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Posted: August 9, 2014 10:00 p.m.

White students to no longer be majority at school

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) — The cheerful sign outside Jane Cornell's summer school classroom in Pennsylvania's wealthiest county reads "Welcome" and "Bienvenidos" in polished handwriting.

Inside, giggling grade-schoolers who mostly come from homes where Spanish is the primary language worked on storytelling with a tale about a crocodile going to the dentist. This poster and classroom at the Mary D. Lang Kindergarten Center are a subtle representation of America's changing school demographics.

For the first time, U.S. public schools are projected to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites, a shift largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children.

Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.

About one-quarter of the minority students are Hispanic, 15 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian and Pacific Islanders. Biracial students and Native Americans make up an even smaller share of the minority student population.
The shift brings new academic realities, such as the need for more English language instruction, and cultural ones, such as changing school lunch menus to reflect students' tastes.

But it also brings up some complex societal questions that often fall to school systems to address, including issues of immigration, poverty, diversity and inequity.

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