Posted on January 29, 2019

Bit by Bit Demographics Are Shifting at Iowa Public Schools and Universities

Aimee Breaux, Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 28, 2019


Iowa City schools are growing and becoming more diverse. A decade ago, school officials counted just over 11,400 students. Last fall, the number had risen to 14,100.

{snip} More students of color are taking classes on Iowa City campuses.

The percentage of students of color has increased slowly from 34 percent in Fall 2013 to 43 this past fall. In particular, the percentage of Hispanic students has changed the most, from just over 8 percent to nearly 12 percent in the same time period.

Iowa public universities are seeing a similar slow trend, inching toward more diverse campuses each year.

The universities still largely serve an overwhelmingly white student population. As of last fall, more than 67 percent of students identified as white at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. But each year, nearly every other racial group has grown.


In the last decade, the number of Hispanic students at ISU has more than tripled to nearly 2,000. At UI, it’s more than doubled to more than 2,250. At UNI, the Hispanic student population has doubled to 391.

According to the Census, Hispanic enrollment has increased the most dramatically in the last two decades among young children and students in their late teens and early 20s. Across the nation, Hispanic enrollment increased by more than 21 percent among students aged 18-21. Hispanic enrollment grew by 9 percent among students between the ages of 3-5.


The Conmingo Early Education Center based in Des Moines recently expanded to serve children as young as one-year-old this year. The bi-lingual education center serves mostly Hispanic students. Up until this year, they served students aged 2-5.

Margarita Pizano, director of the center, says staff work with students to develop the language that is spoken at home. She said its part of a broader mission to foster respect for their culture.

“We want them to feel proud of their identity,” Pizano said.

Over several decades, chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, have proliferated across Iowa. The civil rights advocacy group puts an emphasis on education. Today, the national organization boasts 600 members across 18 councils in Iowa.


“We’ve got to get our students prepared for the future,” he said. “Because they are going to have to be leaders.”