Kindergartens See More Hispanic, Asian Students

Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, USA Today, August 27, 2010

The kindergarten class of 2010-11 is less white, less black, more Asian and much more Hispanic than in 2000, reflecting the nation’s rapid racial and ethnic transformation.

The profile of the 4 million children starting kindergarten reveals the startling changes the USA has undergone the past decade and offers a glimpse of its future. In this year’s class, for example, about one out of four 5-year-olds will be Hispanic. {snip}

More Hispanic children are likely in the next generation because the number of Hispanic girls entering childbearing years is up more than 30% this decade, says Kenneth Johnson, demographer at the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute. “It’s only the beginning.”

* About 25% of 5-year-olds are Hispanic, a big jump from 19% in 2000. Hispanics of that age outnumber blacks almost 2 to 1.

* The percentage of white 5-year-olds fell from 59% in 2000 to about 53% today and the share of blacks from 15% to 13%.

“This is not just a big-city phenomenon,” Johnson says. “The percentage of minority children is growing faster in the suburbs and in rural areas.”

{snip}

* Schools face linguistic challenges. The share of 5-year-olds who speak English at home slipped from 81% in 2000 to about 78%. The share of Spanish speakers grew from 14% to 16%.

“That makes issues of language development and how to teach them even more important than 10 years ago,” says W. Steven Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. “In some districts, 40% of their kids are Latino, and 4% of their teachers are. It’s a huge gap.”

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