Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 11, 2011

News Digest

Black population decreases in East Palo Alto

Defying a Bay Area trend, East Palo Alto saw its population decrease by 4.6 percent over the past decade — a drop precipitated by a shrinking number of black residents, U.S. Census data shows.

The data, which the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday (March 8), showed the number of people of one race who identify themselves as black or African-American falling by 30 percent between 2000 and 2010. The city had 6,796 black residents in 2000, but the number dropped to 4,704 in the new census.

Black residents, who made up 23 percent of East Palo Alto's population in 2000, now make up only 16.7 percent of the city, according to the census.

The dramatic drop in the number of black residents drove the city's overall population down despite modest growth within other racial groups and ethnicities. Hispanic and Latino residents saw their number rise from 17,356 to 18,147 over the past decade (a 4.6 percent increase) and they now make up nearly two thirds of the city's population — 64.5 percent in the new census compared to 58.8 percent 10 years ago.

Statewide, the Hispanic/Latino population surged by 27.8 percent over the past decade, census data shows.

The new census also shows that East Palo Alto's white population remained relatively flat, going up slightly from 7,962 in 2000 to 8,104 residents in the new census. The data suggests that many of these residents were also classified as Hispanic or Latino (which is an ethnicity, not a race). Of those residents listed as not Hispanic or Latino, 6.2 percent are white.

East Palo Alto's population decline came at a time when most Bay Area cities experienced growth, according to the census. San Jose and San Francisco saw their respective populations go up by 5.7 percent and 3.7 percent over the past decade, while Palo Alto's population rose by 9.9 percent.

For related census news, see cover story beginning on page 18.

Elementary math task force gets the go-ahead

Selection will begin later this month for members of a parent-teacher task force to explore "exemplary practices" in elementary school mathematics.

The Palo Alto school board Tuesday night (March 8) unanimously approved formation of the task force, which will be charged with identifying materials — including technology — to challenge children who perform above grade level.

More than 70 percent of Palo Alto elementary students perform at the "advanced" math level on the California Star Test. And in a survey last year, more than 40 percent of Palo Alto elementary school parents said their children are not sufficiently challenged in math.

The task force idea stems from a Jan. 25 school-board discussion in which board members noted some campuses have developed "flexible groupings" and other approaches to challenge children, and urged that those ideas be shared with other schools.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly cautioned that any approach suggesting "laning" is not appropriate at the elementary level, but that using "flexible groupings" to challenge students would be acceptable.

The task force will be composed of one parent and one teacher representative from each of Palo Alto's 12 elementary schools, one middle school math teacher and one or two principals.

Parent representatives will be selected by the site council at each school. Those interested are asked to submit letters explaining their reasons and qualifications to the school site council.

Teacher representatives will be chosen by principals at each school, and participating teachers will be compensated for their time.

The math task force will meet monthly starting in April or May, run through March 2012 and ultimately be asked to "make achievable recommendations to the superintendent that will direct the allocation of district funding toward achievement of this mission."

Cars burglarized in Palo Alto restaurant parking lots

Four cars were burglarized in restaurant parking lots along El Camino Real in Palo Alto Wednesday night (March 9), Palo Alto police Sgt. Sal Madrigal said Thursday morning.

All of the burglaries occurred within about one hour and laptop computers were the primary targets, Madrigal said.

"The vehicles had their windows smashed and laptop cases were taken," Madrigal said.

The first two thefts occurred in the parking lot of So Gong Dong Tofu House, 4127 El Camino Real, at approximately 7:22 p.m., he said. Two other burglaries were reported 56 minutes later in the parking lot of Sundance The Steakhouse at 1921 El Camino. Madrigal said police are investigating the thefts but have not yet identified any suspects.

— Tyler Hanley

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