In Public Schools, White Students Are No Longer the Majority

U.S. classrooms will enter a new era this fall—one in which black, Hispanic, and Asian students form the majority.

The 2013-14 school year has drawn to a close in most U.S. school districts, and with it the final period in which white students composed a majority of the nation's K-12 public school population. When schools reopen in August and September, black, Latino, Asian, and Native American students will together make up a narrow majority of the nation's public school students.

The change marks far more than a statistical blip.

Broader demographic trends indicate that the new student majority, a collection of what have long been thought of as minority groups, will grow. In just three years, Latino students alone will make up nearly 28 percent of the nation's student population, predict data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Latino student population growth combined with a slow but steady decline in the number of white children attending public schools will transform the country's schools.

As public schools increasingly become institutions serving large numbers of students of color, some states with largely white state legislatures and aging electorates have already proven unwilling to raise taxes or divert needed funds to meet the needs of public schools. 

School funding and other public resource needs will become increasingly critical as children of color go on to become the majority of the U.S. workforce and total population by 2042.

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Janell Ross is a staff writer for the Next America project at National Journal

Peter Bell is the graphics editor for National Journal.

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