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Secretary Cardona Holds Virtual Roundtable with Members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community

This afternoon, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona held a virtual roundtable with members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to discuss their experiences during the pandemic and ongoing challenges related to education in their communities.

The participants included teachers, parents, and members of AAPI community organizations. They shared their personal experiences with the Secretary and provided feedback on ways the U.S. Department of Education (ED) can help address issues of racism, bullying, reopening schools for in-person learning, and supporting students’ social, emotional, academic, and mental health needs. Secretary Cardona launched the discussion and listened as the participants shared their stories:

“I hope that together we can create a culture around our country where we’re listening to the needs of our AAPI students, especially after this past year. I want to let you know that as long as I am Secretary, you have a partner at the Department and someone who wants to help lift all students—but in particular, right now we have to make sure that our AAPI students are feeling embraced, are feeling welcome, and are supported in this process.”

The participants shared the challenges they have faced as teachers or helping their own children with virtual learning during the pandemic; returning to school in person and dealing with the effects of lost socialization time for students; the increase in bullying and hate towards the AAPI community; and addressing safety issues.

One high school teacher said, “I have been teaching virtually this entire year until last week. We are just transitioning back into the classroom and I’ve noticed that our students have missed out on social/emotional support over this past year. I highly recommend an increase in the amount of mental health resources at the school level for all our students, counselors, and more supports for restorative justice, so that our students feel like they’re being supported in coming back. To start learning again, they have to first feel safe and welcomed and comfortable in the classroom, and again I think that begins with having increased mental health supports.”

Cardona closed the roundtable reaffirming his commitment to address these issues affecting the AAPI community. “In March, 61% of our AAPI 4th graders across the country were learning remotely, and a part of that is Asian families who are afraid to send their children back into an environment where they feel that they may be attacked verbally. We have to fix that. We have to be proactive about reaching out to our AAPI families and communities. There are groups that understand how to support those families; we need to do a better job connecting with those groups and bringing them into our schools, so that families feel trust with the system. I want to continue to partner and listen to make sure that all of our students across our country have a good experience. All students benefit when we lift up the voices of AAPI students and families.”

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