A Changing Racial and Ethnic Mix in U.S. Public Schools

  • August 30, 2007
  • By Richard Fry and Senior Research Associate

The 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June to strike down school desegregation plans in Seattle and Louisville has focused public attention on the degree of racial and ethnic integration in the nation's 93,845 public schools. A new analysis of public school enrollment data by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that in the dozen years from 1993–94 to 2005–06, white students became less isolated from minority students while, at the same time, black and Hispanic students became slightly more isolated from white students.

These two seemingly contradictory trends stem mainly from the same powerful demographic shift that took place during this period: an increase of more than 55% in the Hispanic slice of the public school population. Latinos in 2005-06 accounted for 19.8% of all public school students, up from 12.7% in 1993-94.1 During this same period, the black share of public school enrollment rose slightly—to 17.2%, from 16.5%—while the white share fell sharply, to 57.1% from 66.1%.

Read the full article A Changing Racial and Ethnic Mix in U.S. Public Schools at the Pew Research Center Web site.