Filipino != Asian in California?
October 24, 2012 12:35 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the origin of why, in California schools, the state has a a separate ethnic classification of "Filipino" yet major ethnicities like Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans are lumped into an "Asian" subgroup?

California measures academic performance using an API (Academic Performance Index).

The state keeps track of API subgroups scores, with subgroups defined as the following ethnic and socioeconomic categories:
- Black or African American
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Asian (i.e., Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian, Laotian, Cambodian, Other Asian, or Hmong)
- Filipino
- Hispanic or Latino
- Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (i.e., Native Hawaiian, Guamanian, Samoan, or Tahitian)
- White
- Two or More Races
- Socioeconomically Disadvantaged
- English Learners
- Students with Disabilities

What was the reason why "Filipino" was broken out separately from "Asian"?
posted by jaimev to Education (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A guess- because there are proportionately enough Filipino students to warrant their own category? As opposed to. For example, lao students?
posted by jojobobo at 12:39 AM on October 24, 2012

Perhaps because the Philippines was an American possession for several decades?
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 12:39 AM on October 24, 2012 [12 favorites]

Presumably because Filipino folks have been exposed to (at least theoretically) three different languages growing up: English, Spanish and Tagalog.

Theoretically, at least, other "Asians" have not.

However, racial and ethnic profiling is inherently contradictory in nature, so who knows?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:41 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to the U.S. Department of Education's website regarding reporting data by race or ethnicity,

"Additional racial or ethnic categories that are sub-categories of the categories used in the two-part question may be used if the educational institution collecting the data deems such distinctions valuable. For example, if there is a large population of Asians and differentiation of the multiple subcategories is worthwhile to the State or other educational institution, data within those sub-categories may be collected."

So I assume that California found that Filipinos made up a large enough impact under the "Asian" category that would allow them to form their own sub-category.
posted by QueenHawkeye at 12:52 AM on October 24, 2012

A guess- because there are proportionately enough Filipino students to warrant their own category? As opposed to. For example, lao students?

This report contains the proportions of categories for contributing schools.
posted by kithrater at 12:55 AM on October 24, 2012

My understanding is that for a long time, Filipinos enjoyed a special agreement allowing them to enlist in the US military directly--no green card--and become naturalized later. And, building on fantabulous's comment, the substantial US presence in the Philippines for so many years probably yielded a lot of naturalized spouses. And Guam probably figures in here somehow as a US territory with so many Filipino residents.

So ... wild guess ... it seems possible that the socialization process for Filipino students was typically very different from other Asian immigrant populations, historically meriting separate tracking for educational assessment purposes.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:14 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I had a colleague from Singapore ask me this question last week when we were talking about high school dropout rates in the US and California. I don't know the history behind it (and I'm curious if anyone here does), but my sense is that the whole point of tracking education performance data by these subgroups is to look for trends where different groups show differing performance. So if a district boosts its scores among most students, but its Filipino students went significantly in the other direction (assuming a large enough sample to make comparisons meaningful and ignoring all the meaninglessness inherent in standardized tests), administrators are probably going to want to look for potential causes, or at least be aware of the shift in the name of educational equality, etc... It might be an indication that schools should be conducting more parent and community outreach in the local Filipino community, and in some communities that could involve producing translated materials and/or running parent meetings in another language.

Looking at the 2012 Growth API data for California, there were 124,824 Filipino students included in the report, compared to, say, 31,606 American Indian/Alaska Native or 26,563 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. Filipinos are a large population in California, and statewide, their academic performance has historically been somewhat lower than the Asian group as a whole. As such, it's useful to collect the data and report it separately. Breaking out smaller groups like, say, Cambodian would lead to anonymity and sample size problems, especially since the data gets presented at the school and grade levels. There might be a single student who identifies as Cambodian in grades 7-8 in a particular school or even district, and publishing his/her score is both unfair and useless in actually concluding something about the school. Plus, in a country like ours, the smaller you slice the ethnic groups, the more likely you are to get people who identify as "part Cambodian, part Lao, part Hmong, part Norwegian, and I think I'm Barack Obama's 17th cousin 3 times removed," and that's very hard to bubble on a scantron sheet.

From another, more cultural, perspective, I sort of feel like a number of Filipino-Americans wouldn't really think of "Asian" as quite the right bucket (and feel free to tell me if I'm dead wrong here. I'm very much not Filipino and this isn't a topic I really discuss with the Filipino-Americans I know). Culturally, the Philippines have historically been more associated with the Pacific islands and Austronesia, plus Spain and the rest of the Western world compared to, say, Japan, China, and Korea. The Filipino-American immigrant experience, especially in California, has also differed historically from many other Asian ethnicity, largely through US military service and the ties between the Philippines and the US. Filipinos represent the second largest group of immigrants to California each year (after those from Mexico), so it's useful to everyone to look at how such a fast growing population is doing in school.

I bet the California Dropout Research Project folks could give you a great answer if you asked.
posted by zachlipton at 1:33 AM on October 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

zachlipton, I don't live in California, but the Filipinos I know consider themselves Asian.
posted by vasi at 3:09 AM on October 24, 2012

The answer is simpler. Filipinos, for the most part, speak Spanish. No other Asian groups do.
posted by yclipse at 4:01 AM on October 24, 2012

yclipse, we don't speak Spanish, we speak Tagalog and many other dialects. They are not similar to Spanish. The educational system in the Philippines teaches English and Tagalog, not Spanish.
posted by elisse at 4:48 AM on October 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

Yeah, to back up elisse: I'm not Filipina, but when I lived in the Philippines, there was no Spanish (except my Spanish class at the school on base.) And of course Spanish and Tagalog don't sound anything alike.
posted by Andrhia at 5:44 AM on October 24, 2012

I collect this sort of data for a state agency. What QueenHawkeye said is the right answer. There are mandated minimum options, but in instances where the population in question requires a smaller grain size you may provide more specific options so long as they can be rolled up into the larger categories. You will generally see this when a service area has a critical mass of a particular population that requires differential service or policy considerations.
posted by cgk at 6:25 AM on October 24, 2012

I don't live in California, but the Filipinos I know consider themselves Asian.
I do live in CA (in fact, I grew up in a town that was had a huge Filipino population) and it varied. Some considered themselves Asian, some considered themselves Pacific Islander, and some both. Like so much in life, it varies from person to person.

(Also: A lot of my Pacific Islander students didn't consider themselves Asian, but PI is often included in the Asian subgroup.)
posted by smirkette at 7:23 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I am not Filipino, but I have spent extensive time in Asia Pacific, including living in the Philippines.

2 forces are at work here:

- Philippines is located in Asia, but Filipino students in the U. S. do not succeed at the same rates as almost all other Asians do. This is a source of great educational concern, as a group with such a large presence in the U. S. immigration mix is getting left behind. This has an affect on American economic future, particularly at the state level.

- Filipinos are unique from Asia in many ways: Spanish and American rule, Tagalog language closer to Pacific languages than Chinese/korean/Japanese, culturally very different than north Asia, in fact attitudes of Filipinos resemble Latin countries a lot more than Asian countries, Catholicism being the dominant religion has had a tremendous impact, no other Asian country had Catholicism as the main religion.

Therefore, Filipinos find sometimes very little to identify with "Asians" from Japan, Korea, China - and, many of such Asians openly discriminate association against Filipinos, so they are made "different" from both sides.

The culture and the people of the Phillipines genuinely deserve their own category and place in both Asia and in the U. S., being unique on so many fronts.
posted by Kruger5 at 9:36 AM on October 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

The answer is simpler. Filipinos, for the most part, speak Spanish. No other Asian groups do.

This is wildly incorrect. The only Filipinos who speak Spanish are a handful of wealthy elite families and those who learn it as a foreign language in school or university.
posted by Falconetti at 9:49 AM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks smirkette, sorry if I was making assumptions based on my own (limited) experience.
posted by vasi at 11:19 AM on October 24, 2012

I was in a long term relationship with a Filipino girl in Texas, and she and her family were very adamant that they were Polynesian, NOT Asian.
posted by hypersloth at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2012

Not sure what the culture is like in California but as an Asian American I've observe that Filipino culture is different than Chinese/Japanese/Korean.
posted by jeahc at 11:44 AM on October 24, 2012

Not sure what the culture is like in California but as an Asian American I've observe that Filipino culture is different than Chinese/Japanese/Korean.
I've spent time in China, Japan, Korea, and in the Philippines and I can easily say all the cultures are as equally distinct from each other as the other. Even with casual familiarity you'd never mistake one for the other. This is an entirely legitimate question.
posted by Ookseer at 4:54 PM on October 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

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