Next semester, white students will no longer be majority in US schools
By Kimberly Hefling and Jesse J. Holland, AP
August 11, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
KENNETT SQUARE, Pennsylvania--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 in Pennsylvania's wealthiest county, 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 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.