Thursday, March 10, 2011

San Francisco’s Kid Drain

Kid, Drain (Image by Sean Dreilinger)
2010 census data indicate that children have been declining in the San Francisco Bay Area’s 9 counties, as families with children flee the area looking for cheaper housing and better job opportunities. Youth diversity is also changing, as white and black families are replaced by Asian and Latino families. State-wide, California as a whole is also losing its under-18 population. In San Francisco, the under-18 population declined by 4.7%. However, the number of white kids increased by almost 3,000, mostly the result of an influx middle and upper-middle class families.

This trend is indicative of the high cost of living in California, especially in the Bay Area, which has become a playground for the privileged. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco can run anywhere from $1,200-4,000 per month, whereas mortgages for a small homes in low-income neighborhoods start at over $2,000 per month.

In terms of education, these trends will result in declining public school enrollment, both due to overall declining numbers of children, and due to increasingly affluent families placing their children in private schools (which has long been a problem in San Francisco). As a result, there will be declining revenues available for public schools, since their funding is based on student enrollment. Some schools will be closed, forcing many families to make longer commutes to get their children to class. Public schools will also become more concentrated with low income immigrant students, exacerbating their low graduation rates and test scores.

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