Saturday, March 30, 2013

OUSD Continues Its Demographic Transformation

The face of Oakland is continuing its rapid transformation as gentrification draws new families to the area and displaces others.

I crunched the numbers for the past 20 years and came up with a pretty interesting chart showing how Oakland Unified's enrollment has changed. I suspect this is a common theme across all big California cities. But still, I'm not sure people in the Bay Area realize the extent of the transformation.

Here is a chart of OUSD enrollment by ethnicity since 1993 (click to enlarge):

Since the year 2000, the change is striking. Total enrollment is down about 15 percent, while black enrollment has dropped almost in half. Meanwhile, Hispanic enrollment is up about 23 percent, and white enrollment has climbed 40 percent.

This is not a step-function change. It's ongoing. In just the last year, Hispanic enrollment went up 2 percent, while black enrollment dropped 5 percent. In fact, pretty much every year OUSD's black enrollment drops by about 500 students. White enrollment increased almost 5 percent in the past year.

I'm not sure what all these changes mean. I do know that large areas of Oakland suffer from reduced residential values almost completely because of the school system (crime plays a role as well, but schools are the controlling factor).

Scores are improving, and that is probably causing more upper-income families to consider sending their kids to public schools. Meanwhile this huge demographic shift is underway.

One other thing I'd note is that some of the top-API schools in Oakland are charters, including the very successful KIPP school, which has almost 100 percent minority students. Point being, looking at ethnicity doesn't tell the whole story by any means.

Given this backdrop of improving conditions, it would be great to see Oakland open magnet middle and high schools.

Oakland Housing Bubble Back?

Amid the constant reports of burglaries, murders and other crime problems in Oakland, it's surprising to see Oakland in the middle of housing bidding wars.

Here's an article you should check out. I'm not sure it's particularly actionable, but it's interesting nonetheless.

A couple key quotes:
Buyers looking at homes priced at $1 million and above in the Oakland area are bidding 20 percent to 40 percent above list price, Garner said.

To drum up sellers for her buyers, Garner's getting in touch with the owners of last year's expired listings. She also advises buyers to talk to their friends, and at community gatherings like farmer's markets she puts out the word that it's a sellers' market.

The buyer had made an offer on a home but lost out when the home sold for $400,000 more than the list price. Her client could have afforded to purchase at that price, but got cold feet about paying so much above the list price -- about 30 percent -- and dropped out.

I believe a key background to all of this is the rapid progress of gentrification in the area.