The 2014-2015 school year represents a milestone for America's public schools. For the first time, a majority of students around the country are not white.
They identify with minority groups. In future years, experts only expect this trend to accelerate.
In honor of The Huffington Post's 10-year anniversary this May, we're looking at the future of American classrooms and what students in these classrooms might look like 10 years from now. In 2025, America's schools will likely be substantially more diverse than they are currently, serving more kids who come from Hispanic, Asian or mixed-race backgrounds. These shifting demographics raise a number of questions about the best ways for schools to serve students who are more diverse than ever before.
In fall 2014, 49.8 percent of students in prekindergarten through twelfth-grade were white, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2023, the latest year for which the center has projections, that number will be 45.1 percent. Further, 29.9 percent of students will be Hispanic in 2023, compared to 25.8 percent in 2014. The chart below, based on this NCES data, details the changes that are expected to take place.
The National Center for Education Statistics does not have data projecting what public schools will look like in 2025. But assuming the demographics of students in America's public schools continues to mirror the demographics of America's population at large, data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that classrooms will only continue to grow more diverse.
By 2025, America's population will be 58 percent white, compared to 62 percent white in 2015. By 2060, the latest year for which the bureau has projections, the population will be just 44 percent white.
The graph below displays this phenomenon.
Though America's public school population is diversifying, America's teacher force is not. During the 2011-2012 school year, the latest year for which the National Center for Education Statistics has data on the subject, over 80 percent of classroom teachers identified as white. What's more, there are few indicators suggesting that this is likely to change significantly by 2025. In a recently released survey of 1.85 million 2014 high school graduates, 71 percent of participants who expressed interest in becoming educators were white. Only 56 percent of survey participants were white, by comparison.
At the same time, there is evidence that some groups of students do better when they are taught by teachers of the same race.
“Teachers of color can serve as role models for students of color … when students see teachers who share their racial or ethnic backgrounds, they often view schools as more welcoming places,” says a 2014 report on teacher diversity from The Center For American Progress.
As the numbers of Hispanic students in American schools increases, districts and school systems will have to figure out a way to better serve this population of students, who currently have lower graduation rates and test scores than their white counterparts.
"We are talking about the kids that we historically have served least well," Kent McGuire, the president of the Southern Education Foundation, told Education Week in August. "Over the decades, we have not managed to reduce the variation in performance between kids of color and white kids, and we haven't closed the gap between advantaged kids and disadvantaged kids ... so now we have to figure out how to do something we've never done before, for the majority."