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Asian advocate group calls for better college opportunities for all Californians

Civil rights organization releases open letter and statement of principles calling on state legislature to expand public higher education for all students

Los Angeles, Connie Lo, health programs educator for Advancing Justice – LA, speaks intently with Ping Zhu and her daughter Xiwen Jiang.(photo courtesy of http://advancingjustice-la.org/)

Los Angeles, Connie Lo, health programs educator for Advancing Justice – LA, speaks intently with Ping Zhu and her daughter Xiwen Jiang.(photo courtesy of http://advancingjustice-la.org/)

LOS ANGELES – Today, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles called on the leadership of the state legislature to expand educational opportunity for all California students, especially those who are disadvantaged and underserved, in light of the news that, upon the request of State Senator Ed Hernandez, Assembly Speaker John Perez has sent Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5 back to the Senate without taking action on the bill. News stories also reported that Speaker Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg plan to create a task force to examine admission to California’s public universities.

In response, Advancing Justice – LA released an open letter to Speaker Perez, Senate President pro Tem Steinberg, and other members of the state legislature urging the legislature to focus on expanding educational opportunities for all California students.

“After decades of disinvestment, California’s public colleges and universities are in crisis,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of Advancing Justice-LA. “Now is the time for a broad, bold, and inclusive solution to this problem – one that must necessarily expand the pie for all California students such as through expanding college slots, instead of just redistributing currently limited resources.”

The open letter calls on the legislative leadership to appoint a joint legislative committee that addresses the broader issues of educational access and success, instead of focusing narrowly on admissions. Advancing Justice – LA also urges the speaker and Senate president pro tem to appoint a committee that reflects the diversity of the state – including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – and to hold hearings throughout the state, to ensure a broad range of input.

“In the past five years, California has cut its spending on public higher education by nearly 30 percent, while also increasing tuition and fees,” said Mike Eng, member of the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District. “Unfortunately, our public colleges and universities have not kept pace with our state’s rapidly growing youth population or economic realities, and we are at risk of losing an entire generation of students to the lack of sufficient higher education opportunities. It’s time to re-set the clock – we cannot just keep adjusting the dial and making superficial fixes.”

In addition, Advancing Justice- LA also released a statement of principles that further articulates the organization’s vision for ensuring greater access for all California students to public higher education. These principles include:

  • Reversing disinvestment in public higher education
  • Finding common ground among all impacted communities
  • Ensuring more slots for all California students
  • Better preparing more high school students for college
  • Better retaining enrolled college students
  • Making higher education more affordable
  • Addressing racial discrimination
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion
  • Advancing Justice – LA is convening a multiracial coalition that supports this broader approach to college access and success, and calls on concerned community leaders and members to contact Speaker Perez and Senate President pro Tem Steinberg to express support for this broader proposal to expand educational opportunities for all students.

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