One in Four Public Elementary Students Is Hispanic, Study Shows

A new report by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the Latino population hit record highs in college and public school enrollment in 2011.

The analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data illustrates the shifts of the population through the school system. Most notably, researchers found that Latinos are  now the largest minority among 18-24 year-olds on four-year college campuses. The number of Latinos in college grew by 15 percent, or 265,000 students, between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, the white college population grew by just three percent.

Latinos now make up about 16.5 percent of all college students, 25.2 percent of two-year college students, 24.7 percent of elementary public school students and 26 percent of public kindergarten students.

While the increase in college enrollment may be cause for celebration for advocates and the number of Latinos earning degrees is increasing, the Hispanic population still is lagging in the share of students completing. According to Pew,  in 2010 among 18 to 24-year-old degrees recipients, Latinos made up 13.2 percent of those earning an associate and 8.5 percent of those earning a bachelor’s degree.

About 46 percent of Latinos who complete high school go on to enroll in two- or four-year colleges, compared with 51 percent of white students. Again, it’s important to remember that due to high dropout rates, many Latinos in this age bracket are not included in this percentage.

In addition, Latinos lag other populations in their preschool enrollment. When Pew took into account both public and private schools, they found that in October 2011 Hispanics made up just 20 percent of nursery school enrollments.

You can use this data to see whether this growth is trickling down to the local level. How much has Latino K-12 and college enrollment grown in your area? If growth has stalled at the college level, are administrators doing anything to address the issue? While public schools are improving preschool access for Hispanic children, do you know of any nonprofits or private schools with their own initiatives geared at providing services for this young population?

And don’t forget that the Pew Hispanic Center’s Richard Fry is a very good resource for reporters who responds amazingly quickly to inquiries regarding demographic data.

Related Links:

– “Hispanic student enrollments reach new highs in 2011.” Pew Hispanic Center.

– “More Hispanics are in College, Report Finds.” The New York Times.

– “Latino college enrollment is surging.” Fronteras.

Latinos Fuel ‘Majority Minority’ Birth Milestone

With the announcement last week that white non-Hispanic babies are now officially in the minority, the United States has reached a pivotal tipping point. Demographics are shifting, and the news headlines have made this even more evident to the broader public.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, white babies now make up about 49.6 percent of babies one year old or younger. The data are from April 2010 to July 2011. Latinos account for 26 percent of all births. Many of these children are second-generation Americans born to immigrants.

According to a 2010 report from the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanic women give birth to an average of 2.4 babies, compared with 1.8 babies for white women. On the front lines of this shift,  where the population is youngest, we should identify and write about early learning programs that are targeting the needs of these young children and their parents.

This news should also prompt journalists to examine more closely the demographic changes in local communities to make the story more relevant to readers. For example, the suburbs outside urban centers once were regarded as “white flight” destinations. But at this point in time, many suburbs have become “majority minority.” You can see this just by getting out and visiting the classroom. How are school districts that have never before dealt with large percentages of minority children coping with this new reality?

In an interview with PBS NewsHour, New York University education professor Marcelo Suarez-Orozco stressed that the education system plays a critical role in ensuring the future success of these young children of color.

“While there are optimistic contours to these numbers, there are also a number of issues that we really need to pause and rethink,” he said. “First is the matter of are we as a society going to be able to transfer the skills, the competencies, the sensibilities to this new generation of Americans to thrive in the 21st century economy and society, and economy and society that is very, very different from what our education system in a way evolved to deal with? And that’s where we’re falling behind.”