Four Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who’ve contributed to educational equity
Written by Aylin Cook
This May, the United States is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The monthlong celebration acknowledges and honors the influence of AAPIs across the country. Here at HopSkipDrive, we wanted to underscore the contributions of four Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have helped propel educational equity forward.
Patsy Mink, one of our HopSkipDrive heroes, was the first Asian-American and the first woman of color elected to the United States Congress. In Washington D.C., she represented Hawaii for a total of 24 years.
Congresswoman Mink made significant contributions to educational equity in her years as a public servant. In the 1960s, she pushed for federally-funded child care under the Early Childhood Education Act. Mink also worked on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. She was one of the authors of the Title IX Amendment, a watershed piece of legislation that prohibited sex-based discrimination by any federally-funded school or educational program.
In 2014, former President Barack Obama posthumously honored Mink with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Paul Fong is a Macau-born member of the California State Assembly. As a toddler, his family relocated to the San Francisco area.
As a California policymaker, Fong developed a reputation for his activism. He championed civil rights, affordable housing, environmental protection, and educational equity. Fong has also taught classes on Asian-American studies at DeAnza College, where he also studied and played football.
Best known for his run in the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, Andrew Yang is another Asian American who’s made contributions to educational equity.
After growing Manhattan Prep, a standardized test preparation company, Yang created a nonprofit fellowship named Venture for America. The program’s goal was to create better economic opportunities in American cities by spreading opportunities all over the country, not just in a few consolidated metropolises like Los Angeles and New York.
Yang is also a famous proponent of Universal Basic Income. Many proponents of UBI believe that the monthly stipend could improve educational equity by offering lower-income populations more educational and occupational opportunities.
Kaohly Her is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. Her legacy includes introducing several bills to boost funding for those learning the English language.
On her campaign website, Her reveals that her parents believed education was the way out of poverty. Her has promised to make education a top priority for all in Minnesota. She is working on increasing investment in early childhood education in particular.
“There were periods of my life where my family struggled financially,” said Her. “But my parents never gave up on the dream of what America could provide.”
These four Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are just four of the many AAPIs who have propelled American education forward. Looking for more information? There are tons of valuable resources about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including items from the Library of Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.