Seeking Muslim-Friendly Neighborhoods & Schools

Parent Q&A

  • Hi BPN members,  I've been researching on my own for months and I feel like I need some advice on questions that a realtor just can't answer...

    our family of 4 is looking to move to the East Bay in roughly a year.  We work in the alameda area, bay farm island, next to the OAK Airport and currently live on the peninsula.  Looking to decrease travel time and increase family time.

    looking for a 4 bedroom house up to $1.5M, prefer a two story house, good schools - (great schools rating 8 and higher please) - safe area with entertainment activities that would appeal to our kids as they grow.  Our children are heading into middle school years and I want them to be able to have some independence as they get older and I'll of course feel more comfortable if entertainment like movie cinema, etc is relatively close by and safe.

    my husband and I both grew up in very urban settings with urban problems and we'd like a safer environment for our kids.  We're originally from the east coast but we've moved around a lot.

    our kids are great students, really kind people, on their way to being great citizens I hope!  Here's one of my biggest concerns though and something I can't really speak freely to a realtor about.  We are Muslim and my kids are currently the only muslims in their respective classrooms at school.  We are very liberal and progressive but as our children get older they make comments telling us that all of their classmates are Christian and they don't want to tell people they're Muslim, it concerns me, I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin.  

    I am a white hispanic and my husband is of a mixed Indian and Arab origin.  I speak Spanish and our current school is heavily Latino so most people assume our children are Latino but they don't speak Spanish.  They understand some Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish because of grandparents visiting for extended stays but they only speak English.  I feel like the middle and high school years are really tough and I want my children to feel like they fit, right now they feel like outsiders.  One of our children looks more like mom - white/Hispanic and the other looks just like dad - people often Assume Afghan or Persian.

    i've looked in Piedmont and Montclair but I just don't know if these are a good fit even though the commute would be easy and the schools seem good...  any advice would be very much appreciated.  Anyone in the same boat????

     The only other family I know that shares our mix homeschools, ha!

    I've read your post a few times now and still can't quite tell what you're prioritizing. Do you want 1) an ethnically mixed school, where your kids' mixed race won't stand out? 2) to be part of a progressive/liberal high-income Muslim community? 3) to be in Alameda? 4) to be in a very high ranked school? 5) to connect with (or live near) other families who are Hispanic/white/Arab/Indian? I feel like you and your spouse should try to nail down which of these in the big picture are your top 2 or 3, and then hone in on areas that meet those needs first. Off the top of my head, I'd think the Peninsula might be a good bet, or Fremont/SJ, but I am not super familiar with those areas, nor with the progressive Muslim community.

    My kids go to an extremely ethnically diverse public school (WCCUSD) and it's great, but it is truly very mixed, about third Asian, third Latino, sixth Af-Am, and sixth white. It's also low-income, which may correlate with ethnic diversity. Is that okay with you? As I'm sure you know, these Census-based ethnic categories do not ask what one's faith is, so there's no way of measuring "Muslim" population as they may self-report as any race/ethnicity. You may want to attend Muslim cultural events in the East Bay/Alameda, and ask around where the kids go to school.

    In the meantime, as far as the East Bay goes, if I wanted cultural/ethnic diversity in my public school, and was looking in the $1.5M range for a 4-bedroom, I'd certainly look into Berkeley (can you still get a 4-bd there for under $2M?), or the hidden gem of Point Richmond, with bayfront views, a neighborhood which feeds to Korematsu JH in EC and ECHS, both quite ethnically diverse and academically solid if not the 8 you have targeted. Or you could try to get your kids into application-based magnet high school Middle College HS in Richmond, which is a 10 and can get your kids college credit as high schoolers. (Obviously a high score on GreatSchools does not mean a welcoming school to everyone, just check recent news articles about Albany High and Piedmont High.)

    Or move to Alameda next to your work, and spend more time volunteering at the schools and bringing the diversity personally.

    Lots of options once you figure out what's most important to you.

    For commuting to Bay Farm Island and diverse with Muslims as well, maybe look at San Leandro or Fremont. Seriously don't worry about the schools being 8 or higher, the higher ranking typically the less diverse the school; all the schools, even schools that are a 5, will have at least 20% of the students being high-performing and have challenging classes.

    I'd recommend Berkeley - the schools are probably a 7/8 (not that great IMO) but the inclusiveness and diversity is unparalleled.