US schools to have non-white majority

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Image caption,
The school population figures show a demographic milestone in the US

White pupils in state schools in the United States are set to be in the minority for the first time when schools return for the new term.

According to official forecasts, enrolments for the 2014-15 school year will mark the threshold when ethnic minorities become the majority.

This demographic shift has been driven by rising numbers of Hispanic pupils.

Figures are gathered by the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics.

It records the number of pupils in the state school system across the United States - and it publishes forecasts of enrolments in the years ahead.

Population shifts

The figures show a steady decline in the numbers of white pupils since the mid-1990s and a broadly stable number of black pupils, but a sharply rising number of pupils identified as Hispanic.

The school figures show the number of Hispanic pupils has more than doubled over the past two decades and is projected to continue rising in the next decade.

It means that in autumn 2014 the proportion of white pupils is expected to have fallen marginally below 50% for the first time, with about 26% of pupils Hispanic and 15% black.

There are also smaller ethnic groups of Asian pupils, native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Fewer than 3% are identified as mixed race.

The figures show how the increase in the Hispanic population has changed the demography of the school population, rising from 14% of pupils in the mid-1990s and forecast to reach 30% by the mid-2020s.

In the mid-1990s, white pupils represented almost 65% of pupils in the US state school system. The projections show that by the mid-2020s that figure will be about 45%.

But the Pew Research Center, which analyses public policy and social trends, has highlighted how there is a very different pattern in private schools, with a high proportion of white pupils. About one in 10 pupils attends a private school.

There have also been questions raised about the use in education of the term ethnic "minority", when there is no longer a majority ethnic group within the school population.

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