Some 71 percent of Utah’s new public and charter school students over the past five years have been minorities, and that growth was largely fueled by a booming Hispanic population, the Utah Office of Education reports.
Utah schools gained 20,188 Hispanic students between 2000 and 2005, more growth than every other ethnic/racial group combined, including white students, according to the education office.
The 62,218 Hispanic students enrolled statewide now account for about 12 percent of students, said Patty Murphy, state education finance and budgeting specialist.
Overall, Utah’s school population grew by 34,743 students over five years to a statewide enrollment of 510,012. Hispanic students accounted for 58 percent of that growth.
Clara said the Hispanic growth is no surprise since several indicators—from membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the U.S. Census Bureau—are pointing to it. He noted that Ogden School District is now one of the state’s “minority majority” districts and has a Hispanic enrollment of 43 percent.
“My hope is that at one point we can just drop the categories of ethnicity and just look at children, and be concerned about educating all children equally,” Clara said. “We almost have to do that when ethnic minority students outnumber Caucasian kids.”