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MANTECA UNIFIED DIVERSITY

55 percent of district’s students are Hispanic

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MANTECA UNIFIED DIVERSITY

Part of Woodward School’s student body during a March assembly.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED May 15, 2017 12:32 a.m.

French Camp School — the oldest in Manteca Unified — was diverse from the day it first opened its doors in 1851.

There was a heathy mix of ethnicity including Hispanics, Asians, Blacks, and Whites among the 91 registered students.

Today French Camp’s 512 students are composed of 86 percent Hispanics, 8 percent Whites, 2 percent Asian, 1 percent, Black, and 1 percent Filipino.

Districtwide, Manteca Unified is slightly more diversified among its 23,441 students based on last school year’s enrollment than the state as a whole when it comes to traditional minorities.

uHispanics in Manteca Unified are 55 percent of the enrollment as opposed 54 percent for the state

uWhites in Manteca Unified are 20 percent of the enrollment as opposed to 24 percent for the state.

uFilipinos in Manteca Unified are 5 percent of the enrollment as opposed to 2 percent for the state.

uAsians in Manteca Unified are 8 percent of the enrollment as opposed to 9 percent for the state.

uBlacks in Manteca Unified are 7 percent of the enrollment as opposed to 6 percent for the state.

uPacific Islanders in Manteca Unified are 1 percent of the enrollment as opposed to less than one percent for the state.

uAmerican Indians or Alaskan Natives are less than one percent as opposed to 1 percent for the state.

The district’s 30 schools vary greatly but have two things in common —the highest percent is always Hispanic with all but seven being 50 percent or higher and don’t exceed 30 percent except at three schools.

Among the high schools, East Union has the largest Hispanic number at 56 percent followed by Manteca at 55 percent, Lathrop at 52 percent, Sierra at 50 percent, and Weston Ranch at 47 percent. East Union had the highest percentage of Whites at 30 percent while Weston Ranch was on the low end at 6 percent. Weston Ranch enrollment is 22 percent Black to top the district with Sierra and Manteca both on the low end at 5 percent. Lathrop High has the highest Filipino enrollment at 13 percent and East Union the lowest at 3 percent. Lathrop High and Weston Ranch High top the district with Asian enrollment at 12 percent while East Union is the lowest at 6 percent.

While there are challenges, Deputy Superintendent Roger Goatcher says the strong diversity mix “offers a lot of benefits.”

Among those pluses is the ease of being able to teach about other cultures that allows for better understandings of those that are different.

Superintendent Jason Messer noted the goal “is not to impose other cultures” or other values but to respect them.

Such an approach has allowed the district to address a wide array of issues when it comes to diversity.

Illustrating that was the case involving a student wearing a T-shirt to school that read “Nobody knows I’m a lesbian” in 2015. Sierra High personnel told her to go home and change under the belief that it violated the improper display of sexuality as banned by the dress code.

The district revised its policy after reviewing it and agreeing with the ACLU that as it was written it had a narrow interpretation by zeroing in on sexuality per se and not the student’s cultural identify. The dress code was changed to allow clothing that celebrates a student’s cultural identify or supports the cultural identity of other students.

“We accept all students,” Goatcher said.

The school district’s vision statement, “The Manteca Unified School District will ensure every school day is relevant, rigorous and leads students to become productive and engaged members of a global society while residing in the Central Valley” is married with its mission statement that MUSD “is committed to providing a safe environment where all students will thrive with the tools, resources, and support needed to achieve their academic and personal potential.”

Both Messer and Goatcher said what drives challenges in Manteca Unified is not ethnicity as much as it is social-economic status. More than 60 percent of the district students qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Goatcher noted that social-economic status brings with it pluses and minuses. He noted the Hispanic student population at French Camp School where there is a high percentage of children of migrant farmworkers differs from the Hispanic population at Woodward School as an example.

While the French Camp Hispanic population is poorer, has families that have to be mobile to earn a living and do not own homes while at Woodward Hispanics trend to me more middle class, have steady non-farm jobs and own homes, the French Camp Hispanic parents tend to place a much heavy emphasis on the importance of getting an education to the point it is viewed as their child’s job and they will push to make sure they take advantage of every opportunity they are afforded at school.

The ethnicity breakdown is part of information the district is required to gather and report to the state and federal governments.

The same data shows 74 percent of the district’s 964 teachers are White, 16 percent Hispanic, 3 percent Asian, 2 percent Black. 1 percent Pacific Islander, and no American Indian or Alaska Native.

 

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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