links to over two decades of data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation. We've included year-by-year figures for the past five years, then decade-by-decade data for the past twenty years. The links take you to larger reports or data features, which include Pacific Islander graduation rates along with other information.

The Past 5 Years
Each year, the U.S. Census publishes data ahead of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In observance of federal policy, it shows information for both Pacific Islanders and Asians, recognizing each as a distinct group. Here are the releases from the last five years, each of which shows Pacific Islander college graduation rates compared to the national average.
10+ Years
Here is a Census 2000 data brief on educational attainment in the United States. Along with the graduation rates of other racial groups, you can see Pacific Islander representation, and compare that to the national average: LINK

20+ Years
In the 1990s, as part of the "We the People" series, the Census Bureau published a paper on Pacific Islander Americans using data from the 1990 Census. There's a lot of information here about Pacific Islanders, including college graduation rates (page 4): LINK

Here's a chart to visually display 20-plus-years of U.S. Census data on Pacific Islander underrepresentation:



Sunday, August 21, 2011

What is the Pacific Islander Access project?

Q. What is the Pacific Islander Access project?

A. The P.I.A. project is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to helping academic programs for underrepresented minorities choose to include Pacific Islanders alongside other minorities that are underrepresented in higher education.
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The Pacific Islander Access project is a lean organization run entirely by volunteers who know that this issue is important enough for us to to this for free. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded in Washington, DC.

Though we've only been incorporated since 2010, our work to increase Pacific Islander access to higher education programs goes back to 2003, when one of our founders applied for an underrepresented minority fellowship, and was told that Pacific Islanders weren't eligible. He helped that program change its practices. After that he went on to do a national study, which found that many other scholarships and fellowships didn't recognize that Pacific Islanders were underrepresented.

Years later, after revisiting the old study, he found that while some of the academic programs now included Pacific Islanders, others still didn't. Following a few conversations about what it would take to end Pacific Islander exclusion, it became clear that if we wanted academic programs to change their policies, we needed to help them understand why.

With that goal in mind, he and others started a project to increase Pacific Islander access to academic programs for underrepresented minorities. They decided to call the project to increase their access to higher education exactly just that -- the Pacific Islander Access project.

Want to know more about our leadership?  Click here to read the personal stories of each of our board members, as they explain why the P.I.A. project matters to them: LINK

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Many academic programs for underrepresented minorities recognize Pacific Islanders. What are some examples?

Q. We say that many scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities acknowledge that Pacific Islanders should be allowed to apply -- can we back that up with specific examples?

A. Yes we can.
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Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education, and many academic programs for underrepresented minorities rightfully allow them to apply. In fact, since we started sharing our data last fall, thirteen underrepresented minority scholarships changed their own policies when they looked and the data and decided that they didn't want to choose to exclude Pacific Islanders.

The first five of those scholarships are the HBCU Minority Scholarship, the Actuarial Diversity Scholarship, the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship, and two National Medical Fellowships scholarships. To see the rest, just click here to view our "honor roll" page: link

While our research previously indicated that most underrepresented minority programs were excluding Pacific Islanders, our research indicates big changes. Based on our most recent tracking data, most underrepresented minority programs include Pacific Islanders, and less than one in three still misclassify Pacific Islanders.

In addition to those outstanding programs, here are a few examples (I've included a mix of programs that are exclusive to underrepresented minorities and others that simply give preference.) --
  • The National Institutes of Health Research Supplements to Promote Diversity for Undergraduate Students: LINK
  • The University of Washington Diversity Award: LINK
  • Cornell Diversity Fellowship: LINK
  • Clifford Clark Graduate Fellowship Program for Diversity: LINK
All of these programs provide great opportunities for promising students, and are even better for the fact that they are aware of the data that has consistently shown that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.

Unfortunately, too many other academic programs for underrepresented minorities still need to look at the data on Pacific Islanders. But thanks to the positive example set by these programs and others, we can say that inclusion of Pacific Islanders -- not exclusion -- is now the norm for underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Why should underrepresented minority programs allow Pacific Islanders to apply?

Q. Why should underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships allow Pacific Islanders to apply?

A. Because Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, and if they exclude them, they exclude part of the community they're trying to serve -- underrepresented minorities.
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In addition, it's in the best interest of the academic programs -- they can do more to reach their goal (to help underrepresented minorities) by insuring that they're not leaving out a qualified group in need. Of course it's also in the interest of Pacific Islanders -- by giving them a better chance to achieve their full potential as individuals, and to work towards reducing their underrepresentation as a group.

If you lead or are part of an academic program that intends to help underrepresented minorities, please don't exclude Pacific Islanders. Instead, consider the facts, think of your potential to make a difference for them, and choose not to exclude Pacific Islander Americans.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Does "Asian Pacific Islander" data accurately represent Pacific Islanders?

Q. Does "Asian Pacific Islander" data accurately represent Pacific Islanders?

A. Not when it comes to college graduation rates.
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Pacific Islanders and Asians are two separate, distinct racial groups. However, sometimes they are grouped together for data collection, and categorized as "Asian Pacific Islanders" or "Asian Pacific Americans." API college graduation data often bears no resemblance to what's happening to Pacific Islanders.

Why? First, because in addition to being two different groups, Pacific Islanders and Asians have two very different levels of higher educational attainment -- Asians are three-and-a-half-times more likely to have a bachelors degree, and five times more likely to have an advanced degree. While Pacific Islanders are significantly underrepresented in higher education, Asians have the highest college graduation rate among the major racial and ethnic groups according to the U.S. Census.

Secondly, the Asian American population is much larger than the Pacific Islander American population -- 14 times larger. So when you take all of the Asian Americans and group them with all of the Pacific Islander Americans, the resulting data will have counted fourteen "As" for every one "PI."

The danger is that if you mistakenly think API college graduation data represents Pacific Islanders, you'll be treating an underrepresented group as if they're not underrepresented, and incorrectly excluding them from scholarships and fellowships for underrepresented minorities.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Are Pacific Islanders Asian?

Q. Are Pacific Islanders Asian?

A. No.

Pacific Islanders and Asians are two distinct, different, separate racial minority groups. Federal policy on racial and ethnic data collection recognizes this difference in OMB Directive No. 15, which was updated in 1997 to recognize that Pacific Islanders and Asians should not be lumped together -- instead, they should be acknowledged as distinct racial groups.
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In addition to being two different groups, Pacific Islanders and Asians have two very different rates of higher education attainment.

According to data used by the Census for this year's Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage month, 50 percent of Asians 25-or-older have at least a college degree. For Pacific Islanders, that rate is 14 percent.

For advanced degrees, the difference is even bigger -- 20 percent of Asians in the U.S. hold an advanced degree, compared to 4 percent of Pacific Islanders.

In other words, Asians are over three-and-a-half times more likely to earn a bachelors degree, and five times more likely to earn an advanced degree.

So while Pacific Islanders and Asians can (and do) work together on common issues that serve both communities, it's also important to remember that in some areas, they have different needs.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are Pacific Islanders historically underrepresented in higher education?

Q. Are Pacific Islanders historically underrepresented in higher education?

A. Yes.

In addition to being currently underrepresented in U.S. higher education, Pacific Islanders are also historically underrepresented. U.S. Census data has consistently shown for over twenty years that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented among college graduates.
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Recent statistics, as we've mentioned before, indicate that while over 28 percent of the U.S. population has a bachelor's degree, the rate for Pacific Islander Americans is just 14 percent. The graduation gap is even wider for advanced degrees.

These recent figures are consistent with data over the past twenty years.
  • 2010: According to data published in 2010, 28 percent of the college graduation age U.S. population had at least a bachelors degree. The rate for Pacific Islander Americans was 15 percent. In other words, Pacific Islanders were 46 percent less likely to graduate from college.
  • 2000: According to data published in 2000, 24.4 percent of the college graduation age U.S. population had at least a bachelors degree. The rate for Pacific Islanders was 13.8 percent. That means that Pacific Islanders were 43 percent less likely to graduate from college in 2000.
  • 1990: According to data published in 1990, 20 percent of the college graduation age U.S. population had at least a bachelors degree. The rate for Pacific Islanders was 11 percent. In other words, Pacific Islanders were 45 percent less likely to graduate from college in 1990.
As you can see here, U.S. Census data has consistently shown that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.




Monday, July 04, 2011

Are Pacific Islanders Underrepresented in Higher Education?

Q. Are Pacific Islanders really Underrepresented in Higher Education?

A. Yes. In fact, Census data indicates that compared to the general U.S. population, Pacific Islanders are about half as likely to graduate with a bachelors degree. Pacific Islanders are even less represented at the advanced degree level.
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Over 28 percent of graduation-age (25-or-older) have at least a 4-year-degree. By comparison, only 14 percent of single-race Pacific Islander Americans have a 4-year-degree. For advanced degrees, the national graduation rate is 10 percent, while the Pacific Islander graduation rate is only 4 percent. 



(This is according to data published in May, 2011. Because these numbers continually change, we'll update this section at least once a year. Here's a link to the data we're currently using: LINK)

Friday, June 24, 2011

What do we mean by Underrepresented Minority?

Q. What do we mean by "Underrepresented Minority"?

A. In higher education, this term describes a racial or ethnic group that is less likely to attend or graduate from college (in other words -- be "represented" among college students and college graduates) than the general population. Minorities can be underrepresented in general, at a certain level (bachelor's degree holders or graduate student, for example), or within a certain academic discipline (like computer science or law).
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When measuring college graduation rates in the U.S., the PIA project draws mainly from data provided by the U.S. Census. According to recent Census data, over 28 percent of U.S. residents of age (25 or older) have at least a bachelor's degree. In other to be underrepresented among bachelors degree holders, a minority group must have a college graduation rate that is lower than the national average of 28 percent.

By comparison to the national average of 28 percent, only 14 percent of single-race Pacific Islander Americans have a 4-year-degree.


(This is according to data published in May, 2011. Because these numbers continually change, we'll update this section periodically. Here's a link to the data we're currently using: LINK)

Friday, June 17, 2011

What is a Pacific Islander?

Q. What is a Pacific Islander?

A. Pacific Islanders are individuals who trace all or some of their ancestry to the original people of any of the three major island groups in the Pacific: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.
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When using the term "Pacific Islander," we follow the U.S. government definition of "Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander." This makes sense both because it's a consistent, commonly used definition, and because it allows us to accurately draw from data provided by the U.S. Census and other groups who use the same definition as the Census.

Pacific Islanders are recognized in federal policy as a unique, distinct racial group for the purpose of racial and ethnic data collection. They are one of the fastest growing racial groups in the United States, and they live in every State of the Union. They include Pacific Islanders who are native to areas that are now part of the United States (Native Hawaiians from Hawaii, Samoans from American Samoa, and Chamorro from Guam), as well as others.

To break it down further, here is a list of Pacific Islander sub-groups, broken down by the three major island groups (according to the U.S. Census):
  • Polynesia: Examples include Native Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongan, Tahitian, Tokelauan, and other Polynesian.

  • Micronesia: Examples include Chamorro, Saipanese, Palauian, Carolinian, Kosraean, Pohnpeian, Chuukese, Marshallese, I-Kiribati, and other Micronesian.

  • Melanesia: Examples include Fijian, Papua New Guinean, Solomon Islander, Ni-Vanuatu, and other Melanesian.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What is an Underrepresented Minority ("URM") Academic Program?

Q. What is an Underrepresented Minority (URM) Academic Program?

A. An Underrepresented Minority (or "URM") academic program is a scholarship, fellowship, or other academic program for students who are underrepresented in higher education.
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In other words, helping underrepresented minorities is a major goal for these programs, and they either give preference or limit access to applicants who are members of minority groups they recognize to be underrepresented.

URM academic programs play a critical role in the work people are doing to close the diploma gap in America. Why? Because they are actively working to help underrepresented minorities help themselves, though financial aid, access to training, and other services. As the underrepresented minority population grows (they accounted for most U.S. population growth in the past decade) closing the education gap isn't just about helping minorities -- it's about helping our nation as a whole.

Most scholarships, fellowships, and other academic programs ARE NOT underrepresented minority academic programs. In fact, URM academic programs make up just a small fraction of the total amount of financial aid available to college students. Still, they play an important role by working to fix a growing national problem.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Underrepresented Minority Academic Programs and Pacific Islanders

This is the first in a series of posts written specifically to help scholarships, fellowships, and other academic programs for underrepresented minorities -- also known as URM (underrepresented minority) academic programs.

URM academic programs are scholarships, fellowships, or other programs that are intended to serve those racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in the U.S. higher education system. As we've blogged about before, Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, but they're excluded from many of these programs.

Our research has found that while some URM academic programs recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, others don't allow them to apply alongside other underrepresented minorities -- yet. (There are also some in-betweeen URM academic programs which recognize that some Pacific Islander sub-groups are underrepresented, while leaving out others.)

We believe that the missing link is information -- some URM academic programs may not realize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented.

Our goal is to give URM academic programs an easy way to access the facts about Pacific Islander underrepresentation. And for those that don't currently allow Pacific Islanders to apply alongside other underrepresented minority groups, we want to help them change. We recognize that this is good for URM academic programs and for Pacific Islanders, because it helps URM academic programs achieve their mission of helping underrepresented minorities while giving Pacific Islanders a better chance at achieving their potential.

The next several posts will answer questions that URM academic programs may ask when considering their policy toward Pacific Islanders. We may take an occasional break from the series to blog on current events or updates, but the next season of posts will largely be written with the URM audience in mind.

Kawika

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Northwest Asian Weekly references PIA project in article on Pacific Islanders

This post is a mix of commentary and (a tiny bit of) PIA project self-promotion. Last week the Northwest Asian Weekly published an article called "4 myths about Pacific Islanders BUSTED." The article included some things you've read about in this blog -- like the fact that Asians and Pacific Islanders are two distinct groups with different socioeconomic conditions, and that when you group them together for data collection, Pacific Islanders get lost.

The writer references a number of Pacific Islander academics, as well as the Pacific Islander Access project blog. Here's the part that cites this blog:
According to information collected by the Pacific Islander Access project blog, the 2010 Census reports the percentage of Asians with an undergraduate degree is at 50 percent. The portion of the U.S. population with an undergraduate degree is 28 percent. In striking contrast, the percentage of Pacific Islanders with an undergraduate degree is only 15 percent...

As they're saying, there is a huge difference between Pacific Islander and Asian college graduation rates. At the bachelors degree level, the Pacific Islander graduation rate is just 14 percent (a one percent drop from the 15 percent that the Census reported earlier), which is less than one-third of the Asian graduation rate. In other words, Pacific Islander Americans are over 300 percent less likely to have a bachelors degree than their Asian American counterparts.

Mahalo to the Northwest Asian Weekly for paying attention to this issue, and for reading this blog!

You can read the article that references this blog by clicking here: LINK


Kawika

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Similarities and Differences in Pacific Islander and Asian Data

This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States. As I mentioned in a post last month, the U.S. Census Bureau has released data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. You can see the entire release by clicking here: LINK

You'll notice that Pacific Islander and Asian data are in the same release, but they're displayed separately. This allows us to look at ways that the two groups are similar and different.

Similarities
One clear similarity between Pacific Islanders and Asians is that they are experiencing growth, growth in total population, and growth in the number of business they own. Over a ten year period (2000 to 2010) the U.S. Pacific Islander population increased by 40 percent. During the same period, the Asian population increased by 46 percent.

Over the most recently analyzed five year period (2002 to 2007), the rate of business ownership was similarly strong -- the number of Asian-owned businesses grew by 40 percent, while the number of Pacific Islander-owned businesses grew by 30 percent. During the same period, overall U.S. business ownership grew by a slower rate of 18 percent.

Interestingly, with respect to educational attainment, Pacific Islanders and Asians are very similar in one respect -- high school graduation rates. Recent stats report that 85 percent of Asians who are 25-or-older have graduated high school. The rate for Pacific Islanders is 86 percent.

Differences
After high school, the education attainment similarities end. When you look at higher education, it is clear that Pacific Islanders and Asians are two separate groups who should not be lumped together for data collection. One example: the release reports that exactly half (50 percent) of Asians 25-or-older have at least a bachelors degree. The rate for Pacific Islanders is 14 percent -- less than 1/3rd of the Asian rate.

For the next level of education, the gap is even wider. 20 percent of Asians have an advanced degree. The Pacific Islander rate is 4 percent, which is 1/5th of the Asian rate.

In other words, compared to Asians, Pacific Islanders are over three times less likely to get a bachelors degree, and five times less likely to get an advanced degree.

Kawika

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Graph: Underrepresented Minorities and U.S. Population Growth













In our last post, I mentioned that according to recent Census data, underrepresented minorities account for the majority of America's population growth in the past decade. Here's how the numbers break down.

Kawika

As I mentioned in the last post, with the way the Census reported this data, people who are Hispanic and also members of another underrepresented minority could be counted twice (inflating the number of underrepresented minorities), and people who belong to more than one underrepresented minority group (other than Hispanic) could be counted as multiracial instead of underrepresented (deflating the number of underrepresented minorities).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Underrepresented Minorities Responsible for Most of America's Population Growth

The U.S. Census Bureau has started to release findings from its 2010 data collection, and while there's more to come, I've already seen some interesting information about how we're growing as a nation. Seeing those numbers, I was inclined to look into how much of our country's growth over the past decade came from underrepresented minorities.

Loyal readers may remember when I blogged a few months ago (LINK) about how our future as a nation depends in part on helping underrepresented minorities succeed academically. Specifically, I said that "If our higher education system doesn't figure out how to recruit, retain, and graduate the groups that will make up half of the American population in the coming decades, that's not just a system that's failing minorities: that's just plain failure."

That day hasn't come yet. But, according to the Census, we don't need to wait until the day that underrepresented minorities are responsible for a majority of our population growth: they already do.

Between 2000 and 2010, the U.S. population increased by about 27.3 million. Of that 27.3 million, America's four major underrepresented groups were responsible for most of that growth: collectively, the Hispanic, African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations grew by over 20 million. That's roughly 73 percent of our overall growth as a nation.

(This number is probably a little too high, because people who are Hispanic and members of another underrepresented minority group could be counted twice, with the way that the Census reported these numbers. At the same time, it could be a little low, because it excludes underrepresented minorities who identified as multiracial. This probably affects the number by just a few percentage points.)

In other words, the overwhelming majority of America's population growth in the past decade came from minority communities that are currently underrepresented in higher education. This is happening at a time where education is becoming even more important, and other nations are investing in their future by investing in education.

The Pacific Islander Access project wants to be a part of the effort to help underrepresented minorities by helping the academic programs who serve them. Our first order of business has been to raise awareness about the fact that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented, and that these programs should allow Pacific Islanders to apply alongside other underrepresented groups. Over time, we want to move beyond doing just that, and help connect Pacific Islander scholars and the underrepresented minority programs that want to help them. By doing this, we can help underrepresented minority academic programs achieve their mission.

Kawika

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Updated Stats on Pacific Islanders and Asians

Last month we did a post that mentioned Directive 15, the federal policy on racial and ethnic data collection.

Between then and now, the U.S. Census Bureau published updated stats on Pacific Islanders and Asians. This is an annual update that the Census does in recognition of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which is celebrated each May.

If you click on the link, you'll see that at the top, it mentions how Directive 15 recognizes that Pacific Islanders and Asians are two separate groups. In line with Directive 15, the Census separates the data on Pacific Islanders and Asians. It's a good example of Directive 15 being followed. It also shows how collecting data on the two groups allows people to see the socioeconomic differences between Pacific Islanders and Asians.

What are the latest stats on Pacific Islander and Asian higher educational attainment?

U.S. Average: 28 percent
Asian Americans: 50 percent
Pacific Islander Americans: 14 percent

We'll blog more about the stats next month. For now, here's a link to the full release: LINK

Kawika

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Student Loan Debt Approaches One Trillion Dollars

This week the New York Times published a well-written article about American student loan debt -- which is increasingly common, increasing in size, and arguably starting to make an impact on the U.S. economy.

I've blogged before about the fact that Americans already owe more in student loan debt than credit card debt. This article, while providing a nuanced overview of the personal and macroeconomic impact of high student loan debt, also puts a sticker price to it -- U.S. student loan debt is likely to hit a trillion dollars this year.


This isn't to say that students should forget about college in order to avoid student loan debt: a college diploma remains a wise and strong investment for individuals. But the growing cost of college, and the drawbacks of high student loan debt should serve as a reminder of the importance of scholarships and fellowships, including those for underrepresented minorities ("URM scholarships and fellowships"). For Pacific Islanders, if they were allowed to apply for URM scholarships and fellowships, this could reduce their need to take on high debt in order to fulfill their potential.

Kawika


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Saying it with a Graph: "Asian Pacific Islanders" data doesn't represent Pacific Islanders

The last few posts have been about how grouping Pacific Islanders with Asians leads to misleading data and misunderstandings. The most recent post was on why. In this post, I wanted to show the data in a different way.

Using numbers provided this year by the U.S. Census Bureau, here are the 4-year college graduation rates for the general U.S. population (US Av), Pacific Islanders (PI), and Asians. The last bar shows what the grad rate is when you group Pacific Islanders with Asians. As you can see, the graduation rate for "Asian Pacific Islanders" (A/PI) and Asians is almost exactly the same. Meanwhile, Pacific Islander graduation rates is much much lower than the "Asian Pacific Islander" rate -- over three times lower.

As you can see, the "Asian Pacific Islander" stats here are a very bad indicator for what's going on with Pacific Islanders, and anyone who used the API stats to make decisions about Pacific Islanders would be making a mistake.

In addition, the stats clearly reflect that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented: their graduation rate is half of the national average.

Here are the college graduation rates in plain text:

U.S. National Average: 28 percent
Pacific Islander Americans: 14 percent
Asian Americans: 50 percent
"Asian and Pacific Islander Americans:" 48 percent

My two points, which you may have heard before: 1.) data grouping Pacific Islanders and Asians together does not accurately represent Pacific Islanders, and 2.) Pacific Islanders are highly underrepresented in higher education.

Kawika

How did we get the API data? Not having the exact numbers broken down, we did an estimate using the same data that the Census is using this year. While that release was sent out this year, the data for college graduation was from the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, so we pulled the numbers from that survey using census.gov's American Fact Finder.

There are two things I want to point out with these numbers. 1.) The American Community Survey is exactly that (a survey), with a margin of error. In other words, it's an estimate, but a scientifically valid one. 2.) Also, these are stats on Pacific Islanders and Asians "alone," which means that it doesn't include multiracial Pacific Islanders or Asians. This is important for all races, but especially Pacific Islanders and Asians, because they are more likely to be multiracial than the general population.

It's also important to mention that these stats don't include people who are 24-years-old or younger. This is standard practice by the census and others when collecting and reporting data on college graduation rates. Doogie Howser MD aside, it makes sense to limit the data collection to people who are old enough to have had a fair chance to complete their higher education.

American Community Survey Stats on Asians and Pacific Islanders "alone" (25-or-older)
Asians = 8,924,706
Pacific Islanders = 265,466
"Asians and Pacific Islanders" = 9,190,172

Asian College Grads = 4,425,164
Pacific Islander College Grads = 28,026
"A/PI College Grads = 4,453,190

Next, to get the "Asian Pacific Islander" graduation rate, we just need to know what percentage 4,453,190 is out of the 9,190,172 people who are either Pacific Islanders of Asians "alone" according to the American Community Survey.

(4,453,190/9,190,172) x 100 = 48.45. In other words, the "A/PI" college graduation rate is 48.45 percent, according to recent Census data.

When more data from the 2010 Census becomes available, we'll be able to provide an update.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Two Reasons: How "Asian Pacific Islander" data hides Pacific Islander Underrepresentation

Two posts ago, I explained that since 1997, there has been a federal policy recognizing that Pacific Islanders (or "Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders," to use the exact term in that policy) are a unique racial group, which should not be lumped together with Asians for the purpose of data collection. In this post, I'd like to explain why Pacific Islanders should not be grouped together with Asians when reporting data on things like college graduation rates.

If I had to sum it up in one paragraph, I'd say this: data that groups Asians and Pacific Islanders together does not accurately reflect what's happening to Pacific Islanders. It doesn't even average out the differences between Pacific Islanders and Asians. Instead, the "Asian Pacific Islander" category hides Pacific Islander data behind data on Asians. It also creates the illusion that Pacific Islanders and Asians have identical rates of poverty, income, and other socioeconomic indicators. This is especially true in the case of college graduation rates, where huge differences exist, but you wouldn't know it if you only looked at "Asian Pacific Islander" data.


**I'll do a numbers-heavy post later so you can check my math. For now, I'll try to keep this post short and stick mostly with words.**


Why does this happen? How does a data category perform the magic trick of turning an entire minority group relatively invisible? It comes down to two reasons:


Reason 1.) 14 Asians for every 1 Pacific Islander: When data is reported on "Asians and Pacific Islanders," generally 14 Asians have been counted for every 1 Pacific Islander. (This isn't a conspiracy, it's just math -- according to recent U.S. Census data, the Asian American population is well-over 14 times bigger than the Pacific Islander American population.) To illustrate how this causes data on Pacific Islanders to be hidden behind Asian data, consider another 14-to-1 possibility:


The Situation: Two equally matched basketball teams square off in a game.


The Commonsense way to Count: Each time a team gets a basket, they score one point. This is true for both teams.


The 14-to-1 way to Count: When Team A gets a basket, they get 14 points. When Team B gets a basket, they get 1 point.


In the end, even if both teams get an equal number of baskets, Team B will never come close to taking the lead. And how could they? When you're counted 14-times less than another group, how are you supposed to have a fair chance?


Now this isn't basketball (and it's not a competition between Asians and Pacific Islanders), but my point is this: just as it's unrealistic to expect Team B to ever compete when they get 14-times fewer points per basket, it's unrealistic to expect that data on "Asians and Pacific Islanders" will ever accurately reflect Pacific Islanders, when the Asian American population is over 14-times larger. (And thereby counted 14 times for every 1 Pacific Islander.)


This difference in size wouldn't be a big deal if Asians and Pacific Islanders had similar socioeconomic conditions -- but they don't. Asians and Pacific Islanders differ significantly in terms of several indicators, especially college graduation rates. While Asians have the highest college graduation rate among any of the major racial groups, Pacific Islanders have one of the lowest. This gets to reason number two:


Reason 2.) Big Difference in Graduation Rates: According to statistics used by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011, the college graduation rate for single-race Pacific Islanders was 14 percent. By comparison, the single-race Asian college graduation rate was 50 percent. That's a huge difference: Asian Americans are three-and-a-half times more likely to graduate from college than Pacific Islander Americans. But when you lump the two groups together and look at "Asian and Pacific Islander" college graduation, the number is roughly 48 percent -- almost the same as the Asian rate, but over three times higher than the Pacific Islander graduation rate.


That very significant difference is obvious when we compare Asian and Pacific Islander college graduation rates, which is only possible when we view the data on both groups separately. When all you have is the "Asian Pacific Islander" data, those differences disappear before our eyes. Of course they don't really disappear - they just get ignored, because it's hard to solve a problem if you don't see that it exists.


In the next post I'll show more of the math behind these figures, using recent Census data.



Kawika

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Don't Blame Asians

One of the themes in our last post, as well as the next few entries, is that grouping Pacific Islanders with Asians in the "Asian Pacific Islander" category produces misunderstandings and misleading data. In this post I want to prevent a different type of misunderstanding before it occurs: the misunderstanding that Asian Americans are at fault for Pacific Islander exclusion from underrepresented minority (URM) academic programs.

Are Pacific Islanders excluded from most URM academic programs, even though we're underrepresented? Yes.

Does the misleading data that comes from grouping Pacific Islanders with Asians as "Asian Pacific Islanders" have something to do with that exclusion? I believe so, because when people assume that "Asian Pacific Islander" data accurately represents Pacific Islanders, they assume that Pacific Islanders, like Asians, aren't underrepresented in higher education.

But should Pacific Islanders focus our energy on blaming Asians for our exclusion from URM academic programs? I don't think so.

Don't blame Asian Americans - we don't.

At the risk of over-explaining, I want to be clear: the Pacific Islander Access project does not hold Asian Americans responsible for the fact that Pacific Islanders are excluded from most URM academic programs. We believe that Pacific Islanders and Asians should continue to work together for the betterment of both communities, and for our nation as a whole.

Here's the PIA project's stance:
  • We can get more done by focusing on who we need to educate, not who we can blame: Yes, it's a problem that Pacific Islanders are being mis-judged because of the use of "Asian Pacific Islander" data. And that misleading data plays a role in our exclusion from URM academic programs. But our focus should be on solving this problem. We will do this by focusing on who we need to educate, not who we can blame.
  • We don't hold Asian Americans responsible for Pacific Islander exclusion from URM academic programs: In fact, there are Asian American leaders, scholars, and organizations that have worked to raise awareness about Pacific Islander American underrepresentation in higher education. We would like to see more organizations that say they advocate for both Asians and Pacific Islanders speak up about 1.) the negative impacts of lumping the two groups together for data collection, and 2.) the need for URM academic programs to recognize that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented. But at the same time, we recognize that the leadership should come from within the Pacific Islander community.
  • We believe that Asians and Pacific Islanders should keep working together. We also don't think that every single "Asian Pacific American" organizations should automatically drop the "Pacific" from their names. If an organization represents and serves both Pacific Islanders and Asians, then I don't have a problem with them referring to both groups in their name. (If they claim to serve both groups but ignore Pacific Islanders, that's another story.) The PIA project will do more to reach out to Asian American and "Asian Pacific American" organizations this year, and I believe that we will find them to be some of the strongest supporters for ending Pacific Islander exclusion from URM academic programs.
Mahalo for reading.

Kawika