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.
Here are different ways we examined that a community might be changing:
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 Los Angeles Story
Los Angeles is a large,sprawling city, with the second largest school district in the nation. Residents have expanded the city outward into many suburbs for year, but in recent years residents are returning to the city core.
Intentional public policy decisions have led to massive real estate investments in the city center, pressuring long-time residents to relocate and changing the demographics of traditionally African American and Latinx neighborhoods.
Over a tenth of tracts in Los Angeles experiencing community upgrading during this time. Home values and educational attainment are on the rise throughout the city. More than a 10% of tracts in Los Angeles experienced community upgrading, while the racial/ethnic make-up of the city was relatively stable.
Use the map below to explore which tracts experienced a variety of forms of community change.
Charter Schools in Los Angeles
Displacement and Charter Schools
Charter schools in Los Angeles were not associated with displacement. They were less likely to be located in a tract that was displacing than all tracts.
Upgrading and Charter Schools
Charter schools in Los Angeles were not significantly more likely to be located in tracts that were upgrading than all tracts. This means that although many Los Angeles charters are located in upgrading tracts, it’s not possible to prove that Los Angeles charters are associated with community upgrading.