An October 2011 report by the Texas Education Agency on trends in school enrollment points up the rapid rise in the number of students in our state’s public schools–and the rapidly rising percentages of economically disadvantaged students among them.
Over the ten-year period from school year 2000-01 to school year 2010-11, enrollment grew by 862,184 students, or 21.2 percent. At the beginning of that period, economically disadvantaged students accounted for 49.2 percent of all students; by 2010-11, that percentage jumped to 59.1 percent. “The 45.5 percent increase in economically disadvantaged students was more than double” the increase in the student population as a whole, says TEA’s report. The total number of disadvantaged students in 2010-11: 2,914,916. (The rise in the number of these low-income students actually exceeded the overall ten-year increase in student population, 911,795 to 862,184.)
Hispanics had the largest increase in enrollment between 2009-10 and 2010-11, adding 81,316 more students. By 2010-11, Hispanics accounted for 50.3 percent of all students, followed by (using TEA nomenclature) White students at 31.2 percent and African American students at 12.9 percent.
Over the ten years from 1998 to 2008, enrollment in U.S. public schools overall grew by 5.9 percent, but Texas public schools’ enrollment grew by 20.4 percent. Keep in mind all these data on the demographic demands facing our schools as you read the next item, relating to the state budget cuts that have sharply reduced state aid.