Student Bodies Hit 49 Million

George Archibald, Washington Times, June 2

Rising immigration and the “baby boom echo” have boosted U.S. school enrollment to more than 49 million, according to two federal reports issued yesterday.

As immigrants continue pouring into the country, communities in the South and West will feel the brunt of increased enrollment and the need to expand schools or build new ones, according to reports from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Education.

Also, the surge of immigrant children has led to a steady increase in the number of students who speak a foreign language at home, and if they speak English at all, they do so “with difficulty,” according to a report titled “The Condition of Education 2005” from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

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“The number who spoke a language other than English at home and who spoke English with difficulty increased by 124 percent” from 1979 to 2003, the report says.

The report shows 9 percent, or 3.7 million, of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in 1979 spoke a foreign language at home, and more than a third of them “spoke English with difficulty.”

But by 2001, the number of immigrant children who did not speak English at home had grown to 19 percent of the national school population, or 9 million students—of whom 2.4 million spoke English with difficulty.

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