ERIC Identifier: ED315865
Publication Date: 1989-00-00
Author: Klauke, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Educational Management Eugene OR.
Coping with Changing Demographics. ERIC Digest Series Number
Studying local and national population distribution, as well as economic and
social patterns, is becoming crucial for educators who serve rapidly changing
communities. School officials often must reacquaint themselves with their
constituents and investigate ways to better meet the social, physical, and
educational needs of their particular populations. Most significantly, across
the country people are facing the challenge of living as multicultural citizens.
HOW IS THE ETHNIC MAKEUP OF THE YOUTH POPULATION
Immigration, migration, and fertility patterns indicate that by
the year 2010 about 38 percent of people under the age of 18 in the United
States will be African, Asian, or Hispanic American. By that time, in seven
states and the District of Columbia, more than one-half of the children will be
minorities: Hawaii (80 percent), New Mexico (77 percent), California (57
percent), Texas (57 percent), New York (53 percent), Florida (53 percent),
Louisiana (50 percent), District of Columbia (93 percent). In an additional
nineteen states, Joe Schwartz and Thomas Exeter report (1989), at least
one-fourth of the population will be either African, Hispanic, or Native or
In the next decade, experts predict that most immigrants will arrive from
Asia and Latin America. According to James P. Allen and Eugene J. Turner (1988),
90 percent of these immigrants will settle in metropolitan areas, with the
largest numbers coming to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Each area in the
U.S., however, hosts its own unique cultural blend. Hispanic-Americans, for
instance, tend to concentrate in California and Texas, while significant numbers
of Asian Americans can be found living in western coastal cities; African
American communities are more strongly represented in the East and Southeast.
In studying such statistics, however, school officials should take into
consideration the tremendous diversity in cultures, economic and family
situations, and educational levels existing within each ethnic group.
WHAT SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PATTERNS CHARACTERIZE TODAY'S STUDENT POPULATION?
Low-income, two-income, single-parent, and homeless families
are all on the rise. Drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, and teenage
dropout rates continue to challenge school districts. These conditions account
for an increase in students designated as "at risk."
Twenty-three percent of U.S. children, concludes Harold Hodgkinson (1988),
are growing up in one-parent families, 90 percent of which are headed by single
females. According to Kathryn Keough (1986), 62 percent of single-parent
families have annual incomes of less than $10,000.
Children account for 40 percent of the nation's poor, with nearly one-fourth
of U.S. children living in poverty (Hodgkinson 1989). John Carey (1989), in
tracing the shift of the nation's middle-class from urban to suburban locales
and gentrified city centers, says that "the poor are being pushed into an
expanding belt between the rich center city and the prosperous outer suburbs."
Families with children, Donna Harrington-Luecker (1989) reports, comprise 34
percent of the nation's homeless. Rural people account for one-fourth of the
population in homeless shelters. School district residency requirements and
transportation problems make it difficult for homeless children to attend school
on a regular basis.
HOW MIGHT SCHOOL OFFICIALS INVESTIGATE DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES IN THEIR DISTRICT?
The number of students enrolled in a local public school
varies as a result of changes in birth rate, migration patterns, and social
conditions. The popularity of local private schools might also affect the
number. Keough believes that by 1990 private schools will enroll 15 percent of
the nation's elementary and secondary students. "Some kind of private school,"
she says, "now exists in virtually every town over 10,000 population."
Keough also claims that "dramatic regional differences in enrollment patterns
can be expected for the remainder of the century." After brief increases,
enrollment will most likely decline in the Northeast and Midwest, while in the
West and parts of the South (notable California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona),
it will rise significantly.
The birth rate in a specific area can be predicted, Thomas A. Glass (1987)
notes, through studying:
o the number of women of childbearing age
o community expectations of family size
o past history of family planning efforts and abortion rates
Glass recommends comparing enrollments by grade level to establish migration
rates. If a 1989 freshman class of 325 becomes a sophomore class of 300 in 1990,
this indicates a loss of 25 students, or a 7.6 percent negative migration rate.
Over time, consistent data collection can show approximately how many students a
school district is gaining or losing, at what level, and during what time of
HOW MIGHT SCHOOL DISTRICTS ADDRESS THE SHIFTING CULTURAL MAKEUP OF STUDENT ENROLLMENTS?
As the nation's ethnic diversity
increases, schools will have to develop ways to create productive, multicultural
environments to accommodate diverse student backgrounds and native languages.
Addressing the rise in multicultural classrooms requires commitment by school
officials to second-language learners.
Issues of racism and ethnicity must be addressed. Teaching materials should
be examined for racial, cultural, or gender biases. Only if students observe
staff commitment to providing a fair, representative environment will they feel
a sense of school ownership. Bilingual and special programs might need to be
Teachers and staff should become familiar with the cultures represented in
their classrooms while they promote an atmosphere of acceptance and cooperation.
Forming integration teams is one way to provide a comprehensive study of
multicultural classrooms. Some of the questions asked by members of a San Diego
School District Integrated Monitoring Team ("Schools Focusing" 1989) include:
o Are all students actively involved in classroom instruction?
o Are classroom seating patterns racially balanced?
o Are reading materials provided in languages other than English for students
who need them?
o Do notices on bulletin boards and in school publications reflect the ethnic
makeup of the school?
o Are school clubs racially integrated?
o Are there overt signs of racism in the school?
Christine E. Sleeter and Carl A. Grant (1988) argue that the curriculum
should be reformed so that it "regularly presents diverse perspectives,
experiences, and contributions, particularly those that tend to be omitted or
HOW MIGHT SCHOOL DISTRICTS ADDRESS CHANGING SOCIAL
A study of demographics suggests that the most urgent
educational needs for the nation include comprehensive help to at-risk and
low-achieving students. Believing that school performance is inextricably linked
to social conditions, both David Snyder (1984) and Hodgkinson (1989) advocate a
networking of services that attend to students' health, education, housing,
legal, and transportation needs. Hodgkinson adds that special emphasis should be
given to preventative measures such as providing adequate head-start programs,
low-income housing, mass transit systems, health care and family counseling
programs, and attention by the schools to low-achieving students.
Snyder recommends expanding early childhood development programs, child
support services (health, nutrition, parenting, and language classes, for
example) and the variety of teaching methods used in the classroom. To begin
helping homeless children stay in school, Harrington-Lueker advises working
closely with social service providers and homeless advocates as well as allowing
for flexibility regarding administrative procedures.
Allen, James P., and Eugene J. Turner. "Where to
Find the New Immigrants." AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS 10,9 (September 1988): 23-27,
Carey, John. "The Changing Face of a Restless Nation." BUSINESS WEEK
(September 25, 1989): 92-106.
Glass, Thomas A. "Demographic Sources and Data Available for School District
Planners and Architects." CEFP JOURNAL 25,3 (May-June 1987): 7P 13. EJ 358 019.
Harrington-Lueker, Donna. "What Kind of School Board Member Would Help
Homeless Children?" THE AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL (July 1989): 12-19. EJ 393
Hodgkinson, Harold. "The Right School for the Right Kids." EDUCATIONAL
LEADERSHIP 45,5 (February 1988): 10-14. EJ 368 819.
Hodgkinson, Harold. "The Same Client: The Demographics of Education and
Service Delivery Systems." Washington, D.C.: Center for Demographic Policy,
Institute for Educational Leadership, 1989. ED number not yet assigned.
Keough, Kathryn E. "Scenario 2000: Intercepting the Future." Alexandria,
Virginia: National Association of State Boards of Education, 1986. 44 pages. ED
"Schools Focusing on Integration Not Desegregation." THE SAN DIEGO UNION
(Monday, November 27, 1989): A 1, B 6-7.
Schwartz, Joe, and Tomas Exeter. "All Our Children." AMERICAN DEMOGRAPHICS 1,
5 (May 1989): 34-34.
Sleeter, Christine E., and Carl Grant. "Making Choices for Multicultural
Education: Five Approaches to Race, Class and Gender." Columbus, OH: Merrill
Publishing Company, 1988. 213 pages.
Snyder, David Pearce. "The Strategic Context of Education in America,
1985-1995." Washington, DC: National Education Association, November 1984. 81
pages. ED 294 790.