Oakland Prides Itself on Being Diverse — Until It Comes Time to Send Kids to School

Celia Fragoso, 7, walks with her mother, Marina Muñoz, through their Oakland neighborhood of Sobrante Park on Aug. 26, 2016, on the way to Madison Park Academy, where Celia attends school. (Brittany Hosea-Small/KQED)

Walking her daughter to school in their neighborhood of Sobrante Park in East Oakland, Marina Muñoz passes an old mattress on the curb and several abandoned cars. Then she crosses an empty lot covered with old clothes and smelly trash.

“Here in East Oakland, we are all poor,” says Muñoz in Spanish. “Poor in everything, including education.”

Oakland prides itself on diversity. Students in the district’s public and charter schools are 44 percent Latino, 26 percent African-American, 13 percent Asian and 9.7 percent white. But only a handful of its public schools fully reflect the district’s diversity. They are more likely to look like their own neighborhoods, which are largely segregated by race and class. That’s due in large part to the district’s enrollment policy.

Muñoz’s kids’ school, Madison Park Academy, reflects the neighborhood. It’s 95 percent Latino and African-American, and almost all the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch. More than half the kids in elementary school are English learners. Latino kids make up the biggest ethnic group in Oakland’s public schools. They’re also the most isolated from other races and the most concentrated in high-poverty schools, here and across the state.

Seven-year-old Celia Fragoso walks through her neighborhood in Madison Park in the morning on her way to Sobrante Park Elementary in Oakland on Aug. 26, 2016.
Celia Fragoso, 7, walks through the Oakland neighborhood of Sobrante Park on her way to Madison Park Academy on Aug. 26, 2016. (Brittany Hosea-Small/KQED)

The principal at Madison Park Academy has made a lot of improvements in recent years, with a health clinic and wraparound services for kids and families. Still, the school has larger-than-average class sizes and low test scores, compared with the top-tier schools in the district.

That bothers Muñoz. She’s convinced her kids are not receiving the same quality education as kids in the wealthy Oakland hills. One of the most frustrating moments for her was last year, when her son was a junior in high school. She said he had a substitute teacher in one of his classes for months.

“He would say, ‘They’re not even teaching me anything. Mom, come get me, I’m not doing anything,’ ” Muñoz said. “How are we going to send our kids to college if we don’t have well-trained teachers?”

Integrating schools is one way to give kids of color and low-income kids the same educational experience that white and wealthy kids are getting. But in California most school districts haven’t attempted to integrate, unless they they’ve been taken to court. Oakland is no exception. It offers a semblance of choice: Parents have to turn in six options for schools. But the district gives priority first to siblings, and then to families who live in the neighborhood.

Muñoz never even considered sending her children to one of the top-performing schools in the Oakland hills. When she first moved here from Mexico, it took her two months to even figure out how to enroll her kids, let alone send them to a school outside her neighborhood.

Abandoned trash sits along the sidewalk and in an empty lot on 105th Avenue in the Madison Park neighborhood in Oakland on Aug. 26, 2016.
Abandoned trash sits along the sidewalk and in an empty lot on 105th Avenue in the Sobrante Park neighborhood of Oakland on Aug. 26, 2016. (Brittany Hosea-Small/KQED)

“I didn’t have a car, and it would have been too hard to walk far, or pay for the bus,” Muñoz said. “We wouldn’t have had enough money for food.”

Transportation is a serious issue in this district. Oakland Unified doesn’t offer free travel to get to a school outside your neighborhood, like some other districts. District officials say it would be too costly.

Even if Muñoz could get to a top-performing school in the hills, many of those schools wouldn’t have space for her kids because they fill up with kids from their own neighborhoods, which are mostly white and wealthy.

“I feel very strongly that there needs to be a conversation and a system put in place to desegregate the schools,” said former Oakland teacher Tanya Harris.

Harris used to teach at one of the top-performing schools in the district, Crocker Highlands Elementary. It’s a wealthy neighborhood, where the median home price is now more than $1 million. After teaching at Crocker Highlands for five years, Harris began working at schools in high-poverty neighborhoods, like where Marina Muñoz lives.

“And I would drive down that hill and past those beautiful, huge homes and tree-lined streets and I would get on the freeway, and get off and … it brought tears to my eyes. I thought, it’s like I live in a Third World country,” Harris said.

Harris says that stark inequity of poverty and wealth creates a two-tiered system of access.

“Access to everything,” Harris said. “Access to health care, dental care and eyeglasses, access to, obviously, jobs, access to grocery stores, access to the educational experience that kids and families deserve in order to interrupt these continuous cycles of poverty.”

A view of houses along Grosvenor Place in the neighborhood known as Crocker Highlands in Oakland.
A view of houses along Grosvenor Place in the neighborhood known as Crocker Highlands in Oakland. (Brittany Hosea-Small/KQED)

And at wealthy schools?

“At Crocker, our kids had access to all kinds of enrichment. There was so much teacher autonomy for us to teach how we wanted to teach, and art was an integral part of everything we did. It was really hands-on, and kids did really amazing things,” Harris said.

She says at other schools there was less parent fundraising to provide resources and materials for those kinds of enrichment projects.

Back in 2003, when Harris first started teaching at Crocker Highlands, she says there was space for kids from outside the neighborhood, because many families living in the neighborhood were sending their kids to private school. So Crocker Highlands was more evenly divided, with about 40 percent African-American and 40 percent white students.

“My first PTA meeting, I’ll never forget it, the PTA members were talking about how important diversity was,” Harris said. “And then, several years into my experience there, that narrative shifted significantly.”

What happened was that Crocker Highlands families started working to get more of their neighbors to send their kids to Crocker, to invest in the neighborhood school and improve it.

“There was an active group that was working with the local Realtor, who was really intentional about selling homes to people who were going to be committed to sending their kids to Crocker,” Harris said. “So there was a real shift in the culture and climate in terms of accepting and embracing folks that were outside the little Crocker Highlands bubble.”

Over time, more and more African-American kids from outside the neighborhood were squeezed out. Today, 60 percent of Crocker Highlands’ students are white, and only 10 percent are black. Just 3 percent are English learners, compared with 30 percent districtwide, and only 8 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch, compared with more than three-quarters districtwide.

“Our schools really reflect what is a housing segregation issue,” said Janelle Scott, an associate professor of education at UC Berkeley. “Our embracing of neighborhood schools, without any affirmative plan to interrupt neighborhood racial segregation patterns, means that our schools are largely going to look like our neighborhoods look, and our neighborhoods are quite segregated.”

That neighborhood segregation wasn’t by accident. Like in other cities across the country, segregation in Oakland was by design. In the early 20th century, real estate agents and mortgage companies refused to give loans to people of color, and homeowner associations had specific policies against renting or selling to African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

One of the oldest of these homeowner associations west of the Mississippi was founded in the Crocker Highlands neighborhood in 1917. The federal government outlawed racial covenants in 1968, but this Oakland neighborhood didn’t officially lift them until 1979. African-Americans have moved in and out of Crocker Highlands over the years, but today the neighborhood is mostly white.

Oakland Unified’s executive director of enrollment, Charles Wilson, recognizes that the existing neighborhood boundaries reinforce the legacy of housing segregation.

“So the challenge for us is how do we push against that, at the same time recognizing that everyone has a right to attend school close to their home?” Wilson said.

He says the district plans to apply for a federal grant to try to integrate the schools socioeconomically, maybe offering spaces at high-performing schools to kids from low-income neighborhoods.

“What if we were to say, we will never allow a school to become more than 80 percent free and reduced lunch or less than 60 percent?” Wilson said.

That’s still in the early planning stages, but Wilson says integration is a priority for the district.

“It’s also a very thorny issue that is going to require a lot of delicate movement to include the community in,” he said.

Integration Is a Hard Sell

School integration plans are often met with lawsuits, and white and wealthy parents fleeing to private schools. Neighboring Berkeley’s plan, however, held up in court. It has neighborhood zones that run from the wealthy hills to the lower-income flatlands and uses block-by-block information to pull students from a wide range of races, incomes and levels of parent education.

Of course, Oakland is a different city. It has fewer white students and more students from low-income families. But Janelle Scott says that’s not a reason not to integrate. Oakland’s diversity, she says, is an incredible opportunity for people to really understand each other, across lines of race and class.

“We have large numbers of Latino, African-American and Asian students, but we see that many of those students never even go to school together. So for me, it really comes back to what kind of society do we want to have?” Scott said. “Do we want our children as young adults to be able to get along with each other, to know about each other, to be respectful of each other? And that  is one of the reasons why advocates early on focused on schools, because it was a place where children could grow together and learn together.”

Don Clyde contributed to this post.

Oakland Prides Itself on Being Diverse — Until It Comes Time to Send Kids to School 9 September,2016Zaidee Stavely

  • swimmy44

    OUSD can’t/won’t increase pay to keep teacher talent from leaving for greener pastures – My husband and I counted yesterday, with all the new people moving into the neighborhood, between 15-20 children under 10 including many under school age and infants, in just our couple of blocks of Cleveland Heights. As someone who attended public school and who believes in the public school system, I sure hope that many of these will attend public schools – that’s the only way our Oakland schools will improve.

    • OUSD4Real

      There was a big effort 10 years ago for parents to support OUSD schools by sending their kids there and becoming actively involved. The Crocker parents did so. The parents in the neighborhood used to send their kids to private schools, but they embraced their local OUSD school, now 10 years has gone by and they’re just rich entitled white people and we need to bus their kids to East Oakland and integrate their school.

      First, OUSD wanted middle class white people to not flee the system, now they seem upset because parents started sending their kids to public school. Things will naturally revert back to the way things were and schools like Edna Brewer will suffer. It was many of those Crocker parents who decided to band together and send their kids to Brewer when few would do so. They took their Crocker fundraising playbook and used it at Brewer….and it worked. Now OUSD is gonna punish them for it.

      • OUSD Parent and Volunteer

        “they embraced their local OUSD school”

        I’m a Crocker and Brewer parent. We need to embrace all the OUSD schools, not just the ones our kids are in. We need to keep calling for *fully* funded public schools and not depend on parents fundraising to have PE, art, music, languages, libraries, etc.

        One fundraiser I really like is Ride for a Reason. All participating schools split the proceeds evenly among them, so schools with less parent participation can still benefit AND they ride to Sacramento to call for adequate funding of public schools. v

        • OUSD4Real

          You’re nit picking a bit on my words. I use that language because I’ve lived in Oakland for 40+ years and I’ve seen what happens when a neighborhood doesn’t embrace their local school, or at times, turn completely hostile against it. This is what happened to Skyline. I remember when close to 50% of middle-class and upper-middle class parents in Oakland sent their kids to private schools. Those were the ones who stayed and didn’t move to Lamorinda. The effect on OUSD, and the entire city, was devastating. Let’s not repeat the well intentioned, yet flawed policies on the 1970s.

          I agree with you that ensuring all OUSD schools offer a quality education is important. I recall when OUSD purposefully underfunded certain schools. It was terrible. Then I saw how they tried to fix it. They didn’t fix the schools that were underfunded and at the same time damaged all the other schools too.

          Not sure what you mean by fully funded, but most low income schools receive more government funding than a school like Crocker. The difference is that the Crocker PTA gets to decide how that money is spend. Since parents offer their time for “free” a higher percentage of the funds go to the actual activities. OUSD needs to spend a large percentage of their funding on administration.

          Ride for a Reason sounds like a great fundraiser. I’m going to look into supporting it. Thank you for mentioning it.

          • OUSD Parent and Volunteer

            Wasn’t meaning to sound nit picky!

            I feel like a lot of people care about their child’s school and not the whole OUSD system of schools.

            I’ve been here only 25 years, so don’t know the whole history. Your point is well taken that low income schools receive some additional funds and that the PTAs pick up the slack at schools with higher income parents, but I would argue they are all underfunded regardless of funding relative to each other. I completely hear you on the costs being top heavy. So many administrators who are very well paid.

            I’m one of those parents who donates free labor. Often up to 25 hours a week depending on the PTA work to be done and I frequently think about how unfair this is to schools with parents who cannot take time off work or cannot afford to be a stay at home parent.

            I’m curious about the purposeful under-funding you mention.

          • OUSD4Real

            I believe it was in the 1960s, but at that time, OUSD’s board had no minority representation. There was little diversity on the city council. OUSD purposely underfunded schools like Mac. They didn’t have enough books for students to take them home (Skyline did), they didn’t have lab equipment (Skyline did), they had no advanced classes, etc. There was some legal action that resulted in integration.

            The logic back then was to force integration since that would be the only way to ensure funding is spread evenly, and since the school board and city leaders were a bunch of white people who demonstrated they wouldn’t be fair, the courts wouldn’t give them control. There was also some sense that if you drop a student from Mac into Skyline, they’d magically have a better education.

            Today, we live in a different world. Despite what people might think, lower income schools with large minority enrollments DO NOT get less funding. OUSD is diverse, the superintendent is black, we’ve had black mayors, a very diverse city council, etc. They may not always make the right decisions, but it is a stretch to say they are trying to underfund schools. In fact, the state makes it very hard to do so since funding is allocated on a per student level. Also, the state passed a law about 10 years ago to give schools with primarily lower income students MORE funding (Title 1 or Title I). Now one might argue these schools need even more funding that they get today, but that isn’t an issue of integration or racism or whatever agenda these KQED articles are trying to promote.

            I’d also point out that integration didn’t work. Is the school system diverse? No. Most affluent parents (of any color) send their kids to private schools with the exception of just a few elementary schools. White families left OUSD, which reduced funding to OUSD since funding is allocated by the state on a per pupil basis. OUSD has large fixed costs, so this reduction in funding does hurt all students. Did the minority students get a better eduction? Nope. Academic performance is still quite poor. Are their schools safe? Nope.

            So we need to ask ourselves what our goal is in all this? Some notion that diversity is good (I think it is in general)? Some abstract notion of equality in funding, resourced, etc? We’ve already learned that equal funding and integrated schools produced poor results. Perhaps the “equality” we should be focused on is equality of results. That children leave OUSD with the skills and knowledge they need. That is equality based on results and impact, not whether all kids get the same new books (nice but may or may not matter much), not whether wealthy students go to school with other wealthy students (we have income inequality in the U.S. — is it OUSD’s primary mission to address this?), but did OUSD ensure all students walk away educated. That is what we need to focus and optimize around.

  • North Oakland Father

    This is the second of two articles Ive read by the author that discuss funding discrepancies at Oakland schools without discussing the Local Control Funding Formula. Please please educate yourself about this, the very basis of the District’s strategy to redistribute funding to help low income schools. As you likely will learn, many nonpoor schools receive less in discretionary funding and poor schools receive more. This is something nearly all Oakland families support. That said, OUSD has explicitly told nonpoor schools to make up the difference through PTA fundraising, so, please dont criticize nonpoor schools for doing that.

    Also, while the article provides important history about the structural reasons why and how Oakland neighborhoods are racially and economically segregated–and how that effects who goes to what schools–the headline seems to imply that individuals are resisting integration. While segregation may be the effect of residential patterns, you cannot derive from that that people are resisting integration. My kids school, for example, is more diverse than our neighborhood.

    I think a big part of this is what the author actually means when the word “diversity” is used. I believe she means income diversity, because, well, many nonpoor schools are more racially diverse–that is, have more different types of racial and ethnic groups–than poor ones, such as Sankofa mentioned in the previous article (90% African American) or Madison Park Academy (95% African American and Latino) mentioned in this one, and schools can be racially diverse, particularly in Oakland, without having any white people at all! I think the author is trapped, as many Oakland analysis are, in a frame where Oakland is a black and white city, and it isn’t, and there’s more than a little bit of a feeling that the author believes all it takes is white children to make things better in poor schools. There is a conflation of race and class here that is imprecise and misleading.

    • MonkInSF

      The author just wants you to send additional funding to support those “poor” schools.

      • OUSD4Real

        Divide up all the money raised by the “rich schools” by the 118 schools in OUSD. Doesn’t come out to much per school. The amount of money raised at schools like Crocker come out to $1k per parent, and many parents don’t donate, so you have some parents donating well over $1k. Ask them to increase that by 2x or 3x and just sending their kids to Corpus Christi in Piedmont looks like a viable alternative.

    • OUSD4Real

      This is an excellent observation – ” I think the author is trapped, as many Oakland analysis are, in a frame where Oakland is a black and white city”

      Let’s keep in mind that during the same time period this article focused on (starting in 2005) the African American population is Oakland decreased. There was a small increase in the white population, and much larger increases in the latino and asian populations. Are the changes at Crocker (the example in the article) just a reflection of changes in the city? Based on current trends, Oakland black population could be roughly 20% of the overall city by 2020.

      If Crocker is 10% black and 12% biracial (a classification the article ignores) in 2020…then is there a problem with diversity at this school? It will be more diverse that the immediate neighborhood and somewhat reflective of the city as a whole? Is OUSD going to mandate some quota system where everything is completely evenly spread out? I don’t think allocating 13-20 white kids to each elementary school (which have enrollments between 400-500) is going to have much of an impact.

  • Rob Appeldorn

    I’m not sure why she came here from Mexico? Why would she leave a place where everybody speaks spanish, the schools are free and totally diverse, there is no poverty and no rich people, they have excellent transportation to and from schools, they have excellent free houses and free food and free health care. Mexico is a modern utopia and why anyone would voluntary leave there and come to the hellhole that is the USA is beyond me.

  • dogwood

    I am surprised by some of the conclusions in this article, because from the extensive research we did before enrolling our Kindergarten in our local OUSD school this year, the Oakland Options enrollment process has been quite effective and spreading students out all over town and allowing “non-neighborhood” students attend better schools. Yes the top 7 0r 8 elementary schools (which includes Crocker Highlands) are filled with neighborhood kids, but beyond those there are many average to high performing elementary schools that have very large “out of neighborhood” attendance rates. Crocker Highlands was perhaps the most extreme example in OUSD and was clearly used to prove a point the author wanted to make. The neighborhood school our child attends is more diverse than the neighborhood and is still high performing.
    It is interesting that only 9.5% of students in the district are white, considering that the white population of Oakland is more like 30%. Would part of the solution be attracting more white families to attend OUSD schools? Would seem hard to do if the district forces families to send kids to non-neighborhood schools that are lower performing than their neighborhood school is. Kind of a rough trade off, attracting neighborhood families to attend the public school results in a less diverse school.
    Of course this conversation is limited to elementary school. It seems that the situation is totally different for OUSD middle and high schools, where the “diversity” is even less.

    • More

      When you take out charter schools, white enrollment is an even lower percentage

    • kromman

      “It seems that the situation is totally different for OUSD middle and high schools, where the “diversity” is even less.” I think that you have it backwards. The whitest high schools in Oakland are Oakland Tech and the Arts magnet school, where whites comprise 22 percent and 40 percent respectively. Crocker Highlands by contrast is 58 percent White, and Montclair Elementary is 52 percent (hardly lilly white in either case).

  • Jone Smith

    As an OUSD teacher, and someone that grew up in Berkeley’s forced diverse school system, I can tell you that the author is clearly trying to push an agenda and that mandating integration in schools does not work.

    First of all, the entire OUSD system has a fixed curriculum! Teachers can be creative in their methodologies, but they have to stick to the standards. There is no curriculum difference between schools.

    Second, there are kids of low income families in all the Oakland Hills schools. Those families are not required to raise funds or contribute financially to the school. There is also diversity in all the Hills schools. Maybe not like the forced percentages that Berkeley implements, but after growing up in the Berkeley school system I see this as a good thing.

    Third, schools that have a large majority of low income families, get Title 1 funds, which covers the enrichment programs that the author boasted were exclusive to Hills schools. In actuality, Hills schools have to raise funds in order to get the enrichment programs that are widely available in low income areas. The after school enrichment programs that the author might have been referring to cost money, but there are usually scholarships that help cover low income families.

    It is easy to live and go to school in an alternative neighborhood and point fingers saying, “those people in the hills get a better education than us”, but the reality is this – there are just more families that value education in the Hills schools. As an insider to low income schools of Oakland, I can tell you that the majority of the families see our role as educators, as babysitters. When a teacher works at a school where the students and the families in the community don’t appreciate them, it makes it difficult to teach. When you call a parent about a student not paying attention, it gets inverted by the parent to be your fault and no responsibility gets put on the student. That is if they answer the phone.

    The author started the article mentioning symbols of poverty as though this was an article about class, but then quickly switched it to be about race. Yes, I know it is in vogue, but lets get real and objective when writing articles about the beautiful city of Oakland.

    • Rob Appeldorn

      Joan, are you just realizing that “Race” politics are in vogue? This kind of oppressive politics has been around since 1968 and I have many experiences to prove it. I tried to cross the racial divide at a concert in SF and I was told by a “brother” that I wasn’t his f***ing brother.

      • Jone Smith

        Well, yea man. I guess what I meant by in vogue, is that it is just as popular in political/media/pop-culture as it was in those days. But, I think racial discourse was actually much more productive and applicable during the civil rights movement. As it was still a movement in 1968. But, the movement was successful, laws were in place and much progress as we’ve made, there are always those that need their activist fix to try to bring things back to 1968, and therefore take a big step backwards in our progress with racial equality.

    • OUSD4Real

      What were some of the negative consequences of the forced integration plan that Berkeley instituted.

      • Jone Smith

        Glad you asked, without using a question mark:)
        I think it would be difficult to convey what I and my peers went through in words, but taking a bus to the hood everyday, did consequently lead to a transition from having a trusting and loving childhood, to street smarts, Watching out for who to trust and being able to handle getting in fights. Students from socio-economic disadvantages were quick to release whatever inner turmoil was affecting them onto others and it became a distraction from learning. Eventually, I just gave up and joined them, and was selling dope on the corner by age 13. Berkeley was much worse than it is currently, and the crack was very prominent. Apparently Berkeley has changed, and my friends who still live in Berkeley, tell me how soft Berkeley is now.

        I am currently a parent, and will do everything in my power to not have my kids experience the unhealthy exposure I had in Berkeley. Being in a racially diverse and progressive community, we all grew up respecting each other and our differences. But once the socio-economic disparities started becoming more transparent, so did the conflicts and stress in school.

        Again, this is difficult to explain unless you lived it. Ask most Berkeley kids.

    • Teachingmama

      I’m also a teacher in Oakland- in deep east Oakland. I’m ashamed that a fellow Oakland teacher would make a sweeping statement claiming that more families in the Hills schools value education. Families that live in the flats value education. Valuing education is different than having less money, power, influence to pour into fundraisers, staff, and supplies for your child’s school. And to push back on another of your comments: comparatively there is very little diversity in the hills schools. I teach in the flats, my daughter goes to school in the flats, and I toured many schools hills and flats when she hit K. Not only are the hills schools more white, they is little socioeconomic diversity. One of my daughter’s friends moved her child to a hills school- and her first text to me acknowledged how shockingly white her daughter’s new Oakland public school was. I’m saddened at your perspective– a perspective that seems to condescend to underserved Oakland families.

      • OUSD4Real

        I’m saddened that an OUSD teacher is unable to familiarize themselves with OUSD enrollment data before making sweeping generalizations. Most of the schools in question have enrollments that are 50-60% white, which is often lower than the surrounding neighborhoods, and in a city where the white population is roughly 30%. If a school is 55% white in a city that is 30% white, please explain to me why this is horrible. Also, please tell me what the “right” percentage should be. What is the right percentage of students who should receive free and reduced lunch?

        Also, there are schools like Lincoln and Cleveland that have a very low population of white students, 4% and 14% respectively, that have high API scores, and more than 50% of their students receive free or reduced lunch. ~55% for Cleveland and 83% at Lincoln. How exactly do they pull that off? What would be the right percentages.

        You seem to equate a school with a large white enrollment (50-60%) as a problem. Why? Your attitude is condescending. I feel sorry for your students.

        • Teachingmama

          I know the data. The poster said the hills schools are diverse. Like the article says (and from what I’ve experienced, and what the data shows) White kids in Oakland go to schools with other white kids for the most part. Brown and black kids go to school mostly with brown and black kids. Research shows that school integration is good for all kids- wealthy and poor, white, black. I’m not saying white is bad- I’m white. I’m saying integration is good for kids- research shows it makes them more capable when they go to college, etc…

          • Jone Smith

            Research is not reality. It tends to be skewed. We can prove most things with research when we have an argument that supports our agenda. . That doesn’t mean its right. Obviously I have lived through integration and you are making this a priority for you and yours. I hope it works out for you. But that being said, I like that you have a choice.. and that integration is not forced for you and others.

          • OUSD4Real

            I can’t wait for millennial to grow up and gain some perspective. Those of us who were around in the 70s and 80s to see some of this have a different perspective. Even in a place like Seattle, which has the largest percentage of white residents of any major city in the country, has very few white students (can’t blame Pro13 in WA). Forced desegregation left nothing but charred remains in many cities of the public school system. It also did absolutely nothing to improve the quality of education for minorities. I mean, look around, all the problems have been solved? Oh wait…hard to tell the difference…just less funding due to dropping enrollments across the board.

            Gee…maybe the hills schools actually do have the better teachers. 😉

          • OUSD4Real

            Please provide reference to that data. So you are in favor of busing kids from Upper Rockridge to the deep east….because it is better for them?

            Given that the school in question is more diverse than its surrounding neighborhood and that is clearly not enough diversity. Perhaps you should explain what the right amount of diversity should be?

            There are ~1,500 white kids are elementary schools where 50%+ of the enrollment is white. If you spread that over the entire 55 elementary schools in Oakland, that means 27.3 white kids will be allocated to each school. Well, initially, since I expect things will revert back to where things were in 2005…and 50% of those kids will disappear. So then each Oakland elementary school will be allocated their quota of 13.65 white kids. Then magically all the problems will go away.

            In the 1970s, the school districts were mostly white, with small minority populations that were sent to specific schools that were intentionally underfunded by schools boards run by white people. As a result of forced desegregation, whites left the schools, and the cities, and the consequences of that were highly destructive to those who remained. Urban schools have never recovered. It was a disaster. Now we’re talking about OUSD desegregating a school system that basically doesn’t have any white kids (the numbers are so small). Even if you take out the economic and racial component, I would NEVER EVER send my kids to a school in the Deep East. NO WAY. Just because it is dangerous, and I wouldn’t feel safe going there for a parent teacher conference. What about a PTA meeting at night? Hell no.

            I’m not white. I’m brown. I went to inner city schools. I grew up in an area that was crime ridden…maybe not as bad as the Deep East, maybe more Fruitvale. Anyway, my kids don’t go to OUSD run schools so not really my problem. You sound well meaning, but naive and misguided. Social engineering just doesn’t work that well. OUSD should be focused on wrap around programs, ESL programs, providing breakfast, black male achievement, or anything else that is tailored to the challenges kids face in their neighborhood schools. Dropping a kid into Crocker doesn’t magically solve any problems, but it sure will send all the parents at Crocker back to Head-Royce and Bentley and Redwood Day where they sent kids 10 years ago…and East Bay Innovation Academy (founded by Crocker parents). There is no solution to this problem that involves screwing over one group…no matter how badly you believe it is for their own good.

          • CubsFan

            EBIA is in East Oakland and does not look like Crocker. Hispanic – 31%, Black 18%, White – 30%, Mixed Race – 16%, Asian – 5%

          • OUSD4Real

            No it is not. It is above 580, which puts it in the hills. East Oakland refers to the flats below 580. Using your definition would put the Sequoia Heights (and the country club too), Hillcrest Estates, and Redwood Heights in “East Oakland.” Shoot even Crocker is east of the lake…so they are in East Oakland too, right? No. That is not what we mean when we say East Oakland. Sorry.

          • OUSD4Real

            EBIA looks like this according to the state of CA:

            White 39%
            Hispanic 22%
            Black 15%
            Two or more races 14%
            Asian 6%

          • Linear Combinations

            I agree with Jone Smith below. Research is trash when it comes to social issues because those who conduct “social experiments” search for ways to make data say whatever they want, usually through the use of bogus statistical methods. Ask any one of these people about the inherent mathematical assumptions they’re making by using such methods and you’ll receive a blank stare.

            In the 90’s, statistical software (like R) came out and made the social justice crowd surface with a vengeance; they possessed no mathematical maturity and just started hitting keys. Probably thought “Wow, ‘science’ is easy!” Unfortunately, it led to a plethora of biased papers flooding the internet and academia.

            20 years later, the completely bogus interpretations of these automatically computed numbers (that this crowd knows essentially nothing about) are fed to every middle school kid on their smartphone in the form of memes. This, right there, is just as big of a social problem as bullying.

            In more important, less obvious news, we add about 1.1 billion people to the planet every 13 years. The maximum number of people the planet can hold is about 11 billion before water and food are an issue. Global warming is absolutely real (whoa, you though I was a conservative for a second!), but human overpopulation will show its ugly head long before.

            Since I’m graduating next spring, I feel it’s my turn to assign some homework:

            – Read the American Statistical Association’s 2016 statement on p-values. Conclude what mathematicians have understood for decades, viz., p-values are misleading and do not prove what many think they prove. Apply this conclusion to every sociology/psychology paper you see that contains a “This is true, because p < .05" style of reasoning in, and recognize that these fields are now officially debunked – as they should be. (No shrink deserves $160 per 45 mins for what they do.)

            – Extra credit: Try to see things from my perspective without immediately assuming I'm a racist. Hint: You don't know what I've done to support the LGBTQ, Black/Latino, and low-SES communities.

  • oak2sfo

    More integration in the schools is not the problem or the solution. There is a reason for higher performing schools which is better parental and financial support for the kids at those schools, including additional private tuition and after-school programs, and the ability to retain teachers who feel they are making a difference. Crocker Highlands gets a lot of financial support from the community and parents since the community cares about it. Anyone who thinks this support will continue if kids are shipped in from outside of the community is very much mistaken.

    School intake should give priority to neighborhood kids – it makes sense for the community, safety and time benefits from avoiding excessive travel. If OUSD tries to integrate schools where the community itself is not integrated it will just backfire, and parents will move kids to private schools instead, turning high-performing schools into low-performing schools.

    I have friends who are teachers in OUSD at some of these low-performing schools, and their number one complaint is lack of support from OUSD management and parents of the kids at the schools. They try to teach kids and discipline them when they act-up, only to be reprimanded by management when parents complain and threaten to sue because their kids were ‘told what to do’.

    Supporting the teachers, instilling discipline in the kids that act-up targeting parents and kids for truancy is the way to improve the standards and actually retain teachers and improve grades.

    It will be interesting to listen to tomorrow about ‘how Berkeley integrated their schools’, since by all accounts this integration is just at the surface and not real since within the schools themselves students choose to segregate – just look at the sports-field, or public transportation before and after to see for yourself – there is no integration there either.

    • kromman

      As a Berkeley High grad, integration is an interesting thing. All the good intentions in the world won’t force people to mingle. If it hadn’t been for sports, I’d hardly have spoken with a black person during high school.

    • Linear Combinations

      Very well said. The world has some ugly truths in it. Addressing those first, in my opinion, is the only way to improve the situation for all people.

  • kromman

    As a long-time Oakland resident and parent I have a few observations:

    -A large percentage of the “rich people in the hills” send their kids to private schools. My son has gone to Thornhill, Montera and Oakland Tech. Even Thornhill – the “whitest” of the bunch still has a significant ethnic population, and most kids come from middle-class families.

    -Better schools have an easier time recruiting and retaining good teachers. But in this day and age, even the “good” schools have a hard time of it – especially given the high cost of housing. At Oakland Tech, one of Oakland’s two best high schools, there’s incompetent teachers and tremendous ones as well.

    -Contrary to popular belief, the poorer schools have more money spent by the school district on them per capita when you factor in things like free lunches and bilingual education. The schools in the more affluent areas have more resources, but that’s because the parents pay for them out of their own pockets.

    -Beware social engineering. Those who feel that forced integration is the way to go might feel different if it was their kids who ended up with downgraded academics and more violence in their schools. If you want integration, the best way to achieve it is to make the lousy schools good. Oakland Tech used to be an “armpit school”, but with a combination of innovative programs and exemplary faculty, they’ve become a “destination school” with an extremely diverse ethnic makeup. Better to raise everyone up than to push for a uniform mediocrity.

    • Will

      @kromman:disqus – you are so right about making the crappy schools better rather than just trying to shift the kids around. I went to all OUSD schools growing up. For high school I went to Skyline which at that time was a great school. In fact sadly now if I mention it people are shocked, but when I graduated Skyline was the 2nd largest feeder school to UC Berkeley. That only behind Lowell in SF, which students must test to get into. So what happened to Skyline? They did exactly what they are talking about here. They redrew the lines to spread out the students and suddenly the school was a joke. They took the gem of the city and trashed it. Instead of thinking we should protect this school and then work harder to make the other schools better they turned to this ridiculous plan. Like you said Tech was terrible and with the innovation and work it has become the school of choice. Can we not look to this history to see what is better?
      I mean maybe it is just me but the way the article makes it sound, you have to have white kids if you want your children to learn. What kind of stupidity is that? So what if all the other kids look and are like you. Does that create a kind of barrier from information and learning? I think if you go to most other countries that is the case almost all the time, in that there is a predominant demographic. Let’s not blame it on this agenda and really get to work on improving the schools and then people will want to go to that school.
      I used to feel guilty about the funding issue until it was pointed out, that many non-rich schools get thousands of dollars more per student than in the so called rich schools. We have to put out thousands of dollars a year to provide for those enrichments for our children that the author seems to think just are provided.

  • kromman

    OUSD anecdote: Montera middle school had a bunch of work done on it under a school bond issue. One of the big items was adding air conditioning to the classrooms. When my son got there the rooms were as hot as ever. Why? Because there wasn’t a budget allowance for all the electricity costs of running those air conditioners. The school would have had to raid its general budget to cool the place, which they weren’t willing to do.

  • OUSD4Real

    Who cares about this poorly research article by an author with an agenda. You know what y’all should care about? The new Director of Admissions for OUSD has just been quoted as saying “integration” is a priority. That means OUSD intends to do something about this. This person has been in their role for 6 months, which means the new Superintendent put them in that role, which means he is aligned with the new Superintendent, which means the new Superintendent views “desegregation” as a priority for OUSD. That is a much bigger deal than this article.

  • Suaso

    So what do you prefer, forcing white children to spend four hours a day to go to your neighborhood school, or for your kids to ride the bus four hours a day to go to the white school?
    No one in the US told you to leave Mexico to live in a US slum and send your child to a school that teaches in English requiring your child to learn English before they can be taught. That is all on you. I would quit complaining and be grateful that your child is at least being fed while at school which is a hell of a lot more than your child would get in Mexico. Don’t blame the US for a situation you yourself created.

    • OUSD4Real

      Yes. That is what they prefer. It is in their best interests according to the misguided OUSD teacher above.

  • mstclair

    Not one mention in the article about solutions for making the schools better vs. forcing students out of their neighborhoods for purposes of racial sorting

    • OUSD4Real

      That would require OUSD to succeed at educating children. Redrawing a map is so much easier!!

  • Tara

    The disease is the lack of funding for our schools in Oakland and the state of California and that only some neighborhoods can afford to pay for basic resources that PTAs fund.

    California ranks 40 in the nation in terms of quality public schools: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/
    California spends way below the average per student across the nation: $10,702 in this study vs an average $12,380 for the country:
    Source: http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/13f33pub.pdf – see Table 11

    However articles like this seem to point the blame at communities that try hard to support local schools to be great when the city and state are failing them.

    • OUSD4Real

      First, they complained when you didn’t enroll in public schools and moved to the suburbs. Now, they complain because a few of you are sending your kids to public schools again. I guess ya’ll are a victim of your own success. Congrats!!

  • MonkInSF

    I am sick of any race quota theory including what this author is trying to sell. If you want to place a quota on education resource, Would you please implement quota on birth, tax, NBA, welfare? Education starts from family. Educators are just helpers.

  • Oakland Dad

    For the “hey, just port Berkeley’s plan into Oakland” set: here are Berkeley’s demographics: http://www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/cities/Berkeley.htm 34% have a graduate degree!


Zaidee Stavely

Zaidee Stavely is an award-winning reporter who writes about race, equity, immigration, and education.

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