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San Francisco’s Malcom X Academy Is an Experiment in Whether Gentrification Can Spur Racial Integration at Schools

Housed at the University of California at Berkeley, the Center for Cities and Schools spends a lot of its time pressuring local officials to address struggling public schools in their housing-redevelopment projects. And that is exactly what the center is trying to do now with Malcolm X—a small, under-enrolled elementary school in which close to 95 percent of the students come from low-income families and more than four in five children are African American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander. In 2013, the last year California ranked its schools, Malcolm X performed in the lowest 10 percent of all the state’s schools. If the organization’s work is successful, advocates say, the K-5 school could become a model for a cooperative approach between cities and school districts seeking to overhaul troubled communities.

If the approach doesn’t work, Malcolm X could join a long list of schools that were left to flounder when gentrification came knocking.