Flight from Bay Area harming low-income school districts as budgets shrink 

In Oakland, a recent proposal would close or merge 11 schools due to declining enrollment; the ACLU has sued the district on behalf of Black students.

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Schools in the Bay Area, particularly in Oakland, are being adversely affected by a shrinking population due to white flight to neighboring districts.

In Dublin, California, the district is building seven new schools, with two more on the way to bring the total to 15, according to the East Bay Times. 

However, in nearby Oakland, a proposal was recently released that would close or merge 11 schools due to a drop in enrollment. 

As previously reported by theGrio, a lawsuit was recently filed with the California Department of Justice by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. The suit implores Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate a new school closure plan from the Oakland Unified School District, one the ACLU says disproportionately impacts Black students and their families.

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East Bay Times notes that Dublin is currently the fastest-growing city in California and one of the 15 fastest-growing cities in the nation. That growth is proportionate to families moving out to other areas. The report adds that low-income students are being left behind and experiencing ongoing budget issues. 

The drops are occurring in San Jose, Vallejo and Oakland—where more than 30% of enrollment has been lost in the last 20 years. 

The ACLU is suing the Oakland Unified School District, saying that it has a “long history of discriminating against Black students and families.”

It claims that the district has a pattern of “underfunding and mismanaging small schools in predominantly Black neighborhoods,” adding that the closures will also disrupt the tight-knit school communities and could mean hundreds of Black students will be displaced.

The ACLU court filing says the Oakland Unified School District proposal “violates Black students’ fundamental right to equal educational opportunity under the California Constitution and discriminates based on race.”

A report from Time about the closures in Oakland notes: “School districts are between a rock and a hard place. They need to be financially responsible, but they also have a fundamental responsibility to the well-being of their students,” according to Thomas Dee, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, who has researched public school enrollment loss.

“I don’t envy the difficult choices they’re facing right now.”

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