Something different accompanies the start of the school year this year. For the first time in modern U.S. history, whites will be the minority.
Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent, CBS News reports. But the National Center for Education Statistics says minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.
One quarter of the students are Hispanic.
The new majority-minority status of America’s schools mirrors a change that is coming for the nation as a whole. The Census Bureau estimates that the country’s population also will have more minorities than whites for the first time in 2043, a result of higher birth rates among Hispanics and a stagnating or declining birth rate among blacks, whites and Asians.
Even as the population becomes more diverse, schools are becoming more racially divided, reflecting U.S. housing patterns.
The disparities are evident even in the youngest of black, Hispanic and Native American children, who on average enter kindergarten academically behind their white and Asian peers. They are more likely to attend failing schools and face harsher school discipline.
Later, they have lower standardized test scores, on average, fewer opportunities to take advanced classes, and are less likely to graduate.
And the students are poorer, which will challenge school districts to provide additional services.