This Fall, Minorities Will Outnumber White Students in U.S. Schools

A new study shows the changing demographics in American education.

While 62 percent of the total U.S. population was classified as non-Hispanic white in 2013, when public schools start this fall their racial landscape will reflect a different America.

According to a new report by the National Center for Education (NCES), minorities—Hispanics, Asians, African American, Native Americans, and multiracial individuals—will account for 50.3 percent of public school students. To break this down by grade levels, minorities will make up 51 percent of pre-kindergarteners to 8th graders and 48 percent of 9th to 12th graders.


Public Schools in the United States Projected to Be Majority Minority in 2014

Note: Whites, blacks, Asian/Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native include only non-Hispanics. Hispanics are of any race. Prior to 2008, "two or more races" was not an available category. (Pew Research Center)

This change in enrollment comes amidst a growth in the percentage of U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians in the overall population. Between 2012 and 2013, the Hispanic population grew by 2.1 percent and the Asian population grew by 2.9 percent. And reflecting these numbers, public schools will see big hikes in Asian and Hispanic students between 2011 and 2022. Hispanic students will rise by 33 percent, Asian/Pacific Islanders by 20 percent, multiracial students by 44 percent, and African-Americans by 2 percent between 2011 and 2022. Meanwhile the percentage of Caucasians is projected to decrease by 6 percent and of American Indian/Alaska Natives to decrease by 5 percent.


Enrollment in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools by Race and Ethnicity

National Center for Education

Hispanics and Asians are also forecast to produce the biggest increase in high school graduates: Between 2009-10 and 2022-23, there will be an increase of 64 percent in Hispanic graduates and 23 percent in Asian/Pacific Islanders.

However, this demographic change raises some concerns. Hispanic, black, and Native American students tend to academically fall behind their white and Asian counterparts. And Hispanic and black students tend to live and attend schools in areas of greater poverty than whites. Leaders in education need to tackle some key issues regarding academic and economic disparities between minorities and whites, not to mention racial division and resource availability.

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Jeanne Kim is an editorial fellow at Quartz.

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