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 . . . 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
- 51.3 percent Hispanic;
- 30 percent white;
- 12.7 percent African-American;
- 3.6 percent Asian; and
- 1.8 percent multi-racial.