"But geography aside, Texas public schools may increasingly find more in common with the South Texas district. In 2011, the state reached two landmarks. For the first time, Hispanics became the majority of public school students. And to cope with a historic budget deficit, the Legislature did not finance enrollment growth in the state’s schools — something that had not happened since the modernization of the Texas public school system in 1949. Though the first turning point passed quietly and the second with much political strife, they both underscore the challenges ahead as a dramatic demographic shift occurs in public school classrooms statewide.
By 2050, the number of Texas public school students is expected to swell to nine million from roughly five million now, and nearly two-thirds will be Hispanic, according to Steve Murdock, a demographer and director of Rice University’s Hobby Center for the Study of Texas. The overall percentage of white students will drop by half to about 15 percent. Without an accompanying change in Hispanics’ current socioeconomic status, that also means Texas students will continue to grow poorer — and their education more expensive — in the next four decades, Dr. Murdock added. (Rice University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune.)
State population figures over the last decade show the shift is well under way in the public school system. Economically disadvantaged children in Texas classrooms make up 60 percent of all public school students, up from less than half in 2000. Students with limited English skills now make up 16 percent of them. Of about 979,000 children added to the state’s under-18 population from 2000 to 2010, 931,000 were Hispanic.
'When you look at children, there is no doubt. The future of Texas — the future of the United States — is tied to the minority population,' said Dr. Murdock, a former state demographer and director of the United States Census Bureau. 'It’s just mathematically true.'l