Arizona's reality to be found in K-12 demographics
The Pew Research Center has a new report headlined, “Department of Education projects public schools to be ‘majority-minority’ this fall.” The paper notes that in 2014, less than 50 percent of K-12 students in the United States will be white. This has been Arizona’s reality for a decade. The state’s share of white students dropped below 50 percent in 2004.
These changes are driven by two major factors. First is the increase in Hispanic student population. As the Pew report notes, this increase is due to students born in the United States, not from immigrants coming across the border. Second is the decreasing numbers of white children. The number of white children in Arizona’s schools peaked in 2005-06 and has been declining ever since.
The Pew report notes that at the national level, whites still outnumber any other single racial or ethnic group. That’s not true in Arizona. In the 2012-13 school year, 43 percent of our K-12 students were Hispanic and 42 percent were white. The numbers for elementary school students provide a glimpse at what the future holds: just 39 percent of the K-8 students in traditional district schools are white, while 46 percent are Hispanic. But there’s quite a different profile Arizona’s charter schools, where 51 percent of the K-8 students are white, with only 32 percent Hispanic.
Although our school systems have been "majority-minority" for 10 years, Arizona doesn’t seem to have come to terms with this reality yet. We still talk of "Latino issues" in our schools as if they are separate from other issues facing our students. Mentioning the Latino school population is still likely to bring charges of "politicizing the issue" or "playing the race card." The fact is that Latino issues are Arizona issues and have been for some time.
That’s not a political statement, it’s just a demographic reality.