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White students to no longer be majority at school


KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) - For the first time, U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites, a shift largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children.

The changing demographics of American education are apparent inside Jane Cornell's summer school classroom, where giggling grade-schoolers mostly come from homes where Spanish is the primary language. The sign outside the classroom reads "Welcome" and "Bienvenidos" in polished handwriting.

Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.

About one-quarter of the minority students are Hispanic, 15 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian and Pacific Islanders. Biracial students and Native Americans make up an even smaller share of the minority student population.

The shift brings new academic realities, such as the need for more English language instruction, and cultural ones, such as changing school lunch menus to reflect students' tastes.

But it also brings up some complex societal questions that often fall to school systems to address, including issues of immigration, poverty, diversity and inequity.

The result, at times, is racial tension.

In Louisiana in July, Jefferson Parish public school administrators reached an agreement with the federal government to end an investigation into discrimination against English language learners. In May, police had to be called to help break up a fight between Hispanic and black students in at a school in Streamwood, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, after a racially-based lunchroom brawl got out of control.

Issues of race and ethnicity in schools also can be more subtle.

In Pennsylvania's Kennett Consolidated School District, Superintendent Barry Tomasetti described parents who opt to send their kids to private schools in Delaware after touring diverse classrooms. Other families, he said, seek out the district's diverse schools "because they realize it's not a homogenous world out there."

The changes in the district from mostly middle-to-upper class white to about 40 percent Hispanic was in part driven by workers migrating from Mexico and other countries to work the mushroom farms.

"We like our diversity," Tomasetti said, even as he acknowledged the cost. He has had to hire English language instructors and translators for parent-teacher conferences. He has cobbled money together to provide summer school for many young English language learners who need extra reading and math support.

"Our expectation is all of our kids succeed," he said.

The new majority-minority status of America's schools mirrors a change that is coming for the nation as a whole. The Census Bureau estimates that the country's population also will have more minorities than whites for the first time in 2043, a result of higher birth rates among Hispanics and a stagnating or declining birth rate among blacks, whites and Asians.

Even as the population becomes more diverse, schools are becoming more racially divided, reflecting U.S. housing patterns.

The disparities are evident even in the youngest of black, Hispanic and Native American children, who on average enter kindergarten academically behind their white and Asian peers. They are more likely to attend failing schools and face harsher school discipline.

Later, they have lower standardized test scores, on average, fewer opportunities to take advanced classes, and are less likely to graduate.

As the school age population has become more nonwhite, it's also become poorer, said Patricia Gandara, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA who serves on President Barack Obama's advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Roughly one-quarter of Hispanics and African-Americans live below the poverty line - meaning a family of four has nearly 24,000 in annual income - and some of the poorest of Hispanic children are dealing with the instability of being in the country illegally or with a parent who is, Gandara said.

Focusing on teacher preparation and stronger curriculum is "not going to get us anywhere unless we pay attention to the really basic needs of these children, things like nutrition and health and safety, and the instability of the homes," she said.

This transformation in school goes beyond just educating the children. Educators said their parents also must feel comfortable and accepted in schools.


Holland reported from Washington.


Follow Hefling and Holland on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khefling andhttp://www.twitter.com/jessejholland

Join the discussion

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mrk0729 August 10 2014 at 7:52 AM

I don't know about others, but the term "Non Hispanic White", I find very offensive. I consider myself White, or Caucasian, not a "Non-Whatever"

Flag Reply +78 rate up
8 replies
wendy.ryan1 August 10 2014 at 8:24 AM

Oh yea, I know....when an American, English speaking child goes to another country the entire education system changes!!!!!! Here's a novel idea, teach these students
to read, speak and write English!!

Flag Reply +70 rate up
6 replies
dayleleec August 10 2014 at 8:06 AM

What is meant by finally reached? Sounds like someone has planned this all along. I don't care who comes to this Country " all are welcome " by way of legal immigration. However, the racist Non White comment and Finally reached comment shows just what the truth is. An attempt to wipe out the white race in this Country. It's sad. Those who scream racism are actually the real racists. Wake up America!

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7 replies
scottybrockin August 10 2014 at 8:12 AM

when white people become the minority will they get all the benefits that minorities currently receive because of their minority status?.then they can play the race card all the time

Flag Reply +61 rate up
15 replies
greggrwag August 10 2014 at 8:19 AM

In 50 years, peaceful small towns and suburbs in all 50 states is going to be a 3rd World hellhole complete with un-attended kids running about, Pinata's, Bud-Light cans, and Mariachi blasting out of their new trucks that were no doubt bought with the gov checks. Now thats something AOL won't tell you! I fail how they see it as anything "good", when the results end up going entirely the other way!

Flag Reply +47 rate up
12 replies
J's Damsel August 10 2014 at 9:02 AM

Instead of learning American History, the kids now will be learning mexican and south American history.

They will also learn, in spanish, how to apply and receive federal and state benefits for their lifetime.

Flag Reply +42 rate up
6 replies
speedypik August 10 2014 at 8:40 AM



Flag Reply +32 rate up
3 replies
Patrick August 10 2014 at 8:01 AM

Why does it matter? Why is the Left so obsessed with race? And why the word "finally" in the headline? Tell me more about those white racist conservatives. I keep forgetting.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
7 replies
wbearl August 10 2014 at 9:04 AM

"For the first time White Students won't be the majority". Unfortunately White Parents will still be footing the bill.

What this article fails to address is how Private Schools balance out. How many White families have tired of the pathetic public schools and coughed up the bucks to send their kids to Private Schools while still paying taxes for the system they have fled.

Flag Reply +26 rate up
2 replies
kitharris1 wbearl August 10 2014 at 1:42 PM

another reason for lower birth rate for whites is because they pay for public and private schools. they can't afford to raise more children with responsible attitudes.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Julia wbearl August 10 2014 at 5:33 PM

As a senior citizen who is working two full time jobs to assure a good education for my only grandchild, I could not agree more.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
hrdbal51 August 10 2014 at 7:19 AM

And this is good for our schools????

Flag Reply +17 rate up
2 replies
papajokr hrdbal51 August 10 2014 at 7:23 AM

Of course not. That's why it's being done. The dumbing down of America will take a leap forward.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Kate hrdbal51 August 11 2014 at 12:49 AM

Not only good for schools, but good for the country. Unless, of course, you are a firm believer in the need to have a perpetual under class of poor and uneducated people.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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