Georgia's Growing Diversity Changing Statewide School Demographics
The signs of Georgia’s growing diversity have been evident for years, but here’s a statistic that could be an eye-opener for some: white students remain the largest racial group in Georgia's public K-12 system but now represent fewer than 50 percent of the students, their percentage of total enrollment declining in just 10 years from 58 percent in 1995 to 48 percent in 2005.
The percentage of black students grew only slightly during that period, from 37.6 percent in 1995 to 38.2 percent in 2005, while the percentage of Hispanic students rose from 2.1 percent to 8.4 percent, and the percentage of children identified as multi-racial grew from 0.55 percent to 2.45 percent.
In raw numbers, there are 7,130 more white students in state schools today than there were 10 years ago, but 118,358 more black students, 106,819 more Hispanic students, 22,604 more Asian students and 31,830 more multi-racial students.
White students first fell below the 50 percent mark in total school population in the October, 2004 attendance reports. State School Superintendent Kathy Cox said it is not the result of more white students opting for private schools or home schools, since other statistics continue to show that 92 to 93 percent of all school-age kids are enrolled in the public system. Rather, she said, it is the result of an increasingly diverse mix of students as Georgia’s population soars.
Doug Bachtel, a University of Georgia demographer, generally agreed with her assessment. “The private school and the home school are going to siphon off some white kids, particularly in some rural areas, but the reason you have that imbalance is minorities tend to be younger than whites and minority women tend to have a higher birth rate. As a result, you have this imbalance of a larger minority-youth population,” he said.