The Landscape of School Integration in Oakland

To understand the degree to which schools are currently integrated in Oakland, we seek to answer the following two questions:

  1. To what degree do public schools in Oakland resemble the district's average poverty rate?

  2. Is each major racial group exposed to similar rates of poverty?

From an equity lens, each school should serve relatively the same percentage of low-income students with equal distribution of racial groups between high- and low-poverty schools. If this is not the case, we risk inequitable resource distribution and widening gaps in achievement, especially between White students and those of color.

Not only are a large majority of schools either below or above the average poverty rate, the numbers have worsened over time. 

The district's average poverty rate has hovered around 70% for over 10 years, but the number of high- and low-poverty schools has increased by 10% and 7%, respectively.

 

The number of schools around the average poverty rate has decreased by over 15%. In future analyses, we'll identify what factors have contributed to this shift.

A Story of Three School Types

Not only do Oakland public schools concentrate students by class, the typical racial make-up of schools in Oakland reflects nation-wide trends

In Oakland, White students only represent 10% of all public school enrollment. In low-poverty schools, however, they make up over 30% of the student body, on average.

 

In high-poverty schools, on the other hand, Latinos typically make up 63% of enrollment compared to 47% of their overall enrollment.

Overall, approximately 75% of all White students in public schools attend low-poverty schools. This is over three times the rate of Asian and Black students, and seven times the rate of Latino students.

 

As is the case in many cities across the country, the number of White students in school is highly correlated with a school's poverty rate and, in turn, the resources they might receive.

Numbers to Remember

As mentioned, we recognize that equal exposure to poverty by race is not by any means the end goal when it comes to school integration. To begin working toward equitable resource distribution, however, all schools should closely resemble the average poverty rate and students of color should not be over-represented in low-income schools. As of 2019/2020, this is where Oakland stands: ​

63%

The number of schools designated high- or low-poverty

28%

The Asian-White school poverty gap or the difference in poverty rates between the average White student's school (40%) and the average Asian student's school (68%). 

33%

The Black-White school poverty gap or the difference in poverty rates between the average White student's school and the average Black student's school (73%). 

40%

The Latino-White school poverty gap or the difference in poverty rates between the average White student's school and the average Latino student's school (80%). 

Any effort to address school integration in Oakland should monitor these numbers and look to bring each closer to zero.