In 2019, CCSA released a report, Charters and Communities: Charter schools’ association with neighborhood change in Los Angeles and Oakland. which explores the connection between changing communities and the presence of charter schools. The full technical report is available here. This page is designed to summarize the findings of that report and allow viewers to interact with the cities explored.

What is community change?

Community change can occur in two ways, either upgrading or displacing. Upgrading occurs when the people of a community improve the conditions of their neighborhood. Displacement occurs when new, wealthier residents move into a neighborhood and raises costs of living force long time residents to leave.

To find out if a community was experiencing change, we looked at census tracts in 2012 and 2017, which are small areas meant to capture neighborhoods. Changes in census tracts were compared to changes the school board district that the tract is located in.

To find out if a community was experiencing change, we tried to see if an area was:

  • Appreciating: A tract is appreciating if the median home values of that tract rose more in the period than the school board district’s average increase.

  • Educating: A tract is educating if the average educational attainment of that tract rose more in the period than the school board district’s average increase.

  • Whitening: A tract is whitening if its proportion of non-Hispanic white residents increased more in the period than the school board district’s average increase.

  • Latinizing:  A tract is Latinizing if its proportion of Latinx residents increased more in the period than the school board district’s average increase.

These variables taken together define ‘community change’ for this report

  • Upgrading: A tract is upgrading if it is both appreciating and educating but not whitening.

  • Displacing: A tract is displacing if it is appreciating, educating, and whitening.

Two Theories of Relationship

There are two theories on how charter schools might be related to community change.

1. Are charter schools encouraging upgrading?

Charter schools can help long time residents of a neighborhood improve their community and are designed to serve the students who already live there.


2. Are charter schools encouraging displacement?

Charter schools are started by middle-class white parents who want to move into cities without sending their children to schools’ with many students of color.

“Charter schools may be a part of a benevolent urban revitalization agenda aimed at improving blighted communities, or they may be a conscious tactic on the part of middle-class White newcomers… to separate their children from the ‘threat’ of bad schools and the poor and minority students who fill them.”

Linking charter school revitalization and gentrification: a socio-spatial analysis of three cities.

The Oakland Story

Oakland is an ethnically diverse city, with a proud history of African American population. However, with the rise of Silicon Valley and its tech companies gentrification and community displacement hit the San Francisco Bay Area hard in the past several decades.

“Between 2000 and 2015, as housing prices rose, historically Black cities and neighborhoods across the region lost thousands of low-income Black households.”

Urban Displacement Project

Hardly any tracts in Oakland were considered upgrading during this time, but nearly a quarter of census tracts were considered displacing. Oakland saw 12 of its census tracts decline in proportion African American population while at the same time, home values and education levels increased. This displacement of long time African American residents occurred throughout the city.
Use the map below to explore which tracts experienced a variety of forms of community change.

Charter Schools in Oakland

Latinx Population and Charter Schools

Oakland charter schools are associated with Oakland’s Latinx population. 53% of Oakland charter schools’ students are Latinx and charter schools are more likely to be located in largely Latinx neighborhoods. The color of the map below indicates the proportion of Latinx population in each census tract while the dots indicate the number of charter schools in each tract.

Displacement and Charter Schools

Charter schools in Oakland were not associated with African American displacement. Since Oakland charter schools are so associated with the Latinx population, it might be expected that charter schools are associated with African American displacement in Oakland. Between 2012 and 2017 that was not the case. Oakland charter schools were less likely to be in tracts that were experiencing displacement.