It has been an ongoing trend for nearly two decades – while the total number of students in American public schools has risen, the percentage of those students who are white has steadily fallen. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1997, over 63 percent of the 46.1 million U.S. public school students were white. Today, white students comprise just 49.7 percent of the 50 million students enrolled.
These changes in the racial make-up of the nation’s public schools are reflective of where the overall population is headed. According to recent estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2060, the white population in this country is projected to fall by more than 20 million people, while the Hispanic population is set to double. Black and Asian populations are expected to increase as well, although at rates far slower than Hispanics. By 2043, the nation as a whole is projected to become majority-minority.
Public School Diversity
While the white student population has declined by 15 percent since 1997, according to Pew, both Hispanic and Asian populations have rapidly increased. In that same time frame, the number of Hispanic students has grown by 50 percent to 12.9 million students. The number of Asian students has also seen significant growth, jumping 46 percent to 2.9 million students. The African-American student population, which this fall will number 7.7 million, has remained relatively steady over the last twenty years.
Much has been made recently of the number of migrant children entering the country and enrolling in . . . read more
Despite the nation’s dismal ranking for early childhood education, there are signs that it is increasing in importance for American families. Just a decade ago, only 65 percent of four-year-olds were enrolled in preschool; today that number is 78 percent. It is a subject that has become politicized as well, with President Obama championing the cause a number of times during his presidency, most notably in his 2013 State of the Union Address. After that speech, the White House offered details of the president’s plan to greatly expand the availability and quality of pre-k programs, which include:
- Expanding Early Head Start, which provides educational and health services to low-income and vulnerable children birth to three years of age;
- Developing a cooperative effort between state and federal agencies to guarantee pre-k enrollment for children at or below 200 percent of the poverty line;
- Build a corps of pre-k teachers that have the same level of credentials as those that teach K-12 students;
- Extending the Nurse Family Partnership Program, which provides home visits from nurses to low-income families. Nurses help promote health and positive parenting strategies from the child’s birth through their second birthday.
Many state legislatures have enacted sweeping pre-k programs with great success – Georgia and Oklahoma among them. But the oddity of many state-based pre-k programs is that their success is far higher in states that generally have poorer performing public schools. Additionally, support for pre-k education seems to be much more robust in Republican-leaning states, especially those in the Deep . . . read more
It is no secret that youth of color, particularly black boys, face a mountain of obstacles to success. Black boys are more likely than their white peers to be suspended or expelled from school, more likely to drop out, less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to be unemployed, in prison, and die at an early age. These are problems that school districts, cities, and states have sought to fix for years and years, but with only pockets of success. It is a bleak outlook, but one that the Obama administration seeks to change with the most comprehensive reform and aid effort yet.
About the Initiative
The overarching purpose of My Brother’s Keeper is to address gaps in educational and related services that persist for young men of color. The initiative is a cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies, private business, and non-profits to bring essential services to the nation’s neediest youth. In total, the initiative includes five primary goals:
- Prepare Children to Learn – Provide support programs that foster intellectual, physical, social, and emotional growth so children are prepared to begin school.
- Boost Literacy – Support early learning initiatives that get children reading at grade level by age 8.
- Help Kids Graduate from High School Prepared for College – Promote educational programs that prepare students for success in postsecondary environments and facilitate training for in-demand jobs.
- Facilitate Workforce Readiness – Assist youth in finding quality jobs that allow them to support themselves and their . . . read more
Districts across the nation have raised questions about their responsibilities in providing educational services to the most recent wave of immigrant children, specifically those from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Many of these children have arrived unaccompanied, countless numbers have done so illegally, and the vast majority have little or no knowledge or understanding of English.
Children who arrive in the United States without an accompanying adult are cared for at one of approximately 150 shelters whose operation is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. While at the shelter, all expenses for caring for the children, from food and clothing to immunizations and other medical care, are paid for by the federal government. Although children in these shelters receive educational services, they are not allowed to attend school offsite. Only after they are released to a sponsor – a parent, other relative, or family friend – are children allowed to enroll in public school. It is these children, who in the past year alone number nearly 63,000, that school districts aren’t sure what to do with.
Source: USA Today for the number of unaccompanied children released to sponsors by state
Part of the problem districts are facing is that they have difficulty determining the child’s educational background when their sponsor brings them in to enroll. Oftentimes the sponsor is unaware of the child’s history, and language barriers can prevent the child from conveying their . . . read more