Experts had predicted this moment for some time but with the 2014-15 school year the nation has finally crossed the threshold, making whites a minority in the nation’s public schools.
The change raises interesting questions about the future of the American education system—namely, whether policymakers will continue recent trends in trimming or failing to increase school funding, now that a majority are students of color.
The demographic shift has mostly been caused by the steady rise in the number of Hispanic students.
The numbers come courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, which compiles statistics based on the enrollments of state school systems across the United States.
The numbers of white students have been steadily declining since the mid-1990s, while the numbers of Black students have remained stable and the numbers of Hispanics has sharply risen—more than doubling over the past 20 years.
The current statistics show that this fall, the number of whites in public schools will be just under 50 percent, while Hispanics will be 26 percent, Blacks 15 percent, and Asians and other students making up the remaining 10 percent.
In the mid-1990s, Hispanics made up about 14 percent of the student population while whites were about 65 percent. But the Hispanic percentage has more than doubled in the past two decades, projected to reach 30 percent by the mid-2020s.
So while whites are under 50 percent for the first time and students of color are now the majority, the number of white students is still far more than any other specific group.
There is a caveat, added by numbers from the Pew Research Center, which shows that private schools still have a high proportion of white pupils. Since about 10 percent of U.S. students attend private schools, the overall number of white students is still over 50 percent.