Atlanta shootings: Anti-Asian violence rising in schools, too

Shootings heighten community fears just as school systems are shift to more in-person instruction
By: | March 18, 2021

In the wake of the shooting deaths of eight people in Atlanta-area spas, advocates are also raising alarm about anti-Asian violence in schools and colleges.

The shooting spree is the latest horrendous tragedy in an an ever growing wave of mass violence in our country, Executive Director Felice J. Levine and President Shaun R. Harper, of the American Educational Research Association, said in a statement.

“There have been increasing occurrences of racism and violence against Asian, Pacific Islander, and Asian American students and colleagues at U.S. schools and higher education institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Levine and Harper said. “Discrimination and racism in educational settings harm not only the academic experiences of those directly impacted but all community members.”

While overall hate crimes dropped by 7% in 2020, hate crimes against Asian Americans in the largest 16 U.S. cities spiked by nearly 150%, they said, citing data released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

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The shootings have heightened fears in communities just as most school systems are shifting toward more in-person instruction, Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, said in his statement.

“This violence opens a fresh wound in our society that is affecting the efforts of our administrators, building leaders, teachers and other educators who are working diligently every single day to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of our young learners while trying to eliminate the learning loss that has taken place over the past year,” Domenech said.

“AASA remains committed to equity, working to prepare and support school system leaders who value equity, and to dismantling systemic racism and discrimination. We remain committed to support the efforts of our school districts to ensure that the safety and welfare of all students and staff remains a top priority.”

But simply condemning an act of white supremacist terrorism is not enough, The New Teacher Project, also known as TNTP, said in its statement.

“For too long, our institutions—including the public education system—have treated Asian Americans as a “model minority,” a monolith not worthy of care, value, and attention,” TNTP said. “This perception is inaccurate—and it’s also dangerous.

The organization called on advocates, including schools and educators, to better support and value the diverse communities that comprise the Asian American population.

“We commit, in our own work and with school system partners, to lift up the voices of Asian American students and families as they combat not only this wave of violence, but the unique educational challenges they face as more schools reopen,” the organization said.