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NEA Recognizes Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with Tool for Educators

WASHINGTON - May 01, 2008 -

The nation will celebrate the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in May, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  During the annual observance, the National Education Association is offering educators a tool that provides a snapshot of the API experience in the classroom: Focus On: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Out of the Past, In the Present, Toward the Future.

“We know that schools are becoming increasingly diverse,” said Reg Weaver, president of NEA.  “Diversity is – and has always been – one of this country’s greatest strengths. So we embrace that diversity and emphasize the importance of cultural understanding.  When education employees know something about students’ culture or background, they can incorporate culture into the classroom and make adjustments in teaching techniques to accommodate cultural differences, creating schools that are more inclusive.”

Focus On: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is one of a series of publications dedicated to diverse student groups.  It is available online and provides a wealth of information, including:

• How API Students Differ from One Another: Factors such as English proficiency, length of U.S. residency and income can affect a student’s achievement.  Getting to know the individual backgrounds and histories of API students and their families goes a long way in addressing their educational needs.

• Gaps in Student Achievement: The “model minority myth” promotes the false assumption that all APIs succeed in school.  Focus On highlights research that identifies which API students are likely to thrive academically and which students might need help.

• API School Personnel: Asian Pacific Islanders face social, financial, cultural, and linguistic barriers in trying to enter the field of education.  Perhaps due to these factors, the number of API school personnel has not kept pace with the number of API students in the U.S.  Focus On offers helpful advice on recruiting and retaining API educators.

“The usefulness of this resource is not just limited to educators,” added Weaver.  “We encourage parents and community members to also read Focus On to help them better understand and help API children and the API community.”

In addition to Focus On, NEA offers online lesson ideas for educators to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  NEA also provides suggested API book lists for students in grades K-12.

To download Focus On: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

To view lesson ideas and API book lists for K-12 students:

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Ramona Parks-Kirby  (202) 822-7823