Southern demographics and education

A report from the Southern Education Foundation found that more than half of the public-school students in the South are poor and more than half are minorities. In North Carolina, 43.2 percent of students are minorities and half are low-income, which the report defines as being eligible for free or reduce-priced lunch. This demographic shift is due to the number of African Americans moving south and an increase in the number of students who are Hispanic or from other ethnic groups.

Low-income, African-American and Hispanic students are struggling in North Carolina schools. They are more likely to fail their end-of-grade tests and more likely to drop out of high school.

What does this demographic shift mean for education policy in North Carolina? It means that as long as we don’t prioritize the needs of our schools—don’t give them the funding they need to keep class sizes small and provide additional help to students who need it—we are shooting ourselves in the foot. As long as we continue to suspend African-American students in alarmingly high numbers and deny access to higher education to many immigrant students, we are robbing North Carolina of an educated and productive workforce. The decisions we make today will resonate for generations.


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  2. IBXer

    January 7, 2010 at 10:39 am

    We have been prioritizing “the needs of our [public] schools” for decades and things only get worse with each passing year.

    The public school system is based on a system that belongs to a past economic reality. It is based on the idea that we take a raw material – 5 year olds – and sculpt and mold them over a period of time in order to get a product – HS graduates. The entire model for public schooling is derived from the industrial age and was designed FOR the industrial age.

    Unless we are willing to be more innovative and entrepreneurial with regards to how we educate our children, we will never prepare them for the global economy.

  3. Steve

    January 7, 2010 at 11:31 am

    While test scores have shown gains and only an ignorant observer would claim that North Carolina’s elementary and secondary education has not shown improvement over time, the persistence in gaps in achievement between children from poor families and those from wealther families, between white children and children of color, is a continued source of concern.

    Quite apart from the worries about the lack of upward income mobility that this gap suggests (surely a vital component of the American ethos), the achievement gap is a persistent drag on our economy because of the effect it has on the quality of our labor force. Those wanting the best for the future of this state should want all students to succeed.

  4. TT

    January 7, 2010 at 11:58 am

    It will take a combination of new ideas,money,and a bold
    attempt to steer young people away from an anti-academic
    and self defeating media influence.

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