A milestone is expected to be reached this fall when minorities outnumber whites among the nation’s public school students for the first time, U.S. Department of Education projections show. This is due largely to fast growth in the number of Hispanic and Asian school-age children born in the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.
A steady demographic change over the years has resulted in a decline in the number of whites in classrooms even as the total number of public school students has increased. In 1997, the U.S. had 46.1 million public school students, of which 63.4% were white. While whites will still outnumber any single racial or ethnic group this fall, their overall share of the nation’s 50 million public school students is projected to drop to 49.7%. Since 1997, the number of white students has declined by 15%, falling from 29.2 million to 24.9 million in 2014.
While the number of white students has declined, there have been large enrollment increases of Hispanics and Asians, two groups that have seen overall population growth. Since 1997, the number of Hispanic students nearly doubled to 12.9 million, and the number of Asians jumped 46% to 2.6 million. The number of black students expected in schools this fall, 7.7 million, has been relatively steady during this time.