School Is Over for the Summer. So Is the Era of Majority White U.S. Public Schools.

When schools reopen this fall, demographic changes will have tipped the balance to nonwhite students.

A class of Hispanic students recites the Pledge of Allegiance during a September 11 memorial service at Birdwell Elementary School September 11, 2003 in Tyler, Texas. Birdwell has a student body of 600 youngsters; 60 percent of them are Hispanic. 
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Peter Bell and Janell Ross
July 1, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

The 2013-14 school year has drawn to a close in most U.S. school dis­tricts, and with it the fi­nal peri­od in which white stu­dents com­posed a ma­jor­ity of the na­tion’s K-12 pub­lic school pop­u­la­tion. When schools re­open in Au­gust and Septem­ber, black, Latino, Asi­an, and Nat­ive Amer­ic­an stu­dents will to­geth­er make up a nar­row ma­jor­ity of the na­tion’s pub­lic school stu­dents.

The change marks far more than a stat­ist­ic­al blip.

Broad­er demo­graph­ic trends in­dic­ate that the new stu­dent ma­jor­ity, a col­lec­tion of what have long been thought of as minor­ity groups, will grow. In just three years, Latino stu­dents alone will make up nearly 28 per­cent of the na­tion’s stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, pre­dict data from the Na­tion­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Stat­ist­ics. Latino stu­dent pop­u­la­tion growth com­bined with a slow but steady de­cline in the num­ber of white chil­dren at­tend­ing pub­lic schools will trans­form the coun­try’s schools.

As pub­lic schools in­creas­ingly be­come in­sti­tu­tions serving large num­bers of stu­dents of col­or, some states with largely white state le­gis­latures and aging elect­or­ates have already proven un­will­ing to raise taxes or di­vert needed funds to meet the needs of pub­lic schools. 

School fund­ing and oth­er pub­lic re­source needs will be­come in­creas­ingly crit­ic­al as chil­dren of col­or go on to be­come the ma­jor­ity of the U.S. work­force and total pop­u­la­tion by 2042.


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