Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on Friday that would have changed the way California collects data on Asian-Americans.
Introduced by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Assembly Bill AB-176 aimed to revise state guidelines to include more groups from the diverse Asian and Pacific Islander communities. State forms, for instance, could have been expanded to include separate categories for Hmong, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Thai, and others, rather than lumping all these groups under "Asian."
Civil rights group Asian-Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) criticized the decision, saying that data is meaningless unless it addresses nuances among the different ethnic groups.
In a press release, AAAJ said that, "The data was sought to help policymakers, businesses, and community leaders better address the wide education and health disparities that exist across the spectrum of AAPI ethnic groups."
While it has been long reported that Asian-Americans have above-average test scores and enroll in college at high rates, a closer look reveals a steep disparity between specific ethnic groups. While 70 percent of Indians over 25 years of age have a bachelor's degree or higher, only 10 percent of Laotian adults have similar degrees, reports NBC News.
The differences extend to socio-economic status as well. While the median income for an Asian household is $71,709, the figure falls below the national average, $53,000, for Hmong, Cambodian, and Bangladeshi households, reports ThinkProgress.
In a letter explaining his decision, Brown said that he understood that disaggregated data could “help elucidate how our laws and programs can be shaped to reflect a changing population,” but concluded that he was “wary of the ever growing desire to stratify.”
“To focus on ethic identity may not be enough,” wrote Brown.