American public schools will pass a watershed this fall: For the first time, there will be more minority students than non-Hispanic whites, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The shift comes even as schools become more racially segregated, and leaves school systems facing issues such as integration and inequality, reports the AP. Whites will still be the largest racial group in the school system at 49.8%, but they will be collectively outnumbered by minority groups. The Census Bureau predicts that the same change will happen to the US population as a whole in 2043.
But while minority students are now the majority, only around 1 in 5 teachers comes from a minority group. Educators say that beyond having a stronger and more diverse curriculum, helping schools deal with the transformation should involve having students' parents and even grandparents feel included. "I think one thing that's critical is that schools and PTAs and everyone just need to understand that with changing demographics, you can't do things the way you've done them before," says the president of the Ohio PTA. "That you have to be creative in reaching out and making them feel welcomed and valued and supported in the school system." (Read more public schools stories.)