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For the First Time, America’s Public School Students Will be Mostly Minorities

White kids will represent less than half the public school population this year

(Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

The face of America is changing rapidly: by 2043 racial and ethnic minorities will, together, displace white people as the majority population group. But for one population cohort that change is happening much, much faster. As the kids head back to school this fall their public school classmates will be, for the first time, primarily non-white Americans, says a new report from the U.S. Department of Education.

Back in 2012 the Census Bureau reported that most of the nation's babies were minorities, with 50.4 percent of kids under age 1 being something other than “single-race white” or Hispanic. In 2010 minority babies were 49.5 percent of kids under 1.

Now that those kids are growing up it's time for them to be off to school. This fall, white kids will represent just 49.7 percent of public school students, the first time white kids have ever been in the minority, says the Washington Post.

According to the Pew Research Center, “Most of the growth is driven by U.S.-born Hispanic and Asian children rather than immigrant children.”

But that's just for the public school system. Private schools, says Pew, are overwhelmingly white: “In 2009, about seven-in-ten (73%) of the estimated 4.7 million children enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 in private schools were white.”

Even within the public school system, though, says the Post, white kids and minority kids won't now be found in equal measure within an individual classroom “because of the way children are segregated in communities and schools.”

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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