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.

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