Blog: Latino Ed Beat

One in Four Public Elementary Students Is Hispanic, Study Shows

A new report by the Pew Hispanic Center shows that the Latino population hit record highs in college and public school enrollment in 2011.

The analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data illustrates the shifts of the population through the school system. Most notably, researchers found that Latinos are  now the largest minority among 18-24 year-olds on four-year college campuses. The number of Latinos in college grew by 15 percent, or 265,000 students, between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, the white college population grew by just three percent.

Latinos now make up about 16.5 percent of all college students, 25.2 percent of two-year college students, 24.7 percent of elementary public school students and 26 percent of public kindergarten students.

While the increase in college enrollment may be cause for celebration for advocates and the number of Latinos earning degrees is increasing, the Hispanic population still is lagging in the share of students completing. According to Pew,  in 2010 among 18 to 24-year-old degrees recipients, Latinos made up 13.2 percent of those earning an associate and 8.5 percent of those earning a bachelor’s degree.

About 46 percent of Latinos who complete high school go on to enroll in two- or four-year colleges, compared with 51 percent of white students. Again, it’s important to remember that due to high dropout rates, many Latinos in this age bracket are not included in this percentage.

In addition, Latinos lag other populations in their preschool enrollment. When Pew took into account both public and private schools, they found that in October 2011 Hispanics made up just 20 percent of nursery school enrollments.

You can use this data to see whether this growth is trickling down to the local level. How much has Latino K-12 and college enrollment grown in your area? If growth has stalled at the college level, are administrators doing anything to address the issue? While public schools are improving preschool access for Hispanic children, do you know of any nonprofits or private schools with their own initiatives geared at providing services for this young population?

And don’t forget that the Pew Hispanic Center’s Richard Fry is a very good resource for reporters who responds amazingly quickly to inquiries regarding demographic data.