Minidoka National Historical Site
During World War II, over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were forcibly interned in remote, military-style camps set up by the U.S. government. Minidoka was one of the ten Japanese internment camps operating in World War II under Executive Order 9066, located in Jerome County, Idaho in a remote high desert area. The concentration camp site was established as a national historical monument in 2001 and as a national historical site in 2008.
Recently, there have been plans to run power lines through this historic site. While JACL recognizes that a power line could bring much needed energy to the citizens of Idaho and Nevada, we also advocate caution when dealing with such a historic site. JACL urges Secretary Ken Salazar of the United States Department of Interior and members of Congress to revise plans for the power line. The Minidoka National Historic Site serves not only as a historical landmark but as a crucial reminder to all Americans of how fragile our Constitution can be in times of crisis, and that we must be vigilant and true to the principles of our nation so that this episode is never repeated.
Wakamatsu Preservation Act
In 1869, seven Japanese citizens sailed to California to found the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony. This site is recognized by the state of California and the JACL as the first Japanese settlement in the United States. It is considered the location that brought together Japanese and American cultures, and established California as the gateway for Pacific immigration into the U.S.
On May 19, 2010, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on S. 1596, the Gold-Hill Wakamatsu Preservation Act. The act aims to preserve the location of the first Japanese American settlement. What makes this act even more pressing is that the Veerkamp family, which has maintained the land since 1875, wants to sell it. JACL believes federal acquisition of the land would help preserve this important landmark.
National Parks Service Grants
In 2006, Congress established the Japanese American Confinement Sites Program. This program calls for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. The goals of the program are to teach and inspire present and future generations about the injustice of the internment experience and to demonstrate the nation's commitment since that time for equal justice under the law.
This program allocates grants through a competitive process in a 2:1 ratio with private money. For every one dollar of private money used, the program will provide two dollars. In 2009, $1 million was appropriated to this program, with nineteen grants totaling $960,000 allocated. In the current fiscal year (2010), Congress has appropriated $3 million for the use of this grant program, with 23 grants totaling $2.9 million awarded.
These grants can and have been used for everything from re-establishing the historic Honor Roll at the Minidoka National Historic Site in Jerome County, ID ($17,295) to building the interior of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in Park County, Wyoming ($832,879). Recently the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) has been awarded a grant of $151,790 for a program called "Passing the Legacy Down: Youth Interpretations of Confinement Sites in the Western United States" which is based on and will include the Bridging Communities program run through the Pacific Southwest District. This will also include the Manzanar Relocation Center, Inyo County, CA, Tule Lake Relocation Center (Tule Lake Segregation Center), Modoc County, CA, Colorado River Relocation Center (Poston), La Paz County, AZ, Minidoka Relocation Center, Jerome County, ID.
Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009
Tule Lake was the largest and most secure Japanese American concentration camp during the World War II. It was also the longest running. With a peak population of 18,700, Tule Lake was the only camp turned into a high-security segregation center, ruled under martial law and occupied by the Army.
In December of 2008, President Bush designated Tule Lake as part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The JACL worked with the White House and the Department of Interior to conserve the Tule Lake site as part of the National Monument.
This Omnibus Act is a collection of more than 160 individual pieces of legislation that would designate millions of acres as wilderness areas, among other provisions. Of special significance to the JACL is that this act authorizes the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Northern California. The bipartisan Lake Tule legislation was sponsored by U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) along with Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Patty Murray (D-WA). Former Representative John Doolittle (R-CA) introduced companion House legislation in 2007 that was co-sponsored by Representatives Mike Honda (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
“Project: Community” is a high school leadership development program which runs for ten weeks. The goal of this project is to create a space for high school youth to learn more about themselves and their roles within the Japanese American community. A group of 15-20 students will participate in workshops that focus on developing leadership skills, identity, the importance of community, and grassroots organizing. During these workshops students will have a chance to meet and connect with inspirational community leaders on an intimate and personal level.
Congressional Gold Medals Bill
As WWII veterans age, JACL hopes to commemorate these heroes by passing the S. 1055 bill. Also known as the Gold Medals Bill, it looks to collectively grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service that honorably served the military amidst racial prejudice at home.
Inouye Fellow Jean Shiraki, WWII veterans Terry Shima and Grant Ichikawa, and former Mineta Fellow Phill Ozaki outside congressional offices ready to advocate for the S.1055 bill.
Texas School Board Revisions
On May 20, 2010, the Texas Board of Education made final revisions to its state social studies standards. The mostly conservative Texas school board made several controversial changes to the curriculum “[emphasizing] the roles of capitalist enterprise, the military, and Christianity and modern Republican political figures.” (New York Times). The JACL was particularly concerned by the framing of the Japanese American incarceration during WWII. By placing equal emphasis on the experience of Italian- and German Americans during the war, the proposed curriculum changes obscure the role of racism in the treatment of Japanese Americans. The JACL was also concerned that the proposed new curriculum made no mention of the all-Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) or the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) linguists, which both served their country with distinction. The Texas School Board’s decisions are of national importance because Texas is one of the largest textbook purchasers in the country, meaning textbook manufacturers will often change their content to reflect the Texas state curriculum.
On June 26, 2010 Houston-area residents (Donna Cole, Glen Gondo, Dr. Abbie Grubb, Sandra Tanamachi, and Linda Toyota) convince the school board to grant a more inclusive role to Japanese Americans in the new curriculum.
In light of these concerns many organizations such as the JACL and JAVA initiated letter writing campaigns to change the proposed amendments prior to the final vote. Due to these efforts and the testimonies given at the public hearing in Austin, the school board voted to change the curriculum to include the 442nd RCT and to address Executive Order 9066.
South Philadelphia High
On December 3, 2009, over 20 Asian American high school students were attacked in South Philadelphia High School by their peers throughout the school day, with several sent to the hospital for medical assistance. South Philadelphia High School has a high Asian American and Asian immigrant population (18%), and a history of racial violence against them. For years, staff and administrators at South Philadelphia High School have failed to address the multiple incidents of racial intimidation, harassment and violence. The school and district must be held accountable for allowing harassment against any student go unaddressed and for creating an environment that allowed the assaults against these students to occur on December 3rd. Every child, regardless of their race or national origin, has the right to feel safe in their school.
AANAPISI (Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institute) Grant
In 2008, the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education provided approximately $10 million to six Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI). The AANAPISI program provides grants to eligible colleges and universities that service a large number of both low income and AAPI students. These grants can be used in a variety of ways to help expand their services (mainly focused on AAPIs). Colleges and universities that have received the AANAPISI grant have made astounding progress in constructing learning facilities, programs and courses relevant to the AAPI student community. On July 17, 2009, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) was introduced to the senate. This bill (H.R 3221), will designate $5 million per year for AANAPISI.
Reauthorization and Amendment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
ESEA (previously known as No Child Left Behind) is a comprehensive educational funding act. First enacted in 1965, it provides educational funds to low income communities as designated by the census. The act is vital to the health of many indigent and lower income school districts, but plays an important role in other school systems as well.
The Committee on Education and Labor is taking the initiative to seek bipartisan reform and recommendations from the public. In order to ensure that the educational needs of all AAPIs are met, JACL supports amendments in accordance to the following issues:
I. Disaggregated Research and Data
II. Educational Services and Assessment for All English Language Learners
III. School Intervention and Innovation for Struggling Students
IV. Safe School Environment for All Students
V. Integration and Discrimination
VI. Diversity in Education Workforce
VII. Parental Involvement
- Disaggregated Research and Data
- The ESEA works on a needs based system, which requires research and data in order to determine the needs of certain groups of students. The disaggregation of data by race, gender, disability, language and economic status is a thorough method to determine the needs of students; however, we believe that the AAPI community could better benefit from the further breakdown of the category of race into ethnicity. Empirical research and aggregate test data on AAPI students often reinforce the “model minority myth.” In reality, the AAPI category is comprised of individuals with incredibly diverse backgrounds, experiences, educational achievement and needs.
- Require states and school districts with significant proportions of AAPI students to collect, report, and utilize achievement and education attainment data that is disaggregated by ethnicity to better reflect the real experiences and needs of individual AAPI ethnic student subgroups.
- Educational Services and Assessments for all English Language Learners
- The United States is made up of an incredibly diverse population, many of which must learn English as their second language. Nearly one out of four AAPI students is an English Language Learner (ELL) and/or lives in a linguistically isolated household where one or more parents have limited English proficiency. As of now, there is no universal requirement for providing services to ELLs. We believe that the ESEA should be amended to provide funding in order to support, create, and encourage multilingual programs, assessments and teachers so that minorities will receive a more equitable education.
- Create and fund policies for states and school districts to develop, implement, and maintain funding for robust bilingual programs.
- Encourage school districts to improve the processes for assessing newly enrolled students for ELL services and for identifying when ELL students become proficient in English.
- Increase the resources for the preparation and training of all teachers with ELL students, as well as increasing and diversifying the number of ELL specialists.
- Increase the resources available to ensure cultural competence of teachers working with AAPI students.
- Provide incentives for states to develop and utilize native language assessments for ELL populations that utilize population triggers at the district or county level to determine mandated use.
- Mandate and provide funds for states to develop accountability systems that are based on multiple measures in addition to testing.
- Ensure that school accountability systems are designed to bring additional resources to diverse school populations, instead of diverting resources.
- School Interventions and Innovation for Struggling Schools
- While we strongly support the NCLBs goal of helping struggling students, we also believe that any school intervention must be in the best interest of students, parents, and community members. NCAPA believes that in school intervention, ESEA should require schools, districts, and states to create programs to monitor and support all students at-risk of dropping out to ensure that such students are not illegally discharged, pushed out, or faced with a loss of services through the intervention process. The ESEA must also ensure that intervention does not reduce the number of seats available in a particular school and that new schools enroll and serve the student populations of the communities in which these schools are located.
- Require schools, districts, and states to create programs to closely monitor and support students at-risk of dropping out, including ELL students, to ensure that such students are not illegally discharged, pushed out, or faced with a loss of services through the intervention process.
- Ensure that intervention does not reduce the number of seats available in a particular school and that new schools enroll and serve the student populations of the communities in which these schools are located.
- Safe School Environments for All Students
- If a student does not feel safe in their environment, they will not be able to get the most out of their education. In order to contribute positively to a safe school environment we recommend that ESEA requires schools to take additional steps to prevent, keep records of, and report bullying and harassment. To further this, ESEA should require schools to create and/or support programs within the school that are run by community-based organizations and that are meant to increase inclusiveness and educate school administrators, teachers, staff, and students about issues of diversity.
- Require schools to take additional steps to prevent, keep records of, and report bullying and harassment.
- Require schools to create and/or support programs within the school that are run by community-based organizations and that are meant to increase inclusiveness and educate school administrators, teachers, staff, and students about issues of diversity.
- Integration and Discrimination
- Our nation should be committed to ensuring that all students are welcomed at school, regardless of immigration status, that students from all neighborhoods, regardless of wealth, have a real opportunity to achieve, and that our schools are integrated. ESEA should create and fund policies that promote school integration, equitable school funding, and the elimination of achievement gaps. In addition, ESEA should enforce the restriction of immigration status inquiries (banned in Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe).
- Create and fund policies that promote school integration, adequate and equitable school funding, and the elimination of achievement gaps.
- Ensure that schools are rigorously following the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe and are not inquiring, directly or indirectly, into immigration status.
- Diversity in the Education Workforce
- AAPIs are under-represented in the teaching profession at a time when diversity is important in welcoming a diverse student body to our public schools. While Asian American students make up 4.4% of the student population, Asian American teachers only represent 2% of teachers nationwide. To remedy this disproportionate the ESEA should provide resources that will help schools recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects the makeup of local student populations.
- Provide resources that will help schools recruit and retain a diverse workforce that reflects the makeup of local student populations.
- Parent Involvement
- In order to ensure that schools are accountable to our students, parents need to be fully engaged. According to the 2000 Census, one out of four AAPI households is linguistically isolated. Without the proper culturally and linguistically appropriate services, AAPI parents may not be able to fully engage with their child’s education. We believe that ESEA needs to prepare multilingual services for parents, fund policies that will get the parents more involved and provide home school counselors.
- Provide funding for school districts to provide mandated interpretation for important school meetings and translation services for school documents.
- Create and fund policies that require schools to implement parental-involvement plans that are culturally compatible and linguistically accessible.
- Support policies and funding for communities to engage parents in local schools.
- Fully fund schools to provide culturally and linguistically competent home-school counselors.