The Commission submitted a guest column to the International Examiner in August updating constituents about the work of Commissioners, staff, and community partners in supporting our strategic plan goals and objectives.

Below is an excerpt:

Community activists approached the governor four decades ago to develop awareness in state government of the unique needs and challenges of Asian Pacific Islanders (API). As a result, the first state commission in the nation was created to address barriers preventing full equality and inclusion for APIs.

In the decades since, the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA) has responded to a broad range of changing issues on behalf of a population with 48 ethnicities and hundreds of languages and dialects.

Today, the Commission remains committed to our responsibility to improve the lives of APIs, who are now our state’s most diverse and fastest growing communities.

Throughout the year, the staff examines statewide programs and services, which do or should affect APIs in the areas of government, education, health, business, and immigration.

Its 12 board members, who are appointed by the Governor, convene five times a year to hear from state agencies, community-based organizations, and the public.

Feedback from Commissioners and the public are used to recommend changes in programs and laws to the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and state agencies.

At the beginning of this year, the Commission approved a new strategic plan that guides our advocacy efforts. Below is an update of our progress and ongoing work.

Closing the Educational Opportunity Gaps

API communities are proud of the large numbers of youth who graduate high school and obtain a college degree. However, not all API students are succeeding. Educational resources, services, and policies too often fall short of providing an equitable opportunity for all students to achieve—creating an opportunity gap.

The Commission supports public engagement on education issues, which is vital to closing the gaps.

The Commission appointed two leaders to represent Asian American and Pacific Islander communities on the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC), which meets monthly to develop an implementation plan based on community input to address the gaps.

Their recommendations are published annually and include strategies such as reducing the impact of school discipline policies on students of color, increasing cultural competency of educators, and improving the quality of English language learner programs.

To increase public awareness of the gaps, the Commission has partnered with the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders Research in Education (CARE) to launch the Washington State iCount Report.

The report revealed disparities among APIs by reporting school data such as school discipline, absences, and educational attainment by ethnic groups. The report was presented at a community forum with CARE in March along with Pacific Islander youth from Our Future Matters and members of the Southeast Asian American Education Coalition—two grassroots groups working on closing the gaps.

Read the full column via the International Examiner’s website.