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

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.