Report: School district reclassifies Asian students as white due to their academic success


LACEY, WA – Despite our world full of beautiful diversity and hues, some educational institutions are categorizing people as a color on a palette. Now, we’re seeing one district in Washington assign some a new label and pigmentation based on academic success.

A Lacey district decided that Asian students were no longer considered people of color, so they were booted to the category of white students for purposes of an “equity report.”

Why? because they were performing well in the public-school system.

The North Thurston Public School District has offended the Asian-American community, which was spun onto a new spot on the color wheel. The district then removed the controversial 2019 “Monitoring Student Growth” report from its website, although it can be viewed as an archived file.

After the negative reaction, even outrage, by the Asian-American community, the district released a statement that attempted to justify its action of recategorizing Asian students as white:

“One of our district’s Strategic Plan goals is Continuous Growth – All Students, All Subjects. One of the outcomes we are working towards in this goal is to have an ‘increased growth rate of underperforming groups eliminating achievement and opportunity gaps.’

“For this reason, in one of our online documents from 2019, titled ‘Monitoring Student Growth,’ we evaluated the achievement data by ‘Students of Color’ and ‘Students of Poverty.’

“In the document we grouped White and Asian students together.

“Upon reflection and response by members of the Asian-American community, we will change how we look at achievement data and appreciate the feedback we received.

“We apologize for the negative impact we have caused and removed the monitoring report from our website.”

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The statement continued:

“We feel it is important to continue the practice of disaggregating data, so we make equity-based decisions.

When we reviewed our disaggregated data it showed that our district is systemically meeting the instructional needs of both our Asian and White students and not meeting the instructional needs for our Black, Indigenous, Multi-racial, Pacific Islander and Latinx students.

“The intent was never to ignore Asian students as ‘students of color’ or ignore any systemic disadvantages they too have faced. We continue to learn and grow in our work with equity as a public-school system and we will ensure that we learn from this and do better in the future.

“We welcome additional feedback and ideas for our district moving forward in this very urgent work. Send to [email protected]

It appears the school district did not consult the University of California, which has detailed categories on how to label students.

It also gets dicey when a person’s color is associated with either failure or success.

The controversial “Monitoring Student Growth” report, which was removed from the district’s website, stated:

“At North Thurston Public School, our vision is clear: All students empowered and future-ready. Ensuring success for all students means we must examine the impact of opportunity gaps and work to ensure we close these gaps.

“The data visualizations below present an at-a-glance look at how our students are doing overall as well as an examination of opportunity gaps for historically underserved students of color and students who are experiencing poverty.

“Beside each icon, we present an overall baseline-to-current graphic which represents all students. Next to that is a visualization of opportunity gaps by race as well as income.

“Students of Color compares outcomes for Asian and White students who identify as Black, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Multi-racial students, all of whom have experienced persistent opportunity gaps in our society.

“Students of Poverty is a visualization of opportunity gaps for students experiencing poverty, as measured by qualification for free or reduced price meals.”

One paragraph in this report is confusing as it mentions “Asian and White students who identify as Black, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Multi-racial students,” but does not clarify if the district has identified Asian and white students who do not identify with these categories:

“Students of Color compares outcomes for Asian and White students who identify as Black, Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Multi-racial students, all of whom have experienced persistent opportunity gaps in our society.”

The report and graphs the school provided made several people question the purpose of recategorizing Asian students as white.

Did the removal of Asian students from Students of Color intentionally increase the performance gap between white students and all those of color? Would another gap be found between white students and Asian students?

Others felt the performance shortcomings were stemming from the school rather than the students.

In a Slate article, Rachelle Hampton, who identifies as black, wrote about the evolution of the phrase “people of color.”

She noted it went from a gesture of solidarity and respect to a cover for avoiding the complexities of race:

“But for all the good intentions behind it, the success of people of color has brought with it a strong potential for misuse. In our modern discourse, the phrase has come to be thought of as both the most courteous way to refer to a nonwhite person and a signal that its user is down for the cause of racial justice.

“It has become depressingly common for a well-meaning white person to, despite my fairly conspicuous self-identification as black, refer to me as a woman or writer of color. In that choice lies an uneasiness, either with referring to me as black—despite its accuracy—or with the potential of misidentification of my race.

“In either case, person of color on some level serves to make the (typically white) speaker feel better, rather than me, the person whom the terminology is theoretically for.

“In many spaces, the term functions now as performative fauxgressive politeness—as one of the many buzzwords such as intersectionality or systemic that one can drop, with little understanding, to display her wokeness.

“In its presence, more accurate terminology is forgone because it feels easier and safer (mainly for white people) to just say people of color.”

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