Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Minority students make up new majority in Illinois public schools

New enrollment numbers show that lllinois' public school system for the first time does not have a white majority, with Latino, black, Asian and other racial groups combined eclipsing white students across the state's classrooms.
Whites fell to 49.76 percent of the student body this school year, the new data show, a demographic tipping point that came after years of sliding white enrollment and a rise in Latino, Asian and multiracial students.
The black student population also has declined, but it still makes up almost 18 percent of the state's public school students.
The Illinois State Board of Education posted the fall enrollment figures online in December, but spokeswoman Mary Fergus cautioned that the numbers could change if districts make corrections in the coming months. Even a small change in the figures "could make all the difference," in whether minority students become the majority in Illinois schools, she said.
The fall figures reported by districts are not far apart for 2013-14. White students: 1,023,382. Other racial groups: 1,033,110.
If those numbers hold, Illinois would be one of a dozen states — and the first in the Midwest — to have a school system in which minority students are in the majority, according to the most recent federal education data. Included in that category are Western and Southern states with large Latino or black populations, as well as the District of Columbia, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
The rise in minority students in schools can potentially affect everything from how states fund education to graduation rates, test scores and the teaching staff, said Kathy Christie, a vice president at the Education Commission of the States, a national group that tracks school policy and research to help improve education.
Black and Latino students still lag white students on national tests, she said, and low performance could hinder their chances to graduate.
"Obviously, we have to do a much better job with these kids — we just have to," Christie said.
The Tribune analyzed the 2013-14 fall enrollment data as well as enrollment statistics dating to 2002-03 for more than 900 public school districts, which include special education cooperatives, finding:
•The Latino student population this school year exceeded half a million for the first time, with 507,264 students making up almost 25 percent of the school population. In 2002-03, there were about 350,000 Latino students, about 17 percent of the student body.
•White students numbered 1,209,948 in 2002-03, almost 60 percent of the school population but dropped by about 186,000 students by 2013-14. The number of black students dropped from about 433,000 to 361,000 in that same period.
•Almost 20 percent of districts, including some special education cooperatives, have minority students in the majority in their schools. Most of those districts are in the Chicago area, with some having majority black populations and others having majority Latino populations.
Illinois' diverse student population doesn't match the diversity of its teaching staff. Based on 2012 state data, 83 percent of Illinois' public school teachers are white.
Christie said students need role models who look like them and understand their culture.
However, "the quality of that teacher is absolutely more important than what the teacher looks like," she said.
Likewise, Aviva Bowen, spokeswoman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said: "There is certainly value in having more diversity in our schools, though we wouldn't suggest a formula where the teaching staff was required to reflect the student population by some specific ratio. Student outcomes and success are far more complicated than that."
Fergus said the state has been working to close gaps in achievement between white and minority students and has pushed for more minority teachers and bilingual teachers, among other measures, in response to the changing racial makeup of schools.
"We have seen this change coming, and we've been implementing some policy initiatives in recognition of that," Fergus said.


Hello. Thank you for the article.
Unfortunately, many families, especially somewhere in remote villages, live beyond the poverty line. Their goal is to really survive and feed their children. And parents do not even plan to teach their child in school, let alone a college or university.
But, learning is an important stage in life and the rights of every person. And if for some reason, especially for reasons beyond his control, the student can not learn - this is bad.
In the end, the acquisition of knowledge, the writing of various college admissions essay or other college papers, exams, etc., is the process of learning and becoming a person. This is an opportunity to realize your dreams in the future and become a professional in the chosen field. And it is unfair when a person is not allowed to study only because he is not a skin color, not a sex or from another country.
And it would be great if your discussions helped to change the situation for the better and the opportunity to get the knowledge that is necessary for every child ...

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