Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Student Population in the U.S. at its Highest Level

ABC News provides an AP report by Ben Feller on the fact that the student population in the United States is at its highest level. Acording to the report, "a total of 49.6 million children attended public and private school in 2003, beating the previous high mark of 48.7 million set in 1970 when the baby boom generation was in school." Mark Mather, a demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, called it "a classic echo effect." Basically, this means that the baby boomers went and had kids of their own. This creates some opportunities and challenges. In terms of challenges:

  • Teacher recruitment. More teachers and administrators will need to be hired for the new schools being built. Given funding situations, difficulties in getting certified (actually this varies. Some places are real permissive in giving out "emergency" credentials while making it hard on those who pursue the license by actually getting a teaching degree, for instance), NCLB, just the challenge of finding good teachers overall, this is definitely a challenge.
  • Helping kids who don't speak English. A large factor in the larger number of students is immigration. One additional consideration, which people who are anti-immigrant tend to forget, is that immigrants have children too. It is not so much children who may be here illegally, but children born here (who are thus citizens) and children of immigrants who are actually here legally too. And we are not just speaking of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America, but from Asia and other places as well.
  • Managing class sizes. I think this is self-explanatory.
  • Finding financial aid for future college students. The article explains this nicely as well. Part of the situation is that, unlike the boomer generation, people today need and expect a college degree to have a good job. Someone has to pay for all that tuition.
Another quote from the article: "In districts outside Atlanta, Houston, and Las Vegas, enrollment has soared more than 20 percent in the last five years, said Bruce Hunter, who directs lobbying for the American Association of School Administrators." I know I can testify to this in a small measure. I live outside the Houston metro loop, and the school district my daughter is in (not HISD. I was warned when I moved in to avoid it at all costs, which I did, and I am glad. She is in a good school) gives an illustrative example. Her building is a little over a year old, making it brand new. They are building at least one more elementary school and a middle school. Additionally, housing developments are sprouting all over the place.

The various projections are based on Census data, which can be found on the link below. The article provided the link:

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