For the first time, there are more students of color than white students in our public schools. How we confront this change will determine the fate of this generation—and the country.
f you want to know what America will look like in a generation, look at its classrooms right now. In 2014, children of color became the new majority in America’s public schools. Over the last 20 years, the number of Hispanic public schoolchildren has more than doubled, and the number of Asians has swelled by 56 percent. The number of black students and American Indians grew far more modestly—but the number of white students fell by about 15 percent.
The majority-minority milestone has arrived in our public schools early—a consequence of white children’s overrepresentation in private schools and the relative youthof America’s black and Hispanic populations. It is not a fluke. It is a preview of a transforming country.
Demographers predict that non-Hispanic whites will make up less than half of the country’s population by 2044, if not before. This change will affect not just our workplaces and our institutions but entire communities the country over. It will also transform our politics—in fact, it already is. Donald Trump’s success in the Republican primaries testifies to the growth of white-identity politics based on a fear of an historical “other” upending the established order.
We live in a country where minorities frequently face worse outcomes than their white counterparts and where racial fault lines cut deeply through our public life. Right now, schools and school systems across the country are confronting a question that our society at large will need to answer in the coming years: Do Americans have the will and understanding to build a more inclusive, and less deeply segregated, nation? InAmerican is becoming a majority-minority nation. It’s already happened in our public schools: