One of the key tenets of a strong democracy is the active participation of the people, in politics and civic life. The institutions that make up our government must work for its people, providing the means and opportunities for community members to lead productive, healthy lives. We know from the last four years that our democracy is fragile and for it to work its members must be able to voice concerns, act collectively and ultimately hold public officials accountable.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice - LA) is committed to ensuring our communities are informed on the issues that impact their daily lives. We also have a responsibility to provide them with a platform where they can actively participate in the legislative process. That’s why we join our partners at College for All Coalition to host our annual Advocacy Week.
Advocacy Week provides students and community members the opportunity to engage directly with California legislators on issues of education equity and access. This year’s program focused on passing a series of bills to ensure all California students have access to the same educational opportunities regardless of skin color or socio-economic status, and addressing the needs of first-generation students.
Before meeting one-on-one with policymakers, students and parents are briefed on the pending bills and given guidance on how to engage with lawmakers while advocating for the issues they care about. Additionally, to ensure our efforts are inclusive, a number of workshops and legislative meetings were conducted in Spanish.
Advancing Justice - LA's Education Equity Coordinator, Donna Tang, pictured with community members during a legislative meeting with Senator Bate's staff.
This year’s Advocacy Week was a huge success with more than 75 community members coming together to engage with more than 30 California legislative offices. Our legislative agenda included:
Improving financial aid literacy (AB 469) and (SB 737)
Simplifying the UC/CSU transfer process (AB 928)
Ensuring more students are eligible to apply to UC/CSU (SB 309)
Providing individualized support for students who struggled with distance learning (AB 104)
We have a duty to ensure public education works for all children -- not just a select few. To do this, we must hold our policy makers accountable and that requires an informed and engaged community. We must fight for social justice in our education system and this means advocating for increased access, affordability, diversity and equity at all levels and systems.
Advancing Justice - LA will continue its commitment to be a bridge for our community and legislative process by continuing to provide access, meaningful engagement and capacity development of our communities for self-advocacy and representation.