At article featured in the OC Register last week featured a study done by the Pew Center for Hispanic Studies in which Garden Grove Unified School District was one of the most segregated suburban school districts in the nation. They based their information on targeting six elementary schools in particular, Murdy, Allen, Russell, Hazard, Baker and Garden Park Elementary Schools. They compare it to the overall district data which shows it is a diverse district, with Latinos having an edge with 53% of the students. Yet there are 46 elementary schools in the district, they chose to single out six and say they are segregated. That thinking is flawed, the basic data may show something, but as we look closer we can see it is not a case of modern day segregation.
To understand what school segregation is, one has to go back to the 40’s and 50’s to understand what problems were faced by people like the Mendez family in Westminster and the Brown family in Topeka. In those days there were schools specifically designated for either a Latino or a Black child. In the case of Mendez and Brown, there were schools that were much closer and much more convenient for their children to attend, yet they were forced to make a long journey to another school simply because of their ethnicity or race. Ultimately, it was their longing to send their children to their neighborhood school that brought about the overturning of our segregation laws.
Which brings me to GGUSD and the “Segregated Six.” I looked at where all six schools are located. The two with the highest concentration of Asians(Murdy and Allan) were located in the vicinity of Little Saigon. The two with the highest concentration of Latinos(Russell and Hazard) were located in Santa Ana near the Santa Nita Barrio. The two with the highest concentration of Caucasians(Baker and Garden Park) are located in the far west end of Garden Grove, known for having the highest concentration of Caucasian residents. In other words, it is demonstrating that students are going to school in their NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS. There is no problem with outright segregation. The neighborhoods themselves are highly concentrated with people of a certain ethnicity.
By the way, did you know Garden Grove Unified School District posts the ethnic data of every school in the district. Check it out HERE. I did and found, for the most part that the district schools mirrored the population around them. Upon checking a couple of schools, I noticed they had an unusually high Latino population even though the schools were located in either Little Saigon or the northwest end of Garden Grove, far from any Latino population centers.
What I found was that the Buena Clinton Barrio and the Santa Nita Barrio north of 1st St. is bused to schools far from their attendance area. Two of those schools, Simmons and Skylark, in the north end of Garden Grove, it seems those students fill those schools while the kids in the immediate neighborhood go to another school in the neighborhood. Therefore it seems that the busing is done because of a lack of schools in one area and to fill areas where too many were built. At the same time, there are some who are bused to the Little Saigon area in an effort, it seems, to integrate Latinos and Vietnamese.
If the Pew Center for Hispanic Studies wants to really show some disturbing numbers on Latinos being left behind or segregated, they should look into the student populations of Hare Continuation and Lincoln Education Center which specializes in a program for teen mothers. While Latinos make up 53% of the district population, they make up over 70% at Hare and over 90% at Lincoln. The fact that they make up a disproportionate number of students at a school for failing high school students or for teen mothers should be more disturbing and alarming than the fact that a school in a predominately Latino or Asian area has a majority of students in that ethnicity. Instead of doing studies to try to claim segregation when it is not the case, it would be much more constructive to point out where minorities such as Latinos are being left behind and do something about it. Bringing down that percentage of Latinos at Hare and Lincoln is where to begin.