Underlying Factor 2: Declining & Shifting Enrollment

From a high of 30% in the 1980s, today, Black youth comprise only 7% of the student population in Los Angeles County (Public Health Institute & California Environmental Health Tracking Program, 2015). Neighborhoods such as Watts and South LA and cities such as Compton and Inglewood that were predominantly Black in the 1970’s and 80’s are now predominantly Latinx. Yet, despite their decline in population, relatively few Black youth are enrolled in racially and economically integrated schools in Los Angeles County (Orfield & Jarvie, 2020). The vast majority of Black students in public schools in Los Angeles County are from low-income backgrounds and are also more likely to reside in neighborhoods where poverty is concentrated and the resources required to address their needs are lacking.

Over the last two decades there has been a 42% decline in Black student enrollment in Los Angeles County (Figure 1.3). Los Angeles County is still home to one of the largest Black populations in the nation (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014). If the 109,000 Black students in Los Angeles County were in a single school district, it would be the third largest school district in the state of California, and the 26th largest in the nation (Noguera et al., 2019).

Figure 1.3
FIGURE 1.3 Enrollment for Black Students in Los Angeles County, 2000-2019
Enrollment numbers were retrieved from DataQuest 2018-19 Enrollment Multi-Year Summary by Ethnicity, California Department of Education, 2019a

In this report, we focus much of our analysis on the 14 school districts with Black student populations of at least 800 students. Overarching enrollment changes have varied significantly across Los Angeles County. Some school districts like Antelope Valley and William S. Hart, have seen dramatic increases, while others, like Pomona and Pasadena have seen significant declines (See Figure 1.4).

Enrollment of Black students in Los Angeles County schools has declined by 42 percent over the past 20 years.

FIGURE 1.4 School District Black Enrollment Shift, 1993-2019
Enrollment numbers were retrieved from DataQuest 2018-19 Enrollment Multi-Year Summary by Ethnicity, California Department of Education, 2019a
If the 109,000 Black students in LA County were in a single school district, it would be the third largest school district in the state of California, and the 26th largest in the nation.

Figure 1.5 displays the racial and ethnic composition of students in the 14 school districts we examined. Because of the unequal geographical distribution across the County, there are substantial variations in Black student enrollment across school districts. For example, Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD) has the largest proportion of Black students (40%) of any district in the County. Pomona, Torrance and William S. Hart school districts all have relatively small Black student populations of around four percent.

FIGURE 1.5 Ethnic/Racial Composition by District, 2018-2019
Enrollment numbers were retrieved from DataQuest 2018-19 Enrollment Multi-Year Summary by Ethnicity, California Department of Education, 2019a.